‘Afro-Latinx Poetry Now’ to feature six visiting poets

Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS) and the Initiative on Race and Resilience will present “Afro-Latinx Poetry Now” on Tuesday and Wednesday, featuring six Afro-Latino visiting poets who will appear both publicly for talks in McKenna Hall and privately in selected Notre Dame classrooms.

Both days, Poetry Now’s public events will consist of “Poets on Poets” at 2 p.m., “Scholars on Poets” at 3:30 p.m. and “An Evening of Poetry” at 8 p.m.

In the “Poets on Poets” event, director of the ILS Letras Latinas initiative Francisco Aragon said the visiting poets will give brief talks “on Afro-Latinx poets of their choosing,” introducing another six poets to the audience over the event’s two days.

Starting 15 minutes after “Poets on Poets” concludes, the poets will then sit in the audience for “Scholars on Poets.”

“Six scholars in groups of three over two days will give talks on the work of these poets who are visiting us, which should be a special experience for them,” Aragon said.

For “An Evening of Poetry,” the final event on both days, the visiting poets will perform their own work in groups of three followed by a question-and-answer session and a book signing.

Poet Jasminne Mendez, one of the six poets attending the event, said she feels the event is a good way to uplift Afro-Latino voices in the literary community. 

“I thought this was a great way for us to all come together and be in community and share our experiences and our poetry as Afro-Latinx writers,” Mendez said.

Mendez said her personal experience was one of clashing identities and feelings, being Black while identifying culturally and ethnically with her Latino heritage.

“I think that my goal as a writer and performer is to try to expand people’s view and understanding of what blackness is and how it exists in the world and across the diaspora,” she said.

Aragon is especially looking forward to the classroom visit portion of Poetry Now.

“These aren’t people who are parachuting in, giving their reading and parachuting up,” Aragon said. “They’re gonna spend time with our students in classrooms, where these students have been reading and discussing and writing about their work.” 

Marisel Moreno, a professor in the department of romance languages and literature at Notre Dame, said she is excited for the dialogue her students will get to experience with poet Darrel Alejandro Holnes, who will visit one of her classes Tuesday.

“I’m hoping that they can, first of all, enjoy that interaction with him, learn more about him as a person to get to understand where he’s coming from and his poetry better,” Moreno said. 

Poetry Now, Aragon said, is a “modest contribution to what I believe is that national conversation of, ‘how can we celebrate the diversity of our communities, including our poets and writers?’”

Moreno said she feels Poetry Now is very significant as a literary gathering.

“I am honestly elated that this is taking place at Notre Dame,” she said. “It’s really a historic type of gathering, for a lot of Latinx writers, poets, artists in general, don’t tend to have much visibility.”

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Confusion ensues over College bookstore credit card charge label

In the first few weeks of the school year, some Saint Mary’s students who purchased books at the Shaheen Bookstore noticed charges on their bank card statements from “ACU Bookstore.”

The issue stemmed from the college transitioning from Follette, its former bookstore partner, to Barnes and Noble College (BNC), Dana Strait, Saint Mary’s vice president for strategy and finance, said in an email.

“BNC launched its new website on August 1 for the Saint Mary’s community,” Strait wrote. “Several students and their families who used the website prior to move-in for electronic course material rentals and purchases noticed charges on their bank card statements under the name of a different bookstore (ACU Bookstore).”

ACU, she added, refers to Abilene Christian University, which sources all of BNC’s digital course materials.

“20 to 30 students reported similar, confusing charges,” Strait wrote, and BNC was able to quickly remedy the issue after looking into it.

Not knowing any of this information, however, students were initially confused.

“I got a text from my bank, Chase, and they said that someone tried to spend $200 from like ACU or something,” senior Kate Murray said.

Junior Luann Hernandez-Montano said her books were paid off by a scholarship, but she had to put her card information anyway.

“It did say to plug in the credit card information or debit card information just to be able to rent out the books,” she said. 

Hernandez-Montano was intially a bit surprised to see a $1 charge from ACU Bookstore even though she hadn’t actually spent money through her card.

“Then I kind of just didn’t really pay attention to it, and so I saw it was only $1, so I was kind of confused about it at first.”

