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Group discusses overcrowding

Maddie Daly | Thursday, October 4, 2012

Student body president Brett Rocheleau reviewed meetings this week between student government, community leaders and administrators during Wednesday’s gathering of the Student Senate. He also looked ahead to his administration’s goals for its upcoming meeting with the Board of Trustees.

Last Thursday, Rocheleau met with Director of Academic Affairs Max Brown to talk about issues within academics.

“We met with the provost and talked over issues and looked ahead at what’s to come in the future,” Rocheleau said.

Friday morning, Rocheleau and chief of staff Katie Baker attended the South Bend Community Summit.  

“The main topic this time was the perceptions held by Notre Dame students about South Bend residents and vice versa,” Baker said.  “The idea is for students to get more involved in the community because a lot of the time the residents just see Friday night shenanigans going on. We are trying to show them a more positive image.”

Rocheleau said the summit was successful.

“Basically the summit was for community leaders, police force, and students,” Rocheleau said  “We met and talked through different events and collaboration ideas. I thought it went very wel .”

Also on Friday, Rocheleau met with the Office of Student affairs about the current proposals for a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA).  

“It went really well,” Rocheleau said. “They’re definitely going through a lengthy process. They’ve done a lot of research for benchmark activities. They are planning to make an announcement at the end of the semester so that’s something to look forward to.”

After completing this overview of their weekend meetings, Senate looked ahead to a student government presentation before the Board of Trustees. Student body vice president Katie Rose went through an outline ofnwhat this will entail.

“We will start by showing what the student body looks like statistics-wise and infrastructure,” Rose said. “So we have 29 dorms – two new buildings opened to relieve overcrowding, but we are back to being overcrowded.”

Rose said the presentation will include an analysis of the residence hall system versus off-campus living.

“We’ll talk about why people love living on campus and why our residence life system is so remarkable and unique,” she said. “We also have to address why students are moving off campus, which we discussed last week. We will conclude with recommendations for the future, some being more student facilities or possibly new dorm buildings.”  

Rocheleau said overcrowding is a result of admitting more students.

“We have about 8,400 students when our goal is usually 8,000,” Rocheleau said. “We’ve been admitting more and more per class, so more beds are being taken up in dorms. Even if we build new dorms, the same thing will happen again. We just opened two new dorms and overcrowding still happened..

McGlinn Hall senator Ali Wellman asked if reducing admissions would fix the problem.

“Notre Dame admits a certain amount of students anticipating that some students will decline their offer,” Baker said.  “More and more people have been accepting the offer lately which is why the class sizes have been over the normal amount.”

Carroll Hall senator Matthew O’Brien brought up a good suggestion that would open up more beds.

“Would they change the rule that athletes have to live on campus? I know a lot of athletes who have rooms in dorms but don’t actually live there,” O’Brien said.  “That’s a good 100 beds that aren’t being used.”

After concluding their discussion of overcrowding in residence halls, the senators addressed a resolutionoabout a new campus ministry council, introduced by campus ministry representative and senior Ellen Carroll

“There is a new campus ministry leader this year, so we’re changing the model to make it really driven by the students,” Carroll said. “We want student-generated ideas to share with the administration so they can work with each other.”

To bring those ideas before the administration, Carroll said a new body called the Campus Ministry Advisory Council will include 12 to 15 students.

“They will meet with campus ministry administrators and talk about topics brought up from both sides,” she said.

Carroll said she hopes for a wide range of students to participate in this council, not just “campus ministry regulars..  

“We want to be able to better meet the needs of the entire student body,” Carroll said. “The resolution says we have this new position to facilitate communication between student government and campus ministry. The campus ministry representative will be someone from the advisory council, once it is created.” Senate voted unanimously in favor of this resolution.