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Resolution passed for off-campus resources

Laura McCrystal | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Campus Life Council (CLC) passed a resolution Monday requesting the University to designate staff to provide sufficient resources for students who live off campus.

A CLC task force on off-campus student life found that the University currently provides limited resources to off-campus students, former student body president Bob Reish said.

“The University aims to create an atmosphere that fosters community,” Reish said. “From the University’s standpoint, if everyone wanted to live on campus, we really couldn’t house everyone.”

Reish said that the task force conducted an online poll of students, in which 72.6 percent of respondents said they received their information about off-campus living from students who had previously lived off campus.

“Students suggested that they believe that it should be equally the role of the University administration and student government,” Reish said of the responsibility to provide students with off-campus housing resources.

The resolution calls for off-campus students to be given the name of a University staff member to contact when they have concerns about off-campus living.

“It wasn’t specifically a need for a new title or a new position, but an addendum,” Reish said.

Student body president Grant Schmidt said that this staff person could provide consistent resources for student government sponsored events for off-campus students. These events include community block parties for students and their neighbors and an information session about security during winter break.

“Something that we’ve always discussed is, while student government does this every year, it’s not always guaranteed,” Schmidt said.

The University previously eliminated the job position of off-campus coordinator because it appeared to promote living off-campus, Reish said.

The resolution also encourages maintenance of a Web site for off-campus student resources. Reish said that this Web site existed until two years ago, when the Office of Residence Life and Housing removed it.

“The intent is not that we advocate that students live off campus,” Lewis Hall rector Linda Cirillo said. “The thought process is just if we can have a point of contact for someone if they have questions.”

The resolution passed with 12 votes in favor and one vote against it.

The CLC also discussed the report by the task force for medical amnesty policy review.

Former chief executive assistant Karen Koski presented the task force’s short-term recommendations to clarify misperceptions about the Office of Residence Life and Housing (ORLH) as well as Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) as solely disciplinary entities.

The task force met with representatives from ORLH, NDSP and the Office of Drug and Alcohol Education to form their proposals, Koski said. The report will be sent to these offices, as well as to the CLC and Senate for the 2009-2010 academic year.

“When it comes to the short-term suggestions to minimize misperceptions, a lot of the follow up can be done on the student government end,” Koski said.

Long-term suggestions include a procedural change in which rectors can notify ORLH to give special consideration to a student who was disciplined while attempting to seek medical attention for a peer.

“There is no guarantee here,” Koski said. “I think there needs to be a lot more collaboration with rectors on this.”

Fr. Pete McCormick, rector of Keough Hall, said that procedural changes are difficult because rectors must be able to make a judgment call in each individual situation.

“There’s a desire to make things no longer grey, to make them black and white,” he said. “But sometimes with the work that rectors do, you need that wiggle room.”

Koski said that the task force’s document is not binding in any way, but rather an invitation to continue discussion of the misperceptions of ORLH and NDSP as well as the issue of medical amnesty. She said that progress can continue with follow up by student government, and that she has already discussed the issues with Schmidt.

“This will definitely be addressed next year,” Schmidt said.