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Senate confirms Judicial Council president, Student Union treasurer

| Thursday, March 11, 2021

The Notre Dame Student Senate assembled Wednesday evening to vote on nominations for Student Union treasurer and Judicial Council president, as well as several resolutions. 

As the meeting began, the student body vice president, senior Sarah Galbenski, updated the senators on the state of COVID-19 restrictions on campus and the University’s vaccination site. Current restrictions are not likely to be lifted for at least one to two weeks, and the University will be distributing the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine later this month, Galbenski said. She also noted that vaccination efforts will be focused on the state and local community, as vaccines will be distributed to those who meet Indiana’s guidelines. 

Reading a letter of nomination, current Student Union treasurer, senior Grace Stephenson, nominated junior Meenu Selvan to assume her position. Citing Selvan’s contributions to the Financial Management Board (FMB) and the Student Union Treasurer Office, Stephenson gave an enthusiastic endorsement, echoed by several senators. 

“I have worked with some phenomenal students in FMB,” Selvan said.

Following several endorsements, Selvan was confirmed. 

Current Judicial Council president, senior Thomas Davis II, nominated sophomore David Haungs to take over his position. When questioned about his motivation to take on the role of Judicial Council president, Haungs responded without hesitation.

“Frankly, I’m a law nerd,” Haungs said. “I like the interpretive game.”

The nomination of Haungs was turned over to a vote, in which he was confirmed. Galbenski closed this portion of the meeting by thanking Stephenson and Davis for their work and invited a round of applause for them in their final Student Senate meeting. 

The Senate then began hearing resolutions. First on the docket was a resolution co-sponsored by six senators, in addition to the Club Coordination Council president and Student Union Board executive director. Read by Keough Hall senator Benjamin Erdhart, the resolution called on the Campus Life Council (CLC) to take a more proactive role in supporting transparent communication and campus life policies that take into consideration the physical and emotional health of the campus community. 

Recalling tensions between the student body and administration over housing policies last year, one senator compared current distrust between the two groups to that of the late 1960s and early 1970s, a contentious period from which the Student Life Council — now known as the Campus Life Council — was born.

The resolution, while urging students to continue to abide by all safety and health guidelines set forth by the University, seeks to create a stronger relationship between the student body and University leadership by creating more transparent and effective COVID-19 related policies. To accomplish this, the resolution asks for increased communication with the CLC from the Division of Student Affairs and the Division of Campus Safety and University Operations regarding policy changes. The resolution was unanimously passed. 

Two more resolutions were brought to the floor, the first of which requested that the University allow a full day of observance for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, referencing this practice within peer institutions such as Northwestern University, Villanova University, University of Chicago and seven of the eight Ivy League schools. Several senators voiced their confidence that this could be accomplished through the use of mini-breaks, similar to those of this semester. The resolution passed with 35 votes in favor. 

The final resolution, co-sponsored by Margaret Allen and Michael Murakami — senators of Flaherty Hall and Dunne Hall, respectively — asks for the University to adopt a benchmarking system for evaluating COVID-19 protocols. Throughout the pandemic, many states and communities have implemented benchmarks using standards such as positivity rates to create phases for the relaxation of health protocols. The resolution asks the University to do the same, hoping to provide the student body a common goal of meeting these benchmarks. 

With a friendly amendment for the resolution to be brought to the Division of Student Affairs and Campus Operations, the resolution was passed with thirty-six votes. 

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article included the misspelling of David Haungs’ name. The Observer deeply regrets this error. 

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About Siobhan Loughney

Siobhan is a sophomore majoring in Economics. She hails from Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, but lives in Welsh Family Hall at Notre Dame.

Contact Siobhan