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Lee-Stitt administration rides momentum into final semester in roles

Notre Dame student government leaders Patrick Lee, Sofie Stitt, Nicole Baumann and their directors took office on April 1, 2022. Now, at the end of the second semester in their roles, The Observer spoke to the executive cabinet to get an update on their plans and progress. 

Lee and Stitt, the student body president and vice president, respectively, said one surprising outcome of their work is how close the executive cabinet has become. 

“[One indicator] of great success to me is just the relationships that we have with our directors and between the directors,” Lee said. “We have a very strong sense of group identity now, we’re all very close. That, to me, has been an unexpected blessing this semester.”

Stitt, agreeing, said their cabinet is a “complete joy” to work with. 

Chief of staff Baumann, who works closely with the cabinet, explained that this semester contained more action steps rather than planning. 

“Last year in the spring was a lot of the dreaming phase and planning,” she said. “[This semester,] not only have we been able to see a lot of execution of those plans that we thought about back in March of last year, but we’ve also been able to form really good relationships with people in administration.”

Lee compared the cabinet’s movement toward carrying out long-thought plans as putting “rubber to the road” and is confident they will reach 100% completion of the goals outlined in their progress tracker. Currently, 46% of goals have been met, with around 50% of the group’s term now in the rearview mirror.  

“A lot of the hardest work in student government is the work that’s behind the scenes: the research, the report writing, the initial meetings that are sometimes uncomfortable on some of the biggest initiatives,” Lee said. “Those are out of the way, and we’re ready to reap the rewards of the really hard work that we’ve done this semester.”

Stitt explained that many goals are right on the precipice of being completed, noting that “Walk the Walk Week” will occur in the first week of the spring 2023 semester. This year’s programming will focus on the theme, “Education, Celebration and Participation” and will feature a service project, multiple panels and a dinner celebration. 

The leaders highlighted a few of their cabinet members for exceptional work throughout the semester: Anna Dray, Lane Obringer and Collete Doyle. 

Dray, the director of University Policy, has been developing the ND Safe App with police chief Keri Kei Shibata, leading the transition to mobile identification (ID) cards and organizing efforts to upgrade residence hall exercise facilities. 

In the aftermath of a series of various allegations surrounding Title IX earlier this semester, director of gender relations – Title IX and women’s initiatives Obringer led with “strength and grace” to come up with practical and supportive solutions, Lee said. 

“’I’ve never seen anything like it,” Lee emphasized. “She’s so reliable. She’s so passionate and is always ready, even when she’s feeling stressed, to help others.”

Lee also heralded the leadership of sophomore director of communications Doyle, saying, “The communication efforts of our group will be radically changed, and that is in part due to her organizational capabilities and just unending source of effort.”

When asked about the challenges faced by the student body this semester, such as two student deaths and widespread discussion regarding Title IX, Lee drew a comparison from the University to the broader community. 

“Notre Dame is emblematic of the world in a lot of ways, and the struggles that we’re seeing in our society related to Title IX and issues of gender relations as well as a mental health crisis among young people — that’s nationwide, and we have to learn how to cope with those,” Lee said. “I would just say, in those moments of deeper sadness, I’m even more immensely grateful that we are together in a community.”

In terms of challenges within the office, Stitt noted that they chose their cabinet because the students would not give up after the first “No.”

“[Our directors are] going to continually advocate for students and advocate for our campus community. So I would say there have been challenges as we work through a pretty ambitious list of initiatives, but I have been so impressed and in awe of the way that our directors respond,” Stitt explained. 

Looking ahead, the three leaders pointed to many initiatives that will take effect next semester, including a collaboration to improve University Health Service communications, a visit from Bishop Robert Barron, a program to bring free menstrual products to all campus restrooms called Code Red, Taste of South Bend, Vocation Fair and many more. 

Lee, Stitt and Baumann all re-emphasized how honored they are to serve the student body. 

“We are a broken record every time, but it’s just an absolute privilege and a joy for us to serve the student body. If there’s anything we can do, for anybody on campus or in the tri-campus community, please don’t hesitate to reach out,” Stitt said. 

She also noted the overall excitement the cabinet has for the end of their terms and for some rest over the break. 

“I am honestly, really excited to enter this next semester. We’ve got this spectacular team, and we’ve got a lot of momentum behind us,” Stitt said. “But it’s important for us to remember that our directors and everybody in student government is a student first.”

