The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Members zero in on event programming

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Director of Student Activities Brian Coughlin spoke to the Campus Life Council (CLC) Monday to address confusion over event programming procedures in light of University President Father John Jenkins’ recent addresses regarding academic freedom and Catholic character at Notre Dame.

Coughlin’s talk and the discussion that followed focused less on the issue of groups adhering to the University’s Catholic mission and more on prohibiting repetitive performances.

Coughlin said Jenkins first raised the issue of disallowing annual performances of “The Vagina Monologues.” Coughlin said he is concerned that the repetition may lessen the impact of the performance.

“It loses its effect on campus if you keep doing it – its message begins to ring hollow,” Coughlin said. “There is a limited pool of financial resources to bring in speakers and performances, and we want to spread that out to make sure [the students] are exposed to as much as possible over four years here.”

Coughlin cited yearly repetition as one of the reasons “The Vagina Monologues” has come under fire in recent months. He said the “Monologues” is not the only activity the repetition standard applies to. All campus groups, he said, are encouraged to change the content of their programs annually.

“If the Keenan Revue did the same skit year after year, then we would probably have a conversation with the rector of Keenan and the folks over there,” Coughlin said.

Zahm senator Pat Knapp questioned Coughlin’s statement that the repetition of an event diminishes its impact, citing the yearly turnover in the student body, with a quarter of the population leaving and a new class arriving each year.

But Coughlin responded that, even so, 75 percent of the student body remains the same.

“If a group wanted to do the exact same thing every year, I would say they need to expand and do different things every year and expose everyone to different things,” he said.

Coughlin said regardless of whether an event is popular during its initial performance, it should not be performed repeatedly. He said even though the Student Union Board’s (SUB) recent showing of “RENT” was extremely popular, Student Activities would not support subsequent repeated showings – but would instead encourage SUB to bring in new movies.

“There are hundreds of programs on sexual assault available out there,” Coughlin said. “They [departments and groups sponsoring or supporting “The Vagina Monologues”] should explore different things.”

History professor Gail Bederman challenged Coughlin’s position by bringing up an observation she said was made at a recent faculty meeting.

“People have a sense that football is an activity that is repeated year after year often with the same teams, and often the same players,” Bederman said. “If football can be repeated year after year, why can’t student groups?”

Coughlin suggested the CLC listen to any statements Jenkins makes in the coming weeks regarding a firm University policy on controversial campus events like “The Vagina Monologues.”

In other CLC news:

uAli Wishon, chair of the Senate Committee on Gender Issues, introduced a resolution to the Council in support of Notre Dame Health Service’s hiring of a physician. The physician will specialize in the treatment of students with eating disorders, in women’s health, and sexual assault cases. The resolution was passed and will be sent to Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

uThe Task Force on Social Concerns met recently with Bill Kirk, Associate Vice President for Residence Life and Student Affairs, to discourage the implementation of a University policy regarding third party Web sites like Facebook.com and MySpace.com.

uTask Force on Campus Grounds and Structures chair James Leito met with the Office of Residence Life to discuss building renovations to accommodate students who are injured in the middle of the year.