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Senate discusses activity break days, derogatory Yik Yak posts

| Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Notre Dame student senate gathered Wednesday evening on the second floor of LaFortune Student Center to discuss the climate surrounding diversity on campus, a nomination for assistant student union treasurer, a discussion on proposed student activities break days and a resolution supporting Saint Mary’s students and community members. 

Student body vice president Matthew Bisner shared concerns about the current state of inclusion on campus. Bisner detailed vice president for student affairs Fr. Gerard Olinger’s three thematic priorities for student affairs — diversity, equity and inclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic and religious disaffiliation — to demonstrate how diversity concerns are being addressed.

“He’s looking especially at those problems and how to go about responding to them and how to go about making this place a better community, but specifically through those three lenses,” Bisner said.

When the senate discussed the proposal of student activities break days, several different perspectives were brought to the table. The proposed break day would cancel clubs and activities for a day to allow students to relax and catch up on school work. Student body president Allan Njomo supported the break days, saying a break day would provide students who are active in different clubs and organizations on campus an opportunity to alleviate stress.

“It would be something off of your plate, specifically for students who do student government, senate or clubs — one less thing to stress about,” Njomo said. 

Adriana Perez | The Observer
The student senate wraps up its weekly meeting held in LaFortune Student Center.

Multiple members of the senate combatted the proposal, arguing that canceling activities would not solve the issue of students feeling overworked and overwhelmed. Instead of the student activities break day, they proposed that mental health should become a higher priority. 

The senate suggested professors should take five to 10 minutes at the beginning of a class in the middle of the semester to explain and discuss the importance of mental health. Some senators said professors should reiterate that they are available to assist students when necessary. 

The proposal regarding student activities break days was not passed, but the senate is formulating ideas on how it can help students who feel overworked.

Sophomore Andreas Vlahos from Fisher Hall was nominated for the role of assistant student union treasurer. Sophomore Fisher Hall senator Maclane Farrel offered support for Vlahos, suggesting the senate nominate him.

 “Andreas is a really good friend of mine. I would just like to offer that I can guarantee that he will do a really good job in this new role — he is very committed, and I strongly suggest that we all vote in favor of his nomination,” Farrel said.

Another member of the senate spoke highly of Andreas’ character, calling him a great leader. The senate voted unanimously in favor of Vlahos for assistant student union treasurer.

A resolution supporting Saint Mary’s community members was discussed following negative statements made on the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak about the lottery results for tickets to the Notre Dame-Wisconsin football game in Chicago on Saturday. 

“The behavior and rhetoric we’ve seen around Saint Mary’s College lately is unacceptable,” Bisner said.

The resolution was moved up to general orders. Olinger, who is currently in discussion with College President Katie Conboy on what measures need to be taken regarding the issue, said it was his top priority to discuss the animosity between anonymous Yik Yak users and Saint Mary’s students. 

The resolution was passed, acknowledging the derogatory comments made about Saint Mary’s students and shining light on College students lost to suicide. 

The student senate also discussed ideas on how they can help College students affected by the Yik Yak posts, some senators proposing a rally consisting of field day events in an effort to build community among the campuses. 

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