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Senate votes on UCC funds, Laudato Si action platform

| Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Notre Dame student senate convened Wednesday night for their penultimate meeting on the second floor of LaFortune Student Center.

After opening with a prayer, student body vice president Matthew Bisner conducted roll call and approved the minutes from March 16. 

Kathryn Muchnick | The Observer
Senate discusses off-campus community representation in the Student Union during their penultimate meeting Wednesday.

Bisner previewed several upcoming events on campus, including Pride Fest, a celebration of LGBTQ+ students that is scheduled for this weekend. On Friday, the Department of Sustainability will host a march, calling on Notre Dame to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The march will begin on Debartolo Quad at 5 p.m. 

In addition, Bisner announced the Student Awards Night on Wednesday, April 6 to honor notable student leaders. Finally, Bisner thanked the student government departments of social concerns, community engagement and faith and service for their efforts to restart Back the Bend — Notre Dame’s campus-wide day of service. Interested students can still sign up to volunteer on April 2 with Back the Bend here.

After executive announcements, vice president of peer advocacy Allison Sharp gave a presentation on Judicial Council’s Peer Advocacy Program. The program is designed to provide support and information to students after a violation of the University’s Standards of Conduct. Peer advocates are trained through Judicial Council and the Office of Community Standards (OCS), but Sharp emphasized that the Peer Advocacy program is not directly affiliated with OCS.

After Sharp’s presentation, Judicial Council president David Haungs read out resolution SO2122-10A. The resolution is part of a series of two resolutions aimed at increasing representation for off-campus students in the Student Union. 

SO2122-10A proposed an amendment to the constitution that allows the off-campus community to elect one representative to the Student Union Board (SUB). The resolution passed unanimously. 

Though it was not voted on, off-campus council president Thomas Davis also discussed resolution SO2122-10B. Similar to resolution SO2122-10A, this resolution is aimed at increasing the number of senators that the off-campus community elects from two to three. 

Davis said that he views this as the “most constitutionally sound” option. “We would hate for this body to only talk about issues for students living on campus.”

Next, the senate unanimously passed resolution SO2122-21. The resolution appointed Creed Leathers, who was elected student senator of Fisher Hall for the 2022-23 term, to the senate. Leathers is beginning his term early to fill the vacancy left after Fisher Hall’s previous senator resigned.

Juliette Kelley and Austin Wyman, co-directors of health and wellbeing in executive cabinet, then read resolution SS2122-12. The resolution calls for “greater funding for the UCC to hire individual counselors.” 

Kelley emphasized the need for consistent, easy-to-access care from the UCC. The resolution suggests that “when the UCC is unable to meet demand, students are less likely to seek help and their mental health issues go untreated.” 

Kelley also said that the UCC needs full-time counselors to provide the best quality care. Hiring part-time staff is a “band-aid” rather than a solution.

Keough Hall senator Benjamin Erhardt praised the resolution for its “timeliness,” and proposed an amendment to bring the resolution to the Campus Life Council. The resolution and the amendment passed.

Finally, the senate moved to consider resolution SS2122-13, calling on Notre Dame to enroll in the Laudato Si Action Platform.

Senator Annika Barron explained that the action platform was released by the Vatican as a series of “actionable goals” in response to Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato Si. Both the encyclical and the action platform aim to combat the climate crisis, but the action platform invites organizations to respond to seven specific goals.

Barron emphasized the flexibility of the platform.

“If you do become a partner institution, you’re given space to figure out what makes sense for you,” she said.

Barron also said that 80 universities around the world have enrolled in the action platform, including 30 universities in the United States.

The resolution passed with one senator abstaining.

Before closing, Bisner announced that the senate would hear nominations for Student Union Board Directors at the next meeting.

After closing announcements, the meeting was adjourned.

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