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Group debates Monologues, proclamation

Maddie Hanna | Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Campus Life Council passed a “Rape-Free Zone Proclamation,” controversial due to its support of the Vagina Monologues, and discussed last week’s “Flex 10” resolution and task force reports at Monday’s meeting.

“This is a huge success for this campus,” student body president Adam Istvan said. “I’m thrilled that the CLC stepped up to support this and the Vagina Monologues.”

The proclamation, which began in the Senate Gender Relations Committee and passed in the Senate last week, was described by student body vice president Karla Bell as a “vow of support for V-Day, a symbolic gesture.”

“Obviously, we can’t just make our campus [automatically] rape-free,” Bell said.

Some council members were opposed to the proclamation based on its support of the Vagina Monologues, the highly successful and often debated feminist play by Eve Ensler.

“I think from an administrative perspective, particularly in Student Affairs, I agree with everything in this proclamation except the Vagina Monologues,” said David Moss, assistant vice president for Student Affairs.

According to Moss, the Vagina Monologues is currently performed on campus solely as an academic production, housed as an academic freedom issue.

“We just don’t think it represents us as a Catholic institution,” said Moss, who did not want the show to be the centerpiece of the proclamation.

To bypass the issue, Moss recommended removing the section discussing the Vagina Monologues from the proclamation. He also noted he would support a Notre Dame-specific version of the play, similar to that created by Saint Mary’s students, and said men needed to be included in such a production.

“I think it’s naïve to think that we can stop violence against women without including men in the process,” Moss said.

Several members, including Brother Jerome Meyer, Knott Hall rector, supported Moss and refused to condone the Vagina Monologues.

“I agree with Dr. Moss. If it stays in [the resolution], I can’t support it,” Meyer said.

Siegfried senator James Leito said he thought the inclusion of the Vagina Monologues in the proclamation was unnecessary.

“I see where student government is coming from, but I don’t think it adds any strength to what we’re trying to say,” Leito said.

Joyce Randall, Diversity Council representative, disagreed with Leito.

“The Vagina Monologues is more powerful than some shirt that just says ‘Stop the Violence,'” Randall said.

Despite the opposition, the resolution still managed to pass with 11 affirmative votes and five abstentions, meeting the CLC’s requisite two-thirds majority only with the addition of Istvan’s vote.

“I’m really happy that the resolution passed with [some] rector support,” Istvan said, noting the proclamation met with adequate support even without the presence of two students at the meeting.

Regarding the continuing discussion of meal plans, Istvan said Father Mark Poorman, vice president for Student Affairs, had received the “Flex 10” resolution, which the CLC passed at their last meeting.

“I would expect that we’ll get a response to that resolution by our next meeting on the 28th,” Istvan said.

Cavanaugh senator Jordan Bongiovanni, co-chair of the social concerns task force, said her committee had laid out four possible options to increase diversity awareness among Notre Dame students.

The options are creating a new diversity class, working with and modifying the current contemporary topics class, establishing a diversity requirement and cross-listing current requirements. This fourth option was the most popular among members of the committee, Bongiovanni said.

Istvan said the idea of cross-listing current requirements had been raised frequently after the recent diversity report presented to the Board of Trustees.

Moss and chief executive assistant Dave Baron suggested submitting the committee’s findings to associate provost Dennis Jacobs.

Leito, chair of the vending task force, said his committee had received results from a Notre Dame Food Services survey sent to 2,000 students, of which 949 responded.

“Students felt there was an adequate amount [of laundry services available], but the value was not good enough,” Leito said.

While the survey found 56 percent of students preferred an alternate pricing schedule, a flat fee could be problematic because of the wide variation in amount of money spent on laundry per semester, Leito said.

“As far as vending, it’s pretty much the same story,” Leito said, explaining many students thought vending machine prices could be lowered.

As a possible solution, Leito offered the idea of lowering vending prices in dorms and increasing prices in public areas, such as the library – although he noted students might balk at having to pay two different prices for the same snack.

“But I say get them as low as we can get them in the dorms, and then we’ll go from there,” Leito said.

According to Leito, in addition to Food Services and Vending sending their findings to Poorman, his committee will also write its own resolutions.

Alex French, O’Neill senator and chair of the security task force, said his committee met last Monday with Notre Dame Security/Police assistant director Phil Johnson and South Bend Police representatives.

“They’re totally willing to put together information to help with a security [e-mail list],” French said, explaining they planned to test the e-mail list by sending it biweekly and starting near the end of this year.

French also said they met with Fire Chief John Antonucci and discussed fire safety programs and an off-campus safety seminar, as well as the possibility of mandatory RA training.

Meyer was uneasy about this proposal.

“I think you have to be careful, adding on to the training of RAs,” Meyer said.