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Sustainability Cup aims to educate through friendly competition

Student government, Notre Dame Energy and the Office of Sustainability have collaborated for the relaunch of the Sustainability Cup, a competition across all 32 Notre Dame residence halls that aims to educate students on the importance of sustainability. The cup, along with Energy Week, started Sept. 12 and will run till Oct. 7.

The Sustainability Cup offers various sustainability-related events, and points are given to halls based on their participation and attendance. The events were held in conjunction with Energy Week. At the end of the competition, each hall’s points will be counted and ranked.

“There’s competition, and you want to beat the other dorms, so that seems to be driving more people to the events, which is great,” student government’s director of sustainability Nick Albrinck said. 

The cup is an annual event, but this is the first year that it is being run by the student government. 

“To get the most engagement [and] the most communications out effectively, the collaboration between different campus entities is really important,” Albrinck said.

ND Energy Education and Outreach associate program director Anne Berges Pillai said being able to connect with student government and the Office of Sustainability is a big deal because they both have big audiences.

“Having it be student-led gets more momentum and interest from students,” Anna Balas, the program manager for outreach, education and engagement at the Office of Sustainability, said.

Albrinck, Berges Pillai and Balas worked together since spring to coordinate the competition.

The cup kicked off with a “Weigh the Waste Night” at South and North Dining Hall, students discarded their food scraps into bins before putting away their dishes. Each night, the dining hall collects students’ food waste, packages it and sends it to an off-campus location to be converted into energy.

“That day, we did it in front of the students. It helped to show them the process,” sophomore Madison Clancy said. Clancy was one of the volunteers at the waste collection tables at North Dining Hall. 

Throughout the cup, students have had the opportunity to attend a sustainability career expo, lectures and discussions that aim to spread awareness of various sustainability efforts the University is involved in. 

“We’ve had a lot of participation, honestly, more than I thought,” Albrinck said. “It’s been fun for me to count all the points and be like ‘Wow, there’s so many people that do these things.’”

Some final points in the cup can be earned through completing a survey and quiz and by attending the “Sign of the Times” event on Oct. 7 at McNeill Library in Geddes Hall. The survey and quiz close on Oct. 7 as well.

More information can be found on the student government website.

“I’m hoping that we can get the students to become more and more involved and engaged and care more beyond words,” Berges Pillai said.

Contact Kendelle Hung-Ino at khungino@nd.edu

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Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s student governments build community in beach volleyball match

For the first time ever, the Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame student governments went head-to-head in a beach volleyball game.

They met at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the sand volleyball courts on Saint Mary’s campus.

Saint Mary’s students arrived at the sand volleyball court with colorful posters to cheer on their student government. Free shirts were given to those in attendance, music was playing and students lined the blue fence of the court to watch the student governments face off in the sand.

Saint Mary’s Student Government Association prepared for the big game by having a volleyball training camp on Thursday night. Becca Jones, a senior at Saint Mary’s who is the co-chair of the sustainability and food services committee, said the training consisted of making TikToks and doing sit-ups.

“A lot of us don’t have that much experience, but we have a lot of spirit,” Jones said before the match.

Jones’ teammate, Vinni Paradiso, was confident in her team’s ability before the match.

“I think we’re just going to have to work as a team and come together as a family to get the [win] tonight,” Paradiso, a sophomore co-chair of the media and marketing committee, said before the game.

Notre Dame started off with a big lead when they won the first of three sets.

When the second set rolled around, the teams switched sides of the net and were given a few minutes to talk strategy.

Saint Mary’s won the second set, leaving the score 1-1 before the third and final set. The third set was filled with several long rallies, but ultimately Notre Dame won, winning the game overall.

Volleyball was not the only skill on display Friday night.

Patrick Lee, the Notre Dame student body president, showcased his air guitar abilities while standing on the sidelines between sets.  He frequently “strummed” along with the music being played throughout the match.

Prior to the game, Saint Mary’s SGA president Angela Martinez Camacho and vice president Josie Haas answered several questions about the event.

Because this is the first time the two groups have met on the court, Camacho and Haas explained how it came to be.

“It really just started randomly in the summer,” Camacho said. “It was like three in the morning, and I texted Josie.”