Review: The Lee-Stitt administration has been clear and straightforward surrounding their platform and plans for the year; however, the cabinet is not forthcoming with barriers and issues they have faced while attempting to accomplish their goals. The administration is making definite strides but has not yet reached full transparency. Additionally, the leaders responded soundly to Title IX allegations raised by alleged victims with both practical and supportive solutions to ease students’ pain and gather suggestions for policy updates to bring to University administrators. 

Contact Bella Laufenberg at ilaufenb@nd.edu.

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Payne-Miller, Jarmon administration accomplishes community-building programs, policy making

Holy Cross College student body president Dion Payne-Miller and vice president Oscar Jarmon focused their efforts in the first semester on making student government more responsive to students and instituting policy to bring the community together.

Payne-Miller emphasized that one of his biggest priorities was making student government more efficient and responsive to the students. 

“A lot of what I’ve done this semester has been very structure based, in terms of the structure of [student government association (SGA)], how things run and how proposals are processed,” Payne-Miller said, adding that proposals introduced by senators are now processed faster than before.

The programming board has also become more effective this semester, Payne-Miller argued.

“Our programming board, so our social concerns and entertainment committees, they’ve done a wonderful job at putting together community events on campus,” he said.

Jarmon highlighted the Fall Fest week as one of student government’s biggest accomplishments. Fall Fest consisted of a week of daily events in the beginning of October, including the Holy Cross hoedown dance and an open mic night. 

“Monday to Friday, we had events and all those events had a really good turnout,” Jarmon said.

Both Payne-Miller and Jarmon noticed that the student body has been much more engaged this semester.

“Our students this year are very vocal,” Payne-Miller affirmed. “And that goes from our senate leaders, all the way to just the general campus community.”

Jarmon added that students have been eager to share their thoughts.

“During our SGA office hours people come in and talk about ideas,” he said. “They’ve been a really good help to us and the SGA.”

Agreeing with Jarmon, Payne-Miller emphasized how important the involvement is to the campus.

“We’re a small campus. And so having those relationships, I think are really important to us,” Payne-Miller stated.

The second semester is slated to be a busy one at Holy Cross, the student body President and Vice-President noted.

“The next semester is the busiest semester because we have spring formal and then our new president inauguration,” Jarmon said.

Payne-Miller introduced a number of policy ideas this semester that he hopes to get through next semester. One important issue for student government is the printing system at Holy Cross.

“We have a certain amount of money that we get to use on printing for each semester,” Payne-Miller said. “What we’re advocating for is to get whatever money that’s left on the account to get that to roll over to the next semester.” 

Trying to get more spices in the dining hall is also a priority for the Student Government Association. One of the biggest possible policy proposals for next semester is the changing over parietal hours at Holy Cross College.

“We’re trying to get parietals moved back on weekends,” Payne-Miller stated, pointing out, “At Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, it’s 2 a.m. and at Holy Cross, it’s 1 a.m. […] Students want to be able to spend more time with friends and develop relationships.” 

Payne-Miller noted that the only reason that parietals are at a different time at Holy Cross is because of a policy instituted during the COVID-19 pandemic that is still in place.

Concluding his remarks, Payne-Miller re-emphasized the role that he wants the community to play in his policy making. 

“I want the government to be a student government-led organization,” Payne-Miller said.

Review: Payne-Miller and Jarmon’s emphasis on student involvement in student government is an inspired idea and should promote a stronger community as well as more popular student events. However, the student government should focus on putting together more events and passing more tangible policy as opposed to only a focus on structural reforms. The planned docket for next semester promises to accomplish this goal.

Contact Liam Kelly at lkelly8@nd.edu.

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Scene

‘And a Movie’: The story of ‘Community’

“Six seasons and a movie.” For one fandom, this was more than a quote. It was a goal — an aspiration for the show that they loved. This is the story of the show “Community” and how its fans were just so dedicated to harassing NBC employees that the show managed to get saved from cancellation. 

“Community” debuted its first season on NBC in 2009 as part of their “Must See TV” comedy line. It centered on an oddball group of students at a community college, including a disbarred lawyer, former football star, a recovering addict and others. The show ran with the network for five years, receiving critical acclaim and a strong following, though actual viewing numbers remained lower than other comedies. Cancellation was always a risk, and the show danced dangerously close to the line. After NBC canceled the show after its fifth year, the show was picked up for its sixth, and final, season by Yahoo! Screen. 

