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Senate installs new director of diversity and inclusion, amends bylaws

| Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Notre Dame student senate convened Wednesday night to nominate a new co-director of Diversity and Inclusion, discuss procedures for the upcoming elections and amend senate laws regarding proxies.

Vice president Sofie Stitt opened the meeting with executive announcements. Stitt introduced the director of sustainability, Nick Albrinck, who updated the senate on the sustainability department’s progress.

The sustainability department successfully reintroduced the Sustainability Cup this year, which awarded points to the dorms for attending sustainability-related events. Pasquerilla East won the cup “by a lot,” Albrinck said.

“Most of our initiatives are ongoing for the rest of the year, so we’ve made a lot of good progress on material waste, on energy use and on dining sustainability,” Albrinck added.

Albrinck clarified the University’s current recycling program. He said that there is recycling in every dorm, but only recycling put into the blue toters will be collected. Anything else labeled as recycling collection (except for flattened cardboard collection in dorms) will be thrown away. His department is working with administration to correctly label the waste bins. 

After Albrinck updated the senate, Madison Nemeth, the president of Judicial Council, presented campaign rules for the upcoming Student Union elections.

To those interested in running for an enumerated position in the Student Union, campaigning and petitioning can only occur publicly in a specified time period. The Judicial Council is set to publicize the timeline for campaigning within the next two months.

The senate then listened to the nomination of Eliza Smith for co-director of Diversity and Inclusion – Race and Ethnicity, as submitted by student body president Patrick Lee and vice president Sofie Stitt.

Eliza Smith is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, living in Johnson Family Hall. In addition to working with the department of Diversity and Inclusion, Smith is a member of the Department of Gender Relations – LGBTQ+ Advocacy, a Senior Fellow of Johnson Family Hall and a Building Bridges Peer Mentor.

Smith said that her goals for the department include focusing on the upcoming Walk the Walk Week and reaching out to multicultural clubs.

“We really want to empower the multicultural clubs on campus and find ways to fund their opportunities …We’re really excited to work with groups that haven’t necessarily had the spotlight in a while, like the Native American Student Alliance and the LatinX club,” Smith said.

Before the senate voted, Stitt voiced her support for Smith.

“Eliza is an absolute force. From the first time I talked to her, her energy was contagious . . . The presence she carries is really strong and we are incredibly excited,” Stitt said.

The senate voted unanimously to install Smith as co-director of Diversity and Inclusion.

Stitt then introduced order SO2223-15, which would amend the senate bylaws such that non-Senator voting members can nominate another member of their organization to attend senate on their behalf. For example, under this order, if the junior class council president had a class during senate meetings, they could nominate their vice president to attend and vote for the junior class council.

Because the senate bylaws do not allow for a long-term proxy, non-Senator voting members with scheduling conflicts could not participate fully in senate. With the unanimous passage of this order, that difficulty was eliminated. 

Senators also updated their peers on resolutions currently in the works. Eliza Smith described her work on a resolution which would increase LGBTQ+, racial, and ethnic minority representation in the university counseling center counselors. Smith’s department conducted a survey to fully understand how more diverse counselors would impact students.

Kate Brandin, the senator from Walsh Hall, said that though this resolution focuses on increasing visibility for LGBTQ+ and minority students, the increased number of counselors would benefit all Notre Dame students.

Finally, Lauren Taylor, the senator from McGlinn Hall, updated the senate on her resolution focusing on self-scheduling at the UHS. 

“​​UHS has now implemented a pilot program, which allows students to self schedule physical appointments though the portal,” Taylor said. Self-scheduling can be accessed on the student health portal.

After closing announcements, the meeting was adjourned.

Contact Katie Muchnick at [email protected]

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