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Coalition slow to meet

Joe McMahon | Friday, January 25, 2008

The Community Campus Advisory Coalition (CCAC), the central part of the South Bend Common Council’s compromise to ditch its proposed party permit ordinance, has yet to meet since being established in September and has no current plans to convene.

Student body president Liz Brown lobbied for the group as part of a compromise with the South Bend Common Council when discussing alternatives the proposed ordinance.

The major founding goal of the CCAC was to foster better relations between South Bend and the local universities – Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross and Indiana University-South Bend (IUSB). However, bringing all these parties to the table can often take some time, said Timothy Rouse, the president of the South Bend Common Council and co-sponsor of the original ordinance.

“When you have a variety of folks and you want the inclusiveness, it takes a while to get it jump-started,” Rouse said. “I’m sure that it will happen and it will be inclusive of the entire community.”

In addition, poor weather, the Council elections in November, and winter break have all been factors in delaying the CCAC’s first meeting.

“We had hoped to have a meeting before Christmas time, but then it was thought with finals and the students going home, so we’d thought we’d wait until after the first of the [new] year,” said at-large Council member Al “Buddy” Kirsits.

Still, no date has been set, and many are hoping that the group can meet within the next few months.

Brown, whose term ends April 1, said she would like to have the opportunity to meet with the coalition before she leaves office – and she has been trying for the last several months to organize a meeting.

“I won’t have a whole lot left to contribute because I only have a little over two months left in my term, but I do think it’s important to at least get it formed in the year that it was created,” she said.

Rouse, however, is not positive that the coalition will meet before April 1, and although he welcomes Brown’s input, says he will not rush a meeting.

“Although we wish Ms. Brown well and are sure that she will be very successful in whatever field she decides to go into, and her thoughts will always be welcome throughout the years, in all fairness to the coalition, this is not contingent upon whether she’s in the community or not,” he said.

However, Brown is not alone in wanting to meet sometime this spring. Some Council members would also like to see the CCAC convened to discuss what they consider a very important issue.

Though he still receives “some” complaints about student partying, Kirsits said that he has already seen an improvement in student-community relations since the CCAC was formed.

“I do believe, with some of the ordinance work, and the idea of registering parties, it got people together to reel things in and get people talking to try to make the neighborhoods a little bit better for everybody,” he said.

Despite the slow start, Rouse is optimistic that the coalition will be able to accomplish its goals.

“I’m sure that it will meet the need that it was created for, and we’re still very optimistic and proactive on that whole process,” he said. “The results are going to be very much worth the wait.”

Nonetheless, these goals can never be fulfilled if the CCAC is never convened. And ultimately, the responsibility rests with the members of the South Bend Common Council to empower the coalition.

“In terms of our end, we’ve followed up by asking when it’s going to be formed, if it’s going to be formed,” Brown said. “Unfortunately at this point I just think it’s kind of a waiting game. The ball is in their court. They know we’ve been following up.”