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CLC discusses off-campus task force

Sarah Mervosh | Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Campus Life Council (CLC) continued discussing the possibility of creating a new task force that would focus on the issues of off-campus students and the possible implementation of the Good Samaritan policy at its meeting Monday.

Student body president Bob Reish said Fr. Mark Poorman, Vice President of Student Affairs, formed a committee to discuss Notre Dame’s sexual assault policy, so CLC no longer needs to focus on it.

“That still leaves room for the off-campus issue and possibility looking through the Good Samaritan policy,” Reish said.

A?Good Samaritan policy would protect students who have been drinking from getting in trouble if they try to get help for an intoxicated friend who is hurt or sick.

Another issue the CLC discussed was the disconnect between the University and off-campus students, and the lack of clarity on what kind of responsibility off-campus students and the University have towards each other.

“Something that we noticed is that once students make the choice to move off campus, the University feels that that is your decision … and you can be as involved or uninvolved as you want to be,” said Meg MacCaughey, Student Union Board manager. “There is a disconnect that would be really important to fix so that the university doesn’t feel that once you leave, that’s it.”

Fr. Pete McCormick, rector of Keough Hall, said he doesn’t intend on ignoring or leaving out off-campus students, but that much of dorm life does not apply to them anymore.

“I’m respecting their autonomy once they leave the dorm,” he said. “It’s not out of a sense of spite.”

Reish offered many questions that a task force dedicated to off-campus issues could answers, such as, “Where does the student go that has questions off campus? Is there a University role [in off-campus life]? What are off-campus students responsibilities to the University?”

Sister Denise Lyon, rector of Badin Hall, said she sees value in the University offering some involvement to off-campus students, because the University needs students to live off-campus since they do not have enough room to house all students.

“That was a big eye-opener to me in terms of my perspective on them. I think there is something to the University offering some sort of presence to them because if all the students who lived off campus decided to live on campus, they couldn’t,” said Lyon.

Reish said he is going to move forward with the council and create an off-campus task force at the end of the discussion.

CLC also discussed looking further into the Good Samaritan policy, a policy on which the student representatives and the rectors had different views.

Student Senate representative Catherine Flynn said she has talked to some students who were afraid to get help for themselves or friends because they didn’t want to get in trouble.

Carroll Hall rector Fr. Jim Lewis said he thinks students who do that are prioritizing not being punished over safety.

“It’s saying, I want to make sure I’m covered before I help a student who is in distress,” he said.

He said he is concerned that the policy ignored more fundamental issues.

“I would also like to see something [that says], ‘You are [helping] because it is the right thing to do and somebody’s life is in jeopardy,'” Lyon said. “As a Catholic university, there has to be some kind of educational piece. You don’t do this so you don’t get in trouble.”

In contrast, off-campus student senate representative Jennifer D’Auria said the fact of the matter is that students do worry about getting in trouble.

“When it comes down to it, students do think that way, and because we don’t want anybody’s safety to get hurt, some sort of policy should be implemented,” she said. “Not just because you want to get out of trouble but because things are going to happen. [If] students do feel like they are getting in trouble and they don’t act on it, someone’s going to get hurt.”

Reish said he will email CLC members what he sees as the main issues that were discussed and that members should respond with their top two choices in order to decide on the new task force.