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Resolution passes, but with error

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday recommending the University increase the amount of funding allocated to dorms to improve their workout facilities; however, the resolution contained an inaccuracy that no one in the Senate caught.

Senate Residence Life committee chair Mariana Montes presented the resolution, the product of research conducted through a survey of the condition of the workout equipment in Notre Dame’s 27 residence halls.

“Right now, a lot of the workout facilities are subpar,” Montes said.

The resolution states that: “The University Web site claims that each dorm contains full workout facilities and the [Residence Life] Committee Report shows otherwise.”

A search of the Office of Residence Life and Housing (ORLH) Web site by The Observer revealed no such statement, and in an e-mail to The Observer Wednesday night, Montes said it appeared the sites had been updated since she checked them for the last time in April.

Montes said in her e-mail that while she was preparing the resolution, she had not looked at the Web sites again. She said she would “take the fault for not re-researching the ORLH Web site.”

“However, the most important thing I would like to reiterate is that the current dorms that have work out facilities, as listed on the ORLH Web site, do not always have functioning, adequate machines that serve the needs of their residents, and that is really the main focus of this resolution,” Montes said.

No senators questioned the clause of the resolution that claimed the University Web site had listed incorrect descriptions of the residence halls. Montes said the resolution would have to be corrected before it was sent to the Campus Life Council for approval.

In the survey Montes’ committee conducted, questions about workout facilities were sent to every rector and also to the senators of each residence hall. The survey asked whether the dorm had exercise facilities and, if so, how many people use them and how frequently. The survey also asked about the condition of the machines and how the facility can be improved.

The survey lacked responses from McGlinn, Sorin, Lyons, Cavanaugh and Lewis halls. Many of the residence halls that have workout facilities said their equipment was old or broken.

The resolution states that “Rolf Sports Recreation Center and Rockne Memorial Workout Facility are full at multiple times during the day,” and that “adequate workout facilities are essential to the physical and mental well-being and other success of students.”

Montes said the resolution is intentionally vague about how much funding should be given to dorm workout facilities, because, she said, it will allow her to work with ORLH to determine the funding.

“This is just a suggestion for improvement,” she said.

The Senate agenda also listed a resolution presented last week by Senate Oversight Committee chair Ian Secviar again, but Secviar decided, and the Senate affirmed with a vote, to table the resolution, because three senators were absent from the meeting.

“Just because it is of such importance to procedure, it really wouldn’t behoove us to talk about it again until everyone is here,” Secviar said.

His resolution addresses the abstain vote, which is a vote senators may make, instead of yay or nay, when the Student Senate considers a resolution. Secviar’s amendment states that, except when noted otherwise in the Constitution and its bylaws, “all votes taken in the Senate shall be taken from those senators casting a vote, provided there is a quorum, and not necessarily from the entire voting membership of the Senate or the voting membership present at a given meeting.”

The way voting takes place in the Senate currently, Secviar said last week, a vote to abstain negatively affects the outcome of the voting. Last Wednesday, the amendment failed to meet the two-thirds majority required for it to pass, with 16 senators voting for it, seven against and two abstaining.

Because Wednesday’s was the last Senate meeting of the semester, committee chairs briefed the senators on their plans for the remainder of their terms in the spring semester.

The Multicultural Affairs committee, led by chair Ninny Wan, is planning a day of service in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January. The day will end with a reception in the Hesburgh Auditorium of the Hesburgh Library, with a speech by University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh.

The Oversight Committee will be working on a comparison of student governments at peer institutions during the spring semester, Secviar said.

Montes is brainstorming ideas for student government’s Alcohol Awareness Week next spring. Social Concerns chair Karen Koski said she is looking for ideas about how to her committee can address issues affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and questioning students.

Academic Affairs chair Carol Hendrickson said her committee is anticipating the opening of study spaces in current residence halls once more dorms are built and students are spread out.

“We are working on a way to get feedback on what people want when the study spaces are reopened,” she said.

In other Senate news:

u Junior Gary Nijak gave a presentation about the Social Action Network (SAND), a project facilitated through the Center for Social Concerns. SAND will post events being run by campus groups on one main calendar.