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COR-Group discusses Catholic faculty

Joseph McMahon | Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Council of Representatives met Tuesday to discuss concerns raised by students during a February town hall meeting about the University’s attitude about hiring a Catholic majority faculty.

Last summer, Notre Dame said that it would not allow the percentage of Catholic faculty to fall below 51 percent, but the University has yet to institute an official policy on the subject.

“It’s not a directive coming down,” student body president Liz Brown said. “It’s an issue that’s been floating around for a while.”

If the University continues its current hiring practices, however, it will eventually fall below that quota, executive assistant Sheena Platmoottil said. She added that the topic might be the issue that the Brown administration chooses for its final report to the Board of Trustees.

Junior class president and student body president elect Bob Reish thought the meeting was very productive, and provided a good environment to discuss the issue.

“An actual town hall meeting was a great idea,” said Reish, who is also the student body president-elect for next school year. “Having a mandatory meeting like that once a semester is a good idea.”

However, there were some issues with the objectivity of the debate. Cavanaugh senator Robin Link said that the “moderate” representative was “too conservative,” and “swayed the conversation to the conservative side.”

Student body vice president Maris Braun agreed, adding that many of the students in attendance were probably in support of hiring a majority of Catholic faculty.

“When you have events like this, you sort of self-select it,” she said. “I don’t know if the students who are passionate about not maintaining Catholic faculty would have shown up.”

Howard senator Erdina Francillon said that input from the student body is important to the debate on this topic, adding that diverse perspectives are also important when forming a faculty.

“We have to live with the day-to-day consequences of this decision,” Francillon said. “You can’t really learn a lot about your faith when everyone around you is the same.”

Student Union Board treasurer Kadeja Gaines voiced concerns that instituting a quota for Catholic faculty in addition to quotas already imposed for minority and female faculty hiring may make it difficult to find quality faculty members.

“It makes it difficult to get the best of the best,” Gaines said.

In other COR news:

uGaines sought the support of other COR members to help fund the memorial scholarship funds in honor of students who have passed away.

She said she hoped to have several funds, including those for recently deceased students Timothy Aher and Connor McGrath, established by the end of the semester, and invited other COR members, specifically the class councils, to help fund the scholarships.

Each scholarship requires a down payment of $25,000, and then pays interest used to help support another Notre Dame student.