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Group discusses Catholic faculty

Claire Reising | Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Student Senate began implementing plans to inform undergraduates about the hiring and retention of Catholic faculty and to give students an avenue to voice their opinions.

Carol Hendrickson, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, said sophomore Kathleen Donahue and seniors Amy Meyers and Brian Boyd will speak at a town hall meeting next week and give different perspectives on the issue. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 18 in Room 102 of DeBartolo Hall.

Meanwhile, senators have been listening to student opinion by discussing the issue at Hall Council meetings with their dorms. Senators who discussed the issue said the majority of students they spoke with did not support the use of a quota to ensure a certain percentage of Catholic faculty at Notre Dame. Howard Senator Erdina Francillon said, most students she in her dorm did not feel Catholic faculty were crucial to spiritual life on campus.

“Basically there was pretty much a unanimous agreement that faith at Notre Dame is exercised more outside the classroom,” she said.

Walsh Hall Senator Anna Amberkar said she received a similar response. Although students would be concerned if there were no Catholic professors at Notre Dame, a professor’s religion did not seem to be an important factor in the classroom.

“The majority of people didn’t feel too concerned that we were losing the Catholic majority because they felt like our Catholic identity [comes from] outside the classroom, and a lot of students didn’t know [which] of their teachers were Catholic,” she said.

Some senators recognized that alumni may disagree with student opinion and wish to maintain the tradition of having a Catholic majority among faculty. Lyons Hall Senator Kelly Kanavy said that alumni have often been wary of major changes at Notre Dame, such as making the University co-educational, and that students should still be open to new policies.

“If you look back on the history of ND, or of any college, whether it is about to go co-ed or is about to start accepting minority applicants, I’m sure the alumni were up in arms about saying it’s not right, but that doesn’t mean that objectively, it’s not the right thing to do,” she said. “I don’t think that what they say should deter us.”

Although the senators reported that most students were not concerned about a predominantly Catholic faculty, Hendrickson stressed the importance of listening to both sides of the issue at the town hall meeting.

“It will be interesting to see what people’s opinions are once they’ve heard a really good break down [of the issue],” she said.

In addition to discussing student opinion about the hiring of Catholic faculty, the Senate passed a resolution supporting the installation of clocks in every classroom on campus. Hendrickson said that if both the Student and Faculty Senates pass the resolution, it will be implemented.

Pasquerilla West Senator Megan Sennett said she met with Joseph Schellinger, the director of academic space management, who said it would be “very feasible” to install clocks in the older classroom buildings that do not have clocks.

Sennett added that the University would use a satellite clock system, connecting clocks in the building together and reducing the possibility of theft, because they will not work if taken off the system.

In other Senate news:

u Multicultural Affairs Committee Chair Ninny Wan discussed the progress of one of her committee’s main initiatives, a cultural competency requirement in the Notre Dame curriculum. Wan said, some academic programs reported fitting another requirement into their curriculum would be difficult. For example, architecture students are already required to spend a year abroad, and engineering students have room for only one elective.

u Social Concerns Committee Chair Karen Koski said the Center for Social Concerns and the Kellogg Institute are hosting a symposium entitled “Solidarity in Pursuit of Authentic Human Development” on Feb. 23. A pre-symposium event to inform students about the issues will take place Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. in the Dooley Room of LaFortune.