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Brett Kavanaugh speaks on jurisprudence, colleague friendships in Notre Dame Law School Q&A

Last Monday in the McCartan Courtroom, dean of Notre Dame Law School Marcus Cole spoke with Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who responded to questions from students and faculty members in the audience. In the Q&A, Kavanaugh discussed his relationship with his colleagues, how he personally developed his specific philosophy of law, including from both his time attending Catholic schools growing up and his experience working under former President George W. Bush.

Kavanaugh was the third conservative supreme court justice to visit Notre Dame in the past year, but the event was not announced to the public or opened up for media coverage.

Nods to Catholic Education

Kavanaugh’s opening remarks complimented fellow Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett as a “great representative” of her law school alma mater, Notre Dame. He said that after having gone to 10 p.m. mass in Pangborn Hall and watching the women’s basketball team play within his first 24 hours after arriving on Notre Dame’s campus, Notre Dame had already left a strong impression on him.

“It reflects Notre Dame’s academic excellence, the spiritual foundation, the Catholic tradition of service to others and the school spirit reflected in the sports program,” Kavanaugh said.

Answering a question about the role of Catholic education in shaping his legal perspective, Kavanaugh credited his Catholic schooling from first grade throughout high school as having taught him important values that are required to be a good judge. 

Kavanaugh recalled three important lessons from his Catholic schooling: “be prepared”, “stand in someone else’s shoes” and “be not afraid.” These lessons from his classrooms from over 40 years ago still inform his job today, Kavanaugh said.

“Those lessons I learned in Catholic school, I think, still ground me today when I come in the office in the morning,” Kavanaugh said. “And I’ve tried, throughout all my life, I’ve devoted almost all my career to public service and to serving others.”

White House Experience

Though he said his Catholic education has been important for his legal career, Kavanaugh clarified that his philosophy of law is not impacted by his Catholic upbringing.

“A lot of what I learned in the Catholic school still informs not my jurisprudence, I don’t want to confuse the issue… but just how I try to treat other people and how I can think of my role in public service,” he said.

Explaining how he developed his idea of the Supreme Court’s role in American government, Kavanaugh credited his time working for President Bush as an associate counsel for giving him insight on why the court’s are important.

“For me, my White House experience for five and a half years is really quite central to my thinking about a lot of topics,” Kavanaugh said. “I learned a lot about the presidency… I also saw, separately, how the agency process works.”

Due to the president’s difficulty in passing reform through Congress, Kavanaugh said there is a lot of pressure on executive branch agencies to “push the envelope” of what they are constitutionally allowed to do.

“That’s where I think the courts come in, saying, ‘Wait a second, as a matter of separation of powers, that is beyond the existing authority you have,” Kavanaugh said. “What I saw in that process convinced me that it’s important that the courts police that because all the incentives in the executive branch are to push beyond the existing authority.”

Supreme court friendships, collaboration and justice lunch

Kavanaugh said he thinks there is much collegiality and talk between the nine justices in the Supreme Court. Though disagreements inevitably happen, he said the Supreme Court has been collaborative, coming together and talking through issues intensely, often not adhering to a strict conservative-liberal divide.

“The relationships are quite good and they result in cases that don’t get a lot of attention, but are really important and the lineups [of votes] are not necessarily what you might think,” he said.

Kavanaugh stressed, however, that despite any disagreements, the justices are good friends with one another.

“One of the things I think that’s important for the students to know here, because you read about the court, and one of the things you adjust to when you get on the court, is you just spend an enormous amount of time with these eight other people and only these eight other people at random.”

Sixty-five times a year, the Supreme Court justices meet for lunch, Kavanaugh said. He described it as a random group of people who form strong friendships, and he joked about former Justice Stephen Breyer’s broad knowledge “about things you don’t know anything about,” which he recalled being entertained by during the lunches while Justice Breyer was still in the Supreme Court.

“You can’t talk about work, so you talk about things that you would talk about with your friends,” Kavanaugh said. “We get tough cases and we disagree on some of those — I think that’s more nuanced than sometimes it’s portrayed… but we work well together. We get along well together.”

Contact Liam at lprice3@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

A sophomoric farewell column to an unforgettable assignment

This column mentions issues relating to sexual violence.

Last year, two of the most powerful inside columns I read were farewell letters from editor-in-chief Adri Perez and the iconic photography editor — who is an even better water pong partner — Allison Thornton. 

It’s absolutely ridiculous, considering that I’m probably the most sophomoric sophomore on this newspaper’s staff, but I have my own farewell letter. Recently, I switched from Saint Mary’s associate news editor to the same position in the Notre Dame news department. I think my experience working at Saint Mary’s is worth sharing.

