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viewpoint

The senate attacks issues, not people

| Friday, September 18, 2020

Early yesterday morning, the student body woke up to a stunningly sensationalized attack piece on the student Senate. This letter, written by members of the Dillon Hall Council, was both misleading and inflammatory. Its criticism of the student government’s extensive efforts to combat racial inequalities on campus served only as a distraction from what is an incredibly important issue. Today we, members of the student senate, want to set the record straight.

To begin, the article criticizes the student senate and members of the executive cabinet as reticent when it comes to combating racial inequalities that exist on our campus. It suggests that the recent “SS 2021-16: A Resolution to Commit to Anti-Racist Action at Notre Dame” is pointless and ineffectual. While it is true that this resolution does not solve the scourge of inequality faced by many on this campus, it serves as an important base for any future legislative efforts. 

The main protest of the article centered around the fact that a new order spearheaded by the Dillon Hall senator was not included on this week’s senate agenda. Simply put, the order was omitted because it was the fifth order received for this week’s meeting. Student body vice president and chair of the senate Sarah Galbenski put three items on the agenda in the order they were submitted to her. Due to the cleaning protocols of DeBartolo Hall this semester, the senate has a strict 90-minute limit on how long meetings can last. Because of this, Galbenski informed the Dillon Hall senator in an email that “this week’s meeting is already full with the three resolutions/orders that were on new business last week” and thanked him for his “thoughtful resolution.”

The Dillon Hall senator’s passion for fostering a better community is certainly commendable. The sentiments presented in his order are well within the bounds of the goals for which the student senate strives to achieve. However, his passion for this issue, in spite of its admirable goals, does not justify unwarranted personal attacks on Galbenski. Galbenski had no intention to “deny debate time to any bill that she does not support,” the meeting was simply full. Furthermore, while it is one thing to write an article with complaints, it is completely another to explicitly single out a fellow student on social media

Galbenski has proven her commitment to aiding students of color and abolishing racism by passing SS 2021-16 and establishing the Racial Justice Working Group. She is an upstanding moral member of the Notre Dame community and an excellent public servant to the student body that did not deserve to be attacked in this way. 

Finally, to contend that the student senate was merely going to drop all discussions on race relations is absolute fantasy. Our commitment remains strong to healing the wounds of injustice, exclusion, and unfairness which can still woefully be seen in our home. As stated above, SS-2021-16 was a jumping off point — a commitment of spirit to the goal of equality. While, yes, our work is certainly not close to being finished, this statement of intent brought forth by the executive cabinet was accepted unanimously. 

We are all painfully aware of the glacial pace at which justice can move; however, while not slowing that pace further, we must be deliberate in our actions to better our campus environment, taking purposeful action in order to support and uplift marginalized members of our student body. Notre Dame strives to be a cohesive community, solving its problems with a spirit of teamwork, unity, and commitment to the common good.

With this in mind, we as the student senate would like to encourage the student body to view the recording or peruse the minutes from last week’s Senate meeting and form their own opinions about the situation with full context.  

In Notre Dame,

Grace Franco

Walsh Hall senator, sophomore

Renee Pierson

sophomore class president

Margaret Allen

 sophomore, Flaherty Hall senator

Michael J. Murakami

sophomore, Dunne Hall senator

Patrick O. Lee

sophomore, Stanford Hall senator

Sara Kirsch

sophomore, Breen-Phillips Hall senator

Henry Jackson

sophomore, Keenan Hall senator

Sam Cannova

senior class president

Sept. 17

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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