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Leito promotes Peer Advocacy

Karen Langley | Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Thanks to the Peer Advocacy Program, students have somewhere to turn if they receive a summons from the Office of Residence Life and Housing.

Judicial Council president James Leito and Judicial Council vice president for Peer Advocacy John Trippi presented the Council of Representatives with developments in the program – designed to provide students with advice from trained peers prior to their conferences or hearings and support during hearings – at Monday night’s meeting.

Leito, Trippi and Judicial Council director of Peer Advocacy Gina Dolan met with Associate Director of Residence Life and Housing Lori Maurer on Sept. 28 to better orient themselves with the process and decide what was needed, Trippi said.

“We are technically up and running,” he said. “We have been taking a few cases, but not many people know about the service.”

Using figures from the Office of Residence Life and Housing, the program determined that ten Peer Advocates were needed. The application email that was sent to the student body generated interest, and the Program received 85 applications. 27 applicants were granted interviews that will occur this week.

“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm,” Trippi said. “So many people said this is exactly what they want to do, that it fits with their career plans.”

Orientation and training for Peer Advocates will occur the week following fall break. The group will work to publicize the program in the two weeks following break.

“We’re really enthusiastic about it,” Leito said. “Part of the problem was that the program had nothing going for it at beginning of year, so we wanted to make sure that we had peer advocates before we advertised.”

Peer Advocates will advise students who have upcoming disciplinary conferences and hearings, Leito said, but will only appear with the students at hearings of a more serious nature. There are approximately 60 hearings each semester, while 500 to 800 letters are sent out each year for conferences and hearings.

“Whenever an infraction is reported, it is assigned to one of the directors of ResLife,” Leito said. “They decide whether it merits a conference or hearing based on severity and the student’s history.”

The program is completely confidential and is affiliated with Student Government, not the Office of Residential Life, Trippi said. Students who are interested in Peer Advocacy services should e-mail the Judicial Council.

“One thing we hope this helps out is off-campus students,” Leito said. “Lots of people on campus have a resource in their rector or an RA. Off-campus students don’t always have anyone to go to or may be reluctant to go back to their rectors [for support].”

In other COR news:

Junior Lindsay Hero spoke to the council about the Notre Dame Gulu Walk and Uganda-CAN, the international group started at Notre Dame that organizes the Gulu Walk. The Gulu Walk, which will take place in cities around the world on Oct. 22 and 23, is intended to show solidarity for the children who are kidnapped to fight in the war in Uganda and to draw attention to the cause.

“Notre Dame is being recognized by news networks nationally and internationally as a center of discussion about Uganda,” Hero said.