During the show’s third season, NBC made an announcement that it was being removed from the mid-season lineup. Fans heard this news, and made the decision to protest outside of NBC’s New York headquarters. Their protests involved numerous references to the show, including (but not limited to): fake goatees, dressing as Christmas trees and chanting lines from the series. Fortunately for fans, the show was not canceled … yet. While season 3 would continue, season 4 was not announced, and the writers knew this. That is why the season 3 finale ended with a white screen with one phrase on it: “#sixseasonsandamovie,” a phrase adopted by fans in support of the show. The origins of the line are quite mundane: a character, known for their obsession with movies and television, made the statement about NBC’s (critically panned) drama “The Cape.” Despite the simplicity of the joke, fans latched onto the phrase.

While the show didn’t end with season 3, it was not without loss. Showrunner and writer Dan Harmon left season 4 due to creative differences with NBC. This season, featuring mostly new writers, is not fondly remembered by fans due to the perception that the characters changed for the worse. When Harmon returned for season 5, the show addressed these complaints, describing a year-long gas leak influencing the students. Season 5 was praised as a return to form, even with the departure of actor Chevy Chase after a verbal altercation on set. This was not the only departure the show faced this season, as fan-favorite Donald Glover left to further his career outside of the show, pursuing music under his alias Childish Gambino. As previously mentioned, season 6 was streamed on Yahoo! Screen, with the intention of it being the last season, honoring fan requests. This was in 2015. For seven years, fans had no information regarding the possibility of a film, just teases and mentions in interviews.  

On the morning of Sept. 30, 2022, NBC’s streaming service Peacock tweeted out an image simply saying “…and a movie.” The movie was officially announced, completing the prophecy born out of a throw-away line that fans just became overly attached to. While most of the cast has been announced to return, Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown have not. However, in a charity reunion livestream, both actors said they would be open to a return for a hypothetical film. The movie has only been ordered, so there is plenty of time for them to announce involvement before production begins. 

The “Community” movie is the product of fan demand and cult following, similar to other projects such as the Snyder Cut of the “Justice League” movie, or fan support of a Ryan Reynold’s “Deadpool” film after test footage leaked online. The show, inadvertently at first, promised fans six seasons and a movie. Now, they’re ready to deliver.

Contact Andy at aottone@nd.edu.

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News

Center for Social Concerns withdraws resources for community engagement

The Center for Social Concerns (CSC) no longer provides vehicles for students to rent, free of charge, to do social service as part of community-engaged learning courses.

The CSC’s website states “effective June 1, 2022 the center will no longer offer vehicles for reservation.”

This change has impacted community-based learning courses across disciplines like romance languages, writing and rhetoric and the program of liberal studies (PLS). These courses include a service requirement at sites like La Casa de Amistad, the Logan Center or the Center for the Homeless in downtown South Bend. 

Elizabeth Capdevielle, assistant teaching professor in the University writing program has been teaching sections of community-based writing and rhetoric since 2012. Capdevielle explained her involvement with service stemmed from an interest in the campus “bubble.”

“I was very interested in sustainability issues and in the Notre Dame bubble itself,” she said. “I wanted students to get off campus to see the urban side of our community and also the rural context in which it exists.”

Capdevielle said the CSC used to sponsor her community-based course in previous years by allowing her students to use rental cars.

“They had a set of vans out in a parking lot by Stepan Center. Students could go to Geddes Hall and check them out and get the keys,” she said. 

Capdevielle said that the rental process included online training for students signing up to drive the vans and that the CSC would pay for gas and maintenance of the vehicles. She mentioned that the vehicles were shared among everybody doing service projects sponsored by the CSC, including different courses, other kinds of service visits and community-oriented retreats.

These community-based writing and rhetoric were not only an opportunity for students to reflect on the service work they did but also impacted the sites more directly, Patrick Clauss, director of the University writing program, said.

“One of the [application materials] that [the Logan Center] needed as part of the grant was profiles of their clients,” Clauss said. “Writing and rhetoric students interviewed the clients and drew up really nice biographies of the clients.”

Clauss said that the change came as a surprise when it was announced in June. The department canceled the five sections of community-based writing and rhetoric scheduled for this fall, replacing them with five sections of the standard writing and rhetoric courses, when they learned that there would be no transportation offered through the CSC.

“Our courses are first-year students … primarily and most first year students don’t have vehicles on campus,” he explained. “We don’t feel it’s fair to shift the burden and have students pay for Ubers or Lyfts.”

Clauss said the CSC told him they suspended the vehicle rental service for students due to financial and liability reasons.

