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Senate supports sustainability lesson in Moreau curriculum

| Tuesday, February 19, 2019

With the hopes of promoting sustainability on campus, Notre Dame’s student senate passed a resolution Monday evening in favor of adding a sustainability lesson to the Moreau First-Year Experience course.

Lewis Hall senator Dana Plagenz co-authored the resolution after discovering that 92.5 percent of Notre Dame students want to learn more about the campus’ sustainability efforts. Plagenz, who conducted the survey for a sustainability course last semester, was troubled to learn that a large percentage of Notre Dame students held misconceptions about issues of sustainability, both on campus and in general.

“We found that kind of alarming,” Plagenz said.

Plagenz partnered with Alumni Hall senator and chair of the senate sustainability committee Daniel Rottenborn, and the two explored strategies to raise awareness about sustainability on campus.

“We decided that Moreau would be the best place to implement this because it’s the only class that everybody has to take here, regardless of major or AP credit, and it’s in your first year, and it’s supposed to orient you to University life and well-being and challenge you to think critically,” Plagenz said.

As Plagenz prepares to discuss her proposal with University officials next week, she and Rottenborn hope that the resolution will send a strong message from the student body.

“We felt that it would be important for us to have something more tangible … something official from the students,” Rottenborn said.

While the resolution passed with majority support, some senators expressed concern that students would not take the information seriously in the context of the Moreau course.

“If your goal is to educate people about sustainability, this will just become one more [lesson] module,” Saint Edward’s Hall senator John Usher said.

But other senators pushed back, arguing that student government should work to improve the Moreau curriculum by teaching relevant and meaningful information. Although senators widely agreed that Moreau has its flaws, many also pointed out that the Moreau course is here to stay.

“You have to be there, [so] you might as well get information that you actually want during that,” Welsh Family Hall senator Lindsay McCray said.

Student body president Gates McGavick and vice president Corey Gayheart also briefed senators about developments on the topics of sexual assault and club funding.

Following last week’s senate meeting, McGavick and Gayheart met with University administrators to discuss new student government business. Administrators corrected elements of student body president-elect Elizabeth Boyle’s presentation on Title IX, the federal law that regulates sexual misconduct policies on college campuses.

Administrators clarified that Notre Dame, in fact, does not currently practice mediation between sexual assault survivors and perpetrators and does not plan to in the future. Additionally, administrators assured McGavick and Gayheart that residence hall rectors are and will remain mandatory reporters of sexual assault.

McGavick and Gayheart also expressed confidence in their legislative agenda. After struggling to increase club funding in the previous weeks, McGavick assured senators that he and Gayheart were making progress.

Two weeks ago, the student senate rejected a resolution to reallocate funding from student union organizations toward other student organizations. McGavick, however, said that he and Gayheart are approaching a compromise with members of the Student Union Board and the class councils.

“I am more confident than ever that it’s going to get done,” McGavick said.

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