But buckle up, because the ride will get rough.

As a Gateway student at Holy Cross, I became good friends with then-Saint Mary’s editors Gen Coleman and Crystal Ramirez. I took a Chinese course at Saint Mary’s that fall semester, and the editors kindly took me under their wing.

I say “kindly” because, though I’m still sophomoric, my freshman self was a full-on menace working at The Observer. Loud, obnoxious and quite inefficient while working at production shifts, I lacked any trace of professionalism. But, thanks to their kindness, the newspaper was nothing but fun for me.

When I applied for Notre Dame associate news editor, I didn’t land the job. Isa Sheikh, who I’m now besties with, got it over me. For that, Isa, you suck, but I still love you, obviously (with a heart-eyes emoji).

In a turn of fate, the Saint Mary’s department needed help to keep the ship sailing last spring. The department’s new editor, Meg Lange, then turned — for the first time in The Observer’s history — to a man, me.

Some may have thought a male Saint Mary’s associate news editor was kind of weird, but I loved it. Out of the 50-something stories I’ve written for The Observer, Saint Mary’s stories make up by far the most important and heavy-hitting reporting I have done since joining the Observer. 

I reported on enviable assignments. For one story, I cleared up confusion about an error on customers’ bank statements at the Saint Mary’s Shaheen Bookstore. It required nonstop communication with public relations director Lisa Knox as well as countless interviews with students to get to the bottom of the matter. In another story, I covered the College’s updated COVID-19 policies and its students’ reactions to them. The stories felt important to report on, something we reporters thirst for while covering news.

There was, however, another aspect of the job that changed my life: the assignments I covered about sexual violence issues and events around the tri-campus, often led by Saint Mary’s organizations.

Being a Notre Dame guy, I can admit that it is easy to forget how real sexual assault issues are.

It sounds ridiculous, but we live with a bunch of good, genuine guys. Despite quiet rumors which circulate about some specific men in our halls, we generally feel good about the rest.

But at Saint Mary’s, I encountered a very different reality. Sexual assault issues aren’t forgotten about; they are felt in a very painful and genuine way. 

Last April, I attended Take Back the Night as a reporter and held back tears as I wrote the story. It sounds dramatic, but I surely wasn’t alone. The night was necessary but incredibly scarring. 

Seeing survivors and supporters gather, hearing those dark stories and witnessing them raise each other back up with prayer, chants, hugs and tears were some of the most intense, most powerful moments of humanity I’ve ever observed.

I also covered several lectures and open-discussion events on the topic of sexual assault. The events included alumni authors, student researchers and Saint Mary’s leadership, who all dove into the topic of sexual violence with unforgettable courage and care for their audiences.

On one hand, the events and stories I wrote left me feeling empty. The utter lack of respect displayed by perpetrators of this heinous type of violence was discouraging for my general worldview. Simultaneously, however, I witnessed some of the strongest, most powerful voices I’ve ever heard through the survivors’ responses.

They all struggle in unique ways but for these events, they fought back. I got to see them build each other back up and battle, literally fighting with their whole hearts, against the unfortunate realities of sexual violence in our society. 

The pain is felt at Saint Mary’s; we must not forget.

I know this column took a dark turn of subject, but I am genuinely grateful for everyone in the Saint Mary’s News Department, from former Saint Mary’s associate news editor, editor-in-chief and journalism icon Maria Leontaras, to Gen, Meg, Katelyn, Cathy, Cora, Rose and the rest. Working for less than a year in the department with them, I can say that Saint Mary’s News is among the most important and sensitive work this paper produces.

Now, my position is simply as an associate news editor in the Notre Dame department. It’s easier for me as a student here, and not at Saint Mary’s, so my lazy self enjoys it. But one thing is for certain: I’m lucky to have been given the chance to work across the street.

So, as an over-passionate writer of this newspaper, take one piece of advice from me: follow their work; or, at least, please don’t disregard them any more than you disregard the rest of this newspaper and print journalism as a whole.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this column referred to Maria Leontaras as the former Saint Mary’s news editor, a position she never held. The Observer regrets this error.

You can contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Categories
Scene

Black Mirror’s vision of ChatGPT

I’ve been on a “Black Mirror” phase since winter break and there’s a special episode, titled “Be Right Back,” which we must reflect on due to Black Mirror’s trademark “predicting the future” abilities. 

It’s a tragedy, at least in how it felt. A woman makes love to her real-life husband, who, she learns in the next scene, passes away suddenly and unexpectedly while becoming a father in the next scene, which is set in a bathroom with a positive pregnancy test in focus.  

