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SIBC leaves SAO, absorbed by Mendoza

| Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Student International Business Council (SIBC), the University’s largest student organization, changed its membership requirements at the start of the school year to permit only students pursuing a major or minor in the Mendoza College of Business to join.

Dr. Angela Logan, SIBC’s faculty advisor, said these changes occurred after SIBC came under the purview of the Mendoza College of Business. Previously, the Student Activities Office (SAO) had authority over SIBC, which has about 500 members and is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

“Due to its commitment to ‘ask more of business,’ and its emphasis on providing Mendoza students with opportunities to gain educational experience around the world, the Student Activities Office and Office of Student Affairs asked the Mendoza College of Business about the possibility of SIBC returning to its original oversight in Mendoza,” Logan said in an email.

“After conversations with key leadership in Mendoza and the benefactor regarding the current challenges and future opportunities for growth of the organization, the Mendoza College of Business welcomed SIBC under its stewardship,” Logan said. “As the organization celebrates its 25th anniversary, we are excited and poised to continue SIBC’s commitment of ‘peace through commerce’ across the globe.”

Senior Alessandro DiSanto, one of SIBC’s co-presidents, said the council’s move to Mendoza forced it to limit its membership.

“As of the end of August, we were officially moved from under SAO to the Mendoza College of Business,” DiSanto said. “As an organization officially housed within the college of business, our membership is excluded specifically to those … who are either majors within the Mendoza College of Business or have minors or concentrations in a program that requires courses in Mendoza as part of their mandatory curriculum.”

DiSanto said the student leadership of the council was informed of the decision to move into Mendoza on Aug. 24. He said no students were involved in the decision-making process.

“We were informed of the decision after they were made, at the end of August as we arrived onto campus,” he said. “We were not privy to the discussions as they were being had over the summer between SAO, Development and Mendoza.

“It is our understanding that the justification is that now that SIBC is housed under Mendoza, when students go out and represent themselves as SIBC members to companies through these projects, they are representing, implicitly, the Mendoza College of Business, and the [Mendoza College of Business] Dean [Dr. Roger Huang] would not want any students representing themselves as the Mendoza College of Business without having the education certified and provided by Mendoza courses.”

DiSanto said though he and other members of the council respect the decision, he feels open membership offers SIBC constituents a more integrated experience.

“Previous to this year, we were housed under SAO, and one of the requirements of SAO to be a club is that you must be open to the entire campus,” he said. “That’s something we prided ourselves on was that we allowed ourselves to be an opportunity for students across campus who might be of a specific technical discipline like engineering or a broad social discipline perspective [like] PLS or any Arts and Letters discipline and allow them to enter into the business environment, to learn that language, and see if that’s something they might want to apply into their own lives.

“We certainly understand the perspective of the Dean from a liability and quality management perspective, but it is our overall philosophy that we feel that a broad membership criterion is more in line with the mission of the University, as far as diversity of opinion and diversity of thought,” DiSanto said. “We feel that within a real-life business world, a group of individuals with a diverse background can produce better results than those with a limited technical training.”

DiSanto and fellow senior and SIBC co-president Alisha Anderson estimate SIBC’s current membership is 20 to 30 percent non-business students. DiSanto said the outcome of the new membership requirement will be most visible in the consulting and global development divisions.

“I think the largest impact on the council will be within the global development and consulting divisions,” he said. “Our consulting division has historically drawn a large number of interdisciplinary students, including engineers, who are both drawn to consulting companies because of their multifaceted, big picture approach to company problems, as well as consulting companies, which are very much drawn to people with engineering backgrounds because of their technical training.

“Within the global development division, we anticipate a very large impact. A large number of the students draw from more socially-conscious training programs within the College of Arts and Letters. … The [global development] projects normally have large international service-based aspects, which make them a big draw to students not only studying business.”

Anderson said SIBC established a “pretty generous” grandfather clause, which allows any non-business students who have been active in the club to remain members, to accommodate previous members who do not meet the new requirements. Freshmen who have yet to declare a major must show intent to enter the Mendoza College of Business at the end of the year, she said.

“All those who have participated in the past [and have been] active in the past, typically meaning [they] paid dues, regardless of your college or your association, you are allowed to participate. … Freshmen just have to be business intent this year.”

Freshman John White, who intends to major in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS), said he “was definitely surprised about the new requirements.”

“Despite not having a major within Mendoza, I am very interested in a career in business, and I believed SIBC would be a great way to pursue that interest,” White said.

White said he joined the Notre Dame Wall Street Club, which helps students network and find careers in business, to continue that pursuit.

Amidst the changes, Anderson said she looks forward to the opportunities Mendoza can provide SIBC and its members.

“We are excited to return to Mendoza,” she said. “We are a business club, and we had previously been housed in Mendoza, so this is sort of returning home for us.

“We see this as a great opportunity to engage more with the extensive faculty and staff on hand. Especially for our founder, this move is important to him, too. We are excited to return home and have this opportunity to improve upon our organization and programming.”

Monica Laidig, SIBC’s program manager, said despite some negative reactions to the membership requirement change, the council will still strive to excel in its mission to spread “peace through commerce.”

“For 25 years, SIBC has been open to all students at the University of Notre Dame,” Laidig said in a written statement. “The new membership requirements were administratively designated when SIBC was brought into the Mendoza College of Business at the beginning of the semester.

“This has understandably created a strong reaction by SIBC members and alumni as well as the student body. The Student International Business Council’s vision of ‘peace through commerce’ will continue to encourage discussion regarding the restrictions, while at the same time moving forward in a professional manner.”

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About Jack Rooney

Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

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  • Pat

    “No students were involved in the decision-making process” might as well be the official theme of the Jenkins administration

  • Connor

    There is no excuse for the degree restriction. College should be a time for exploring career paths, not restricting them.