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Diversity survey nearly complete

Sarah Mervosh | Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed improving the relationship between multicultural and international students and the rest of the University at its meeting Monday.

Diversity Council Representative Brigitte Githinji said that her task force sent out a survey to multicultural and international students to get their opinion on how well they have been integrated into University life. She said that she will be able to better understand the sentiment of those students once the survey is completed Sunday.

“So far what I see is a lot of people are not happy with the advertising,” Githinji said. “Clubs do exist to bring awareness for certain cultures but nobody attends [their meetings] because the University doesn’t advertise.”

She said because students don’t realize that these clubs are open to everyone, the clubs “feel more exclusive than inclusive.” For example, only African American students tend to attend meetings for African American clubs.

One question that the survey asked was “Would you still come to Notre Dame now that you know what it’s really like?” Githinji said.

She said that most people said that they would still come, but “only because it is a good institution.”

Githinji said that once the final results come in, the task force will meet to decide what needs to be done. She said that right now, she sees “advertising and forcing people to branch out” as key issues.

CLC also discussed steps ways to improve the relationship between off-campus students and the University.

Student body president Bob Reish said the task force dedicated to this relationship divided their mission into two parts: the relationship between rectors and off-campus students and the relationship between the University and off-campus students.

Badin Hall Rector Sr. Denise Lyon said that because of interactions at hall Mass, hall dances or hall sports, the task force decided that rectors do not need to have a formal role with off-campus students.

“As it stands now, it is not part of the rectors’ role to be in a formal relationship with off campus students, although almost one hundred percent of the rectors are in a relationship with some of the off campus students,” Lyon said.

Reish said his task force has comprised a list of questions to ask universities similar to Notre Dame about their off-campus relationship in order to get a better idea of what should be done here at Notre Dame.

He said such questions being asked include: Does each university guarantee housing and if so, for how many years? Is there a specific individual responsible for off-campus life? If so, are they a university-paid official? Is there specific off-campus housing sponsored by the university?

Chief executive assistant Karen Koski reported her task force had a meeting with a representative from Office and Residence Life and Housing (ORLH) and four resident assistants in order to see how the Medical Amnesty Policy would impact students on a practical level.

The Medical Amnesty policy would protect students who have been drinking from getting in trouble while helping an intoxicated friend who is hurt or sick.

Resident assistants provided information about the current policy that “as soon as there is an ambulance in the picture, students are automatically sent to Res Life,” according to Koski.

Koski said there was discussion about creating “something concrete” that resident assistants could hand to students if they have been “Res Lifed” and don’t know what to do.

The students could “fill [it] out and talk to someone about what to do when you are in the ResLife hearing to make sure you are presenting your story correctly,” said Koski.

Koski also said there was a lot of discussion about the image of ORLH and how it affects student decisions.

“While a lot of students may feel that most of the time ResLife will act in a way that they will consider just, that’s not enough to make them air on the conservative side when they are in a situation like this,” Koski said.

In other CLC news:

uThe Web site that will provide information about off-campus housing is in its final stages and is aimed to be finished within the next few weeks.

uStudent body vice president Grant Schmidt said he has figured out who is in charge of agenda.nd.edu, and plans to meet with the organizer in order to improve the Web site. He said after looking at Web sites from other schools, he wants to make the Web site “more appealing” with “better search features.”