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Indiana lawmakers propose bills regarding marijuana

The Indiana legislature has proposed a number of bills regarding the legality of marijuana use, possession and sale in the state. 

These include the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana, the legalization medicinal marijuana, the development regulatory processes for the sale of marijuana and the creation of a defense for someone operating a vehicle who is not intoxicated but has marijuana in their system. 

The proposal of these bills comes at a time when all of Indiana’s neighboring states have legalized marijuana in some capacity, according to The Indianapolis Star. ​​Both Illinois and Michigan have legalized recreational marijuana use and Ohio has legalized medicinal marijuana. An executive order put into effect by Kentucky Govenor Andy Beshear on Jan. 1 has partially legalized medicinal marijuana for certain people with one of 21 severe medical conditions.

David Campbell, professor of political science at Notre Dame, said the legalization of marijuana in the surrounding states could have been part of the reason for the creation of these bills. 

“Once neighboring states have enacted a policy change it makes it not only a lot easier, but it actually provides a pretty strong rationale within a state to change its policy,” Campbell said. “Think of Indiana, which is bordered by both Illinois and Michigan where marijuana is legal.”

This phenomenon is known as policy diffusion Campbell said. A certain policy will be enacted in a single or small number of states. Policymakers in other states will then enact the same policy. 

The legalization of marijuana in Indiana could also be in part due to difficulties with policing marijuana across state borders. Campbell said St. Joseph’s County could be specifically difficult to police because the area is close to both Michigan and Illinois.

There has also been a shift in the mindset regarding the danger of marijuana among citizens and lawmakers. Marijuana was targeted by Nixon administration’s implementation of the War on Drugs, Theodore Beauchaine, a professor of psychology who currently teaches a course called psychology of addiction, said. But as of January 2023, 21 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam have acted to legalize recreational marijuana, according to U.S. News

This change does not have one identifiable cause. Rather, it could be the result of many reasons, Campbell and Beauchaine said. 

“It’s undeniable that [marijuana] is not as damaging as some other drugs. There is such a thing as marijuana addiction, but that affects fewer people,” Beauchaine said.

“People recognize this, and they look and they see what the toll of drinking is on our society, and they can see that it can’t be any worse for marijuana.”

Campbell said the shift in public opinion occurred around the early 2000s when more Americans were claiming to not have any religious affiliation, a factor correlated with views on drugs. Even so, the legalization of marijuana is not something that religious leaders have specifically spoken out on in comparison to other issues, such as same-sex marriage, Campbell said. 

Furthermore, such a massive shift in public opinion has forced politicians to reevaluate their positions on marijuana. 

“As a political scientist, I’m always inclined to think about what incentives politicians have to push one issue versus another,” Campbell said. “We can only conclude that politicians decided that public opinion was moving so rapidly in favor of legalization of marijuana that there simply wasn’t any political benefit to opposing it.”

Many of these bills were authored by Republicans and have bipartisan support, but Beauchaine and Campbell are skeptical about the bills passing. 

Beauchaine said he thinks none of these bills will pass due to the state’s conservative nature. Campbell said there could potentially be a change, specifically on the medicinal front. 

“It seems unlikely, just given the political complexion of Indiana that at least in the short term, say in this session or in the next few years, that we would see legalization of recreational marijuana. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Indiana did legalize medicinal marijuana, which is an easier sell for people,” Campbell said.

“If I might coin a term, but in the same way that marijuana is sometimes described as the gateway drug in your high school, you might think of legalization of marijuana for medicinal use to be the gateway to recreational use.”

Contact Gabby at gbeecher@nd.edu.

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Petition advocating for American Sign Language at Notre Dame circulates social media

Over winter break, a petition advocating for the acceptance of American Sign Language (ASL) at the University of Notre Dame was posted on the Disability Justice ND Instagram account and circulated on social media. By signing the petition, students call on the university to accept ASL as fulfillment for the admissions requirement of taking two years of a world language in high school, provide proficiency exams for students with experiences in ASL and to offer classes in ASL that fulfill college-based foreign language requirements. 

The petition originated as a class project for sophomore Jill Maudlin and her peers in their “Disability at Notre Dame” course. 

“We had to do a final project that culminated in somehow bettering the lives of disabled students on campus or furthering the cause of disability justice, so we chose to take on ASL for that project,” Maudlin said. 

Maudlin, who is also the Director of Disability Advocacy in student government, specified undertaking this project was due to her assignment, not because of her position in student government. 

