Senate discusses future of COVID-19 response financial account
John Brach | Friday, September 4, 2020
At its weekly meeting Thursday, Notre Dame’s student senate focused on questions related to an account created last year which set aside approximately $200,000 of unused Student Union funds when the spring semester was cut short due to COVID-19.
Senate order 2021-02, which created the COVID-19 Response Financial Account, stated that when student activities returned this semester, the senate would decide exactly how the money should be used.
Senior Grace Stephenson, chairwoman of the Financial Management Board (FMB), joined the senate to give a presentation on the account and deliver the FMB’s advice on how to handle the unusual fund.
“The intent with passing this order was to say we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future … We’re going to set [the money] aside so we can be intentional,” she said.
The FMB suggested the senate move to set aside $10,000 of the COVID-19 Response Financial Account to be used for allocation to organizations for the remaining three months of the allocation period. In this plan, the remaining money would be withheld until the winter reallocation process. This would allow the FMB to gather more information on the 2021-2022 fiscal year and better evaluate future needs.
Stephenson said the FMB still has some hesitations about the language of the order. Key among these concerns is that sales for The Shirt are down this year which will decrease future funding.
The motion to go forward with the FMB’s plan will be voted on at next week’s senate meeting on Sept. 10.
Outside of the COVID-19 Response Financial Account, the senate briefly discussed a few other pertinent topics.
Senior and student body vice president Sarah Galbenski commended the student advocacy by the Notre Dame Strike for Black Lives.
“Born out of this movement we’re going to have a racial justice working group, this Saturday, Sept. 5 from 4-5 p.m.,” she said.
Following this announcement, senior and chief of staff Aaron Benavides gave an update on campus dining.
“Campus Dining is really at the mercy of the state of Indiana right now in dealing with all the health and safety guidelines that the state is putting out,” he said.
Galbenski also detailed the actions of the faculty senate recently, specifically referring to two movements. The first presented was a motion to aid in student mental health through professor flexibility, and the second was to create a partnership between the group of Black student leaders working with the Division of Student Affairs and a task force related to academic affairs and curriculum.
Senior and student body president Rachel Ingal discussed the off-campus town hall Wednesday. She also provided an update on her and Galbenski’s presidential initiative, the inaugural Women’s Leadership Forum.
“The vision is that this will be a monthly series, and the student body will be able to tune in and listen to different diverse sets of speakers,” Ingal said.
After these announcements, Galbenski led the oath of office for four newly elected members, sophomores Albertina Estrada Martinez and Theresa Salazar, junior Bianca Burnett and senior Blake Johnson. By taking the oath, they became official senators. These new senators will join the current senators in next week’s vote on the COVID-19 Response Financial Account and FMB proposal.