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Senate discusses water initiative

Sarah Mervosh | Thursday, September 10, 2009

Student government’s Global Water Initiative presented to Student Senate at its meeting Wednesday, and senators discussed how to advertise and encourage students to get excited about the project.

“It’s pretty basic,” student body vice president Cynthia Weber, who proposed the idea for the project, said. “People don’t have water. We’re Notre Dame and people don’t have water.”

Global Water Initiative hopes to partner with Water Project, a non-profit that will donate 100 percent of the money students raise to build wells in Africa, social concerns chair Rachel Roseberry said.

Global Water Initiative will be a year-long, campus-wide fundraiser to raise money for the nearly one billion people in the world who are without access to portable water, Roseberry said.

One well costs around $5,000 to build, Global Water Initiative Director Justin Pham said.

Roseberry said raising money to give people access to clean, portable water will help with a number of global issues.

“One in four deaths of children under five are related to water issues and sanitation issues,” she said. “Eighty percent of illnesses in developing countries are related to water and sanitation issues.”

The Global Water Initiative, which was part of Weber’s and student body president Grant Schmidt’s campaign, will help student government make a difference beyond Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame student body is one of the most powerful, energetic student bodies, if not the most powerful and energetic student body in the entire country,” Weber said.

“What fundraising events do you think will be effective?” she said. “How do you think we can make students care about this?”

Marc Anthony Rosa, representative for Keough Hall, suggested utilizing the competitive nature of the student body to raise money.

“This is a huge idea and there is no reason why all of Notre Dame should not be a part of it,” he said. “Notre Dame students are very competitive by nature. Maybe we could form some sort of competition between dorms.”

Other senators agreed, suggesting penny wars or a well-building competition to rally students to the project. Senators also suggested creating something visible on campus to remind students of the initiative.

University affairs chair Jeff Lakusta suggested something similar to the abortion crosses on South Quad to catch students’ attention.

“We could do some sort of awareness like that. You could put wells on South Quad,” he said. “What if you could flip your pennies into the well? And then you could collect your money.”

Susan Esquivel from Pangborn Hall liked the idea of installing wishing wells on campus, and suggested putting them in locations where students would have change readily available.