When she was first assigned the project, Maudlin said part of the reason they chose to address this specific issue was because of a story she had heard about another student in her dorm. 

Junior Caitlin Papalia grew up in a household with two deaf parents, so ASL was her first language and her foreign language in high school. Upon her Notre Dame acceptance, however, she was told that her high school ASL classes did not meet the foreign language admissions requirement. Papalia said she had to take Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 the summer before her first year in order to attend the university. 

Furthermore, students interested in studying ASL while at Notre Dame must do so through another institution. Junior Chloe Lestitian takes ASL courses through Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf over Zoom while attending Notre Dame. 

“Right now, I’m thinking about being a physician, and sign language is a skill and language that would be really important,” Lestitian said. “It’s really useful to know how to communicate with patients in the deaf and hard of hearing community.”

The petition is not students’ first attempt at promoting inclusivity towards ASL at Notre Dame. Papalia wrote an argumentative essay titled “American Sign Language: Why Notre Dame Should Validate My First Language,” and a  resolution presented to the student senate on Oct. 12, which called for the acceptance of ASL as the world language admissions requirement. 

Maudlin helped write and present the resolution to the student government. She said it was an attempt to attain student government support before it was presented to the administration. The Senate decided to refer the resolution back to the Department of Disability Advocacy so the department could continue working on the resolution and present it again once it has more information.

“When student government turned [the resolution] down, it felt almost invalidating because that is what I speak at home,” Papalia said. “I was hurt already by Notre Dame not accepting it, but hearing other students say that we shouldn’t do it because of X, Y and Z made it a lot more difficult to hear.”

The petition, which now has almost 1000 signatures, was an alternative way of demonstrating student support of the cause, Maudlin said. She also expressed her belief that the University will be pushed to introduce ASL because many other elite institutions in the American Association of Universities (AAU), an organization composed of research universities in which Notre Dame is not included, already accept ASL.

95% of AAU schools accept ASL from high schoolers, 63% offer ASL proficiency tests for free and 75% teach ASL, Maudlin said. 

“There are only a couple other elite universities who don’t do all three and Notre Dame is one of them,” Maudlin said. 

Even so, Maudlin is hopeful for change. She said she believes that an optimistic timeline for Notre Dame to start implementing these three measures is by the spring of 2024, but a more realistic timeline would be the following fall. She believes these changes are doable during her time at the university.

“With Notre Dame’s Catholic, service-based mission, we should be able to communicate with the people that need to have their voices heard,” Maudlin said.

You can contact Gabby at gbeecher@nd.edu.

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London Global Gateway acquires G.K. Chesterton Collection

The University of Notre Dame London Global Gateway Program hosted a ceremony Oct. 27 honoring the acquisition of the G.K. Chesterton Collection.

The collection, the only surviving individual connected to the Chesterton family circle and curated by Chesterton expert Aidan Mackey, contains an assemblage of writings and personal artifacts belonging to the esteemed English Catholic author. 

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, born in London in 1874, was a renowned journalist, poet, artist and writer of fiction. His writings explored an array of topics, such as philosophy, theology, Catholic social teaching, literary criticism, history and more. Over the course of his lifetime, he wrote 80 books, several hundred poems, 200 short stories, 4,000 essays and several plays. He is also well-known for his mystery novels starring Catholic priest and detective Father Brown.

Upon Chesterton’s death in 1936, Chesterton’s possessions were left to his wife Frances and Dorothy Collins, his secretary who became like a daughter to him. Collins donated the material to the British Library, and this collection was later acquired by Mackey. 

Sometime after Chesterton’s death, Mackey said he got a call from the British Library stating they had Chesterton memorabilia in their possession, and they would like to give it to him.

“I’ve still not recovered from this great richness of stuff,” Mackey said in an interview with Notre Dame London Global Gateway. “I’ve known people who’ve been involved with the British Library, and they too share my astonishment that this should happen just as casually as that. I’m not even sure that I signed for anything.”

Since his initial acquisition of the collection, Mackey said it has grown bit by bit, over many decades. The collection, he said, is home to primarily Chesterton memorabilia, not just his writings. 

The collection includes items such as Collins’ typewriter, used by Collins as Chesterton would dictate his thoughts to her, Chesterton’s hat, all the volumes of “G.K. Weekly,” a publication run by Chesterton beginning in 1925 until his death in 1936, his toy theaters and his drawings. These include drawings from when he was as young as 6-years-old, to doodles in his books that cover entire pages.