This, Strait wrote, is standard procedure for when a student rents materials from bookstores. 

“When students rent electronic course materials, bookstores place small holds, in this case in an amount of $1,” Strait wrote. “The Saint Mary’s bookstore has always done this, even with our previous partners, as do the bookstores of our neighboring campuses.”

Confusion swirls over Facebook

Worry over the labeling issue, however, snowballed Aug. 24 as students took to the “SMC Buying/ Selling Textbooks and Materials” private Facebook group.

Senior Grace Paciga opened up a thread in the group because of worrisome activity she noticed in her account. 

“Hi so just a heads up – I just got a fraud alert on my card for $880 and we are pretty sure its from the bookstore,” Paciga wrote to the Facebook group. “So if you used your debit/credit card at the bookstore recently I would be sure to check your charges!!! Or just don’t use your card there.”

Paciga said she immediately sent the alert to her parents, who both have worked at banks “for over 25 years.” 

Her card’s charges, she said, showed a $1 charge from ACU Bookstore in Texas followed by a $0 charge from “Brix Wine and Spirits” in Loveland, Colorado. 

“We think it was they were testing out the card at another place to see if it would go through,” she said. “And then after that came the (charge) for $880.02 in Bentonville, Arkansas. So, three different states, which was actually pretty crazy,” Paciga said.

After speaking with her parents, she wrote her post to the Facebook group in order to see if other students were experiencing similar issues. 

“I didn’t know if it was happening to anyone else because I hadn’t used my card anywhere besides that bookstore purchase for like the week before,” Paciga said.

When she wrote to the group, her post received 18 comments from other students reporting confusing activity in their accounts. 

Many students reading the page, including Hernandez-Montano, canceled their bank cards out of fear that they would also have their information stolen.

“I saw other girls posting about it, and there’s other girls that are saying, ‘Oh, they took like 800,’” Hernandez-Montano said. “So I was just being precautious, and I actually went to cancel my card at the bank.”

Many students have reported the confusing “ACU Bookstore” name on their bank card statements to both Saint Mary’s and The Observer, but Paciga is the only person who reported activity that included her card being used elsewhere. Paciga’s unauthorized charges did not appear under the “ACU Bookstore” label.

College director of public relations Lisa Knox said that the bookstore credit card confusion involved only an incorrect label and not an incorrect amount charged.

“The charges were correct, it was only the name that was wrong,” Knox said.

Hernandez-Montano said she would have liked more information from the school about what was happening with the issue because most of what she heard came from the Facebook group.

 “I think the school could have done, like, a little bit better in trying to inform everybody about it,” Hernandez-Montano said.

Paciga was less frustrated with the college. “I feel like they handled it as best as they could,” she said. “I think it was just a difficult situation.”

Strait wrote that BNC worked to resolve the naming issue as soon as they knew there was one.

“Unfortunately, the bookstore was not made aware of the ACU label until weeks after the website opened for course material purchases,” Strait wrote. “An explanation was immediately posted by Student Affairs staff on social media.”

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International students react to football culture, team’s defeat

First-year Gabrielle Benitez enjoys her first home game in the student section in Notre Dame Stadium / Courtesy of Gabrielle Benitez.

First-year graduate student Henry Kamugisha, originally from Uganda, was walking home after studying at the library late Friday night and was surprised to be intercepted by the Notre Dame band performing pre-football game festivities.

“I thought I had seen enough. More is attached to this football?” he said. “Then Saturday morning I woke up, getting out of my house, the whole environment had changed and I saw people everywhere.”

Kamugisha said he had never watched football before the game against Ohio State and was not immediately impressed.

“I didn’t understand anything because I was like, okay, is this relevant? It’s not relevant,” he explained.

While American students at Notre Dame often arrive on campus prepared for the intense culture of supporting the football team, international students like Kamugisha often have had no exposure to the atmosphere of college football in America.

Junior Yeowon Cho, originally from South Korea and an exchange student from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, found herself confused about football’s rules.

“I’m actually going to this session called ‘Football 101’ [on Thursday night],” Cho said. 

The session, sponsored by the International Student and Scholar Affairs (ISSA) team, invites “international students and friends” to learn about the essentials of American football and Notre Dame traditions, according to the ISSA website.

