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Group approves letters

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Student Senate decided unanimously Wednesday to send two letters – one in support of restructuring the Peace Studies minor curriculum and one to gauge the Faculty Senate’s thoughts about installing clocks in all campus classrooms.

Karen Koski, the chair of the Social Concerns committee, presented the letter in support of incorporating a “global track” into the undergraduate Peace Studies minor.

The Social Concerns committee was approached last year about sending a letter in support of an effort by Professor Jaleh Dashti-Gibson to add a Global Studies concentration to the Peace Studies minor, Koski said. Dashti-Gibson is the director of academic programs at the Joan B. Kroc institute for International Peace Studies.

In the letter addressed to the director of undergraduate studies, the Student Senate supports Dashti-Gibson’s initiative.

“Every student, school administrator, faculty member and staff is a member of the global community, and we have the capacity and responsibility to positively shape the world that we share,” the letter said. “In order to do so, we must first understand the contemporary world, its issues, potentials and multifaceted interconnections, and we believe this initiative would facilitate such global understanding among undergraduates.”

After the meeting, Koski said she did not know to whom the letter was addressed, but that it was to the “appropriate director of undergraduate studies.”

Some senators questioned whether there was any student interest in the restructuring of the major.

O’Neill senator Matt Molloy said student response to last year’s Notre Dame Forum on global health was one indicator that students have interest in a Global Studies concentration.

Professor Thomas Noble, the faculty senate liaison to the Senate, told Koski there is a system in each college through which new minors or majors are added and that the Social Concerns committee should find a department or program to “champion” its cause.

“There is a disinclination to create new programs if there isn’t an obvious need for it,” Noble said.

The letter is useful, Koski said, because it identifies Dashti-Gibson as a professor who is planning on presenting the minor concentration to the Kroc Institute.

“It is saying that the students support this idea, and it would help in possibly getting this whole process started,” Molloy said.

The Senate unanimously passed the resolution to send the letter, and Koski will forward it to Dashti-Gibson.

Academic Affairs chair Carol Hendrickson presented a letter requesting the Faculty Senate share their views on adding clocks to every classroom on campus. Some academic buildings do not have clocks in all classrooms, Hendrickson said, citing O’Shaughnessy Hall, Hayes-Healy Hall and Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering.

The letter points out that some buildings, like Coleman-Morse and the Jordan Hall of Science, do have clocks in each classroom. It asks the Faculty Senate to discuss the discrepancy at their next meeting.

“Clocks are beneficial to both students and faculty for the purpose of standard class beginning and ending times and accurate and fair examination periods,” the letter said.

The Student Senate attempted to pass this resolution last year, but it did not pass, partly because students did not know what faculty members thought about the issue, said Ian Secviar, chair of the Oversight committee.

The purpose of the letter, Hendrickson said, is to ask the Faculty Senate to talk about it.

“It’s not a resolution firmly saying we want clocks in the classroom,” she said.

Pasquerilla West senator Megan Sennett, who worked on the letter with Hendrickson, said they have not looked at the costs of adding clocks to every building on campus.

In the past, Hendrickson said, it was deemed too expensive to add clocks to the classrooms, because people were stealing them out of O’Shaughnessy and the cost of replacing them was too expensive.

After the Faculty Senate makes its review of the issue, and before the Student Senate passes a resolution, Hendrickson said, the Senate will make sure they know the costs of installing the clocks.

Hendrickson also updated the Senate on a survey about course packets that the Academic Affairs committee conducted during the past week. Of the 800 students they surveyed, 264 responded. Hendrickson said they will show the results to the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore and will probably submit a resolution to the Senate next Wednesday.

In other Senate news:

u Student body president Liz Brown announced she submitted her report on community relations to Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees. Brown will present the report next Thursday.

u The first student-faculty debate, on the topic of immigration, will be tonight at 7 in the Dooley Room of LaFortune Hall. The next debate, on the role of religion in a candidate’s political platform, will be on Nov. 14.

u Multicultural Affairs committee chair Ninny Wan said the committee has made shirts to support the Jena 6, a group of black teens in Jena, La., who have been charged with crimes after lingering racial tensions led to brawls in the small town.