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Shappell gives last speech, launches initiative

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Student Senate meeting ran nearly two hours Wednesday as senators packed the agenda to pass new items of business before their terms end Sunday and newly elected senators take their places.

The Senate approved three new amendments and passed one resolution regarding the official name of Zahm Hall, as well as a letter to Provost Tom Burish from the Multicultural Affairs committee (MAC).

Zahm senator Luke Derheimer reintroduced the well-known, but never-passed resolution arguing the Notre Dame student body should formally recognize Zahm Hall as Zahm House. Although several senators argued against passing the resolution, the majority of senators supported it. The resolution passed 20-6.

The letter to Burish – which encourages the provost’s office to strengthen its efforts to recruit minority faculty members – also received strong support from the senators, passing with 25 votes in favor and one abstention.

Destinee DeLemos, the chair of MAC, said her committee has been working on this letter throughout the semester. The letter refers to University President Father John Jenkins’ 2005 faculty address, in which he said he would make recruiting faculty from underrepresented groups a priority in his administration.

The letter to Burish urges his office to “be more proactive in this initiative and be responsible for ensuring that departments are expending the proper efforts and resources to both obtain and retain minority faculty members.”

DeLemos’ committee will also attach to the letter a summary of their findings on minority faculty recruitment.

Breen-Phillips senator and vice president-elect Maris Braun commended DeLemos and her committee for their work this semester.

“I think Senate should congratulate Destinee [DeLemos] and her committee,” Braun said. “I think that Dr. Burish deserves to devote his attention to this, so good job.”

Student body president Lizzi Shappell introduced a resolution that clarifies language regarding the Student Union’s carry-forward account and announces a Student Union endowment.

The amendment states that the carry-forward account should never exceed $100,000 and that all excess funds above this amount will be placed in the Student Union endowment.

Stanford senator Oscar Garcia asked Shappell about the possibility that a person running a joke campaign, if elected, could be fiscally irresponsible and spend all the extra money in the account.

Shappell said the system of checks and balances already in place should prevent that situation from occurring.

“They would have to spend about triple to quadruple of their budget to get rid of this,” she said.

The Senate passed the resolution 26-0. The Senate also approved the Student Union endowment as the topic that Shappell will present at the spring Board of Trustees meeting.

Senate Oversight committee chair Chris Hollon presented and passed two amendments to clear up confusion about wording in the Student Union Constitution regarding election results.

Many senators expressed a desire for a change to the Student Union Constitution after an inconclusive run-off election in mid-February led to a closed Senate to decide the next student body president and vice president. The two amendments introduced greatly reduce the chance the deciding vote will be given to the Senate.

Braun said she supported the intent of the resolutions.

“I think clearly there were a ton of issues this year that really stressed Senate out,” she said. “This was the best solution that Chris and the Oversight committee found. No one wants to see what happened this year happen again. It wasn’t fun for anyone, and it didn’t reflect well on the Constitution.”

Both amendments were passed by the Senate.

The first amendment, to section VI of the Constitution, states that in a run-off election, for the student body president, vice president, class officers, off-campus president or off-campus senator, there will be an option on the voter’s ballot to abstain, “but a vote to abstain will not count as a valid vote.”

In the unlikely event that the two tickets received the same amount of votes in the run-off election, the second amendment changes the current process where senators cast a vote in line with their dorm constituencies to a process where, Hollon said, the winner will be the ticket that wins the most Senate constituencies. In the case of a tie within a residence hall, that senator will then cast the deciding vote.

Although most senators were preparing to leave office last night, one senator was inducted into office after a resolution was passed to remove Dillon senator Matthew Lodwich from office.

Lodwich was removed from office for his outstanding absences since being appointed Dillon’s senator earlier this semester after former senator Tyler Langdon informed the Senate last fall that he would be studying abroad this semester.

Director of Communications Alex French, a former O’Neill resident, was sworn in as acting Dillon senator.

In other Senate news:

– Chief executive assistant and president-elect Liz Brown announced the winners of two awards – the Irish Clover award for service to the students of Notre Dame by a student, staff or faculty member and the Frank O’Malley award for service to students by a faculty member. Shappell and Director of Student Activities Brian Coughlin received the Irish Clover award and history professor Father Bill Miscamble received the O’Malley award.