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Board of Trustees convenes at ND

Amanda Michaels | Thursday, October 7, 2004

In what is arguably the first major milestone of their term, student body president Adam Istvan, vice president Karla Bell and chief executive assistant Dave Baron will deliver a report to the Board of Trustees today, focusing on the issue of student safety beyond campus boundaries.Titled “Protecting the Notre Dame Family: Safety and Security Off Campus,” the presentation will address the importance of protecting students residing and traveling in the greater South Bend community and offers a four-pronged approach to addressing the issue.The opening of the report stresses the connection between the community and University, citing statistics that show over half of the student population will eventually live off campus, and adding that even more take advantage of the South Bend nightlife. It also brings up concern over the increasing dangers of living and traveling off campus, and details the safety precautions taken at comparative universities.As a solution, Istvan, Bell and Baron are offering suggestions for the creation of an ND SafeBus and an Off Campus Safety Seminar, the increase of student involvement in neighborhood groups and the assertion of off-campus security as an additional priority for the Notre Dame Security/Police. In the report, specific operational details for the SafeBus proposal are mostly omitted in favor of a more conceptual focus, though those numbers will be available for the Trustees if needed, Baron said. The SafeBus plan, already discussed by the Council of Representatives and the Student Senate, calls for the implementation of a free, alternative transportation service for students going off campus on weekend nights. Preliminarily, Baron said, the SafeBus would operate from 1 to 4 a.m., making a loop from campus to downtown South Bend, from downtown to campus, from campus to the residential complexes Turtle Creek, College Park and Castle Point and finally back to campus. No concrete plan has been decided upon, however, and it must first get approval from the Campus Life Council before it moves through the administration.”When we address the trustees, we’re not trying to get approval for a specific plan,” Istvan said. “We’re hoping the Board of Trustees will direct the University to make off-campus safety a priority, which would expedite the process [of approving the SafeBus], especially in terms of funding.”While they may offer feedback, the Trustees are not expected to take any formal action, either positively or negatively, regarding the report.The implementation of a seminar that addresses general off-campus issues as well as security is also a priority, Istvan said. “It’s not just about safety, it’s about learning how to be a good citizen and neighbor,” Istvan said. “Basically, it’s teaching Notre Dame students the things they need to know about living off campus.”In regards to members of the Off-Campus Council sitting on the various South Bend neighborhood groups, Baron said that such involvement is essential in building up the relationship between the University and the South Bend community.”Everyone will be better off if there is direct communication of problems between students and residents, rather than finding out about issues through police calls or tickets on cars the next morning,” Baron said.These two previous proposals are mainly student government actions, but fit in with the ultimate message of the report, Istvan said.The fourth section of the report is the assertion that NDSP should consider off-campus security a priority – a point that Istvan called the “overarching message” of the presentation. The student government leaders said they hope for a positive reception from the Trustees.”This report is so necessary to safety at the University,” Istvan said. “I’d expect the Board to see it as an opportunity to improve safety.” Bell commented on the high value of the Trustees’ input on their proposal, and Baron concurred.”This is an amazing group of people, and it’s very honoring to be able to stand in front of them,” Baron said.