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Schools discuss shared facility use

Maureen Mullen | Friday, November 3, 2006

Under a contract existing between Holy Cross College and Notre Dame, Holy Cross students are permitted to use certain Notre Dame athletic facilities. But with the contract’s spring 2007 expiration date approaching, a dialogue concerning its extension has developed between the two schools’ student governments.

Several years ago, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross had a reciprocal agreement allowing all students use of campus facilities, said Dr. Tina Holland, vice president of Student Affairs for Holy Cross College. In 2001, however, RecSports established new guidelines for the shared use of athletic facilities and placed a 2005 deadline on Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s use of Notre Dame athletic facilities.

As the 2005 deadline approached, Holy Cross began developing plans for its own new recreational center, with a projected 2007 completion. The deadline was extended to the spring of 2007.

“Notre Dame was very generous to extend an agreement with us,” Holland said.

However, because of construction set backs, Holy Cross’ recreational center will not be completed before the contract’s 2007 deadline, Holland said – and she does not know the exact target completion date.

Holland said she has no present plans to approach the Notre Dame administration to request another contract extension, meaning the spring 2007 deadline remains.

But at Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting, Notre Dame senators unanimously passed a resolution in support of extending the contract between the schools until Holy Cross completes the construction of its own recreational facility. While that resolution does not enact any policy, it is a symbol of the Senate’s support for the contract’s extension.

So while Holland is not requesting an extension of the contract herself, she said she is allowing Holy Cross student government to address the issue.

“I am stepping aside while the students do this,” she said. “I want to allow students to exercise their leadership.”

Holy Cross student body president Jared Sawyer said there is “mutual respect” between Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame student governments. Sawyer said Holy Cross asked for the support and endorsement of the Notre Dame student government in the goal to extend the schools’ contract. And he was very pleased to see the Senate resolution pass so strongly.

“From a student affairs perspective, I see a very neat dynamic,” Holland said. “The student governments are developing healthy relationships.”

At Wednesday’s Senate meeting, senators debated the extension of the contract. University Affairs committee chair Aly Baumgartner presented the resolution to her fellow senators, explaining that on average only 30 Holy Cross students use the Rockne Memorial facilities per week.

Director of RecSports Sally Derengoski explained the terms of the present contract, and said that in addition to free use of the Rockne Memorial, Holy Cross students may use other Notre Dame athletic facilities without paying a fee if accompanied by a Notre Dame student. Derengoski voiced RecSports’ concern for giving the Notre Dame community a priority.

“We want to make sure we serve Notre Dame while still trying to recognize Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s,” Derengoski said. “By allowing Holy Cross students to come as guests of Notre Dame schools, that is the best of both worlds. It is a way of welcoming and embracing a neighbor without putting Notre Dame students at risk.”

Nathan Walker, director of Student Activities and Athletics for Holy Cross, said that once Holy Cross’s recreational facility is complete, he hopes a reciprocal relationship might develop between the schools, allowing Notre Dame and Holy Cross students to use either school’s facilities. Several Notre Dame students play on Holy Cross club athletic teams, Walker said, and Holy Cross students are involved in the Notre Dame band.

While greatly in favor of reciprocity between the schools, Holland emphasized that “in no way do our students feel a sense of entitlement.”

“They are very cognizant that they do not pay the same tuition that Notre Dame students do,” she said. “They are appreciative of facilities that we get to share, and they in no way look at the sharing as entitlement.”

Sawyer said the “neat dynamic” he’s observed among the student governments could have a lot of sway in this process.

“Obviously, the final decision must come from the administrative level … but if both student bodies are behind it, I believe that student governments working together can get a lot accomplished,” he said.