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



Shappell discusses meeting with Council

Mary Kate Malone | Thursday, September 28, 2006

Student government leaders came to Wednesday’s Senate meeting fresh from debating sticking points of the city’s disorderly house ordinance with members of the South Bend Common Council – but the conversation ultimately did not result in the removal of the controversial eviction clause.

Student body president Lizzi Shappell, student body vice president Bill Andrichik, Community Relations committee chair Josh Pasquesi, Judicial Council chair Liz Kozlow and Northeast Neighborhood Council student representative Krystal Hardy came to the Health and Public Safety committee Wednesday to discuss and suggest potential changes to the disorderly house ordinance, which sparked a backlash from students when it was amended in summer 2005.

The amendment to the ordinance reduced the number of noise violations required for the city to send residents a notice to abate from three to one. The law goes further by also sending landlords that notice to abate – but drops all fines against the landlord if he or she evicts the resident within 30 days of receiving the notice.

But despite the group’s efforts, Council members ultimately rejected student government’s initiative to strike the eviction clause from the ordinance.

The meeting was “a good discussion,” Shappell told senators, but Council members reportedly said the clause must remain in the ordinance as a defense for landlords who must deal with disorderly tenants.

While she understands those sentiments, Shappell said the ordinance is sometimes taken too far.

“Our concern has to do with lesser incidents that happened last year that we don’t believe warranted eviction,” Shappell said, referring to the six eviction notices that were sent to students living at Turtle Creek Apartments in fall 2005.

Shappell said Council members and student government leaders agreed that eviction should only follow “egregious” ordinance violations. However, Council members said that can be done without changing the ordinance itself. Instead, they believe better communication between student tenants and their landlords will help reduce the number of evictions, Shappell said.

“They’re interested in changing the ordinance in practice, not rhetoric,” she said.

But the conversation is not over. Shappell said the group will probably meet again in three months to evaluate the ordinance again.

In other Senate news:

uAt the urging of Siegfried senator Jim Lockwood, senators discussed the accessibility of student government for students who want to join.

Keenan senator Chris Beesley suggested surveying the freshmen in student government to learn how they became involved, while Breen-Phillips senator Maris Braun said disseminating information in the weeks prior to elections would be helpful.

Director of Communications Alex French said his office – which is only in its second year of existence – already has six freshman members. But he noted that some dorms have had problems with their Judicial Council representatives, who should have information about elections.

When Lockwood asked about the accessibility of the student government Web site, Shappell admitted that the site has not been updated since fall 2005. Student government recently received the software for a brand new Web site – only to realize that it is not compatible with the office’s computers. Once a new computer with a Pentium 4 processor is purchased, the site will be running and updated “regularly,” Shappell said.

uUniversity Affairs committee chair Aly Baumgartner encouraged members to attend the first-ever Student-Alumni Reception on Friday.

The event is open to all students and is the first of three student-alumni receptions. It will be held in the Eck Center at 3:30 p.m.

Baumgartner said it’s a casual, “no pressure” opportunity for students to chat with former Notre Dame students.

“These are people who have done well for themselves, and we all know how the alumni network is a great thing to tap into,” Brown said.