Year in review: 2016-2017
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 19, 2017
June 1, 2016: Jan Cervelli starts first term as College President
Cervelli assumed her new role as Saint Mary’s President on June 1 and was officially inaugurated on Nov. 12.
At the ceremony, Cervelli said she envisioned Saint Mary’s collaborating with Notre Dame and Holy Cross in the best interest of all three institutions.
“There is an energy and momentum and a culture of innovation coursing through both South Bend and the tri-campus community that I hope to develop for our mutual benefit,” she said.
To work toward this goal in her first year as president, Cervelli — along with University President Fr. John Jenkins and then-Holy Cross President Br. John Paige — signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding sexual assault. The MOU seeks to open up communication between the institutions so that information and resources can be effectively exchanged.
Aug. 19, 2016: Dunne Hall and Flaherty Hall open
Notre Dame opened two new dorms — Dunne Hall and Flaherty Hall — in the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, marking the first new residence halls on campus since the opening of Ryan Hall in 2009.
“Our undergraduate residential system is such a treasured and distinctive component of a Notre Dame education — and here we are, adding two new halls to this unique tradition,” Heather Rakoczy Russell, vice president for residential life, said in an email to The Observer in August. “These halls are set to impact generations of Notre Dame students, and this year will be very formative in the way in which these communities are launched.”
Flaherty Hall — the new women’s hall — has kitchens on every floor, and new men’s hall Dunne Hall has one full kitchen and three kitchenettes in the floor lounges, as well as a food sales space known as “Dungeon Tacos” in the basement.
Both dorms have singles, doubles and quads, with six-person rooms also available as an option in Dunne. Each hall also boasts a chapel visible from the exterior of the building.
Karen Kennedy, director of housing, said in an August interview that Flaherty Hall was filled with residents who were previously living in Pangborn Hall. Other undergraduate women were also able to apply to live in Flaherty through the interhall application process.
Kennedy said undergraduate men applied to live in Dunne Hall through the interhall application process as well. Fr. Matthew Kuczora, the rector of Dunne Hall, said in August that he was looking forward to establishing a new community in Dunne.
“I’m most excited about the chance to build a brand new community from the ground up,” Kuczora said. “One of the most distinct things about residential life at Notre Dame is our dorm system. The bonds formed there last a lifetime.”
Aug. 2016: Walsh community moves into Pangborn Hall
Students received an email from vice president of student affairs Erin Hoffman Harding on Jan. 13, 2016, alerting them of new changes that would affect the dorm’s housing system. Included among these changes was the relocation of the Walsh Hall community to Pangborn Hall during the 2016-2017 academic year while the Walsh Hall building underwent renovations.
The residents of Walsh Hall were the first to live in Pangborn Hall under its new identity as a “swing hall” for residents whose dorm buildings will be undergoing renovations. Walsh Hall rector Liz Detwiler said at the time of the announcement that although it would take time for the Walsh community to adjust to the changes, ultimately it would be what is best for their dorm.
“When I was told that Walsh would receive a massive renovation on a scale that exceeded anything done before on this campus my initial reaction was relief,” Detwiler said in an email. “Walsh needs this renovation so badly, and I felt relieved that the University had heard my voice and the voices of Walsh women calling for building improvements.”
Detwiler also said she thinks the Walsh community will come out even stronger as a result of this move, despite the difficulty of leaving a building its residents had grown attached to.
“It will take time for everyone to come to terms with their feelings about the temporary switch, but Walsh has always impressed me, and I have every reason to believe we will rally and be even stronger,” she said. “We are a small community and this is a big moment for us, and the only way I know how to do it is together. It’s how Walsh does everything: together.”
The Walsh Hall community will move into its newly-renovated building in the fall, and the next hall community to move into Pangborn Hall for the 2017-2018 academic year will be the residents of Badin Hall.
Sept. 2016: Notre Dame breaks ground on Walsh Family Hall
The University broke ground on the School of Architecture’s new home — Walsh Family Hall — in September. The building will be located north of Notre Dame Stadium across from Eddy Street Commons, and will include more classrooms, workspaces and a central stoa.
The new building was made possible by a $27 million gift from Matthew and Joyce Walsh to replace the School’s current headquarters, Bond Hall.
“We were rapidly outsizing [Bond Hall]; we don’t have that much space in the studios,” dean of the School of Architecture Michael Lykoudis said at a presentation to architecture students in September. “We need a different kind of space. Bond Hall is an amazing building, a beautiful building, well-built. The studio layout doesn’t work as studios should. One of the most common complaints I hear is that graduates and undergraduates don’t speak to each other.”
