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First student senate announces full observance of MLK Day, raises concerns over dining hall hours

| Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sat in a close-knit square formation, markedly different from the scattered auditorium seating and masked faces of senate meetings last year, the student senate convened for the first meeting of the academic year Wednesday evening in the Notre Dame Room at LaFortune Student Center.

During the meeting, student body president Allan Njomo announced the University will fully observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 17 of this academic year. A senate resolution calling on the University to allow for a full observance of the day passed last March.

Maggie Eastland | The Observer
Senators had no official legislation to discuss at their first meeting but will soon have more on the agenda.

The senate is made up of representatives from every residence hall, student union leaders and senate executives including Njomo, vice president Matthew Bisner and chief of staff Alix Basden.

Throughout the academic year, the senate brings student concerns before University administration by discussing, debating and passing resolutions requiring a two-third quorum.

In the first meeting of the 2021-2022 academic year, many senators voiced concerns over limited campus dining hours, especially during weekends and late at night.

The co-directors of student life, senior Claire Murphy and junior Ethan Terrell, said they plan to meet with Campus Dining soon to discuss the dining schedules. Senators agreed that limited hours are likely the result of employee shortages.

Sophomore Veronica Slevin, senator for Pasquerilla West Hall, said she witnesses the issue firsthand in her job with Campus Dining.

“If you want to have better hours, the only way to do that is to have more employment,” Slevin said.

Other senators emphasized that limited on-campus dining hours have the potential to create challenges for students without the financial flexibility to purchase food at off-campus locations such as the Eddy Street Commons restaurants. Searching for food off campus could also create unnecessary safety concerns, they said.

Senators also shared they have received comments from upperclassmen about the absence of trays in the dining hall. Without trays, students might find it more difficult to carry a main meal, side and drink to their table, they said. Some speculated that removing the trays might be a method similar to one used by other private universities to limit food waste.

In the meeting, a new director of Academic Affairs was confirmed. Sierra Stinson will examine financial barriers to academics, work with students struggling with textbook costs and promote more faculty diversity. Stinson replaces Nikhil Namburi in this capacity, who transferred to Columbia University.

Maureen Doyle, assistant director for student development in the Division of Student Affairs, will serve as the advisor to the student senate this year. Doyle has worked alongside students at the University for the past 13 years. 

Bisner announced his office hours, which are open to all students, will take place every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the student government office on the second floor of LaFortune Student Center. Njomo said students should email him if they wish to speak with him.

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