Senators undergo diversity training, nominate The Shirt president, review order regarding forced labor
Maria Luisa Paul | Friday, September 25, 2020
In face of the ongoing calls for social justice, events and discussions alike have centered around efforts to promote greater equality at Notre Dame. At the sixth student senate meeting of the academic year, this was the theme that carried over the gathering as the members of the senate underwent a diversity and inclusion training.
Paige Jackson, Assistant Director of Diversity Education, Outreach and Assessment for Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS), led the hour-long MiNDful Training in which she addressed the issue of microaggressions and presented a framework to combat these “subtle and unconscious verbal and non-verbal attacks on people of color.”
According to Jackson, MSPS created MiNDful as a way to enable students who have either suffered from or witnessed racial microaggressions to effectively respond to them and create a more welcoming campus environment.
“We wanted to figure out a way for those individuals, those students who are dealing with racial microaggressions here on campus, for them to to cope,” Jackson said. “We wanted to find a way, comparable to GreenDot, for students to be able to know what to do when racial microaggressions are happening to them in the moment and how they can respond to them.”
One of the main goals behind the project is to achieve greater engagement within Notre Dame’s different hall communities, as these are the spaces where most attacks take place according to the Inclusive Campus Survey. Jackson said this reality becomes even more problematic amid a pandemic.
“Especially right now — when who knows if there’s a possibility that the institution goes completely online again and you have to be in the dorm rooms — we have to be able to have this conversation because when it comes to the location in which microaggressions are taking place, they’re happening at a higher level within a dorm room,” she said.
These unconscious attacks can manifest themselves in different ways, such as assumptions of criminality and intellectual inferiority, exoticization and pathologizing cultural values. Jackson said it was fundamental to acknowledge the existence of microaggressions at Notre Dame since ignoring them could lead to students suffering from racial battle fatigue, or “the amount of energy loss dedicated to coping with racial microaggressions in race.”
“It’s so important to be able to recognize these things because they may manifest themselves in frustration, anger, exhaustion, escapism, acceptance of racist attribution resistance, but more importantly, impacts student connectedness and academic achievement,” she said.
Following Jackson’s training session — which fulfilled Constitutional requirements for the celebrating diversity workshop highlighted in Article III, Section 5 — the senate moved to discuss the President of The Shirt Project nomination, which was submitted by Student Union treasurer, senior Grace Stephenson, per the Student Constitution’s Article XI, Section 6.
Stephenson recommended junior Devin Diggs, “without reservations” for the position, stating his “extensive qualifications, years of experience and continued dedication to The Shirt” proved to be great assets for the continuation of the beloved campus tradition.
Diggs has been a part of The Shirt Project since his freshman year at Notre Dame. From promoting The Shirt to implementing initiatives to support sales, he held different roles and responsibilities throughout the years, even serving as the Project’s vice president during the 2019-2020 academic year.
After reviewing his qualifications, the senate ultimately decided to approve Diggs as the newest president of The Shirt Project.
The next item in the meeting’s agenda was to review the Order Amending the Constitution to Prohibit Student Union Investments in and Consumption of Forced Labor, originally spearheaded by former Dillon Hall Senator, senior Michael Dugan, and Club Coordination Council President, senior Ricardo Pozas Garza.
Editor’s Notes: Dugan is a former News Writer and Systems Administrator at The Observer.
Last meeting, this order sparked controversy, as its failure to appear in the senate’s agenda motivated Dugan and other Dillon Hall officials to submit a a Letter to the Editor criticizing the delay to hear the piece of legislation.
This letter, along with Dugan’s social media posts singling out senior Sarah Galbenski, student body vice president and chairwoman of the senate, were perceived as violations of three expectations of ethical conduct by the Ethics Commission, which unanimously moved to recommend that a Bill of Impeachment be brought before the student senate.
However, prior to Thursday’s senate meeting, Dugan chose to resign his position as senator rather than proceed with the impeachment process.
“I believe that my fighting the [Bill of Impeachment] would be disrespectful to the time of the other members of the senate,” Dugan wrote in the email acquired by The Observer.
Dugan was taken off as the order’s co-sponsor given his resignation.
When the resolution was set to be discussed, Pozas Garza motioned to table it, citing the need to further refine the order.
“There are a lot of intricacies in how the Student Union sources of revenue operate,that are not nearly as simple as Michael Dugan and myself thought they were when we were writing this initially. So we want to show those nuances in the resolution such that when it is enacted, that change can actually happen in practice, and just so it’s not like a nominal thing in the Constitution that ends up doing nothing because of some obscure legal or financial obstacle in the way,” Pozas Garza said.
Pozas Garza also made a call to senators to provide further comment and consider co-sponsoring the piece of legislation in question.
“I see this resolution is more than one person project. So if we can get as many of you guys involved, that would be awesome,” he said.