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Senate meeting cut short after unexpected fire alarm

| Thursday, November 4, 2021

In their second meeting after fall break, the Notre Dame student senate was forced to cut this week’s meeting short after an unexpected fire alarm caused the students to evacuate LaFortune student center.

On the agenda for the night, there were two resolutions to vote on: a resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuels and a resolution to push for housing for the incoming class of Gateway students.

Due to lengthy debate over the merits of the resolution calling for the divestment of fossil fuels, the senators were only able to vote on that resolution—leaving the Gateway students without aid for yet another week.

Annika Barron, the Farley Hall senator, and Veronica Slevin, Pasquerilla West Hall senator, were the two lead names supporting the resolution and fielded most of the debate questions that came in over the course of the 50-minute time frame that the resolution was under examination.

One opponent of the resolution, the Knott Hall senator Abraham Figueroa, lead the dissent against the resolution posing many harsh questions about the merits of the order.

Among his questions were points concerning the timeline of divestment, the financial impacts of divestment on the University’s endowment and the overall morality of the investment/divestment debate.

Slevin explained to the senate that utilizing fossil fuels has a much larger effect than one might expect.

“Somewhere between 21-25% of deaths per year is attributed to fossil fuel usage worldwide,” Slevin said. “And if we’re investing in companies that are worldwide companies or national companies, that’s a global effect.”

She also mentioned how low-income families are more likely to be impacted by the harmful effects of the usage of fossil fuels.

“There’s a substantial difference between the health of [low-income citizens] in general and the health of people that live in wealthier cities and areas,” Slevin said. Fossil fuels “disproportionately affect people of lower-income because they typically live-in areas with worse infrastructure and less actions to fix.”

Other senators also raised issues regarding the wording of the resolution and what next steps the senate can take to put the resolution into action.

After all the lengthy questioning and debate, the resolution passed in a closed-ballot vote 14-10 with 5 senators abstaining.

Before the senators were able to move on to the resolution concerning Gateway student housing, an unexpected fire alarm rang through LaFortune student center and caused the rushed evacuation of all those inside.

The senators and others in LaFortune huddled outside of the building for close to 30 minutes waiting for the all-clear from the firemen that it was safe to enter again.

Bella Laufenberg
Senators and other students standing outside LaFortune student center for nearly half an hour during an unexpected fire alarm evacuation.

When the senate was able to reconvene, enough senators had left for other commitments that the senate did not have enough voting members to pass the resolution.

Instead, the senate heard testimony from two Gateway students—Liam Redmond and Robert Corrato.

Corrato told the senate about the chaos that ensued after the Gateway students were notified about the housing situation.

“There has been a 100% placement rate of Gateway students transferred over into on-campus housing for the past eight years. So, when we got this email, Friday morning, half of us had exams,” Corrato said. “Everything went completely crazy at Holy Cross. So, we had all 96 gateways and we’re talking about on the phone with our parents, stepping out of class and it really just completely hit a spiral.”

After the testimony, the senate resolved to hear debate and vote on the bill during its next meeting.

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About Bella Laufenberg

Bella Laufenberg is a sophomore biological sciences major, who likes news much more than organic chemistry. She has a supplementary major in classics and is in the journalism, ethics and democracy minor. At The Observer, she is the New Writer Editor and works production.

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