“I’m sorry to criticize him, but he was a vandal with books,” Mackey said. “His cigars and his books at school and at home, wherever he was, covered page after page with extravagant doodles and so on, not just in the margins but right across the text.”

Other personal items that are part of the collection, Mackey said, include the academic gown made at Edinburgh University, Chesterton’s favorite pen, some dolls and puppets collected by his wife, and the things that were in his pockets and at his bedside table when he died. This includes his spectacles, his rosary and a paperback copy of one of Ernest Bramah’s “Kai Lung” novels. 

Chesterton, as Mackey said, “had the gift of appealing to people with widely different views,” and the University hopes the collection draws interest not only from Chesterton fans but from individuals who may resonate with one of the many aspects of his work.

“There is a universality in the appeal of this collection,” Ronan Doheny, the G.K. Chesterton archivist at London Global Gateway, said. “The collection will appeal to fans of Chesterton, to our students, to historians, to Catholics, to students of theater, and this collection just shows how extraordinary and universal of a man he was.”

The Notre Dame London Global Gateway’s acquisition of the Chesterton Collection holds great significance to the University because of Chesterton’s special connection to the school. In 1930, Chesterton was named a visiting professor at the University’s main campus and was granted an honorary degree.

David Fagerberg, professor of theology, said Chesterton gave 36 lectures in Washington Hall during his 6-week stint as a professor, and about 500 students attended each lecture. Before his departure, Fagerberg said, Chesterton wrote a poem about Notre Dame entitled “The Arena” after attending the first football game in the new Notre Dame stadium against Navy. 

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University students in London react to Queen Elizabeth II’s death

LONDON — Outside Buckingham Palace Thursday evening, a crowd began to gather. A press release from the palace earlier that day revealed Queen Elizabeth’s doctors were concerned for her health and advised her to stay under medical supervision while she stayed at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. 

“I was surprised when I heard the news, but I honestly thought she was going to be okay,” Toby Kult, a Notre Dame junior who is part of the London Global Gateway program this semester, said. “Everyone was freaking out, but I thought she was going to pull through because she’s the queen and she’s immortal.”

But at exactly 6:30 p.m., the Union Jack that flies above Buckingham Palace was lowered to half mast, and an official announcement from the palace was fixed upon its gates. 

“The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon,” the statement read. “The King and Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and return to London tomorrow.”

Upon her death at age 96, Queen Elizabeth II was both the longest-lived British monarch and the longest-ruling monarch in British history. She ascended to the throne in 1952 and was subsequently coronated in 1953.

On Feb. 6, 2022, she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, honoring her 70-year reign. Within this time frame, she held the throne through major world events such as the end of the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the end of the apartheid in South Africa, the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The longevity of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign touches the hearts of many British citizens, including Notre Dame junior Arabella Baker and her family. 

“The queen was like no other world leader because other leaders have an expiration date,” Baker said. “She’s been a leading figure when it comes to helping the country move forward through times of trouble. She was a resilient figure, and I think that’s why she meant so much to the British people.”

According to Bloomberg News, a woman laid the first bouquet of flowers in front of the palace at 5 p.m. on Thursday. By 8 p.m., there were thousands of people gathered outside the palace.

Caitlin Papalia, a Notre Dame junior studying in London this semester, went to Buckingham Palace with other Notre Dame students soon after the death of the queen had been announced. 

“The mood was very solemn. It was an unspoken thing that a really big thing had happened,” Papalia said. “I’ve been at Buckingham Palace in the past when there’s a lot of noise and bustle, but this was completely different.” 

The crowd gathered outside Buckingham Palace Thursday night. Credit: Gabby Beechert, The Observer.

Mourners pushed through a tightly-packed crowd to place flowers outside the front gates. Those who couldn’t push through passed their bouquets to the front. Despite the size of the crowd, there was not much noise. The crowd stayed even as it began to pour. Instead of leaving, mourners opened their umbrellas and put up their hoods. 

Buckingham Palace announced that the former queen’s funeral will take place Monday, Sept. 19 in Westminster Abbey at 11 a.m. During the four-day period before the funeral, the queen’s casket will lie in state in Westminster Hall, giving the public the opportunity to pay their respects. The date of the funeral has also been declared a bank holiday by her eldest son, now King Charles III.

Contact Gabby Beechert at gbeecher@nd.edu.