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Community relations letter passed

Justin Tardiff | Thursday, November 10, 2005

The tempo of Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting ran smoothly and quickly, as senators approved a letter to the student body about community relations and passed resolutions regarding Student Union fiscal policy and outreach to hurricane victims with little discussion.

The approved letter, which will be sent via e-mail, addresses the issue of community relations, urging Notre Dame students to take the first steps toward improving the relationship between the University and South Bend.

“The unfortunate stigma of an ‘elitist’ attitude within the Notre Dame student body towards the community of South Bend has lasted too long, and it has been extremely detrimental to the interactions between the students and the city of South Bend,” the letter reads. “It is imperative that we as students accept our responsibility to be instruments of change and begin the process of improving the relationship between Notre Dame students and South Bend.”

Community Relations committee chair Nick Guzman introduced the letter, explaining its particular relevancy during the past few weeks.

“With all the stuff that’s going on, the talk on campus of the evictions, talk in The Observer … we want to continue to promote our message and state a clear position on what we’re working on, which is to improve the relationship [between Notre Dame students and South Bend residents],” Guzman said.

Improving this relationship does not require students to make an incredible exertion, the committee emphasized in its letter.

“It can be as simple as a friendly hello to a member of the South Bend community, to introducing oneself to new neighbors, to investigating the community and all it offers beyond Grape Road,” the letter reads.

The letter was approved without opposition.

Senators passed a resolution modifying the fixed allocation percentages listed in the Student Union constitution, a change previously designated by Senate as the second stage in the push for the implementation of the College Readership Program – the first stage being the $15 student activities fee increase that passed in Senate Oct. 12.

The amendment to the Student Union constitution will decrease the fixed allotments granted to clubs and organizations and a contingency fund, increasing the budgetary allotment for Student Union organizations.

These changes adequately shift the distribution of Student Union funds to allow for the execution of the College Readership Program.

Student body president Dave Baron urged senators to pass the resolution, reminding them it was simply the second step in a previously-passed resolution and essential “to pay for the College Readership program without hurting all of these organizations.”

Baron said he had been in “constant contact” with Vice President of Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman, who supported the student activities fee increase and passed the resolution along to the University Budgetary Working Group, which approved the resolution Monday.

The University Officers Budgetary Group will consider the proposed increase today, Baron said. If approved, however, the increase will be put on the proposed University budget and not considered until February, when the Board of Trustees will convene and vote on next year’s budget.

The resolution to change the fixed allocation percentages passed in Senate with no discussion, but drew one vote of opposition and one abstention.

McGlinn senator Lindsay Meyer introduced the Resolution Supporting Continued Outreach to Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, describing it as a “bread and butter resolution.”

“We support everything that has transpired so far regarding [Notre Dame’s efforts in] helping out victims and urge the [University] President [Father John Jenkins] and [University] Provost [Thomas Burish] to channel some of the resources of our academic departments to further research … and to support the [hurricane] victims,” Meyer said.

The resolution, again, passed without opposition.

In other Senate news:

uResidence Life committee chair Mark Seiler explained the upcoming campus-wide construction to bring increased technology to residence halls, a project that is starting in Sorin College this week.

Seiler, who met with Director of Residence Life and Housing Jeff Shoup last week, along with Baron, said the construction will bring cable, wireless Internet and better cell phone reception to dorms.

“The biggest issue is the 15 to 18-day ‘dark period’ that everyone is concerned about,” Seiler said.

During this time, Seiler said the dorm phones, card swiping system and Internet connection will be nonfunctioning. To get through this period, he advised students to carry their room keys and extra money with them.

But Seiler warned senators not to expect too much too soon.

“Cable’s not going to go live until next fall,” he said. “However, the hope is that wireless will be available.”

uInternational Education Week will take place next week, Diversity Affairs committee chair Sarah Liu said.

Liu called the week “huge,” citing 20 events sponsored by departments across campus.

She asked senators to go see the “Eyes on the World” poster display, which will run Monday through Friday in O’Shaughnessy Hall, as well as the “Eyes on the World” presentation that will be given by students who studied or performed service abroad at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Coleman-Morse Lounge.

A 10,000 Villages Sale will be held in the Dooley Room in LaFortune Monday through Friday, Liu said.