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Senate convenes in person, vice president for student affairs pays visit

| Friday, September 11, 2020

The Notre Dame student senate met in person Thursday evening. This week’s meeting was centered around an address from vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding. 

Hoffmann Harding spoke about campus reopening and the restructuring of student gathering spaces on campus including social spacing of Duncan and LaFortune student centers, and the introduction of many new outdoor spaces for student gathering such as the tents in front of North and South Dining Halls and Library Lawn.

Hoffmann Harding mentioned certain aspects of student life that got modified in the reopening process such as an option for students to live off-campus while still earning credit towards the University residency requirement and the opening of secondary residence locations to offer on-campus housing to all students who requested it.

In addition to the modifications to campus life, Harding talked about ways to address safety concerns in a way that did not cause divisions within the University community, new Title IX regulations and racial injustice within the community. Hoffmann Harding said the University is hosting conversations with Black student organizations regarding racial injustice in four main areas: campus policing, student mental health, programming funds and space and providing training for inclusion and diversity issues for faculty.

Hoffmann Harding fielded many questions regarding issues like dashboard changes, surveillance testing, concerns about Saturday’s home football game and flu season. 

Following Hoffmann Harding’s informative address, there was an update on the Community/Campus Advisory Coalition (CCAC) in that the CCAC has now finished the election process and the council is finalized.

Next, the senate moved to the appointment of 14 members to the Committee on the Constitution. This motion was put in block by parliamentarian, junior Thomas Davis and was passed without debate. 

Davis said he is very excited at the appointees.

“Today is a very exciting moment for me,” he said. “This is a special part of the Committee on the Constitution being able to nominate or appoint members and at large members of the student body. It was a very thorough process and I’m very happy with the appointments I’ve been able to make.”

Subsequently, the senate discussed order SS 2021-16: A resolution to Commit to Anti-Racist Action at Notre Dame. This order contained a statement in which the sponsors acknowledged the presence of racial injustice and discrimination on our campus and affirmed their continued desire to engage in open and constructive conversation with leaders of the Black Student Association, Notre Dame Socially Responsible Investing and the organizers of the Notre Dame Strike for Black Lives pertaining to their organizations’ goals and steps forward to foster an anti-racist campus community.

Order SS 2021-16 received some push back from Dillion Hall senator Mike Dugan who called for more aggressive resolution that actively calls for more than just conversation pertaining to racial injustice.

(Editor’s Note: Mike Dugan is a former News Writer and Systems Administrator at The Observer.)

“We need to do something to remove the structures that are posing barriers to students of color and prohibiting them from getting the experience that they deserve here,” Dugan said. “We’re punting, or saying, Notre Dame, talk with people, but we ourselves are not taking a stand.”

Despite dissent from Dugan and others, order SS 2021-16 was passed with a vote.

This week’s senate meeting concluded by a motion to move order SS 2021-07 pertaining to the availability of $10,000 from the Student Union COVID-19 Response Financial Account to next week’s meeting.

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About Bella Laufenberg

Bella Laufenberg is a sophomore biological sciences major, who likes news much more than organic chemistry. She has a supplementary major in classics and is in the journalism, ethics and democracy minor. At The Observer, she is the New Writer Editor and works production.

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