Neither CSC director Suzanne Shanahan nor associate director JP Shortall responded to the Observer’s requests for a comment.

Marisel Moreno, associate professor of romance languages and literatures has been teaching community-based learning Spanish courses since 2010. She said she found out about the new resource changes about a week before classes started.

Moreno said that although she has been able to continue her community-engaged learning courses this semester because enough students in her classes have personal vehicles to arrange carpools, she is wondering about future sections of the class. 

“Going forward with this change, I don’t see a way for me to be able to teach my courses. If it is an issue of finances and the Center for Social Concerns can no longer afford it, I think this is a bigger problem. The University needs to find the resources so that those of us doing this work can continue to do this work,” she said.

Clark Power, a PLS professor, teaches an ethics course which is centered around service learning. He highlighted the importance of institutional support for service learning courses at Notre Dame where 20% of South Bend’s population lives below the poverty line. 

“The University’s mission statement says that it ‘seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression’” Power said. “If we want to take that mission seriously, there needs to be more efforts to make service accessible to students.”

Contact Angela at amathew3@nd.edu

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Scene

Let’s go to a concert

Concerts not only make life better but did you know that they also help you live longer? Now, before you roll your eyes and sarcastically express your surprise, you must listen to my reasoning. It is no surprise that concerts make life better, as they are the essence of fun, but there is scientific evidence that shows that regularly attending concerts can increase your lifespan by nine years… almost a whole decade.

In a study, O2 and Goldsmith’s University Associate Lecturer and behavioral scientist Patrick Fagan conducted psychometric testing and heart rate tests (often used for various physical and mental activity tests) on a group of subjects who then attended a concert. After the first 20 minutes of the gig, they found that the subjects already had a 25% increase in feelings of happiness, self-worth and community, as well as a 75% increase in pure mental stimulation. Some may argue that these results are similar to those found when people listen to music independently, but these statistics show that physically experiencing music (especially in the presence of others) can not only bring about an abundance of bliss but also impact your overall health.

Despite this study being considered semi-old news, I have been thinking about it a lot recently. Since I was 7 years old, I have regularly attended concerts. Over my 21 (almost 22) years of life, I have attended about 75 shows — big and small. Going to concerts is my hobby; it’s something that brings me an immense amount of joy and I know this is true for others as well. However, in 2020, everything stopped; the world halted. For almost two years, live music was extinct, and it was during this time that I came to realize how desolate the world felt due to the void in music and the lack of communal experience. It’s important to note that the auditory element is the impetus for creating the experience.

Thankfully, 2022 is witnessing a powerful resurgence of music, but this year has made me reflect on the time when these shared events were impossible. We are living in uncertain times, and, while this might sound cliché, music has the power to unite us all. We need live music more than ever.

As a result, I am going to give you an assignment. Find a concert, whether that is a backyard gig, a downtown block-party jam, a DIY basement show, a big stadium performance and/or a tiny theater concert, and go add a decade to your life. Make new friends, dance until your feet hurt and sing until you can’t speak. There is nothing guaranteed in this world other than the power and pleasures of music.

Contact Willoughby Thom at wthom@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

A deep hunger

I hopped on the Manhattan-bound “L” train at 10 a.m., late for work. I overslept and took my sweet time getting up. That’s what summer internships are for messing up, right? The car was lightly filled. Most of the people had already made it to their resting places for the day.

The subways are a unique way to be in a forced community with one another from very different walks of life. Our lives collide in extraordinary and soulful ways as we attempt to get to work, friends and our daily chores. Sometimes that means having a woman yell at you about God or having a stranger’s armpit right in your face.

On this particular ride, I collided with Natasha. A young woman who couldn’t be much older than I, in her early 20s, just beginning her journey with life. With a bandana wrapped around her head, dark brown hair outlining her face and giant reusable bags in her hands.

My face was stuck deep within my book. I didn’t even notice her when she sat next to me.

My grandma and grandpa live in a small cul-de-sac on county road 18 in the middle of nowhere California. They’ve lived there in the same house for 50 years, blossoming into a sprawling family full of love. Every Christmas Eve-eve making tamales with my grandma’s sisters and then having another giant feast on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is always a multigenerational, multi-family extravaganza.

My dad describes how every Christmas he can be found sitting next to his “ex-step mother in law’s ex-husband’s stepson’s wife” and how she is the most wonderful woman you could ever meet on the planet. Love palpably oozes out of every crack, corner and crevice. 

