Student senators gather for first session of the year
Megan Valley | Thursday, August 27, 2015
Wednesday night, the student senate gathered for its first meeting of the year. The meeting was comprised primarily of two workshops, one on celebrating diversity, presented by Diversity Council Representative Ray’Von Jones and Africana Studies Professor Maria McKenna, and another on parliamentary procedure, presented by Student Union Parliamentarian Sara Dugan.
Jones shared a quote from an anonymous Diversity Council member about the importance of different viewpoints.
“As a Catholic institution, being welcoming and accepting of all cultures and differences is embedded in our foundation,” the unnamed class of 2017 student said. “Education and discussion around diversity are so crucial because they create spaces for personal growth and help people better understand the struggles faced by their fellow brothers and sisters.”
McKenna also said it was important to be inclusive of all kinds of diversity on campus, not just racial or ethnic.
“We think about ideological diversity on this campus, and we think about diversity we can’t always see, particularly as it pertains to disability or other types of mental health challenges, different ways that people are seeing the world for all kinds of different reasons,” McKenna said. “Diversity doesn’t end with just racial or ethnic diversity.”
The workshop also referenced several responses from Notre Dame students and faculty about the state of inclusion at the University.
Jones and McKenna specifically highlighted English professor John Duffy’s letter to the editor entitled “On hearing you might transfer,” which was published in The Observer in January and signed by more than 150 Notre Dame staff and faculty members, and a Tumblr blog called “I, Too, Am Notre Dame,” which addresses the specific challenges students of color face on campus.
Jones said discussion was important even though the topic can be uncomfortable for people.
“I feel a lot of people don’t want to talk about race,” Jones said. “We want to pretend everything’s okay, and when we do this, a lot of people are silent. It makes it easy for us to discount people’s experiences and say, ‘There’s no way that’s happening at Notre Dame.’”
Diversity Council chair Chizo Ekechukwu was also present at the meeting and explained the role of Diversity Council and encouraged senators to come to a meeting.
“Diversity Council falls under multicultural student programs and services,” she said. “On campus, we have a representative from every cultural club sitting on our council. The main role of it is to use programming and collaboration to bring up and discuss issues in regard to diversity on our campus.”
After the diversity workshop, the meeting ended with a parliamentary procedure workshop in which Dugan outlined the basic rules and guidelines for discussion in the senate, including the role of proxies and different types of motions.
The student senate meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune Student Center. All meetings are open to the public.