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In Focus: Group fights efficiency obstacles

Maddie Hanna | Friday, January 21, 2005

Given the diversity in the age, roles and interests of its members, the Campus Life Council has made admirable strides toward more productive and informed dialogue, but greater efficiency must be achieved before their ideas can be realized.

CLC, which brings together students, faculty, administration and rectors biweekly to discuss issues and propose changes to Student Affairs, often falls under fire for failing to produce visible results.

This year has been no exception, as the three committees that comprise the CLC have focused on tasks described as “attainable,” but have yet to attain anything.

According to Adam Istvan, student body president and CLC chair, the composition of the organization often restricts its productivity. A two-thirds vote is required to make a recommendation to Student Affairs, but members of the administration comprise just over one third of the group, so student-backed issues are easily stalled, he said.

“It’s an interesting group in that it’s hard to get anything controversial through – we can’t just go gung-ho and try to implement our policies as students,” Istvan said.

Last semester, CLC made no recommendations to Student Affairs. Istvan did not express concern at this slow pace, emphasizing the research and dialogue components.

“The discussion is more important than actual policy recommendations,” said Istvan, who admitted that CLC is “not the most effective way to recommend things to Father Poorman.”

Because its term begins at the start of fall semester, CLC faces a different calendar than other student government bodies that begin their new terms in April.

“We’re basically robbing ourselves of two, three months of productivity – you don’t have a chance to get things rolling,” Istvan said.

CLC has made successful proposals in the past. By November 2003, the group had already managed to approve a widely respected resolution to investigate resident assistant training. This measure both addressed an important campus issue – at the time, RAs were being fired because of scheduling conflicts – while earning credibility for itself as a group. So a lack of action should not be pinned solely on matters of time or group composition.

CLC is comprised of three task forces – vending, security and social concerns. These committees are all currently in the research stage and are confidently pursuing what they view as attainable goals.

The vending task force is investigating the recent increase in laundry and vending prices on campus, aiming to write a proposal regarding this issue by the beginning of spring semester.

The security task force is trying to raise awareness of crime and safety issues around campus – goals related to those outlined in Istvan’s Board of Trustees report, and thus an avenue for increased productivity.

“I think the realistic goals that we’re shooting for right now are finding a better way for students to regularly be aware of instances involving crime and security services, possibly through a section in The Observer or a ListServ e-mail,” Alex French, O’Neill senator and committee chair, said.

The social concerns task force aims to come to a better understanding of social diversity and create a means of increasing diversity awareness on Notre Dame’s campus.

Cavanaugh senator and committee chair Jordan Bongiovanni explained that although the committee was initially interested in instituting a mandatory social awareness class for all Notre Dame students, it is now realizing much more research is needed.

Bongiovanni said while the committee might not be able to take action this year, it will compile, organize and translate the information for future groups.

The nature of CLC’s dialogue and the dedication of its members to researching their goals suggest that there should be more to show for their efforts. Though the group’s position as an intersection of student desire and administrative action naturally makes productivity more difficult, CLC members need to reassess their approach to the problems, and find the missing link between dialogue, research and results.