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Group changes email wording

Margaret Hynds | Thursday, September 19, 2013


Student Senate met Wednesday night to discuss two resolutions concerning sexual assault on campus and the DART class registration process.

Student body vice president Nancy Joyce introduced University Registrar Chuck Hurley to address the group about the DART system. He said the Office of the Registrar has begun working with students and student government to improve the registration and advising system. 

Some senators expressed concern over the current DART system, which allows for neither waiting lists nor a notification system that students can opt for when classes are full. 

“If you really, really want a class, a waitlist helps you get into it more easily – you don’t have to keep refreshing the website,” Hurley said. “But the problems come with managing the waitlist system. What if [the student’s] opinion changes? Then they’re temporarily holding that spot in the class and keeping the next person on the list from getting it.”

A notification system, he said, “would probably be a little bit easier. But there’s still no guarantee that the class would still be there when you go to register. Somebody could’ve beat you to the punch.”

Joyce then moved on to discussing sexual assault on campus. In the aftermath of two reported instances of sexual battery this month, Senate addressed two resolutions about sexual battery on campus and what the response of the student government should be. 

The operative clause of the first resolution, written by Department of Gender Issues Director Monica Daegele, said the University would change its “language for crime alert emails sent to the Student Body concerning sexual misconduct from ‘forcible fondling’ to ‘sexual battery.'”

“It’s an expression of our support of the [Notre Dame Security Police] and our support of the fact that they asked for our input,” student body president Alex Coccia said.

Senate passed the resolution unanimously.

The second resolution came out of last week’s presentation from Dr. William Stackman, associate vice president for student services. 

Also written by Daegele, the resolution’s operative clause states student government’s desire for “demonstrable change in the manner with which the Notre Dame community reacts to and actively works to combat the intolerable issue of sexual assault.”

While the Senate unanimously acknowledged the need for change in the school community, some senators expressed concern over the wording of two earlier clauses in the resolution, which read, “Whereas, recognizing that these occurrences are a leadership failure … admitting that as leaders in our community, we have not been doing enough to change the way we, as a community, concern ourselves with these issues.”

Several senators expressed discomfort with blaming the student government for sexual misconduct on campus, feeling personally attacked, and asked for clarification of the meaning of “failure.”

“It’s a failure in the way that we’ve tried to prevent it,” Daegle said. “As leaders we should see that everyone is also holding themselves to a higher standard. When the community doesn’t, it’s a reflection on all of us.

“At a certain point we as leaders have to take responsibility for the populations that we serve.”

Senate passed the resolution, but seven senators voted against it and two senators abstained. 

Student government has also begun working with the Campus Life Council, the Center for Social Concerns and the Office of Student Affairs to evaluate how to move forward.  Coccia said one proposal was to develop a group of people who were designated to meet at the Grotto for prayer an hour after an alert email is sent to students.