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Student senate discusses sexual assault, sustainability

| Thursday, September 10, 2015

The student senate met Wednesday night to discuss the new Expectation of Responsibility Policy, sexual assault awareness and prevention programs It’s On Us and Green Dot and the sustainability changes in the dining halls.

Ryan Willerton, director of the office of community standards, outlined the Expectation of Responsibility Policy, which protects underage students who help intoxicated peers who need medical attention, and explained why the promise of no disciplinary action is necessary.

“We’ve had time to really articulate what that expectation is,” Willerton said. “The expectation is that if somebody needs help, that a Notre Dame student would act and get that individual help. We also recognize that students are worried about disciplinary action, for the person who needs help and the person who is calling for help, and this fear that their life will be over — they won’t be able to get into med school, they won’t be able to go to law school.”

Students may still be subject to “educational action,” Willerton said.

Willerton also addressed which sort of reports would go to the schools on students’ potential future applications.

He said only disciplinary status outcomes would be included in University records reported to medical schools, law schools, bar associations, graduate schools, the federal government and other jobs that conduct records checks.

After Willerton’s presentation, student body president Bryan Ricketts gave a short presentation on sexual assault.

“We are looking at It’s On Us and its role here on campus, and we’re talking about a model for culture change,” Ricketts said. “What we start with is awareness, followed by education and action. Two years ago, we started with One is Too Many. Then we had It’s On Us part one last year, and this year we have It’s On Us part two and Green Dot.”

Green Dot is an organization that, according to their website, is “built on the premise that we can measurably and systematically reduce violence within any given community.”

The student senators discussed the removal of all paper bags and styrofoam cups from the dining halls. A number of senators mentioned hearing complaints, and Dan Sehlhorst, chief of staff and member of the sustainability council, explained the reasoning behind the removals.

“Over the course of last year, there was a big push for eliminating all styrofoam from the dining halls and paper bags in the grab and go stations,” Sehlhorst said. “They [the Office of Sustainability] did this survey of over 2,000 people, I think, and they got about 80 percent support for removing both entirely. They felt very confident in doing that because it was so widely supported.”

(Editor’s note: Sehlhorst later contacted The Observer to clarify his statement.  The Office of Sustainability survey had 348 responses, 82 percent of which were in favor of removing bags and 92 percent in favor of removing styrofoam cups.) 

Additionally, the senate approved the selection of seven students to serve on the election committee for the 2015-2016 academic year: senior James Brokaw, sophomore Katie Hergenrother, sophomore Amit Paul, freshman Kathleen Ryan, junior Mary Schubert, freshman Zoe Walker and sophomore Ryan Will.

The student senate meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune Student Center. All meetings are open to the public.

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

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  • David Taylor

    “Educational action.” Pause for laughter. Ryan is getting his marching order from above. The notion that this policy change represents any measure of standards is preposterous.