Hopeless, the young widow hesitantly turns to a futuristic, husband-like intelligent bot which gives her the taste of speaking with her late loved one. It sounds ridiculous, but who are we to judge? She found relief in the bot, something we are all vulnerable to.

Eventually, she gets frustrated with the bot, which eventually takes on a physical form, though no more alive than before. The bot used public images and social media posts of the woman’s husband to source its personality, and indeed was at first charming to the widow. That was all, however, and in the episode, the woman can’t bond any further than simple flirtation with the bot-husband. 

It is clear she misses the real life man, and the issue only gets more heart-wrenching as the new mother must co-parent with this robo-Dad.

You should watch the episode, but also keep in mind one of the most important developments for Notre Dame students this spring semester: the rise of ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, like the Black Mirror robo-husband, is programmed to have a very specific personality. For as intense as artificial intelligence is, this is essential to keep in mind.

The new software is made to be helpful, to avoid being rude and to maintain ethical conduct with all its outputs; so is the robo-husband, who over the course of “Be Right Back” struggles to act as a human would in emotionally-charged situations. Because artificial intelligence is programmed, it has limits specifically due to its perfection. 

And to be fair, ChatGPT is honest about these limits, providing examples of its weaknesses on the program’s opening page or if you ask it to do so.

The robo-husband is convincing but too impartial for real life. There is an eerie scene in “Be Right Back” in which the woman slaps the robo-husband, but gets more upset when he, in a programmed manner, says he wouldn’t reciprocate any anger because it wouldn’t be right.

The woman cries that her real husband would’ve been mad at her, and she clearly misses him even though his clone is standing right in front of her.

Though it is more productive than humans are, generating far more efficient outputs of calculation than we can, there are real limits which keep humans slightly and barely unreplaceable during the ever-growing state of technology. To be human is to be imperfect. It’s how we fall in love, display creativity, earn trust with one another and express ourselves.

Though ChatGPT is clearly a wonderful statement of technology’s power, for now we don’t need to fret about humanity being replaced; only beware of this development’s limitations.

And that is exactly what Black Mirror’s writers have so ingeniously portrayed: Artificial intelligence may be more dangerous due to its limitations than its power. As we encounter our new reality of the growing role of artificial intelligence, many will be forced to adapt, as with any revolutionary technology. Some jobs will be lost, others may flourish and still others may be left untouched.

But life, clearly, cannot be reduced to a program. ChatGPT may replace your profession, or maybe even help you at your job, but it won’t replace your life. It may be able to mimic your widow, if given ample information to source from, but the program will soon become stale for your emotional needs, as it has nothing new to express.

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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News

Clark expresses optimism about Holy Cross’ direction

Holy Cross College President Marco Clark, who began his term last July, described his position as “enviable” due to the College’s relatively strong and stable financial position. 

“In recent years, several Catholic and small, independent liberal arts colleges have closed,” he said. “One of the ones that’s maybe very close to home is St. Joe’s in Calumet, Indiana.”

Clark said Holy Cross’ financial position will enable the College to focus on progressive initiatives, focusing on growth rather than being held up in debt and stress. He also thanked his predecessor, Fr. David Tyson, the College’s board of trustees, its senior leadership team and faculty and staff for having “sacrificed much” to improve its position. 

“We’re not at a point of desperation. We’re at a point of hopefulness. We get a chance now with a very strong foundation to build towards a promising and not only sustainable, but a thriving future,” Clark said.

“Holy Cross College is one of the rare places in the country that is a debt free college and has an endowment that is larger than its operating budget.”

Another strength of Holy Cross which Clark emphasized is its location in the tri-campus, which he considers “the most influential Catholic higher ed zip code in the world.” 

Leaders on both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame’s campuses, he said, have been very helpful in his transition to his own role. Furthermore, he said the College plans to strengthen its ties with the tri-campus with future collaborations.

“I couldn’t begin to extend my gratitude more as the newcomer here and I’m really glad to say that Holy Cross hospitality is alive and well here in South Bend,” he said. “And without getting into any specifics of those at this time, I think that throughout the tri-campus we see some unique opportunities to collaborate even more for the greater benefit of all of our students on the three campuses.”

Leading with availability

Clark began his term with promises to listen to students and said he hopes the College community feels he has lived up to that.

“I also have gone on basically I’ll call it a listening tour,” Clark said. “I’ve been meeting with focus groups. I have monthly meetings with groups of students, we call it ‘Coffee with the President.’ I’ve been visible on campus and at activities.”

Clark reflected on his promise that he made at the beginning of the year, noting his transparency from the beginning of his term.

“I think that students, faculty and staff have found out that from what I said up front, I had been true to my word that I would listen,” Clark said.