We’ve had just about everything happen within our family that might be considered anti-catholic by some of today’s loudest Catholic voices: divorce, suicide, gay marriage, babies out of wedlock, alcoholism, drug use, immigration from Mexico, prison sentences—you name it, it’s probably happened in our family. 

Life in our family can sometimes be really messy, with that many people and big personalities there are always squabbles, somebody is mad at somebody else or someone has too much to drink. 

However, given all this, I’ve never experienced more love and grace than when I’m around those five tables pushed together to make room for everyone.

Natasha looked over my shoulder and asked me what book I was reading. I was re-reading my favorite book from middle school, “The Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s about a young girl in the South that finds community with her former housekeeper and three black honey farmers in the middle of South Carolina. It touches on community, race, faith and loss in really beautiful ways.

This gradually led into a conversation about our own communities, what we were doing on this Manhattan-bound train and who we were. Natasha and her family moved to New York when she was about five and she’s lived there ever since. 

She, like I, has experienced death and addiction in our families. Both of us lost two parents before we got to high school and both of us were raised Catholic. We found ourselves within and of each other in ways we would never have expected.

A lot of times when I go out to a party I have so much fun, but end up feeling unsatisfied. Or, when I repeat my majors introduction for the eight billionth time in a day. It’s similar to when I go to the dining hall and eat a burger or two. It provides me with filling, but not satisfaction. 

Talking with Natasha provided something new: connection with other people in a really substantive way. New York is enormous and often times felt overwhelming in the number of people around with connections sometimes fleeting or nonexistent. 

Social intimacy and commitment are often a lot harder to come by and less prevalent than most of us think it is in our lives. We have fewer close friends than ever before. Reported loneliness at record high levels. Deaths of despair are higher than ever in our history.

Earlier this week, I picked up Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” A book where Eddie, a grizzled war veteran who dies a terrible death, meets five people who illuminate the unseen connections of his life. Albom’s premise is his version of heaven is a wish to have “people who felt unimportant here on earth- realize, finally, how much they are loved.”

In the book, Eddie meets someone who’s life he didn’t even know he had impacted so deeply and is told, “strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.”

I’ve never felt more holy or more Catholic than being around the table with the communion of saints on earth. Filling my soul with the deeper hunger that I have, that we all have. 

This table can be different for each of us, for some it might literally be saint-like figures in our lives, for some it might be playing a video game in a quad with dear friends or around a charcuterie board talking about our deepest worries. 

For me, it’s when I’m around those five tables pushed together to fit everyone in. I think about Natasha joining us at that table. A task that might even require pulling up a sixth table. So that my cousin one day might say, “I was sitting next to my step mom’s, step dad’s, grandson’s friend from a subway.” 

In my opinion, filling this deeper hunger requires two things, (1) being more intentional about the ways we connect with others and (2) being more open to the unknown gifts of others. 

Natasha and I accomplished something on the short subway ride this summer. We filled a deeper hunger. Something that can’t always be accomplished with an all-you-can-eat buffet or a 300-person party.

Dane Sherman is a junior at Notre Dame studying American Studies, Peace Studies, Philosophy and Gender Studies. Dane enjoys good company, good books, good food, and talking about faith in public life. Outside of The Observer, Dane can be found exploring Erasmus books with friends, researching philosophy, with folks from Prism, reading NYTs op-eds from David Brooks/Ezra Klein/Michelle Goldberg or at the Purple Porch getting some food. Dane ALWAYS want to chat and can be reach at @danesherm on twitter or lsherma2@nd.edu.

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

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Holy Cross College celebrates Founder’s Day

This Monday marked 56 years since Holy Cross College’s establishment. The College was founded on Sept. 19, 1966 by Holy Cross Brothers whose mission is to be “educators in the faith” to men and women everywhere — especially the poor, afflicted and oppressed.

Michael Griffin, senior vice president and interim provost of Holy Cross College, said that the College was originally founded to train Holy Cross brothers to teach at the high school level.

“At that time, Catholic brothers were really expanding their ministry to teaching,” Griffin said. “If you look around the country at some of the best Catholic high schools, many of them were begun by brothers in the 50s and the 60s.”

Previously, brothers would pursue degrees at institutions like Notre Dame or St. Edward’s University in Texas. Holy Cross was the first of its kind, Griffin said.

“Holy Cross College really provided a foundation where the brothers could live and study together,” he explained. 

In 1968, the College became coeducational just two years after its founding because the brothers saw a chance to expand their mission, Griffin explained.

