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



Senators discuss assaults

Mary Kate Malone | Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chief executive assistant Liz Brown led a lengthy discussion on the best way to decimate information about sexual assault resources at the Student Senate meeting Wednesday.

Brown asked senators for their input on the issue before she meets with Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Bill Kirk on Friday to discuss sexual assault information and resources on campus.

Breen-Phillips senator Maris Braun said bathroom posters about sexual assault are not adequate enough.

The light blue, laminated signs are supposed to be in every residence hall bathroom, but according to senators who surveyed their respective dorms, the posters are not widespread.

“I think posters are helpful, but in the heat of the moment I don’t know if you’ll have all your mental facilities together enough to do Step One, Step Two,” Braun said, referring to the poster’s step-by-step advice for students who have just been sexually assaulted.

“We might want to look at other avenues,” she said.

But exactly what those avenues should be was debatable. Senators appeared to back Dillon Hall Senator Tyler Langdon’s idea to distribute sexual assault information at mandatory freshman PILLARS meetings.

Alumni Hall senator Danny Smith suggested adding a sexual assault awareness lesson to the freshman Contemporary Topics class. Later, he said making information available in health class and at mandatory PILLARS meetings would be most effective.

“It’s never too late to get that information … there’s no harm in doing it twice,” Smith said.

Smith also suggested placing posters in LaFortune, Coleman-Morse or Debartolo classroom building.

But the sensitive content in the signs makes them more suitable for a less-public environment, said Director of Student Activities Brian Coughlin.

“They put it in the bathroom [originally] so anyone could go read it and no one would think anything of it,” Coughlin said.

Student body president Lizzi Shappell asked senators to note the difference between “poster and resource.” The sexual assault awareness sign, Shappell said, is meant to be a constant and permanent source of information – not just one of many posters covering bathroom walls.

Diversity committee chair Sheena Plamoottil said changing the color of the sign could make them more effective. She also suggested condensing the information into a wallet-size card that students could keep with them at all times.

In other business:

u Senators unanimously approved a resolution calling for improvements to “technological deficiencies” that were reported in 17 of the University’s 27 residence halls.

Based on responses from hall councils and hall presidents, the Residence Life committee found problems with wireless Internet, cell phone reception and cable television in several residence halls.

According to the survey, wireless Internet has encountered the most problems – with 16 dorms reporting nonexistent, weak or inconsistent wireless signals.

The resolution called for an additional cell phone tower on the northeast side of campus, where cell phone service is the most unreliable, Knapp said. The resolution also recommended “the installation of additional routers to compliment the current network” in halls such as Sorin, Siegfried, Zahm and Breen-Phillips, where wireless Internet was reportedly weakest.

“If [OIT has] a better way of doing it, that’s fine,” Knapp said. “We just want the problems fixed.”

The resolution will be sent to the Campus Life Council for approval. If passed, it will then be sent to Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

u Shappell and Community Relations committee chair Josh Pasquesi continue to work on improving community relations, Shappell said. Shappell, Pasquesi, student body vice president Bill Andrichik and possibly other students will meet with members of the South Bend Common Council Sept. 26 to go over the recently amended disorderly house ordinance. The conversation will focus on how the ordinance has been enforced since it was amended last summer, Shappell said.