Student body president Dion Payne-Miller complimented Clark’s availability and said the College is a strong position to thrive under his leadership.

“He has lived up to pretty much everything he said he would do, which is to listen and have a steady presence on campus,” Payne-Miller said. “You will see Dr. Clark almost every day, at least. Like, that’s just how present he is, whether that’s in the cafeteria, whether that’s just passing in the halls, he is present.”

Payne-Miller also said Clark has been helpful for him in his role as student-body president by working with him to achieve certain goals on campus.

“For me as a student-body president, he has been nothing but gracious in the sense that he makes himself available to me. He truly embodies what it means to be a servant leader,” Payne-Miller said. “Him and I have been able to converse a lot and it’s like a two-way street.”

As part of goals to be available and responsive to student needs, Clark has used several committees focused on co-responsibility for management of the College, aiming to involve student voices for each. 

“One of the biggest messages that I’ve been saying to everyone about me personally and my leadership, is that I really believe that it’s important that today’s leaders are accessible, that they’re transparent, and that they’re willing to be held accountable,” he said. “Being able to be here at Holy Cross College in this role, I see leadership as an act of love and I see leadership as an act of service.”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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News

Martinez Camacho, Haas administration stick to SGA constitution, candidacy platform

In the 2022 student body elections, Saint Mary’s student body president Angela Martinez Camacho campaigned with vice president Josie Haas on a seven-pronged platform. That platform included goals to promote inclusivity and diversity, continue community-building in the tri-campus and improve overall student health.

Martinez Camacho said she felt that despite challenges, she thinks their administration has done a good job at pursuing their platform and upholding the Student Government Association (SGA) Constitution.

“In my humble opinion, I think we’ve done very well with the semester,” she said. “I think we’ve completed quite a few things from our platform, and other policies and procedures of our constitution. So, I feel good about us and our team.”

For their goals of promoting diversity and inclusion, Haas said student government has been working with the Sexuality and Gender Equity club to both expand the club by including a representative at Holy Cross College and provide a “partnership-buddy” program by offering mentorship for the LGBTQ+ community on campus.

“Especially as a Catholic institution, we want to make sure that our queer Catholics feel safe and accepted on campus,” Haas said.

Also part of the diversity and inclusivity goal, Martinez Camacho said their administration rolled out a list of off-campus resources for non-Catholic students to practice their faith through their mission committee. 

To improve student health on campus, the leaders described working to roll out classes that promote physical well-being as well as making resources for victims of sexual assault more available to students. Haas mentioned that they recently rolled out a “mini-website with links of Title IX and related sexual violence resources on campus.” 

Additionally, Martinez Camacho said their administration plans to collaborate with the Student Diversity Board, Black Students Association and other organizations through their campus inclusivity committee in the spring semester.

Along with the three goals mentioned above, their platform had goals to improve campus sustainability, make themselves available to the student body with adequate “student reach-out,” host giveaway events and improve classroom instrumentation at the College.

The leaders said that their administration has made progress for each of these goals, with the exception of the classroom instrumentation policy. 

Through the sustainability committee, Haas said they have worked to reduce food waste in the dining halls. In increasing student reach-out, she mentioned that the newly added suggestion box on student government emails has been productive. 

Additionally, their administration has hosted multiple giveaways for Saint Mary’s students, including a recent giveaway of 46,556 hats.

“Those were a hit. People love them” Haas said of the hats.

Martinez Camacho said the obstacles to meeting the needs expressed by students of better instrumentation in their classes have risen from the student government’s limited abilities to influence the funding of the College’s academic departments.

“As student government, we can’t necessarily help out with the funding, whereas we thought we could, because that’s just a whole different institutional process which we just can’t touch or be part of,” she explained.

Regardless, Haas said their administration did not fully abandon the issue, and instead has resorted to “acting as the voice of students” alongside professors who are already expressing a need to improve instrumentation for classes.

Outside of their platform goals, the two have worked to continue “sticking to our constitution,” Martinez Camacho said. “Josie and I felt that it sort of wasn’t always being followed with past presidencies. Sticking to all of it through our committees, that was also a main goal of ours.”

Haas and Camacho also expressed gratification to both the student government committees and the Saint Mary’s College administration for helping with their goals of improving student life on campus.

“It’s so fulfilling to see all of the leaders that we have on campus,” Haas said, “To be on the receiving end of people wanting more, wanting to see Saint Mary’s be great, I think it’s exciting to see that.”

Martinez Camacho said taking on the role of student body president has indeed been a difficult job with a lot of responsibility, but she felt that she and Haas were fit for the challenge.

