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Discipline, legal services discussed

Liz O'Donnell | Tuesday, October 27, 2009

 The Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed the progress committees on student legal services and disciplinary action have made this semester during their meeting Monday afternoon.


Sophomore John DeLacio, chair of the Student Legal Services committee, presented a Powerpoint to the council outlining the group’s findings.

“We knew there was a lot of information out there, but that it was time to bring it all in,” he said.

DeLacio reviewed the five options the group identified that Notre Dame has for incorporating some form of legal service to the student body.  These include hiring a single attorney, using legal interns, creating a database of approved local law firms, soliciting volunteers to provide legal info and using the law school’s legal aid clinic.

Of these options, he said the most economically feasible for the University would be to create an online database listing local law firms.

“This option is appealing because it has no substantial cost to the University,” he said.

DeLacio said the goal of the endeavor is to allow students to focus on education while at Notre Dame and to minimize outside issues. He said they are hoping to use the database as a measuring tool to see if it is being used, and thus to look into other options, such as hiring a single attorney, down the road.

“The goal is to determine the threshold value and monitor Web site hits until determined value is hit,” DeLacio said. “We will hopefully then take action if it is hit.”

CLC members had various suggestions for DeLacio, who will be drafting a resolution on the subject sometime in the near future.

Fr. Jim King, rector of Sorin College, said the idea is fine, but noted that down the road there may need to be an inclusion of Notre Dame’s law school in the process.

Chief executive assistant Ryan Brellenthin suggested the committee look into other similar-sized Catholic universities to find statistics on the usage of student legal services at schools similar to Notre Dame.

Also discussed at the meeting was the current development of the evaluation of student disciplinary records. 

Student body vice president Cynthia Weber said the task force has narrowed their focus and will continue to work towards some form of removal for minor disciplinary infractions that occur during a student’s freshman year.

“Discipline at Notre Dame is an educational tool and is not necessarily punitive,” she said. 

Since the student handbook du Lac lays out no separation between minor and major disciplinary actions, the committee identified a minor disciplinary infraction as one with a sanction of less than 30 hours of community service or its monetary equivalent.

Weber said if that offense were the only one committed by a student, then they would have the option of removing it at the end of their sixth semester. While the process would not be automatic, it would not be as complex as an appeals procedure. 

The third CLC committee, advertising, said they are going to wait until the new version of agenda.nd.edu comes out to evaluate what still needs to be accomplished.