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Leaders seek feedback on report for Trustees

Margaret Hynds | Wednesday, October 9, 2013

During Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting, student body president Alex Coccia, vice-president Nancy Joyce and chief of staff Juan Rangel presented the report they will give to the Board of Trustees next Thursday to hear senators’ feedback.

“The topic for the fall report is mostly dictated to us by the chair of the student affairs committee,” Joyce said. “This year, Anne Thompson [the committee chair] asked us to focus on diversity and inclusion, as well as students who are marginalized on campus.”

The report focuses on four main areas of diversity: racial and ethnic diversity, sexual orientation and gender issues, socioeconomic status and undocumented status, Joyce said.

At the center of the group’s suggestions surrounding socioeconomic status is the Rector Fund, a little-known cache of funds raised through The Shirt Project that helps students purchase tickets for athletic events, hall dances and other “important facets of the Notre Dame experience,” Joyce said.

Joyce said student government wants to “make sure rectors are aware of [the Rector Fund] and using it to its full potential and reaching students in the middle in terms of socioeconomic status.

“Are there students in the middle who are also constrained but who are not meeting financial aid requirements?”

Carroll Hall senator Joe Kelly said he was unaware of the Rector Fund.

“I had no idea this even existed. I think a lot more students might take advantage of it if it were better publicized,” Kelly said.
In its section on racial diversity, the report proposes a visible statement of inclusion be placed in residence halls and classrooms and a mandatory in-service for all club advisors, Coccia said.

In the discussion that followed the report’s presentation, Alumni Hall senator Juan Jose Daboub Silhy said he was wary of how effective a statement of inclusion might be.

“If students don’t feel welcome, a piece of paper with a statement on it is not going to make them comfortable,” Daboub Silhy said.

The report will also suggest ways to improve the University’s relationship with undocumented students as well as students of all sexual orientations – particularly with regard to transgender students in residence halls. On that note, the report suggests “active conversation” moving forward, Coccia said.

Senate also continued dialogue about student and official university response to sexual assault on campus. Coccia and Joyce will be meeting with NDSP in the coming week to address concerns from Senate and the student body about the issue.

The group approved and welcomed junior John Wetzel as the new president of The Shirt Project. Student Union treasurer Andrew Lall said Wetzel joined The Shirt Project as a freshman, when “he played an integral role in its design and, as a sophomore, served the project as vice president.”

Wetzel said those in charge of The Shirt Project have not yet chosen a manufacturer for this year. Last year, the group chose fair trade company Alta Gracia to produce The Shirt.

 “We originally chose Alta Gracia because we wanted to combine their social mission with our own,” he said. “Last year we wanted to continue their message and story. … In the end our cause as a charity is to serve our students.”

Wetzel said his group will keep options open for this year’s The Shirt manufacturer.

“Every year companies come in and re-bid,” he said. “We only have a one-year contract.”