“It has been everything: frustrating, overwhelming, exciting, fulfilling,” she said. “Being a student means prioritizing academics, and then being a leader means prioritizing all of this. It becomes a lot at one moment, but I think that it’s diverse skills and through our experience that we’re able to just manage it all.”

Review: Martinez Camacho and Haas have led a proactive student government administration thus far into their terms as president and vice president. They take their roles seriously and have stuck to the platform that they ran for office on as much as they could, despite a few institutional limitations in SGA. Heading into the spring semester, with their terms coming to a close, the leaders still have work to do. Martinez Camacho and Haas must not let up on plans to collaborate with student diversity groups on campus nor should they let go of ideas to provide classes supporting physical well-being for students. Their platform features mostly achievable goals on improving campus sustainability, inclusion and the like, and it is up to them whether or not these goals are achieved.

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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News

Professor outlines how Christian salvation can aid survivors of sexual violence

Creighton University theology professor Julia Feder spoke Tuesday night in Carroll Auditorium about using a Christian worldview to deal with human suffering, especially with regards to sexual violence.

Theology professor Julia Feder spoke on Tuesday evening in Carroll Auditorium on Saint Mary’s campus. Credit: Liam Price | The Observer

In her lecture, which was the final part of the Center for Spirituality’s “Developing a Spirituality of Resilience” series, Feder sought to distinguish between the theological notions of God being goodness and God being “all powerful,” arguing that the former is stronger. 

“It’s only a God of love, and one who never desires human suffering, that can provide a foundation for a proper Christian spirituality of resilience,” Feder said. “The God of love opposes human suffering and empowers humanity to resist dehumanizing violence by sharpening our powers of perception of evil and feelings of indignation.

Feder, author of the forthcoming book “Saving Grace: Sexual Trauma in Christian Salvation,” also distinguished between forms of stress which “are good for us,” using a weightlifter’s improvements as an example and other forms “which are not good for us in any quantity at all.” 

Sexual violence, Feder said, does no good and doesn’t have a role to play in God’s plan for humanity.

“Rape is an authentic breaking-apart of the human person and is never willed by God. Rape is senseless suffering,” Feder said.

Feder used the story of Jesus suffering on the cross in order to illustrate God’s role in dealing with human suffering. The brutal, painful suffering was inflicted on Jesus by sinful humans, not by God, she said. 

The power of resurrection, she argued, does not derive from Jesus having suffered on purpose, but rather by how Jesus overcame that suffering.

“At the last supper, Jesus places his confidence in God as one who champions humanity and places his trust in this God in the face of death,” Feder said. “Despite his torture and death, Jesus trusted, somehow, some way, that his life’s work would not amount to nothing.”

Applying this to the interpretation of sexual violence, Feder said survivors could be better equipped against the propensity of self-blame.

“Our history of sexual violence can be a part of our story of being saved by God only insofar as it marks the evil that is committed by human beings that God is overcoming, not which God has given to us as a test,” she said.

Feder said responses of pain, anger and disappointment of traumatized survivors are caused by a “negative contrast” with God’s goodness and reflect “what God does not want for us.” 

“Salvation is not just this spiritual and personal process, promising some other worldly reward, but instead is a restoration of the whole human person as she was created to be,” Feder said. “Salvation concerns the whole human person and all her created dimensions, physical, material, interpersonal, social, political and spiritual.”

Feder used this idea of salvation to recommend steps for Christian communities to take on the issue of sexual violence. She also acknowledged that the measures she recommended wouldn’t solve the issue once and for all, but at least would constitute good work with real influence.

“I would say Christian salvation must then include community denunciation of sexual violence. It must include clear reporting guidelines… and free psychological resources for survivors,” she said. “The sum of these measures doesn’t cause doesn’t constitute the fullness of Christian salvation, but salvation is at least in these measures.”

Contact Liam at lprice3@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

Don’t forget how journalism’s heart beats

Apparently it was Janet Malcolm who said that every journalist “who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.” 

Shoutout to Google for helping me out there, but I also want to shout out my newfound eidolon, Janet Malcolm. Her next sentence develops her point further: “He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.”

She is not attacking the heart of journalism; that ticker, the ruthless pursuit of society’s truth, remains. But don’t forget what reporters actually do as the heart beats.

Imagine a TV reporter on the ground in the Vietnam War. I picked an extreme of journalism, sure, but that reporter, conveying the horrors of war, displays interviews with distraught citizens who give crisp details about their fresh trauma.

Though he seems innocent, the reporter does not try to help that victim of war tragedies which he features. Rather, he hopes to reveal the truth of the war-victim’s experience to the rest of the world. 

