Year in Review: 2019-2020
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 15, 2020
ND and SMC student governments cancel South Bend Transpo Midnight Express — Aug. 27, 2019
Due to an increase in costs, the student governments of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame canceled the South Bend Transpo Midnight Express. The Midnight Express was established in a partnership with Student Affairs, South Bend Transpo and Notre Dame Student Government in 2009 to provide a safe and dependable transportation service between campuses and into downtown South Bend on Friday and Saturday nights between 9:00 p.m. and 3:30 a.m.
Although the Midnight Express was a Notre Dame-run program, the program was utilized more often by Saint Mary’s students, and ridership had declined 25% over the past three years. After South Bend Transpo planned on increasing the costs of the Midnight Express service by 50%, an increase of nearly $30,000, Notre Dame’s student government reached out to Saint Mary’s student government to discuss eliminating the program.
University strips student ID cards of campus-wide dorm access — Aug. 27, 2019
Notre Dame eliminated student ID card access to all dorms, only allowing access students to access their own residence halls. While the decision was made to increase safety and security for students living in residence halls, the announcement prompted outrage among students. Notre Dame student government issued a statement regarding the policy after it was announced.
“The decision by the Office of Residential Life is very upsetting, and we have heard many concerns from students over the past 24 hours since the policy was announced during RA training,” the statement read. “ … We were not included in discussions on this issue and look forward to meeting with the administration to express the concerns of the student body.”
This change came soon after the Office of Residential Life mandated incoming students to live on campus for six semesters. In April 2019, the office introduced a number of new housing updates, including a new differentiation policy that sparked outrage in the community and prompted a petition with more than 6,000 signatures.
Notre Dame announces it will host the first presidential debate of the 2020 election — Oct. 11, 2019
University President Fr. John Jenkins announced the University will host the first presidential debate of the 2020 election campaign on Sept. 29, 2020 in the Purcell Pavilion in the Joyce Center. While Notre Dame has invited presidents and world leaders to campus in years past, this will be the first time the University will host a presidential debate.
“I think our democracy so badly needs a place where we can have serious conversations,” Jenkins said in his announcement. “Our politics have been taken over by tweets and by slogans. We need to engage seriously about serious topics from across the political spectrum, the whole political spectrum…I see these debates as a particularly powerful expression of that effort to provide a forum where we can have serious conversations in our democracy about challenges facing us.”
Notre Dame stops using coal for energy — Oct. 14, 2020
As a direct result of the Comprehensive Sustainability Strategy, a multi-pronged plan for a more sustainable campus initiated by the University in 2015, the campus power plant phased out burning coal a year ahead of schedule. In order to make the transition from coal, a new gas line was built to complement the original line in the power plant, and the oil storage capacity was doubled. In addition, the University elected to invest $113 million in renewable energy projects shortly after announcing the five year plan to cease burning coal, which included the creation of a hydroelectric plant on St. Joseph River, a geothermal system and a new thermal energy East Plant. The University’s sustainability plan looks out almost 50 years in the future, spearheading more projects and initiatives to allow Notre Dame to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Archbishop Scicluna speaks on Vatican’s sex abuse crisis — Nov. 13, 2019
Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, visited campus to discuss the Church’s sexual abuse crisis, as a part of the annual 2019 ND Forum. With decades of experience investigating clerical abuse, Scicluna served as the deputy promoter of justice at the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and the promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Most recently he was promoted to secretary adjunct of the CDF in 2018. During his talk he said he wished February’s Vatican summit had been more constructive, but pointed to the May 7 mandate, which requires church leaders to report all cases of abuse to their superiors, as a productive outcome.
“If we don’t get to this point, after a year we’ll be knocking on the door of the bishops,” he said.
Scicluna also spoke regarding the limitations of the 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which established specific standards for handling cases of clergy sexual abuse, but only applies to priests and deacons.
Having met with hundreds of survivors, Scicluna emphasized the imporatnce of listening to victim’s stories.
“When you meet a person who has gone through this immense tragedy personally … you understand [the crisis] better,” he said.
Student sit-ins against parietals — Nov. 17, 2019
After reports of biased slurs directed at individuals in Stanford and Keenan Halls on Nov. 15 and 16, around 30 students refused to leave Stanford from 2 a.m. to around 5 a.m. to protest against parietals and to call for an end to hate speech on campus. Protestors left around 5 a.m. when University administration threatened expulsion if students refused to leave the premises. A few days later, students gathered in Sorin College for a second demonstration, organized by End Hate at ND, a coalition of students seeking a unified student body. The protests sparked discussions across the Notre Dame community about parietals with people arguing for and against the policy. A dialogue regarding discriminatory behavior at Notre Dame also ensued following the incident in Stanford Hall that provoked the protests.
Body of Notre Dame student Annrose Jerry found in St. Mary’s Lake — Jan. 24, 2020
Three days after 21-year-old senior Annrose Jerry was reported missing, her body was found in St. Mary’s Lake. Jerry was a senior science-business major in the Glynn Family Honors program who lived in Breen-Phillips Hall. She was a member of the Folk Choir and was last seen at a Folk Choir rehearsal on Jan. 21. There were no signs of foul play. Notre Dame community members gathered to celebrate Jerry’s life in a mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Saint Mary’s announces 14th president, Katie Conboy — Feb. 13, 2020
Katie Conboy, who served as provost and senior vice president at Simmons University, was elected to succeed Interim President Nancy Nekvasil as the 14th president of Saint Mary’s College. Conboy previously served first as a professor of English literature and later as provost at Stonehill College, a Holy Cross institution in Massachusetts. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in 1981, and her PhD in English literature from the University of Notre Dame in 1986.
Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg drops out of 2020 presidential race — March 1, 2020)
After beginning his run in April 2019, Pete Buttigieg suspended his campaign for president after winning the Iowa caucuses earlier in the month, and coming in second to Senator Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary. The announcement followed a loss in the South Carolina Democratic primary.
“I firmly believe that in these years — in our time — we can and will make American life and politics more like what it could be,” Buttigieg said during his announcement at the Century Center. “Not just more wise and more prosperous but more equitable, more just and more decent.”
Tri-campus community suspends all in-person classes until April 13 due to COVID-19 — March 11, 2020
The University suspended all in-person classes beginning March 23 through April 13, replacing all courses with virtual teaching and other alternative learning options. All University-sponsored international programs were also cancelled, and students and U.S.-based faculty were directed to return home as soon as possible. Undergraduate residence halls were to remain open only to students approved to remain on campus.
Saint Mary’s extended spring break until March 20 to prepare for a transition online, after cancelling all in-person classes until at least April 13. All non-essential faculty and staff domestic and international travel was also suspended, but students in the residence halls were given the option to return to campus.
Holy Cross cancelled all on-campus activity until at least April 13 in favor of online learning. Holy Cross students were advised to return home and stay home until in-person classes resume, as residence halls closed.
Saint Mary’s community mourns a student death — March 12, 2020
On March 12, Saint Mary’s senior Isabelle Melchor died, the College said in an email to students. Melchor was a global studies major and deeply involved at the College. A professor remembered her as inspirational, saying Melchor was always quick to smile despite her health struggles.
The suspension of in-person classes is extended to the conclusion of spring semester — March 18, 2020
The University extended the suspension of in-person classes and online instruction until the conclusion of the academic semester. Students would be pro-rated room and board charges for the spring semester, and the 253 students living in on-campus residences were instructed to return to their permanent homes.