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Senate votes not to impeach Carroll Hall senator

On Wednesday, the Notre Dame student senate discussed a bill of impeachment put forward against Carroll Hall senator Hunter Brooke.

A majority of senators voted not to move to an impeachment trial after the Student Union Ethics Commission (SUEC) issued a bill of impeachment after Brooke contacted first-years in FUEL (First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership) about a “senatorial aid” position.

Student body vice president Sofie Stitt addressed requests to close the meeting, which would have required all guests or individuals not on the senate roll call to leave. Judicial Council president Madison Nemeth said discussions of disciplinary actions should be closed but are not required to be.

“We’re not required to close the meeting,” she said. “It takes a two-thirds vote to close the meeting. However, the standard code of parliamentary procedure, which the constitution does require you to follow, says that for disciplinary actions, meetings should be closed.” 

Brooke chose to waive his right to close the meeting.

“I know that meetings are closed for that reason: to protect the reputation of the defendant,” he said. “And I’m really appreciative, as the defendant for that. But I don’t see any need to do that, and I’m happy to waive that right and keep the meeting open.”

Because no motion was made to close the meeting, the meeting continued and Stitt read a letter from the SUEC. 

“Any member of the student union may report issues to the Student Union Ethics Commission,” she read. “The Student Union Ethics Commission, or the SUEC, shall then convene to review the allegation and provide a recommendation regarding further action. If a bill of impeachment is the recommendation of the SUEC, it will be brought before the senate at the next meeting.” 

“A bill of impeachment,” she continued, “shall cite specific allegations of misconduct. Misconduct — this is from the constitution — shall include disturbance of peace and content or negligent performance. Disregard is already in the student union violation of constitutional bylaws.”

If a majority of senators vote to move toward an impeachment hearing, the alleged individual can present evidences and witnesses in his defense. The senators would then need a two-thirds vote to remove the individual from his position. Stitt clarified that the senators would merely be voting if the proceedings warrant a move toward a hearing. 

“What you guys are deciding today,” she said, “is [if] what you’ve seen merits a hearing that will happen not next week, but when we get back.” 

The senators had an opportunity to question Nemeth regarding the procedure of the recommendation. They asked how the complaint came, how Judicial Council gathered evidence to recommend the bill of impeachment, how advisory members in the committee were chosen and what disciplinary actions should follow. 

The senators then moved toward a debate, which required Brooke to leave the room. Because Montgomery Auditorium had been reserved for a later event, the senate only had a few minutes to debate. 

Senator James Baird yielded his time to former Judicial Council president David Haungs, who recommended not to proceed with a hearing.

“The report as such has two strains. First, that the supposed violation [is] based on the idea that ‘senatorial aid’ is not a position mentioned in the documents of the Student Union or the Senate. The second is that the supposed violations are based on the fact that Hunter contacted students who already have another position,” he explained. “These two strains of arguments should be laughed out of the room, [and] you should get back to business that matters.” 

At 6:38 p.m., because time was running out, the senate moved to the Resource Center on the third floor of LaFortune Student Center to continue their debate. However, the senators only had until 7 p.m. to debate the matter. 

The senate discussed options to yield the matter until next semester. However, a majority of the senators voted to proceed the debate and extend time until 7:10 p.m. 

Keough Hall Senator Derick Williams yielded his time to former senator Benjamin Erhardt, who was a senator the last time an impeachment inquiry was presented.

“You’re voting to go on a hearing, but you’re also voting to impeach him,” he said. “I think that should only happen when there’s a very, very clear instance, knowing intent to violate some sort of constitutional provision, or many provisions violated if there wasn’t an intent there. I don’t see that in this case.” 

“One of the really big focuses of us as a FUEL is to not overwhelm the FUELers, to be very intentional with how we present Student Union to them,” Joey Kositzke, co-director of FUEL, said. “Having information spread like that really undermines the work that we do.”

“If you’re letting one person go around every other body of power, where are we putting senate in the rankings of power?” Keenan Hall senator Connor McCloskey said. “Just please consider the ethics of what we’re doing, even if we just motion to make this into a hearing and then we don’t impeach.” 

Stitt put on the floor a motion to vote on the bill of impeachment. After the motion passed, the senators voted on to the bill of impeachment, to either move forward with a hearing or drop the matter. 

A majority of the senators voted not to proceed with a hearing, and the senate motioned to recess until next semester.

Contact Sam Godinez at sgodinez@nd.edu.

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Senate amends constitution, previews on-campus events

The Notre Dame student senate convened Wednesday night in DeBartolo Hall to discuss upcoming campus events and pass an amendment to the constitution.

Student body vice president Sofie Stitt began the meeting with executive announcements, where she reminded senators that they are required to get GreeNDot certified. Stitt also asked all senators in men’s dorms to fill out a survey for the department of health and wellbeing to understand the availability of period products in unisex bathrooms in men’s dorms.

Sophomore Jessica Vickery, the senator from Ryan Hall, spoke about involving first-years in student senate. She brought along two first-years to shadow her and learn how to act as a proxy for future senate meetings.

After approving the minutes, Stitt moved to general orders. Jared Schlachet, the student union parliamentarian, introduced a memo from the Committee on the Constitution. After reviewing a proposed amendment to Article XIV of the constitution — which deals with petitions, initiatives and referendums — the committee recommended that the senate split the amendment into a divided order.