Many contemporary partisans idolize journalists, and may be justified. How else can such fierce attacks from the likes of Donald Trump on independent journalism be deflected, if not by idealizing that journalist? Besides, all Americans value truth. Journalism, so it would seem, is the work of heroes.

But with this assessment, we mistakenly conflate the journalist’s purpose and his actions.

After shooting incredible footage that reminds him of the raw power journalism can have, the hypothetical TV reporter, along with his cameraman, packs up and makes his way back.

Yes, that reporter could have died in the line of duty. I do not deny that it takes courage to step into danger for a higher purpose of revealing truth. 

Consider, however, that the more he can get the subjects of his story to trust him, the more of their truth he can reveal to the world in order to do his job well. And while the subjects of his story have to continue with their lives of horror, he re-enters into a world of safety. 

For now, at least, the trust he gained from the story’s subject was only good for himself and the story, but not the subject. 

What do we call someone who manipulates others to get their trust, uses it for his or her own gain, then has no interest in helping those same individuals at the end of the day? 

A Machiavellian, I would argue.

Journalists seek truth for its own sake. Reporting, however, can be quite dirty: defensible by law, defensible as it upholds standards of a liberal democratic society but not always defensible in its own reality.

So why do they do it? Why does the New York Times exist? The Observer? My own byline title? 

To put it briefly, you asked for it. Independent journalists do what we do to uncover the truth without limits because that is the assignment from a society that proclaims to need it.

You can contact Liam at lprice3@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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News

Notre Dame clubs struggle to make ends meet with CCC allocations, according to senate report

At last week’s Notre Dame student senate meeting, Club Coordination Council (CCC) president Connor Patrick detailed the disparity in funding between clubs and student government organizations during a report on club funding. 

Each year, the student union’s Financial Management Board (FMB) sources its funds from a $95 student activities fee, interest on the Student Union Endowment and some proceeds from The Shirt Project. They then distribute the approximately $925,000 a year in three parts: 59% to student government organizations, 40% to the CCC and 1% to special interest clubs like PrismND and the Diversity Council. 

The CCC, which functions as a branch of the Notre Dame Student Union, oversees all of Notre Dame’s student clubs, allocating funding, aiding with event planning and providing other means of assistance. Allocating the funds, Patrick said, is a nuanced process due to the limited amount the CCC can distribute.

“Every year, clubs ask for around $2 million from us. We do not have $2 million to give,” Patrick said. “So we have to be very strict with how we allocate money. We do it mostly on an as-needed basis.” 

In order to qualify for funds from the CCC, clubs must fundraise diligently, collect $10 dues from 75% of its members and attend club information meetings. Each club must also provide a list of line-item expenses which they anticipate in a given year. Patrick said the standards for student government organizations receiving money are looser.

He acknowledged the importance of student government organizations having funds to hold events and carry out campus traditions, but also said the CCC is obligated to serve clubs on campus and be a voice for them in the senate.

“The way that that 59 percent is given away is vastly different from the way our 40 percent is given away to clubs,” Patrick said. “And so the main thing I was getting at in the senate meeting is that they’re just very different standards that clubs and student government are operating by.”

One of the most striking statistics from the senate report was the disparity of money received from the requested budget of student government offices and clubs.

While student government gets 80% of their budget needs met, clubs get 15%, according to the report.

Junior class president Paul Stoller said these percentages are a bit misleading because they use the $2 million total, unadjusted requests from all clubs.

“You can think of that as the dream expenses. That’s the list of everything that the clubs want and is worth double the yearly funding of FMB,” Stoller said.

Stoller said the process of allocating funds to clubs involves “tearing” the large number of expenses down to a more realistic number. The $2 million in original requests ends up being brought down to around $665,000 in “realistic expenses,” according to Stoller.

“That two million number, I don’t think it reflects the situation properly because the number that all the other student organizations, like the number the Class Council presents and everyone else, that’s already that cut-down percentage,” Stoller said.

Patrick, on the other hand, said he considers the $665,000 estimate differently. 

“We basically curve down everything, because we only have that 40 percent to give,” he said. “So that’s why, in that senate report and in my senate presentation, we say that 50 to 60 percent of adjusted expenses are met. Those aren’t real expenses, that’s just our system to try and delineate and curve everything down because we have to.”

Athletic clubs struggle to make ends meet

Patrick said funding issues are most prominent for athletic clubs because of high travel and gear expenses associated with running a club sports team.

“Athletic clubs always have a massive need for money. You know, getting to nationals isn’t cheap. Getting the gear isn’t cheap and they don’t get funded by RecSports,” he said.

The Notre Dame men’s club soccer team recently won their regional championship tournament and earned a spot at the national championship tournament in Round Rock, Texas. According to club president and team captain Brendan Schwartz, the team nearly couldn’t attend the tournament, which started Wednesday, because of insufficient funds.

