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COR: Leaders plan college council

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Notre Dame student body president Bob Reish and vice president Grant Schmidt announced they have begun taking steps to establish a national college to Council of Representatives (COR) at their meeting Tuesday.

Reish said the purpose of the organization, which would be founded by Notre Dame’s student government and whose first meeting would be on campus possibly sometime next year, would be “to discuss not only topics within their schools but also national topics.”

The idea evolved from the plan for a Midwest college council, but Student Union co-directors of external affairs Jeff Lakusta and Kathleen Donahue, who are organizing the project, said they decided to expand the group due to the small number of academically excellent schools in the area.

“How many schools in the Midwest are there that are really up to our academic standards? Not many,” Donahue said.

The new group would be modeled off of the Ivy League’s Ivy Council and could include schools as diverse as Stanford, Vanderbilt, and Princeton, she said.

Lakusta said he wants to begin organizing the group’s inaugural meeting immediately because there isn’t much time left in the school year.

“We want to let schools know that we plan on doing this before the summer,” Lakusta said.

Donahue and Lakusta still have to find willing participants, corporate sponsorship and modes of transportation.

“You need to turn into salesmen for the next couple of months and sell your soul to the project,” Class of 2009 president Joey Brown said to Lakusta and Donahue.

Many COR members expressed concerns over Notre Dame’s ability to attract other high profile colleges to this new council when they will have to travel across the country.

“Generating interest is a problem,” club coordination council president John Burke said. “Any west coast school like Stanford would be hard to get out here.”

Class of 2011 president Cynthia Weber said Lakusta and Donahue will need help organizing the event and that student government needs to be relentless in order to convince other schools to attend.

“You’re going to have to be persistent,” she said. “I know this sounds like a silly idea, but send their office a fruit basket from Notre Dame.”

Reish also suggested that the group should be for Catholic institutions only, though several COR members were critical of this idea.

“If we want to consider ourselves an elite Catholic institution, then we could establish a national Catholic council,” Brown said. “But at the same time I’m afraid it would just be seen as just the Catholic schools dealing with Catholic issues instead of a national conference.”

Lakusta echoed Brown’s sentiments adding that the council should not be founded based on a spirit of exclusion.

“The ability to talk about the issues that affect everyone is really awesome and it’d be a shame to exclude someone who had the same issues just because they aren’t Catholic affiliated,” he said.

In other COR news:

uCOR also reviewed the budget for student government for the 2008-2009 academic year. The entire budget totals $477,499.86, which is significantly less than last year’s budget of $659,439.39.

Student Union treasurer Kadeja Gaines said one big reason the budget is smaller for next year is due to expenses elsewhere by the University.

“As awesome as it would have been to give everyone everything they wanted, it was just impossible,” she said. “One major reason is costs from Duncan [Hall.]”

uHall Presidents’ Council co-chair Erin Wash gave COR a brief overview of a possible service project aimed at getting clothing and medicine to Haiti. The project is the idea of Notre Dame alumnus Dr. Paul Wright, who served as the personal physician to Mother Theresa.

“He has access to a large cargo plane from the government, we would load it up with clothes and medicine and fly it to Haiti,” Wash said.

The plan is still in its nascent stages, and is pending government and University approval, Wash said. She hopes to have the details laid out by next fall.