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Senate passes mental health resolution, discusses HERE dashboard updates

| Friday, August 28, 2020

The third senate meeting of the academic year convened via Zoom Thursday evening to discuss the current state of Notre Dame affairs.

The session began with a reminder from senior student body vice president Sarah Galbenski. 

“I know that folks might be experiencing a little bit of extra mental health stress right now,” Galbenski said. “Given the state of the pandemic, given the state of racial injustice in our country. I just really want to be cognizant of that. I know y’all might be coming into this meeting carrying that and that we are here to be listening ears and here for each other.”

The first announcement was spearheaded by senior student body president Rachel Ingal, talking about the executives meeting with local law enforcement. 

Earlier this week Ingal, Galbenski and senior chief of staff Aaron Benavides met with local law enforcement as part of a constitutionally mandated gathering. In large part they talked with the law enforcement officers about racial justice issues pertaining to the police. Discussing the advisory board with Black student leaders, and student leaders of color to create a committee that provides some oversight to NDPD. They also talked with local law enforcement about their efforts to curb racial bias in their practices. Some of the efforts by the local law enforcement include: racial bias training they put their officers through this summer, national consulting agencies to do audits, deescalation techniques and new use of force policies. 

Benavides updated the senate on the COVID-19 dashboard which was a large topic of the last meeting. Benavides explained the dashboard would be updated to include more data and a further breakdown of the data, as well as the addition of active versus recovered cases to the dashboard in the coming days. 

Next, senior Club Coordination Council (CCC) president, Ricardo Ponas Garza asked whether there would be a possibility of quarantine room availability being allowed in the dashboard counts. Ingal said the quarantine units are not a set cap, but rather a flexible situation, so there isn’t a set limit on how many beds there are. 

The next item brought up to discussion was Elections Committee nominations. The Elections Committee are the judges of Notre Dame student government — they are there to review all allegations of potential election misconduct. After an application and interview process junior Judicial Council president Matthew Bisner and sophomore vice president of elections, David Haungs presented a group of 11 students to the senate. 

There was a slight push back on the nomination for Elizabeth Heldt by senior Dillion Hall senator Michael Dugan, because one of the clubs listed on her nomination sheet was no longer a club. Dugan wondered if there was further proof of her being active on campus beyond that organization which was no longer listed. However, these concerns were swept aside as there was a decisive vote to approve all 11 nominations. 

A main topic of discussion was Resolution SS 2021-14 brought forward by Walsh Hall senator Grace Franco, McGlinn Hall senator Elaine Teeters, and Zahm House senator Henry Bates, and director of Health  and Well-Being, Grace Dean, to emphasize and expand mental health resources on campus.

The resolution specifically focused on mitigating the effects COVID-19 is having mental health wise in the community. When speaking about communication with the administration when regarding the issues of mental health on campus Dean said, “this resolution is really important from a student perspective to make sure that as student leaders we are formally declaring our concerns in writing.” The resolution passed through the senate. 

Resolution SS 2021-15 was presented by Dugan and sophomore Keough Hall senator, Benjamin Erhardt. This resolution touched on the COVID-19 pandemic — its main attempt was to push students to act more mindfully and for administration to be more transparent, and safe in actions it took going forward. The resolution passed through the senate. 

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About Dane Sherman

Dane Sherman is a first year Philosophy major from Seattle, Washington.

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