Schwartz said the team requested $16,000 in contingency funds from the CCC in order to cover expenses of going to the tournament but initially received $5,000, which included $2,000 in loans they would have to pay back.

RecSports policy states that teams have to secure all funds needed before using a credit card for expenses. Schwartz said the initial allocation was not enough to cover the team’s trip to Texas.

“It would have required us to raise every single penny of the $16,000 before we paid anything, which is completely ridiculous if you’re talking about booking flights, which go up exponentially when you get close to the booking date,” Schwartz said. “The system isn’t conducive to travel and to our situation.”

Schwartz said he sent an email to staff at the Student Activities Office (SAO) and the CCC in order to request more money for the tournament. After the email, the team’s total allocations rose to about $13,000, which included roughly $8,000 in loans. With rising flight prices, however, it was already too late for what the team needed.

“We ended up just having to book a flight that would cause us to miss the championship game, should we go, so that just puts a damper on the whole trip,” Schwartz said.

Notre Dame’s women’s water polo club team captain Emily Shank said her team received no funds from the CCC initially because of their large fundraising amounts during the Notre Dame Day fundraiser and the need-based process in which the CCC allocates funds.

The team’s projected budget needs in order to function, according to Shank, is $55,672. The team raised $17,430 from 433 donors on ND Day, the most individual donors of any club sports team during the fundraiser.

They were happy with their work but still needed more money to pay for tournaments, referees, equipment and pool time, Shank said. When they were told they wouldn’t receive any money in allocations due to the need-based system, Shank said the captains were upset.

“We’re confused, because they are giving that allocation instead on a need basis to clubs that weren’t able to reach that funding,” Shank said. “So for us, it feels a little disincentivizing, because it’s the clubs that aren’t working as hard to get that funding that are actually receiving it.”

When the team filed an appeal, Shank said the CCC told them that they allocated funding based on demonstrated need and that the team could request emergency funding if they needed it.

“But these are the kinds of things we want to be able to prepare for and already have so we can know and not rely on emergency funding that we would ideally love to use as a practice opportunity or make it to an advanced event,” Shank said.

She added that the process of receiving funding for the club was confusing due to its bureaucratic nature.

“I wish it was a little bit more of a personal process to be able to walk through the entire process with the group, to be able to understand how the allocations work and what we could do to improve our ability to receive allocations in the future,” she said.

After receiving $0 in allocations, Shank said the team will have to limit spending on tournaments and travel.

“We’ve already had to decline a number of tournaments on the other side of the country because we can’t afford to get 20 flights for girls,” Shank said. “That’s not in our budget.”

Patrick said it breaks his heart when the CCC cannot provide clubs the funds they need. He considers it a shame that the CCC has to “basically punish clubs for fundraising” due to its need-based allocation process.

“That’s awful,” Patrick said. “And club leaders are very upset about it. Why is it that, you know, some organizations at Notre Dame are able to throw everything they want without fundraising, without dues, but they have to charge crazy dues and do crazy stuff for Notre Dame Day?”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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First Gen Week brings students ‘back to the basics’ of self-care

First Gen Family at Saint Mary’s is supporting first-generation students, a term describing students who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree, with “First Gen Week: Back To The Basics.” 

The First Gen Family team scheduled the series for throughout this week, including a celebration dinner with a discussion from faculty, staff and students Tuesday, the same day as the National First-Generation College Celebration.

The week’s theme is learning about fundamental self-care practices despite the unique challenges of being a first-generation student, sophomore and First Gen Family president Thalia Mora said.

“You’re always working towards… proving that you’re able to be in the position you are because you’re the first in your family to be doing these things. Typically as a first gen student, you tend to put your schoolwork and others in front of yourself,” she said. “We really wanted to emphasize that you should be proud to be first gen but you should always be taking care of yourself in the process.”

Christin Kloski, the advisor for First Gen Family and an associate director of student equity at the college, said the First Gen Family executive team chose the theme because of the unique struggles of a student being the first in his or her family to attend college.

“I think a lot of times we see our first gen students struggling to balance a number of things, whether it’s being the first to go to college, with academics, the first to socialize in a college setting,” Kloski said. “We really wanted to focus on what it means to be a living, breathing student here on campus.”

Along with Tuesday’s dinner, the series hosted “Yoga and Succulents” on Monday and career advice events Wednesday. “Thrifty Thursday” will teach the value of upcycling clothing to save money and the series will conclude Friday evening with a cookie social in the LGBTQ Center.

According to Kloski, Saint Mary’s has 406 first-generation students, almost 30% of the total student population.