Testing expectations

First-year Ph.D. student Salvatore Riolo said he understood the rules of football before leaving Italy to study at Notre Dame due to a personal interest in the American way of life.

“I’m pretty obsessed with American culture, so even when I was in Italy, I used to watch the Super Bowl every year. So that’s why I know the rules to this kind of thing, and I was looking forward to the games,” Riolo explained.

Despite understanding football’s influence on American culture, Riolo said he was still surprised to see the size of the crowds on campus for the game against Marshall.

“I didn’t expect the amount of tourists around the campus,” he said. “People from outside and all the tailgates around, which is something very American.”

Sophomore Pedro Bolsonaro said he also knew the rules of football because he was a fan of the NFL while living in Brazil before coming to Notre Dame last year. Despite this, he said he hadn’t started following college football. 

“Last year I thought the NFL was more exciting for the better players, but throughout the year, I built that connection with the university and that kind of translated to how I see football now,” Bolsonaro said.

Cho enjoyed the home game against Marshall, despite its disappointing result.

“It was really energetic, I liked it,” Cho said. “But I had heard from my friend that they were like 99% sure that they were going to win against Marshall. I wasn’t that angry, but then it was sad to see people actually being so sad.”

Riolo said he was greatly disappointed in Notre Dame who, despite being ranked eighth in the AP college football rankings, lost to unranked Marshall.

“I thought I was going to see a very good performance. I didn’t know much about college football but I knew that Notre Dame has a very long and victorious history,” Riolo said. “I was kind of disappointed because the game wasn’t that good. The interceptions – that wasn’t what I was expecting.”

Kamugisha, having just begun learning about the sport, said he was sad to watch his new team’s defeat. “We haven’t recovered from it. I know we shall get over that, but yeah, it wasn’t good,” he said.

First-year Gabrielle Benitez, an international student originally from the Philippines who also had never watched football before coming to Notre Dame, said she felt similar.

“I don’t know why, but coming into this school, I had the notion that we’re like, undefeated and stuff,” she said. “But clearly, that wasn’t the case.”

Despite this, Kamugisha and Benitez spoke highly of the experience and sense of inclusion as new Notre Dame football fans.

“It was nice to be a part of that community that treasures the football team so much,” Benitez said.

Kamugisha said he felt supported by fellow Notre Dame fans as he watched his new favorite team and took part in gameday traditions.

“I think everyone here is supportive,” Kamugisha said. “They make you actually get taken up to love this game and to feel like, ‘yes, I belong here.’”

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New additions to old traditions: Freeman to engage with fans ahead of first home game

Marcus Freeman will engage with fans at the Rockne Rally on South Quad Friday night and at the Victory March event on Library Lawn this Saturday prior to his first home game as head coach for the Irish.

The events are newly named, “enhanced” traditions for Notre Dame fans to engage in this weekend, associate director for fan experience Darin Ottaviani said.

“We’re excited to commemorate Coach Freeman’s first home game with some fun and new fan experience opportunities,” he said.

Rocking by Rockne

Sponsored by Dillon Hall, the Rockne Rally will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will include Freeman’s appearance, performances by the Notre Dame Band, Cheer team, Pom Squad and Dillon Hall-organized hype events.

Branded the “Rockne Rally” for the first time this year, the rally is a running tradition for first home game weekends on South Quad.

“It’s just a fun way to kick off the season and it’s more student-centric this year than it’s been in the past,” Ottaviani said.

Dawson Kaiser, president of Dillon Hall, said he and his fellow organizers are excited about the fun activities they planned.

“I think there’s going to be a good showing and a lot of crowd involvement, which we’re really excited about,” Kaiser said. “We didn’t want to make it just about Dillon and go up there and do a bunch of skits, we wanted to include the dorms as much as we could.”

Two specific events that were planned for the rally were the “Are You Smarter Than a Dillon Freshman?” game show and the “makeover challenge” where “we’re going to have girls put makeup on different guys from other dorms,” Kaiser said.

The Dillon Hall programming portion of the rally, Kaiser said, will open at 5:30 p.m. and the rally’s other events will take over at 6:15 p.m.

