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Boyle delivers address, senators discuss election resolutions

| Thursday, December 12, 2019

Elizabeth Boyle, a senior and student body president, delivered the annual State of the Student Union address to the student senate Monday night. The senate also discussed potential election reforms before the next election cycle begins in the spring semester. Boyle extended congratulations and thanks to the senate for their performance this semester so far before moving onto significant events from the semester relating to residential policy.

“We started off the year with an announcement of new residential life changes, specifically the updates to the ID swipe policy.  I would like to specifically thank the Sophomore Class Council for the incredible leadership you have all stepped up to and for taking this conversation on,” she said. “The senate as well has been engaged with this since Day One by passing resolutions, bringing forth questions from their constituents and forming committees to come up with creative solutions. Additionally, on the executive cabinet end, our co-directors of student life, Abby Smith and Connor Whittle, have done a phenomenal job of expanding student engagement with administration specifically on the topic of residential life at Notre Dame.”

Boyle also had high praise regarding recent efforts to be more inclusive on campus.

“I have noticed an incredible growth in the way we as a student body truly embody the spirit of what it means to be Notre Dame— from an incredibly impactful Race Relations week hosted by Diversity Council and our director of Diversity and Inclusion Kenzie Issaac, to an increase in more inclusive student club like Acess-ABLE and even the physical presence of more ally stickers, pins and signs around campus, I feel that we are truly moving in a better direction,” Boyle said.

She also commented on the administration’s efforts to create several new departments.

“The executive cabinet added two new departments — Student Empowerment and Sustainability. We have been working more closely with NDPD to provide students with Know Your Rights materials, we have expanded campus access to the NYTimes,” she said. “Our director of Gender Relations Anne Jarrett has helped ensure that all student leaders will be GreeNDot trained, and our department of Community Engagement and Outreach led by Alex Yom has helped to redefine what it means to be a neighbor to the South Bend community.”

Boyle also condemned recent incidents of hate speech on campus.

“As we have discussed in senate, recent issues of hate targeted at members of our community, and specifically LGBTQ members of our Notre Dame community are repulsive and inexcusable. I decided to run for office in the first place because I want to make Notre Dame a home for all and I will continue to do that, but I cannot do that alone,” Boyle said. “It will take a coordinated effort of students, faculty, staff and administrators to push Notre Dame to be the truly Catholic — universal and accepting — place it was meant to be.”

Boyle wrapped up her address calling for senators to rededicate themselves to their legislative duties next semester.

“I challenge you to come back from this break with an intention to create policy and programming that will broaden what it means to be Notre Dame,” she said.

Following the address, the senators switched their focus to discussing election reforms before the upcoming semester begins. The topic at hand was about the rules surrounding enumerated officials’ ability to endorse candidates.

As of now, no person who was elected to serve in the Student Union may endorse a candidate, but certain officials who were appointed to their office are allowed to do so. This resolution sought to change that distinction for the following positions in the student union: Student Union secretary, parliamentarian, executive controller, Executive Cabinet department directors and Judicial Council president.

Some senators had questions about the rules surrounding endorsements in the first place and their necessity.

“What was the rationale behind stopping endorsements in the first place?” Keegan McArdle, a sophomore senator from Dunne Hall, said. “I don’t see why we have to stop it.”

Samuel Delmer, a sophomore senator from the Dillon community in Baumer Hall, was one of the sponsors of the resolution and spoke about fairness as the catalyst for the resolution.

“The rationale is to stop the divisiveness and make it more fair in an election,” Delmer said.

There were some brief questions about self-endorsements by enumerated officials running for a different office. Patrick McGuire, a junior and the student body vice president, spoke about his personal experience running for office while a member of the Hall President Council.

“I couldn’t say at Hall Council because I was Siegfried president that I’m also running for vice president, and you can’t in anyway imply that your office entitles you to the endorsement,” he said.

Some senators expressed opposition to the current rules governing endorsements.

“I personally think that’s kind of dumb that being at hall council just by the factor of being president that you can’t say to your hall ‘Hey I’m running.’ That seems to be an overly cumbersome restriction on your endorsement,” McArdle said. “You’re not necessarily using your office in that situation, so this might need to be revised further for exceptions like that.”

It is tradition for the senate to propose electoral reform before the next semester begins as any legislation passed on electoral reform in the spring semester will not apply to that term’s elections. Because of this and the fact that senate was not available to meet again before January, some members of the senate wanted to pass the resolution so that the rules were the same across the board for the Student Union.

However, after the discussion of the endorsement rules, the resolution failed to receive a majority and was rejected by the senate, one of the first resolutions of the year to be voted on and fail to pass.

After this resolution’s failure, the senate moved two resolutions to order and passed both with minimal questions and discussion. The first resolution allowed the Judicial Council president and the advisor to the Judicial Council to help the vice president of elections decide if allegations of electoral misconduct are valid. The second resolution fixed a spelling error in the Constitution.

The student senate will meet again in the spring to pursue new policy.

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