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Board responds positively to Lao’s report

Shelia Flynn | Friday, February 6, 2004

Members of the Board of Trustees responded to a student government report Thursday with positive enthusiasm and a round of applause, congratulating student body president Jeremy Lao and his team for their accomplishments and their efforts to address Board criticisms given in October.Chief of staff Patrick Corker began the presentation, outlining student government’s alcohol responsibility campaign. He said the effort will include the distribution of blood alcohol content cards, speakers and a drunk driving simulator machine during the week before spring break, and an advertising campaign encouraging students not to be “that guy” or “that girl” in regard to excessive consumption of alcohol.”Students on campus would benefit from knowing what their limits are,” Corker said. “I don’t think students are cognizant of that.”Lao and his team emphasized – and included in their report – that the campaign promotes responsible drinking and in no way tries to impose abstinence from alcohol upon students. Instead, their initiative focuses on collaboration with local establishments, cab companies and other institutions to ensure designated driving and responsible behavior. The Board applauded the plan, which is in-depth and multi-faceted.”This is only a transitional student government, but this initiative is a first from student government,” said Father Mark Poorman, vice president for student affairs.The other Board members expressed approval and also voiced additional suggestions, such as cooperative planning with Notre Dame Security/Police and other bodies. Several members also expressed concerns about ensuring the continuity of such an alcohol responsibility program from year to year within student government.”I can’t imagine that there would be an administration that wouldn’t want to pursue this,” Corker said. Building upon the administration’s emphasis on responsibility, Student body vice president Emily Chin then addressed the Board concerning social responsibility at Notre Dame. She outlined student government’s role in the Church in Africa conference and showed a short video of Notre Dame students, including herself, visiting Nigeria as part of the conference.”Americans don’t really see the true, other side” of Africa, Chin said, citing the continent’s “hospitality,” “beauty” and “rich culture.” She stressed student government’s commitment to social responsibility and said she hopes for increased awareness on campus and continued participation in events such as the Africa conference.Finally, Lao led his team in previewing a student programming endowment, which would allow an increased budget for big-name concerts and speakers at the University.”We don’t want to put the full burden of financing this on just student shoulders,” Lao said.The Student Union Board’s current allotment ranges between $30,000 and $60,000, Lao said, and these funds are not adequate for luring the famous acts desired by students.”The major challenge here is to have big signature events,” Poorman said, adding that officials do “have a willing participant rate.”Board members suggested that, before student government finalizes its proposal and report for the Board’s May meeting, representatives should compile a list of sample bands and speakers and their respective fees, differentiating between various entertainment levels. “Come back to us with some ideas and price tags,” one Board member said.The Board also suggested that student government explore the option of finding sponsors to match funds that they, as a body, raise. Lao and his team said they will look into this idea of making the endowment more proactive and cooperative.When one Board member inquired into using the stadium as an entertainment venue, Poorman said there is no specific prohibition against its use, but various other factors, such as the amount of necessary security and human resources, create difficulties.”It’s pretty complicated because it has a lot of other complications besides the money to host the concert,” Poorman said.Lao and his team said they would consider and incorporate the Board’s feedback, and they said, in response to members’ requests, they will send out more frequent updates to the Board before the May meeting.