Walsh Family Hall is scheduled to open in time for the 2018 fall semester.
Sept. 12, 2016: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visits Notre Dame
When asked if she liked to be called “Queen Ruth” at an event in the Purcell Pavilion in September, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “I’d rather be notorious.”
The conversation, moderated by U.S. circuit judge for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and class of 1975 law school alumna Ann Williams, discussed Ginsburg’s nickname — The Notorious RBG — her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, and the difficulties of going to law school and practicing law at a time when women were discouraged from participating in the field.
After the conversation, Ginsburg took questions from students on issues ranging from the importance of diversity of opinion to how to deal with polarizing cases.
Oct. 2016: University begins renovations of North Dining Hall
After announcing plans to renovate North Dining Hall (NDH) at a student senate meeting in September, Campus Dining’s five-phase remodeling plan began over fall break.
Phase one started with the north side of the building being shut down while students continued to eat in the south end at mealtimes. The two sides reversed in March, as the renovated north end of the dining hall was unveiled.
Director of student dining Scott Kachmarik said NDH was long overdue for an upgrade after going 30 years without one.
“Everyone thinks it’s all cosmetic,” he said during an interview in November. “But at this point, a lot of it’s for the infrastructure — everything’s getting pretty old.”
The final construction phase will take place over the summer, at which time the renovations will be completed for students to enjoy upon their return in the fall.
Nov. 8, 2016: Donald Trump elected 45th President of the United States
Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students stayed up through the night of Nov. 8 to watch the results of the 2016 presidential election stream in from across the country. The election of Donald Trump was met across campus with shock, excitement and — in some cases — fear.
In the immediate aftermath of the election, students staged demonstrations, Notre Dame community members signed petitions requesting the University be declared a sanctuary campus and University President Fr. John Jenkins hosted an interfaith prayer service at which he expressed his support for undocumented students at the University.
“This is Notre Dame,” Jenkins said at the prayer service. “Either we walk together in mutual support, or we do not walk at all. Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are.”
Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli similarly expressed support for students who were dissatisfied with the election results. She worked with professor of psychology Catherine Pittman to assemble an open discussion about post-election fears students may be facing.
When students handed out signs with phrases demonstrating support for their undocumented peers, Cervelli took one and then asked “Can I have an extra one for my car?”
Nov. 2016: University students form We Stand For and stage demonstrations in response to Trump’s election
In response to Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, Notre Dame students came together to form We Stand For, a student group dedicated to drawing attention to social justice issues on campus and beyond.
Since its founding, We Stand For has organized student demonstrations to protest Trump’s election and potential invitation to speak at Commencement, a walk out urging University President Fr. John Jenkins to declare Notre Dame a sanctuary campus, protests against conservative writer Charles Murray after his invitation to speak at Notre Dame, and a Title IX teach-in.
According to its Facebook page, the group and its events are intended to promote “human dignity and respect” for all.
March 2, 2017: University’s announcement of Vice President Mike Pence as Commencement speaker creates controversy
Rather than hosting the sitting president as Notre Dame’s Commencement speaker during his first year in office — as has been done on multiple occasions in the past — the University announced Vice President and former Governor of Indiana Mike Pence as the 2017 Commencement speaker on March 2.
University vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne said in a previous interview with The Observer that Pence’s status as a native son of Indiana was a key reason he was invited.
“Certainly one of the things that figured prominently was the fact that he was governor in our home state who had just become vice president of the United States,” he said. “ … Governor Pence is a native son of Indiana, and coincidentally we will be celebrating ND’s founding 175 years ago in Indiana. Those were elements of it.”
The selection of Pence as Commencement speaker was met with widespread protest across campus, with students citing Pence’s record on LGBT issues as a particular point of contention.
“The new Administration has shown a basic disregard for the fundamental rights of so many communities,” the Notre Dame College Democrats said in a statement released in response to the decision. “We are saddened that Fr. Jenkins would invite Vice President Pence to serve as an ambassador of that Administration, as he receives an honorary degree on a stage shared by members of the very communities he marginalizes.”
In one of the most visible signs of protest in response to Pence’s impending visit, students organized and distributed a rainbow Pride flag drive to show solidarity against Pence by hanging the symbol of the LGBT community out windows throughout campus.