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STUDENT GOV’T INSIDER: Task forces yield few results

Jenn Metz | Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Campus Life Council (CLC), composed of three task forces, laid out specific goals for the year, but as the semester comes to a close, the group has yet to pass a resolution.

Though task force leaders claim to be making progress in their individual meetings, so far the Council’s biweekly meetings have lasted, on average, just 15 minutes, with the exception of an hour-long presentation by University Architect Doug Marsh. Results of the task force meetings have yet to be seen.

Chief executive assistant Sheena Plamoottil, who heads the Task Force on Campus Environment, has proposed a series of three green summits to raise awareness of environmental issues on campus.

Though the summits have the potential to be very successful, lack of publicity and coordination of schedules with rectors and other crucial attendees have rendered them somewhat ineffective.

One of the group’s only successes so far this year has been Marsh’s presentation explaining the Office of the University Architect’s tenets for expansion.

The third green summit, currently scheduled to take place on Jan. 21, should be rescheduled to avoid conflict; hopefully Plamoottil will be able to focus on other task force goals, like the amount of food wasted in the dining hall and campus energy efficiency.

Student body vice president Maris Braun leads the Task Force on Student Development. Three of the group’s outlined goals include the creation of an Honor Code awareness week, exploring problems of student gambling and fostering better gender relations during Freshman Orientation activities.

The task force is capable of addressing some of these issues. However, after spending the majority of the semester presenting on the Honor Code initiative, Braun announced she would be passing it off to the University Code of Honor Committee because she believed its goals fell under the responsibilities of the Office of the Provost.

Braun and her task force need to start producing results. Resolutions on their initiatives could have potential, but so far, no progress has been seen.

If the Council hopes to make an impact on gender relations for next year’s Freshman Orientation, the task force must start taking real action to pursue its goal.

The third CLC task force, the Task Force on Community Relations, works in contact with the Student Senate committee of the same name. Headed by Keenan senator Gus Gari, the task force has been pursuing the creation of a Notre Dame version of the Good Neighbor Guide, a University of Virginia pamphlet outlining relations between students and the greater community.

For the last several meetings, Gari has said the task force has been making progress on the pamphlet, but at the end of the semester, the contents have just been finalized and production has not started.

The Community Relations task force is also looking to improve transportation to and from campus. If tangible plans had been formed this semester, at least experimental changes could have been implemented to improve student transportation next semester. However, like the rest of the Council, the task force has spent most of its time in talks.

Gari has done a commendable job conducting research on peer university policies regarding campus relations with the greater community, but the task force needs to step it up next semester.

CLC members offer a unique perspective on student life with its mix of students, rectors and staff. But the Council is at the same place it was last year at this time – no resolutions have been passed and matters have been deferred to other committees. The task forces need to stop talking and start doing.

Student body president Liz Brown needs to use the meetings more effectively and figure out what the CLC can accomplish in addition to its already-outlined objectives. Excluding the meeting with the architecture, the bi-weekly meetings have added up to about an hour and a half’s worth of task force presentations, and the Council has failed to discuss any new business.

She recently called for task force leaders to make recommendations to the Office of Student Affairs, which could have some impact on student life.

Grade Awarded to the Campus Life Council: C

Though the members of the Council have outlined initiatives and goals, the result of their work has yet to be seen in the passing of a resolution.