“The brothers saw that it was not only them who could benefit from the education. So very quickly, before many other colleges, including Notre Dame [that became coeducational in 1972], the brothers decided to open up Holy Cross to women and men to join,” Griffin said. 

When it was founded, Holy Cross College initially offered two-year programs, but over the years, it expanded to become a four-year college. 

Students marked Founder’s Day by wearing their maroon and silver Holy Cross gear to show off their school spirit. The College distributed Holy Cross themed cookies and had food trucks out on the courtyard.

Holy Cross students lined up at food trucks on the quad outside of dorms to celebrate the College’s 56th annual Founder’s Day. / Courtesy of Sara Cole

Sophomore Sara Cole said she thought Founder’s Day was a great way to build Holy Cross camaraderie.

“It’s just a great way for students to hang out and be in community,” Cole said.  

Cole said that she was drawn to Holy Cross because she wanted to pursue the elementary education major that they offer. The program has allowed her to sit in on student teaching sessions since her first year.

“Other schools [with comparable programs] generally only allow students to start practical experience with teaching their senior year,” Cole said. 

Coming from a small high school, Cole said she also appreciated having a small college community where she knows the majority of students. 

Student body president of the College, sophomore Dion Payne-Miller also praised Holy Cross’ tight-knit community.

“I love that the community is so small that you pretty much know everybody from students all the way up to professors, and even administration for that matter,” he said.

Payne-Miller hopes to see more partnerships between Holy Cross, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

“Besides clubs … we can work together for our overall community of South Bend and Mishawaka,” Payne-Miller explained. 

Griffin said that Founder’s Day at Holy Cross really highlights the uniqueness of the tri-campus community.

“The Holy Cross, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s tri-campus … really is one of the only places in the world where you have three colleges founded by each of the three parts of Catholic religious life — priests, sisters and brothers. I often say that 46556 is the most unique zip code in Catholic higher education.”

Contact Angela at amathew3@nd.edu

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News

GreeNDot widens focus under new department leadership

Students gathered on Library Lawn from 9-11 p.m. Friday night for Notre Dame’s third celebration of National greeNDot Day.

A DJ played music as attendees enjoyed two large inflatables, food trucks and lawn games. Mandy Miller, the program director of student health and wellness initiatives for the division of student affairs, said the event provided students a space to talk about campus safety.

“This event allowed students to come together as a community and stand up against all forms of harm that happen and learn how to take action,” Miller wrote in an email. 

Miller, who chairs the greeNDot steering committee, drew attention to the various student-safety organizations.

“Multiple informational tables were present, consisting of signs up for bystander trainings and recruiting students to the greeNDot student advisory committee, a group of students who are passionate about making our campus safer. Callisto and Speak Up were also present to support the event as reporting option,” Miller wrote.

In addition to larger events such as the annual the greeNDot day celebration or the flick on the field, Miller said greeNDot spreads its mission in smaller ways daily on Notre Dame’s campus.

“GreeNDot’s mission is being carried out daily through tabling events around campus, table tent messaging within the dining halls and weekly bystander intervention trainings on Sunday afternoons in Dahnke Ballroom,” Miller wrote.

Student greeNDot workers gave out free towels to attendees at Flick on the Field to raise awareness of the program on campus. / Courtesy of Mindy Miller

New this academic year, the greeNDot program is being housed under the student health and wellness unit, directed by assistant vice president for student health and wellness Christine Caron Gebhardt, Miller said.

“Since the inception of the program, greeNDot was implemented under the gender relations center,” Miller wrote.

This initiative to strengthen greeNDot oversight began back in May of 2022, Miller said. In the past, the greeNDot program had been managed by a volunteer steering committee. 

“The University has invested in establishing a staff position to oversee the greeNDot program. Starting in May 2022, the position of program director of student health and wellness initiatives manages the day-to-day operations of greeNDot and since has implemented a newly paid student program assistant position and hired six senior fellows to help with bystander intervention trainings, campus outreach, relationship building and marketing and communications,” Miller wrote.

These recent administrative change mirrors the expansion of greeNDot’s focus this year from violence prevention to all forms of harm, Miller said.

“With the program now transitioning its focus on all forms of harm, to include mental health, discrimination and harassment and alcohol, instead of just power-based personal violence, the new mission of greeNDot is to inspire a culture of care by creating awareness, teaching intervention skills and promoting a campus environment that does not tolerate harm,” Miller wrote.

