Senate discusses ‘Lake Dillon,’ class council elections

The Notre Dame student senate met Wednesday evening and approved orders regarding the suspension of first-year class council elections and the future renovations between South Dining Hall and Dillon Hall. The senators also discussed proposals on the addition of sustainability points toward the Hall of the Year competition and subsidizing student RecSports passes. 

The senate’s second meeting of the semester was led by junior and student body vice president Sofie Stitt. Stitt put forward a new format designed to streamline the meetings and a new minutes approval voting process. 

After a unanimous vote, senators announced upcoming campus-wide events, including the South Bend Farmers Market on Friday and a new initiative called Cookie Chats. The chats are an evening version of coffee chats aimed at connecting students with student government leaders.

The senate quickly approved Judicial Council president Madison Nemeth’s order SO2223-07 to suspend first-year class council elections if there is a candidate running unopposed. 

Resolution SS2223-08 covered the upcoming renovations between South Dining Hall and Dillion Hall intended to fix the largest puddle on campus known as “Lake Dillon.” The sidewalk maintenance is scheduled to start and finish during fall break. The approved order is meant to thank the Office of Facilities Design and Operations for their efforts in listening to students’ complaints about the sidewalk and ensure that the construction is finished before students return to campus after break. 

“In the meetings that I’ve had with quite a few senators they have talked about that, that’s huge,” Stitt said of the final phases of the renovation.

Senators touched base on the progress of their resolutions during new business. 

Senator Derick Williams said he will soon meet with the necessary administrative employees to make RecSports more accessible to students. 

“The Office of Student Enrichment seems very open to subsidizing some passes,” Williams said. 

The resolution also aims to address mental health concerns across campus. Williams said he plans to discuss with the University Counseling Center a way to offer RecSports passes for people interested in using them as “mental health rejuvenation.”

Additionally, the senate covered a resolution discussing the addition of sustainability points to the Hall of the Year competition.

Transfer student and senator Luca Ripani said he is working on a resolution to call for amendments to the transfer student course requirements and registration process. Ripani shared his struggles as a transfer when registering for University requirements such as philosophy and theology — courses that are not required at public universities. 

The meeting ended with senators promoting upcoming events on campus they are involved in. Lewis Hall is hosting their annual LHOP on Friday from 9 p.m. to 1 p.m. and the first Acousticafe will be held on Thursday from 8:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. on Library Lawn. Finally, first-year class elections are tomorrow.

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Bookstore renovation hopes to provide an improved customer experience

On July 1, 2021, the University of Notre Dame announced that the bookstore’s management was going to be changed from Follett to Barnes & Noble College (BNC), a transition that has been in progress over the past 14 months.

“The renovation was completed in August 2022, and the newly remodeled Hammes Bookstore is open and serving guests,” BNC Regional Manager Derek Holbert wrote in an email.

The University decided to undertake this project with the goal of improving the experiences of students, faculty and visitors at the bookstore.

“We sought an elevated experience for faculty and students regarding course materials, and BNC answered this need,” vice president for University enterprises and events, Anne Griffith, wrote in an email.

Notre Dame’s partnership with BNC has paved the way for further networking, giving the University an opportunity to collaborate with Fanatics, Champions, Under Armour and many more.

“Through its strategic alliance with sports merchandise leaders Fanatics and Lids, BNC will help deliver an elevated retail experience for students, faculty and the Notre Dame community,” Holbert wrote. “Customers can discover expanded brands from Champion and Under Armour, to Johnnie-O, Peter Millar, Vineyard Vines, Dooney and Burke and female-founded jewelry line, Kyle Kavan.”

The bookstore’s collaboration with Under Armour. | Courtesy of Jenna Abu-Lughod.

Griffith added that students, faculty and visitors all seem to be thrilled and impressed with the changes to the bookstore.

“We’ve heard great feedback on new features and renovations, such as the bright and upscale décor, Hat Zone, Custom Zone, The Gilded Bean and fast-moving check out,” Griffith wrote.

First-year student Martha Cleary, who has lived in South Bend for four years, offered insight into the positive differences she has noticed since the renovation.

“One thing I noticed is the carpet used to be a much darker color than it is now,” Cleary said. “I feel like they really opened up the space and made it much more welcoming.”

Cleary also noted the change in the distribution of apparel on the two floors of the bookstore.

“There didn’t used to be any women’s items on the first floor, which meant women had to go upstairs to shop. The new layout, which has both men’s and women’s clothing on the first floor, is far more inclusive and convenient,” she said.

Another change Holbert expects to be beneficial to Notre Dame students and faculty is the addition of social spaces.

“The social spaces placed throughout the bookstore provide intimate spaces for community gatherings,” Holbert wrote.

