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Brown gives State of Student Union address

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, September 27, 2007

Student body president Liz Brown invoked her campaign slogan – “raising the bar, redefining the standards” – in her second State of the Student Union address Wednesday, urging senators to not become complacent with the progress they have already made and to keep working on initiatives.

“While our progress thus far demonstrates our ability to effectively respond to student concerns, I challenge you to work hard to raise that bar even farther,” Brown said at the Student Senate meeting.

Brown’s speech came two days after the South Bend Common Council passed an ordinance that has been a focal point for student government since the end of July.

The ordinance, as it was originally written, would have required residents of boarding houses – defined as residences where more than two unrelated people reside – to register for a permit before hosting a gathering where 25 or more people would have access to alcohol.

Brown, as well as vice president Maris Braun, began meeting with the Common Council and other South Bend and University representatives in August to discuss changing the ordinance. Over the course of several weeks, the proposed ordinance was eventually amended to describe – but not activate – the permit and registration process for gatherings.

The ordinance, which was passed Monday, also creates a Community/Campus Advisory Coalition.

Brown called the creation of the coalition a “significant” step in improving community relations.

“The Common Council’s decision to table the party registration process in order to pursue alternative initiatives is the result of many meetings and unprecedented communication between city officials, university representatives and student representatives,” Brown said.

Brown also credited students with improving their off campus behavior and acting as respectful neighbors to South Bend residents.

Although the ordinance has been amended and passed, “our work is far from over,” Brown said.

The recent introduction of Domer Dollars in the Notre Dame Stadium, the creation of a meal exchange program for on campus students and the launch of a student government Web site are the first three of what Brown said she hopes will be many initiatives to improve student life.

“In my address to you last April, I emphasized the importance of moving past the dialogue traditionally associated with student government to produce positive changes for the student body,” Brown said. “I am encouraged by our progress thus far and look forward to the challenges we have set for ourselves in the coming months.”

Brown said to look for progress on the creation of a global studies minor, the usability of Domer Dollars at off-campus locations, the introduction of community-based curriculum and the availability of locally grown food in the dining hall.

Student government will also explore minority faculty recruitment techniques and forums to address the issues of eating disorders and sexual assault that affect Notre Dame students.

“There is no denying that we have our work cut out for us in the coming year,” Brown said.

In the next two weeks, student government will encourage students to participate in the Oct. 8 Notre Dame Forum on immigration. The forum will bring in experts on immigration matters, and Brown said she looks forward to a “heated and enlightened discussion.”

Following the forum, student government will hold the first of its faculty-student contemporary issues debate series, Brown said. The debate, which will feature faculty and students discussing immigration, will take place in the Dooley Room of LaFortune on Oct. 11.