So far this year, greeNDot has targeted their mission to first-year students through efforts during welcome weekend and the Moreau first-year seminar. The senior fellows have also helped with the initiative to offer larger campus-wide bystander trainings for students of all grade levels, Miller said.

“The scheduled trainings, which are already at max registrations, started on September 11 and go through October 9, also overlap with Moreau first year course, where first year students were re-introduced to greeNDot during week four’s curriculum,” Miller wrote.

Micah Finley, a greeNDot senior fellow, said he has been happy to see greeNDot become more receptive to student input this year following the program’s administrative revamp.

“We are trying to transition [greeNDot] to being more student-run so that students’ request in how they want to see greeNDot can actually be formed around how they feel and what they want to see,” Finley said.

Finley said he is taking initiative this year, under the expansion of greeNDot’s mission, to publicize campus safety efforts equally between genders.

“One thing I definitely want to do for greeNDot more in the future is to put more emphasis on the male aspect. Males tend to really not express their feelings a lot and they tend to ignore situations even though stuff happens to them as well just as equally as it does to women,” Finley said.

Finley said he is hopeful about good that will be brought out of greeNDot’s new overarching health and wellness perspective, provided that the message continues to spread.

“I want [everyone] to know that greeNDot is a place where they have a voice, that they can be heard and to let them know that they’re not alone,” Finley said.

Though greeNDot has begun to pivote outward in new directions this academic year, Miller said the fundamental goal of the program has not changed.

“Our message is that any forms of violence or harm are not okay, and everyone has a role to play.”

Contact Peter at pbreen2@nd.edu

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Architecture students help revitalize South Bend, Kalamazoo

An architectural drawing of a proposed design for downtown Kalamazoo. / Credit: Kate Naessens – The Observer

Marianne Cusato is leading a new initiative to revitalize underutilized areas of South Bend and Kalamazoo, Mich., while also providing a professional environment and learning opportunities for students.

“It’s a combination of looking at human community development patterns and how we can use that to build a better home,” said Cusato, professor of the practice and director of housing and community regeneration initiatives within the School of Architecture.

During a four-day period, a team of students and faculty from the School of Architecture met with public officials, city planners and various industry professionals in a practice known as a “charette” to discuss and map out plans to make better use of Kalamazoo’s layout. The goal of the project is to make the city more accessible and enjoyable for the public.

“There is no hierarchy in charette” is a phrase senior Angelica Ketcham heard repeatedly throughout her experience that describes the teamwork involved.

“Small, midwest towns are an interesting urban design puzzle because a lot of them experienced urban renewal in the ’80s and ’90s,” Ketcham said. “The goal of the charette is less ‘this is what’s wrong with your city, and this is how we are going to fix it’ but ‘this is what is great about your city, how can we do more of it? How can we emphasize it? How can we revitalize what’s around it?’”

Dylan Rumsey, a third-year graduate student, explained that after the “core downtown area” of Kalamazoo was identified, the next step was to create a zoning plan to support the commercial areas.

Then, the architects had to decide what buildings were worth preserving or replacing, how to better direct traffic to make these areas more commercially friendly and how to utilize the surrounding alley networks to make the street itself more accessible on foot.

“We were really just thinking how we could take the space in between the buildings and best utilize it for traffic and pedestrians,” Rumsey said.

While reflecting on his time in Kalamazoo, Rumsey said he hopes urban planning can be more centered around the consumer experience in the future.

“Designing public spaces should be the number one approach to any kind of urban planning, and I think that is something we’ve really missed the mark on here, especially in middle America, because cities just aren’t nice places to walk around,” he explained.

An architectural drawing created by Notre Dame architecture students participating in the charette project. / Credit: Kate Naessens – The Observer

Now, with the plan itself finished, Ketcham and Rumsey said they are going through the process of compiling the results of the charette to present in a public report in the coming months.

The next charette will be with Habitat for Humanity in Mishawaka during fall break, Cusato said.

“We’ll do three charettes a year, plus a charette lab course, which does the prep work and follow-up for each of the charettes,” she said.

Cusato said students can expect to experience real-world problem-solving from being involved in this initiative.

“For so long, we have been on autopilot, just accepting that the world around us is just the world around us, but with these charrettes, there’s a real energy around them from feeling like you can actually be a part of a solution,” she said.

Contact Kate at knaessen@nd.edu.

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Viewpoint

Our communities are struggling. Are we to blame?

Our communities are increasingly divided and weakened. Is Notre Dame partially to blame?