A social space located on the second floor of the Hammes Bookstore. Credit: Jenna Abu-Lughod | The Observer

Holbert said another prominent student-specific renovation is the introduction of new course materials and resources that are accessible to all.

“BNC offers students access to course materials across multiple formats to meet any student’s needs or budget, which we believe will benefit our students greatly,” he wrote. “This includes more than one million digital titles, a flexible rental program with the most expansive title list in the industry and access to the nation’s largest used textbook exchange.”

Similarly, BNC’s “Adoption and Insights Portal” is a new resource intended to specifically benefit faculty. It will allow faculty to “easily research and choose affordable course materials,” Holbert wrote.

More new features intended to improve fan and visitor experiences include convenient delivery options, the Custom Zone — which allows fans to customize one-of-a-kind hats, easy self and mobile checkout technology, and digital and analog wayfinding signs.

The Hat Zone and Custom Zone allow customers to make one-of-a-kind hats. Credit: Jenna Abu-Lughod | The Observer

“With new self and mobile check-out technology, customers can check out via their phones on the sales floor, making it easier than ever to bring home the best of Notre Dame books, gifts and apparel,” Holbert wrote. “New delivery options allow customers to purchase in-store and have their items shipped home, picked up after a game or delivered to their hotel. This offers Fighting Irish fans the convenience of purchasing products without needing to carry them around during games.”

Griffith and Holbert both emphasized that the management transition not only involved major changes to Notre Dame’s five bookstore retail properties but also to its online order fulfillment center.

“With BNC’s strategic omnichannel merchandising partnership with Fanatics and Lids, Notre Dame will have the most innovative merchandise and apparel programs available in the college market, as well as cutting-edge online and mobile accessibility,” Holbert wrote.

New self-checkout technology located in the Hammes Bookstore. Credit: Jenna Abu-Lughod | The Observer

However, according to Holbert, one of the most beautiful changes is in the actual design of the bookstore.

“Inspired by Notre Dame’s historic campus architecture, specific design elements were added to pay tribute to the look and feel of other campus landmarks including gold metal finishes that mimic the design of the University’s Basilica,” he wrote.

Contact Jenna Abu-Lughod at


Sorin College welcomes students back following year-long renovation

Sorin College, built in 1888 and named after Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C, finally welcomed new and returning students back inside its walls this August after fourteen months of extensive renovations. 

Sorin residents spent the last school year living in Zahm House while construction crews built a new addition on the West Courtyard. This expansion of the building was the third of its kind and was planned out by Fr. Sorin as outlined in a series of documents discovered by director of construction Tony Polotto and his team.  

A socializing space inside one of Sorin College’s signature turrets. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

“There was a sketch from Fr. Sorin to actually enclose the building for a third edition when it was outgrown, essentially,” Polotto said. “The challenge from our office was always to make modern improvements to the building without destroying the character of the building because Sorin Hall is precious to this University and to the generations of students that graduated and went through the hall.” 

Over 69,000 man hours were spent on the major improvements that included additional study lounges, social gathering spaces, offices, exercise rooms and kitchens. The majority of the first floor was converted to spaces for socialization and relaxation. The number of student beds increased slightly from 147 to 148.

These renovations were undertaken by various crews of electricians, roofers, concrete finishers and many other craftsmen who worked on the interior of the building.  

“In some cases, we had 70 people there working and other days we had 10,” Polotto said. “It was an up and down process, but it averaged out to 33 people working on Sorin Hall everyday for fourteen months.”

Student responses to the new study spaces and kitchens the crews built have been overwhelmingly positive as the renovations have allowed for them to grow and congregate together in ways that had not existed for past generations, according to Sorin College president and sophomore Patrick Hanley.

“I think the first floor is definitely the most useful part just because that’s where the study rooms and the lounges are. That’s where our food sales are going to be set up,” Hanley said. “Before, with the exception of weekends, we’d hang out more in our rooms, but now, I see most students in the study room or lounges on the first floor.”

Upperclassmen shared in the consensus that it was great to be back in the dorm after a year without the unique traditions, history and the feel of their true home on campus, Hanley added. 

Sorin College recently completed renovations lasting around fourteen months. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Sorin College was the first facility declared a residence hall by Fr. Sorin, and there are several unique features that students are glad to see remain the same following the renovations.   

“I think the biggest thing that sets Sorin apart is definitely the turret rooms,” Hanley said. “Those are the bigger rooms that have been a staple of Sorin for probably centuries, and I think some of the Four Horsemen lived in them. There are plaques that denote the history behind them.” 

Polotto said the construction crews and the University intended to make the hall as beautiful as it could possibly be while also preserving the original structure of the building, and students appear to agree that those goals were achieved.

Polotto said he will continue to check in on Sorin College over the next several months to talk to students and receive feedback on the renovations.