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Senate approves cabinet nominee, discusses resolution

| Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Meeting for the first time after fall break, Notre Dame’s student senate meeting centered around the confirmation of a new director of social concerns to student government’s executive cabinet.

Sophomore Kevin Gallagher was nominated for the position, in light of the former director’s resignation for personal health reasons the week before fall break, senior and student body vice president Corey Gayheart said.

“His experience in multiple departments has given him a clear understanding of how to set and accomplish goals within the framework of our organization,” senior and student body president Gates McGavick said, reading a letter that he, Gayheart and senior chief of staff Briana Tucker wrote announcing Gallagher’s nomination. “His service on the Social Concerns Department leaves him prepared for this role and gives him existing knowledge to minimize the negative side-effects of a new transition.”

The letter detailed some of Gallagher’s current and previous involvements on campus, including student government’s Department of Social Concerns and the Department of University Affairs. In addition, Gallagher currently serves as vice president of BridgeND and is a member of the debate team. Last year, Gallagher also spearheaded the review of recycling in the main class buildings, which reached the University’s Office of Sustainability.

During the questioning portion of Gallagher’s nomination, sophomore D.C. Morris, senator from Fisher Hall, asked what the Department of Social Concerns stands for and what Gallagher’s responsibilities as director would entail.

“The way the Department of Social concerns is, the people that want to be part of that department are driven by at least one key issue,” Gallagher said. “Mine was sustainability, and when I interviewed for FUEL last year, that’s what I focused on.”

Gallagher went on to explain how he would apply the passion for these key issues to leading the department in an effective manner.

“The leadership style that I would use would be figuring out what the existing members of the department are most mobilized by, what they’re really passionate about, and see how we can turn those passions into events that would be marketable to the entire student body, so that way we can advertise what the department is about — international stuff, but also at an on-campus level too.”

After the questioning, Gallagher was approved by the senate as the new director of social concerns for the executive cabinet.

The senators and sponsoring groups of the resolution regarding the inclusion mental health resources on class syllabi brought forth a letter on behalf of the entire group to the Campus Life Council (CLC). The letter reiterated the content of the resolution and affirmed the Senate’s support of the mental health resources availability on Notre Dame’s campus.

An excerpt from the letter read, “Student Senate acknowledges that discussing mental health can be difficult and believes providing professors with a template statement is an important way to aid in this discussion.”

The letter went on to list a sample statement for the syllabi, which listed the mental health resources available on campus, including the University Counseling Center, University Health Services and the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being (McWell).

In response to a question from Morris, Gayheart clarified that the Senate does not have the authority to mandate that professors include this information on their syllabi.

“That being said, if the Campus Life Council were to pass [the resolution], Erin Hoffman-Harding has to respond within 72 hours of Campus Life Council passing this and in her response she must be substantively responding to the contents of the letter, dictating what she’ll do to move forward regarding this topic,” Gayheart said.

After a suggestion by Tucker to standardize the formatting of “well-being” throughout the letter, the proposal was approved unanimously and will be on the agenda for the next CLC meeting.

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About Claire Rafford

Claire Rafford is an English major and a Journalism, Ethics and Democracy minor from the class of 2021. She is originally from Tempe, Arizona. Her skills include excessive Harry Potter trivia knowledge. That is it.

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