Marching to Victory with Coach Freeman

Formerly referred to as “the Player Walk” where football players walked from the Guglielmino Athletics Complex on home game days across Library Lawn and into the stadium, this year’s “Victory March” will instead begin at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and include a speech by Freeman on Library Lawn, Ottaviani said.

The event organizers took the Player Walk event, “and now enhanced it,” Ottaviani said.

“We’ll have a sound system, it’ll be a bigger event and again a chance for Coach, who wanted to engage with the fans on the way into the stadium, to be able to do that,” Ottaviani said.

The event will also feature a musical performance as the football team makes its way to Library Lawn. Prior to the team appearing at the stage at 12:15 p.m., the Glee Club will perform at 11:30 a.m.

Similarly, for 7:30 p.m. home games, the Glee Club will perform on the stage at 4:30 p.m. and the football team will arrive at 5:15 p.m.

Ottaviani credited Freeman for much of the engaging activities planned for home football games this season.

“It’s always had a great following of people, and now we’re excited to just make it more of an event where there’s speaking and engagement because that’s what the coach’s goal was,” Ottaviani said.

Tunnel experience access

This year, fans will also be able to access to the North Tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium throughout the football season, assistant athletics director Juli Schreiber said in an email.

“For the first time in two years, we are opening the North Tunnel with two types of experiences,” she said.

 The “North Tunnel Experience” will be held on select dates throughout the season, not including home game weekends, she said, and the “Friday Tunnel Experience” will take place on home game Fridays, Schreider said.

The former will provide fans with photo opportunities including the North Tunnel entrance, the visiting team locker room and the iconic “Play Like a Champion” sign.

Similarly, guests will be able to take photos on the North End Zone and at the North Tunnel entrance for the Friday Tunnel Experience for a $10 fee benefiting the Rockne Athletics Fund. In her email, Schreiber said gifts to the fund “allow student athletes at the University of Notre Dame to be champions in the classroom, community and competition.”

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Lilly Endowment aids College’s summer youth programs

College President Katie Conboy announced in an August press release that Saint Mary’s received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant will be integral in providing scholarships for Saint Mary’s pre-college programs and summer camps, senior vice president for strategy and finance Dana Strait said.

The endowment provided its funding through the Indiana Youth Programs on Campus initiative.

“Goals for the initiative include increasing the number of Indiana youth who obtain valuable postsecondary degrees and credentials,” the press release said. “It also aims to help colleges and universities strengthen how they recruit students, especially students who have been underserved in higher education.”

According to the press release, the college’s 40-year-old summer camps and pre-college programs typically introduce over 500 girls to Saint Mary’s campus each summer.

“With the Lilly Endowment grant, the College will have the capacity to host more than 1,200 students each summer,” the website reads.

Though the grant will not impact popular athletic camps hosted by the college, the press release said, it will support the Dialogue & Democracy Institute, the Embody Theology Institute and the fine arts and forensics programs.

With money from the grant, Saint Mary’s will grow these pre-college programs by allowing students to participate in them at “low cost to no cost,” Strait said.

“The Lilly Endowment is helping us to jumpstart expanding these programs offering financial assistance and we are committed to sustaining that moving forward,” she said.

Strait noted that Indiana’s college attainment rate is one of the lowest in the country.

“We’re not only flat but we’re also declining and COVID really exacerbated that trend,” she said. “We have fewer families whose parents don’t have college degrees sending their kids to college.”

The programs, Strait said, are designed to help reverse this trend.

“Part of our ambitions as an organization is to expand opportunity to offer enrichment and not only will that change brains and change perspective, but we believe that it will also advance degree-earning opportunity,” she said.

When families visit the Saint Mary’s campus, Strait said, they develop an important sense of comfort.

“Research shows that then they’ll be more likely to feel confident submitting the college application, submitting a deposit, navigating the financial aid process and subsequently enrolling,” she said.

The programs also aim to be a positive influence during summer breaks that could otherwise be a vulnerable time for urban girls.

Contrasting with many suburban youths, “vacations” for urban youth are “where you’re stuck at home while your parents are at work and you have nothing to do all summer long,” Strait said. “It’s a really different definition.”

