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Student senate discusses sustainability, Onward

| Thursday, September 17, 2015

Student Senate met Wednesday night for presentations on new sustainability initiatives in the dining halls, the NOVO registration program and Onward, student government’s new online forum for students.

Linda Kurtos, director of sustainability, addressed student complaints about the removal of styrofoam cups from the dining halls, saying sustainability has a unique set of priorities.

“Something to remember about styrofoam is it really is a very bad actor in the world of sustainability,” Kurtos said. “ When we talk about sustainability, we think about ‘How do we do the best, first for people, then the planet and then for profit?’”

Kurtos also discussed what the money saved will be used for.

“Part of this program is to reallocate some of the money saved from not buying the polystyrene cups and put it toward more local and more sustainable food,” she said. “So now, we’re using all a local dairy farmer for our dairy products in the dining halls.”

After Kurtos’ presentation, Chuck Hurley, University registrar, held a discussion with student senators about NOVO, the class registration system that replaced DART this fall, including information about future updates that will be made, such as adding CIF forms.

The meeting ended with a presentation from Student Body President Bryan Ricketts, Director of Constituent Services John Kill and Director of Campus Technology Michael McRoskey about Onward, an online forum to give students a place to post their concerns.

Kill said Onward will be a student-driven way to address problems and offer possible solutions.

“We’re trying to establish this idea of problem and solution. It falls under what we call ‘ideation to probable action,’” he said.

Only Notre Dame undergraduate students will be able to access Onward, which is set to launch next week – faculty and graduate students will not be able to see it. Ricketts described the program as being “like Yik Yak, but not anonymous.” Students can make and vote on posts; posts with more votes will receive more attention.

In order to improve transparency with student government and the administration, McRoskey and Ricketts said problems that are being addressed will be “pinned” to the top of the feed with updates to let users know the problem is being handled.

Ricketts said he hopes this new program will encourage students to be more vocal about their concerns.

“When Nidia [Ruelas, student body vice president,] and I were out campaigning, we went and knocked on pretty much every door on campus, talked to every student that we could and got a lot of great ideas,” he said. “It’d be great if we could do that every day, but we can’t. Senators can bring their ideas to us, but there’s 8,000 students at this school and they have ideas and concerns to share.”

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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  • Why are graduate students & faculty excluded?

    Perhaps a case can be made for faculty, *perhaps*, but aren’t graduate students students of the University?

    And then there’s this 700 pound thing sitting in the corner: “The Observer”. Why isn’t there more “journalism” investigating student concerns – interviews with students and salient “adults”? op-eds? – within the pages? instead of being a pr arm of the University? From its own “about” page: “The Observer publishes stories about local events and issues that affect students, staff and community members of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s”.

    Yelp-like “articles” about restaurants, movies, tv shows…is this what “The Observer” has devolved to? {And using the “Yelp” analogy is done with apologies to Yelp.}

    Perhaps if “The Observer” did real reporting about ALL the issues that affect students, a University-sponsored and -monitored “Yik Yak”-like “service” would not only not be needed but be laughed away.

    More on this to come…