“We really wanted to take a lead on celebrating those students for every day of this week and to just empower and educate our community here at Saint Mary’s,” Kloski said. 

Saint Mary’s president Katie Conboy was the keynote speaker at Tuesday night’s celebration dinner, welcoming attendees with excitement about First Gen Family’s work, sophomore and vice president of First Gen Family Liliana Lomeli said.

“We had more girls show up for the yoga session than we had originally expected. And at the dinner, all the tables were full of faculty and staff. It’s just been an amazing turnout so far,” Lomeli said.

First-generation students often don’t come into school with as many connections as other students, Lomeli said, and the series attempted to resolve some of those disadvantages.

“A lot of other students come in, they know how to network and have those connections, but the series is just back to the basics,” Lomeli said. “We didn’t want to overwhelm our first-gen students but we also wanted to provide a safe space, provide them with the tools to succeed.”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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Students share main priorities this midterm cycle

As election day draws nearer, non-local Notre Dame students are sending mail-in ballots back home to cast their vote, many for the first time. The issues they care about are varied, though abortion, both for pro-choice and pro-life students, is a common concern among students.

First-year Theo Austin, who sent his absentee ballot back to his home in Pittsburgh earlier this week, said he predominantly votes for pro-choice candidates. That meant that on his ballot, he voted for all Republicans.

“I view abortion as the murder of children and the fact that millions are murdered every year in our country legally is an atrocity,” Austin said. “While we can debate about economics, foreign policy, I don’t see any other issue having the effects directly on the lives of millions.”

Though she also aligns more with Republicans than Democrats, first-year Kerry O’Donoghue said her pro-choice views are among her strongest opinions.

“I have a pretty strong view on abortion issues,” she said. “I feel like forcing women to do something that they don’t necessarily want to do is probably not the best choice. Someone with more of a pro-choice perspective would appeal to me more.”

O’Donoghue, who is from Long Island, New York, said she will be “voting more for the person than the party.” Sophomore Daniel Jung, who sent his absentee ballot back home to Tampa, Florida, held a similar view.

“I’m a pretty big Catholic, so definitely someone who espouses Catholic values is something that’s important to me,” Jung said. 

Jung, a registered Independent, most strongly supports pro-life candidates but said the issue isn’t as important to him for more local candidates. On his ballot for this election, he voted for both Republican and Democrat candidates.

“For bigger positions, I tend to lean right because the issues get magnified and candidates take on issues that have pretty big implications for what the state does and the next four years,” he said. “But for lower positions like soil conservation, I don’t care what your stance is on abortion. I’m going to vote for the best person for the job, in my opinion.”

Second-year graduate student Kyle Dillon, another Long Island, New York resident, voted for all Democrats. Suffolk County, where he is from, is a predominantly Republican county and Dillon views his vote as important to show a Democrat presence in his local election.

“I vote Democratic knowing that my vote doesn’t really make an impact either way. It’s just showing the numbers that there still are people that are supporting a party whose voices still need to be heard,” Dillon said. “When it comes to midterms I’m not really thinking the most about the issues.”

First-year Molly Sullivan, from Palo Alto, California, said she will be voting Democrat largely in opposition to former president Donald Trump and because her views on gun reform, human rights, and racial and LGBTQ issues align more with Democrats.

“I don’t agree with a lot of what [Trump] says, so that kind of makes me go to the other side,” she said.

Junior Hannah Schmitz will be voting all-Republican on her absentee ballot, which she’ll be sending back to her home in Ohio. 

“A lot of the issues that matter most to me are the pro-life movement and my dad is a small business owner. So, whichever one he feels would help his business the most, and that’s usually Republican ideals, that’s who I tend to vote for,” she said.

But also there are many students who didn’t vote. In junior and registered Independent Dennis Hutchison’s case, he didn’t vote because he didn’t think it would matter.

“I don’t really think that who I elect matters because things in the federal government don’t really change all that much from administration to administration,” Hutchison said.  “I think that my vote locally matters more in terms of who my local politicians are because that more so directly impacts my life.”

Vicki Gillespie, a sophomore from Irving, Texas, didn’t vote because she was unaware of the process she had to go through to register to vote outside of her state. If she was able to vote like she had hoped, though, Gillespie said “education and making things better for marginalized people” were the most important issues to her.

Sophomore and Cleveland native Elizabeth Horwitz said she also would have liked to vote, but didn’t get around to obtaining her absentee ballot in time.

“I just didn’t put the time in,” she said. “I feel like, especially being at school, it’s a little more difficult to get the ballots and I never went through the process of getting it mailed. But I definitely would like to vote.”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.