The senate passed the first part of the amendment order, SO 2223-10a. The order changes the signature requirements for undergraduate students signing petitions and initiatives. Previously, the constitution mandated that students include their name and local address, but the amendment stipulates that students include their name and email address. Schlachet said local address was already interpreted to mean email address, but this formalizes that practice.

After a brief discussion on the parliamentary process, the amendment passed unanimously.

The senators then discussed their plans for upcoming resolutions. Sophomore Keough Hall senator Derick Williams updated the group on his work to give band members and ROTC students access to early registration.

Williams met with Chuck Hurley, the University registrar, but he said most of the decision making power lies with the provost’s office.

“I think having a little bit more concrete details could help us put together a resolution [and] help us get a better footing if we were to go in and try to present a plan to the provost and or whoever else could make the final decision on that,” Williams said.

Senior Megan Mikuen then updated the senate on her research into “design-your-own-major” programs at other universities, with the ultimate goal of passing and writing a resolution to implement a similar program at Notre Dame. Mikuen found that most self-designed majors are hosted in the equivalent of the College of Arts and Letters at other universities, but that more research is necessary to understand what university and college course requirements are applicable.

Finally, students involved in various organizations across campus previewed upcoming campus events.

Senior Connor Patrick, the president of the Club Coordination Council, asked senators to stop by the ND Cultural Showcase on October 14. The event will take place from 8:30-11 p.m. on Library Lawn and will showcase many of the cultural and performing arts groups on campus.

Junior class council president Paul Stoller previewed the junior class game watch Saturday. Chicken nuggets, wings and an Elvis-themed halftime show will be provided.

Finally, sophomore class council president Patrick Smart asked sophomores and other interested students to stop by Duncan Student Center and sign thank you cards for the dorm housekeepers. Sophomore class council will have a table set up from 12 to 4 p.m. and will provide free Insomnia cookies.

After closing announcements, the meeting was adjourned.

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Senate discusses ND Safe app, dorm gyms

The Notre Dame student senate passed resolutions regarding first-year class council elections and received nominations for Judicial Council’s Committee on the Constitution in its meeting Wednesday evening.

ND Safe app

Keri Kei Shibata, chief of the Notre Dame Police Department (NDPD), began the meeting by introducing the NDPD’s new app ND Safe. The app is designed for Notre Dame students, faculty and staff to easily access multiple safety resources, including one-button calls to the NDPD, ND Fire Department, St. Joseph County 911 and a non-emergency dispatch center.

The NDPD launched the app to address a common concern about expanding the blue-light emergency call boxes around campus. 

“[The blue-light phones] very rarely get used,” Shibata said. “We thought it would be a more effective use of resources to put a mobile blue light in each of your hands.”

In addition to the mobile blue light feature, which allows users to quickly contact emergency services and share their location, the ND Safe app includes a Friend Walk program. Friend Walk contacts a designated friend or parent and shares the user’s location so that the contact can monitor their walk home.x

ND Safe also offers a “social escape” feature, in which the app will call the user’s phone within a designated amount of time. This allows the user to flee uncomfortable situations under the pretense of a friend or family member’s emergency. 

The app has links to emergency contacts and resources related to Title IX, the University Counseling Center (UCC), University Health Services, a suicide lifeline and bike and scooter registration.

Shibata encouraged all students to download ND Safe and enable push notifications and location sharing to access all of the safety features. As of Wednesday evening, NDPD has recorded 350 downloads, Shibata said.

Dorm gyms

After the presentation from Shibata, sophomore Anna Dray, the director of University policy for the student union, updated the senate on her work to make dorm gyms more equitable. Dray has been reviewing surveys filled out by senators that reflect the state of dorm gyms. 

“There is a notable disparity between women’s and men’s gyms that we’re looking into,” Dray said.

She is continuing her research to better understand this disparity and to find out what funds dorms could use to improve their gyms.

The goal, though, is not to improve dorm gyms that already have high quality equipment, Dray emphasized. Rather, she is focusing on equity. 

“We’re just going to try to give the dorms the same equipment, so everyone has the same access to the same things,” Dray said.

Additional resolutions

Student body vice president Sofie Stitt then previewed several upcoming events, including a coffee and bagels giveaway with Residential Life on Sept. 23 and a suicide healing and memorial prayer service Sept. 27, before moving on to general orders.

The senate passed resolution SS2223-08, which suspends the elections for first-year class council representatives who are running unopposed.

Senior Madison Nemeth, Judicial Council president, and senior Jared Schlachet, student union parliamentarian, read out the nominations for Judicial Council’s peer advocates and Committee on the Constitution members. After a unanimous vote of approval, the senate congratulated the new Peer Advocates and committee members on their positions.

After the nominations, senators shared updates on resolutions they are currently writing. Sophomore Derick Williams, who is sponsoring resolution SS2223-09 to lower the barriers that limit access to campus recreational programs, recently met with Mark Williams, the director of RecSports, Christine Conway, the director of the UCC, and Consuela Wilson, the director of the Office of Student Enrichment.

“All three parties are in agreement that it sounds like a great idea,” Williams said. “It sounds like they’ll be able to utilize the systems and structures that they already have to implement this program.”

Finally, Stitt introduced a new section of the senate meeting to allow senators to discuss new ideas and collaborations during the meeting. Many senators voiced ideas based on their constituents’ concerns. Notably, senators are looking to address the shortage of bike racks outside classroom buildings given the new rule that scooters must be left outdoors. Senators also discussed gluten free options in the dining halls and petitioning the provost to grant band and ROTC members early class registration.

After closing announcements, the meeting was adjourned.

Contact Katie at kmuchnic@nd.edu