Assembly approves resolution
Marisa Iati | Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Student Senate passed a resolution amending the responsibility of the Executive Programming Board and discussed sustainability at its meeting Wednesday. The student government branch also examined gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) issues.
The Executive Programming Board is the division of student government that facilitates the coordination of its various programming groups.
The resolution stipulates that the Board will use an online programming calendar to improve communication between the Student Union groups and will be required to meet three times annually. The Constitution of the Undergraduate Student Body previously required the Board to meet weekly.
Rachel Novick, education and outreach program manager for the Office of Sustainability, spoke to senators about the University’s sustainability strategy.
Novick said the Office of Sustainability hopes to reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent per gross square foot and attain a recycling rate of two-thirds by 2030. The Office of Sustainability also aims to minimize waste on campus.
Engaging in sustainable practices will ultimately save the University money, Novick said.
“When we look at the University setting aside operational money for this, they recognize that over the course of 20 years there may be times when they’re going to have to pay more for fuel because it’s more environmentally friendly [for example], but overall, sustainability saves organizations money,” she said.
Novick said the global Catholic community has made strides toward increasing sustainability.
“There are universities like Santa Clara and Notre Dame and Fordham and a lot of other places with sustainability programs, but they don’t necessarily reach the broader Catholic community, and in order to really make a difference … we really need to reach out and communicate and share what we’re learning here,” Novick said.
Senate also discussed the possibilities of creating a gay-straight student alliance and adding sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination clause.
Katie Rose, gender issues director for student government, said both issues are intertwined with religion, civil rights and creating a culture of acceptance.
“If we’re going to call ourselves the top Catholic university in the country, I strongly believe we should be leading the way on social progress,” she said.
Rose said the University is concerned about the legal implications of adding sexual orientation to the non-discrimination clause.
Student body president Pat McCormick said although sexual orientation is not included in the current non-discrimination clause, the University does not support discrimination on any basis.
“My sense is that the University believes that any claim on the basis of sexual orientation should be taken seriously and should be addressed within the University,” he said. “Essentially, a non-discrimination clause invites the state to enforce discrimination claims.”
Junior class president Kevin Doherty said the University allows the government to intervene in cases of discrimination on other bases, such as race and sex.
“It’s almost a discriminatory position to say we’re going to handle [issues of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation] in-house, but we’re going to invite the state in on some [issues] and not others,” Doherty said.
Doherty said if a student-run gay-straight alliance could articulate how it is different from the existing Core Council for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Students, it would be reasonable to conclude that each would contribute unique opportunities to campus.
If an official, student-run gay-straight alliance existed, the club would have some autonomy with regard to the selection of its leadership, McCormick said. The current Core Council is run by both students and administrators.
McCormick said it might also be possible to increase peer-to-peer support within the Core Council instead of creating a gay-straight alliance. This model would offer students significantly more resources than a student club would provide.
The University has already made strides on GLBTQ issues, McCormick said.
“For all those who want to try and expand inclusion within our community, there’s much to applaud about the University’s efforts,” he said. “So the goal is really not to say that we’re not moving on these issues because the University very much has been moving on these issues.”