During the last presidential election, nearly eight in ten registered voters believed that their disagreements with the other side were not only about politics and policies, but “core American values.” While the right and left diagnose society’s ills differently, they surprisingly identify one of the same symptoms. Scholars as disparate as Patrick Deneen and Cornel West agree that the loss of community felt by many Americans is a problem of immediate and fundamental concern. At the University of Notre Dame, community is foremost; the mission statement affirms that “[i]n all dimensions of the University, Notre Dame pursues its objectives through the formation of an authentic human community [emphasis added] graced by the Spirit of Christ.” Why, then, is Notre Dame and its student body a significant — and often unknowing — perpetrator of this loss of community?

The answer to this question is simple: Notre Dame suffers from the same destructive meritocratic hubris infecting elite institutions everywhere. In his book “The Tyranny of Merit,” Michael Sandel defines meritocratic hubris as “the tendency of winners to inhale too deeply of their success to forget the luck and good fortune that helped them on their way.” Meritocrats believe people should and do get ahead on their own ability, and that credentials are the gold standard for determining success and prestige. Thus, in a meritocracy, the most credentialed and talented rule. For all the talk about Notre Dame’s unique Catholic identity, we often forget the Catholic Church’s universal call to family, community and participation when we hyper-fixate on self-fulfilling credentials such as prestigious internships, fellowships and job offers. 

What makes meritocratic hubris so pernicious is the ease with which it develops in people who genuinely mean well. It often arises from supportive friends and family telling us that we deserve the opportunity to attend Notre Dame because of our hard work. While there is nothing wrong with kind words from others, we often internalize the notion that we’ve gotten ahead all on our own. We convince ourselves that because we worked hard, we deserve all the success that comes from it. We forget — especially at a university where 75% of students come from families in the top 20% of income — that without our family, teachers, friends, neighbors and overall community, we would not be where we are today. In “A Theory of Justice,” John Rawls reminds us that “[e]ven the willingness to make an effort, to try, and so to be deserving [emphasis added] in the ordinary sense is itself dependent upon happy family and social circumstances.” Tragically, our hubris weakens the communities most worthy of our support and gratitude.

Let me be clear: We should still celebrate our accomplishments. But having a healthy dose of meritocratic humility and understanding the sacrifice of the people around us and the inevitable luck involved in our success can go a long way in making the world a more inclusive, community-oriented place. We can’t build up our communities if we fail to realize their value. Without incredible teachers, a supportive family, a bit of luck and financial assistance from my community, I would not be attending Notre Dame. With humility, we can better understand the importance of community and work toward strengthening it, not diminishing it.

If we don’t strengthen our communities, our democracy is at stake. In “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” Hannah Arendt warns that societies are more susceptible to authoritarianism when loneliness becomes an everyday experience. It is no surprise that Donald Trump has risen to power during the present time of isolation, inequality and cultural grievances. He tapped into a growing number of Americans who felt forgotten, detached from their communities and disdained by the meritocratic elite. Without a course correction and newfound emphasis on community, illiberal forces will only get stronger. 

This gets back to my first point. As more Americans feel a loss of community because of the disconnect between themselves and the credentialed elite, Notre Dame and its student body must do some introspection about the role they play in cultivating this tension. Meritocracy and credentialism are not completely morally bankrupt; I’d definitely prefer to have a surgeon remove my appendix and an electrician wire my house. If we want to thrive, we can’t completely avoid a society where technical/professional competence is valued. But if we are to get serious about addressing what’s ailing our society and the role Notre Dame plays in perpetuating it, it’s time to acknowledge their corrosive effects. As a Catholic institution, we can play a critical role in affirming the dignity of all humans — regardless of credentials or merit — while also promoting the virtue of humility. It starts by acknowledging and reflecting on the hubris we hold.

We must not forget Jesus’s teaching, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jacob Sherer is a junior majoring in political science with a minor in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE). Originally from Wisconsin, Jacob lives in Duncan Hall on campus. He currently serves as the President of BridgeND. Feel free to contact him by email, jsherer@nd.edu, with any questions, comments or general inquiries.

BridgeND is a student-led discussion club that is committed to bridging polarization in politics and educating on how to engage in respectful and productive discourse. BridgeND welcomes students of all backgrounds, viewpoints and experiences who want to strengthen their knowledge of current issues or educate others on an issue that is important to them. The club meets weekly on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the McNeill Room of LaFortune. Want to learn more? Contact bridgend@nd.edu or @bridge_ND on Twitter and Instagram.