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Members discuss student issues

Kathleen McDonnell | Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A reduced wait time before pep rallies, work on the disorderly house ordinance and a new club promoting interracial awareness were among the topics of discussion at Tuesday’s Council of Representatives (COR) meeting in LaFortune.

In response to last week’s discussion surrounding racial insensitivity, student body president Lizzi Shappell brought in senior Chris Wagner to talk to COR members about the new club, Sustained Dialogue.

Sustained Dialogue’s goal is to “get people from different groups who wouldn’t normally socialize to interact,” Wagner said.

The club consists of about 60 students committed to meet once per week in groups of 10 to 12. Trained student moderators lead a discussion about important issues affecting student life, particularly racial relations on campus, Wagner said.

“What we do is provide a space for students to talk with people who honestly do care about race relations so that those with concerns can feel like their voices are being heard,” he said.

While COR members applauded Sustained Dialogue for brainstorming answers to difficult problems, they also urged the group to act on the issues at hand.

“It would be great if you went to hall councils and gave dorms an opportunity to come and participate,” chief executive assistant Liz Brown said. “It could be a one time thing – not mandatory – but still getting the name of the group out there.”

As for community relations, Shappell acknowledged South Bend Common Council member Karen White’s invitation to meet with student leaders during the Common Council meeting Sept. 27 to discuss the disorderly house ordinance.

Shappell, alongside other student government leaders, said she continues to work toward changing the ordinance enacted in the summer of 2005.

Ideally, Shappell said, she’d like to see a warning given to students before the possibility of eviction.

“We don’t feel eviction fits the crime in this case,” she said.

While changing the ordinance may solve some problems, Shappell urged students to first and foremost be polite neighbors.

“Introducing yourself to others and becoming a member of the community rather than a temporary resident is crucial,” she said.

Off-campus president Spencer Feran encouraged students to take up an equally polite attitude when confronted by the police.

“The number one thing the South Bend Police Department said to me was for home owners to come outside and be polite when the police arrive at a party,” he said. “Most of the time they are just looking to settle you down, and complying makes a big difference.”

“Being a good neighbor can go a long way,” he said, as a neighbor is more likely to come to students first if there’s a problem if they have a friendly relationship.

Also during the meeting, Hall Presidents Council co-chair Bryan Lowery said this weekend’s pep rally entry schedule will be tightened to cut down the waiting period between student entry and the start of the festivities.

This Friday’s pep rally will also be in the stadium, Lowery said, and with an excess of 35,000 people present, he deemed last week’s “a great success.”