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Schools’ relations dicussed

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, February 15, 2007

Members of Student Senate spent more than 30 minutes Wednesday debating whether they should respond to Observer columnist Jonathan Klingler’s most recent column with a letter to the editor, but decided to refer the issue to committee.

Morrissey senator Greg Dworjan presented the proposed letter, which addressed the “long-standing strain on student relations” between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College that were brought to the surface in Klingler’s column.

In the column, which appeared in the Feb. 13 edition of The Observer, Klingler said Saint Mary’s has been hypocritical in the past by maintaining their separate identity while using Notre Dame’s resources. He argued Saint Mary’s should choose to be “separate and proud” or be a part of Notre Dame. Four letters to the editor from Saint Mary’s students reacting to his column were printed in Wednesday’s Viewpoint section.

Dworjan said the Student Senate should send its own letter to The Observer in effort to “head off the controversy.” The letter, he said, should include a proposal that representatives from the two schools meet to foster a “more understanding atmosphere” and address the stereotypes that exist about students from the two schools.

Student body vice president Bill Andrichik decided to postpone voting on the letter and instead sent it to the Senate University Affairs committee for further discussion. This group will also discuss whether a summit should be held with representatives from Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame to talk about underlying tensions.

Andrichik said he made this decision because he felt the issue is longstanding and will be sustained even if a vote on the letter is delayed by a week.

Senate Oversight Committee chair Chris Hollon agreed the relationship between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is a topic that has been a concern and will remain one, citing the Jockular comic strip that appeared in The Observer last year – one which referred to Saint Mary’s students as “parasites.”

“I think … that since this Viewpoint back and forth has only existed for two days now that it is not critical that we respond to it in this way,” Hollon said. “But I do think this discussion has to be had, since this problem has arisen twice in the last 12 months.”

Other senators agreed the issue of Notre Dame-Saint Mary’s relations is one that the Senate should examine in the future.

“I think that the sentiment we feel is we recognize that Jonathan Klingler brought up an important issue and it touched a lot of people’s nerves,” Fisher senator Drew Clary said.

Senate Community Relations chair Josh Pasquesi said he appreciated that Dworjan took the initiative to bring the controversy to the Student Senate’s attention.

“This is now an opportunity to do something,” Pasquesi said. “And for a Senate that hasn’t done much throughout the year, I want to thank him for taking the issue and running with it.”

Student body president Lizzi Shappell said Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame student governments already planned to meet together prior to the recent controversy in The Observer. The Council of Representatives (COR) will travel to Saint Mary’s to meet with its Board of Governance Tuesday.

The student government also has in place another initiative to maintain good relations between Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross College, Shappell said. Representatives from Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross, called tri-campus commissioners, serve as non-voting members of COR.

In other Senate news:

u Students can place classified ads for tutors or offering tutoring services on insideND starting Monday, said Academic Affairs chair Jim Grace.