Rather than spending their time bored at home, the programs aid urban youth in making good experiences over the summer, Strait said.

“It broadens horizons by giving them exposure to a wider variety of experience,” she said.

The programs, Strait said, embody the College’s goals for empowering women.

“One of the central themes is being an institution that provides access opportunity and empowerment to women at all stages of life,” she said.

Liam Price

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ND campus dining opens for a new semester, improves student experience

Luigi Alberganti, senior director of campus dining, said he was excited for the school year to start back up again.

“Speaking for the staff, we couldn’t wait until we could go back to our activities,” he said.

This year, the Notre Dame campus hosts three new dining options. The Gilded Bean, located in the Hammes Bookstore, features a café menu with bagel sandwich options. Rollin’ and Bowlin’, a new concept featuring smoothies and acai bowls, will be served at the Hagerty Family Café in Duncan Student center.

Sophomore J.P. Polking’s favorite new addition is FlipKitchen in LaFortune Student center.

“I love FlipKitchen. I’ve been probably like four times already in the past week and a half which isn’t good because I’m spending too much money, but it’s really good food,” he said.

At FlipKitchen, which replaced Subway, Alberganti explained the menu will be shifting throughout the year.

“There’s a core menu but then there is also a section of a menu that gets changed every three weeks in provide variety and excitement about that,” he said.

Dining Halls

Notre Dame’s wage increase has allowed the dining halls to also be more ambitious, Alberganti said.

“The university changed their compensation policies, allowing us to budget for a little bit more labor,” he said. “It’s all about the labor at this point.”

Executive chef of North Dining Hall (NDH) Matt Seitz said the University’s increase in wages has allowed the dining halls to increase performance by increasing worker productivity.

“We are paying (workers) an adequate wage. Because of that, we have simply asked that they do a little more,” he said.

With higher productivity, Alberganti said the dining halls are cooking more fresh food.

“We eliminated 20% of prepared convenience foods so we’re actually cooking from scratch a lot more now,” Alberganti said.

At the Welcome Weekend first-year dinner, which the dining halls served for free, Alberganti said the dining hall capabilities were tested, yet remained strong, when they provided “about 7,000 meals in a matter of 35 minutes.”

Sustainability and Supply Chain

Increase in personnel has also allowed the dining halls to increase sustainability programs once again, according to the campus dining director of supply chain and sustainability Cheryl Bauer.

“Some of the things that we’re really working to this year is bringing back programs that we had in place pre COVID-19,” she said.

Two major sustainability initiatives, Grind2Energy and Leanpath, are now being used again by the dining halls to monitor again and reuse food waste. The labor shortage during the 2021-22 year and the prior year’s COVID protocols weakened the initiatives, Bauer said.

“This year, we’ve taken the steps to really focus on those and get them going back up to where they were previously,” she said.

One step that is being implemented according to Bauer is signs at the dining halls telling students not to throw away food waste, which allows staff to scrape it and use it for the waste management programs.

Bauer also said the dining halls have had a smoother supply chain than last year.

The one exception to this year’s positive supply chain, Bauer said, is turkey. Due to the avian influenza wiping out turkey flocks throughout the country, she said there will be a shortage of deli turkey.

“You won’t see it on the deli bars in the dining halls. We’re putting roast chicken breasts out instead,” Bauer said.

Student feedback leading to improvements

Seitz mentioned that QR codes in the dining halls allowing students to give feedback on the dining hall experience has been helpful in improving the dining hall experience.

“I had one the other day that was, ‘can we please have pesto added back to the pasta line?’ That’s not an unreasonable request, so you’re going to see pesto added back to the pasta line,” Seitz said.

Another improvement Seitz noted was the chicken that is available every day. After hearing bad reviews of the chargrilled chicken last year, the staff changed the standard process to sear the chicken instead of grilling it to retain more of the chicken’s moisture. The improvements, Seitz said, is already evident in numbers.

“We used to go through between 400 or 500 pieces of chicken per meal for lunch and dinner. We’re actually upwards now to 1100 to 1200 pieces per meal.”

Lingering complaints along with positive reviews

Junior Emily Kirk, who mainly eats at NDH, said the dining hall experience compared to years past has been overall better, but that she still believes there’s improvements to be made, such as long lines.

“I’ve had friends who like wait an hour in that line,” Kirk said of the stir-fry line at the dining hall. “Most people don’t have time to do that. So, although it is a good option for food, it’s not always a practical one.”

Kirk said she also felt the salad offerings were not adequate.

“I like to get like a salad as like a backup option, but I feel like the salads are not that fresh,” she said.

Polking said, though he was happy with the overall dining experience, he has also experienced long lines.

“The lines are really long,” he said. “I don’t really know how you fix that, but at dinner last night, I waited for like 20 minutes just to get pasta.”

Despite this, Polking said he was not bothered by the overall dining hall experience compared to last year.

“I’m happy with it,” Polking said. “I don’t really have too many complaints.”

Sophomore Lucy Ordway, however, felt as though the dining hall experience has improved significantly from her first year.

“I think that the selection is better, and I also think that the quality of the food is better,” she said. “Tonight, at dinner, they had a much wider variety of vegetables and things that felt like I was eating healthier.”

Liam Price

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Students, faculty react to updated ‘Victory March’ lyrics

As the football team gears up for their season opener against Ohio State on Saturday, fans will sing the “Notre Dame Victory March” as they root for the Irish. This year, however, the last two lines of the 114-year-old fight song will sound different.

The song’s concluding lines previously sang, “While her loyal sons are marching / Onward to victory.” In June, however, the University announced that the lyrics would be changed to, “While her loyal sons and daughters / march on to victory.”

Many students and faculty were pleased to see the song’s update. 

“It’s been a long time in coming,” English professor Romana Huk said in an email. “I think it’s a sign of [Notre Dame’s] ability to think forward, to be responsive to the need for change.”

First-year Dylan Devezin pointed out that even though the song is a valued tradition, traditions themselves are capable of change.

“Allowing women on campus was a big change in the normal Notre Dame tradition, so I believe other things surrounding that should change, as well,” he said.

Sophomore Emma Schoenauer said she understood the importance of tradition, but felt the updated lyrics were necessary. 

“I think a lot of things stay the same because they’re tradition,” she said. “But I think that because it did change, that was a positive thing.”

Maggie Borgos, a first-year master’s student studying English with a gender studies graduate minor, said allowing traditions to change is important. 

“Yes, we’re rooted in tradition, but we’re also really rooted in creating new traditions,” she said. “I think this change will be part of that.”

Junior Jack Wagner was excited that more Notre Dame students could now feel like they fit in. 

“I think it’s good that they’re being more inclusive with it so more people can relate,” Wagner said.

First-year Bella Dillhoff was also happy to see the lyrics change, but felt the University should have changed it to “children” to include non-binary individuals. 

“They should have added ‘daughters’ a long time ago, and now they could just change it to include everyone,” she said.

Much of the community saw the update as overdue.

“I thought that the change was a little delayed considering the Title IX Gender Equity Act was passed in 1972,” sophomore Brooke Collins said. 

To Collins, it was “disrespectful to the women athletes that have been fighting for the reputation of this university and upholding it for so long.”

Borgos said that the update is an important change following Title IX.

“I think, given that it has been like 50 years since Title IX was passed, this is amazing,” Borgos said. “It is a great way to celebrate where Notre Dame is going in terms of greater inclusivity and representation of all students on our campus, so I’m pretty excited about it.”

After the fight song stayed the same for so long, sophomore Jessica Vickery was skeptical that fans will be able to adjust to the change.

“It was unexpected and something that probably won’t stick just because everyone’s used to just saying ‘sons marching on,’” Vickery said.

Vickery also said that because fans sing the fight song in support of the all-male football team, the addition of “daughters” as a lyric isn’t necessary. 

“It’s us cheering on the football team, and it didn’t have to become a whole kind of political thing by adding women into it,” she said.

Sophomore Ava Nelligan was especially critical of Notre Dame for past transgressions regarding Title IX. 

“They are overhyping the decision that they’re making rather than taking actual steps to protect women on campus,” she said. “The performative step of adding two words to a song is not nearly enough to address Notre Dame’s failings.”

Liam Price

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