Shortly after, the two reached out to Lee and Notre Dame student body vice president Sofie Stitt to start planning.

Along with how this event came to be, Camacho shared what sparked the inspiration for the tournament.

“It is in our platform that we wanted to create a greater connection within the tri-campus,” she said.

Haas echoed Camacho’s sentiments.

“Building the connection with Notre Dame and Holy Cross always starts at the top,” she said. “When [students] get to see our student governments having fun together, and having this camaraderie, that makes all the difference.”

After the game, Stitt gave some insight on future plans involving tri-campus relations.

“There’s some stuff in the works,” she said. “We’re really excited to keep doing stuff with [Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross] moving forward.”

In a post-game interview, Lee was asked how it felt to win.

“It was definitely more about just having fun and promoting tri-campus community,” he said. “I think sports are a great way to come together.”

Contact Cathy Doherty at cdoherty01@saintmarys.edu.

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On-campus farmer’s market gives students a taste of South Bend

The Notre Dame student government South Bend engagement committee held the first on-campus farmer’s market this past Friday, Sept. 16. The event featured local South Bend restaurants, artisans and vendors.

From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Fieldhouse Mall, students could purchase food from Vegan Bites by Jas, Purple Porch and Mom’s Keiflies. They could also shop for handmade jewelry and art from Skye is the Limit and Gems of Pride.

farmer's market sign
Student Government director of South Bend engagement Quinn McKenna (middle) and other students pose by the On-Campus Farmer’s Market sign at Fieldhouse Mall on Friday. / Courtesy of Notre Dame Student Government

Student government director of South Bend engagement and senior Quinn McKenna said items available for purchase ranged from kombucha to handmade jewelry to Polish pastries.

“Purple Porch had a variety of food including, but not limited to, premade sandwiches, brownies, blueberries, paw paws — a fruit native to Indiana, kombucha and specialty sodas,” she said.

The farmer’s market was the first event held by the South Bend engagement committee, a new body added to student government by the Lee-Stitt administration this academic year.

McKenna said the goal with the farmer’s market — as well as with the South Bend engagement committee as a whole — is to expose students to what South Bend has to offer.

“This department aims to pop the ‘Notre Dame bubble’ and move students to engage with the community in ways other than service,” McKenna said. “South Bend has a very vibrant and creative community, and this department was created to expose students to more of that. Therefore, this market acted as a means of introduction to some local businesses in the hopes that students would venture into the community independently to explore more of what South Bend is all about.”

Sophomore Andres Alvarez, a South Bend native and member of the committee, said about 500 students, faculty, staff and campus visitors checked out the farmer’s market Friday.

Alvarez said many vendors sold out more quickly than expected due to the event’s higher-than-anticipated turnout.

“Some [vendors] were creating more products as they were sitting in their chairs because they were selling out so fast, and others had to return to their shops to get more inventory,” he said. “We learned from the farmer’s market that the Notre Dame community wants to shop locally.”

He said the popularity of the event was encouraging for his committee as they plan future events to engage students with the South Bend community this year.

Currently, he said, the committee is in the process of creating a “South Bend Passport”, which will serve as a guide to introduce students to off-campus restaurants, coffee shops, shopping and other local businesses.

Alvarez said they are also working to invite local community members to campus to teach students about the history of South Bend

“Even though we are Notre Dame, we all should take the time to listen to some prominent voices in the neighboring community.”

Contact Claire at creid6@nd.edu

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‘There’s always another way’: Student Government leaders plan for successful school year

Over the summer, Patrick Lee, Sofie Stitt, Nicole Baumann and the rest of Notre Dame Student Government were hard at work for the student body. 

Lee, the student body president, explained that he stayed in South Bend to plan for the year and build relationships with administrators, other staff members and cabinet directors. 

“I never count the hours, so it’s hard to tabulate, but [my work] was a lot of meeting with administrators, trying to build relationships and paving the way for our initiatives to follow. I think, also, the great majority of the time was spent meeting with Nicole and our directors,” Lee said. 

Baumann, the chief of staff, said she came back to the University for the whole month of August to help Lee with planning and organization for the coming school year after spending the first part of the summer in Los Angeles working with non-profit organizations. 

“With Patrick, that was a lot of strategizing for the year,” she said. 

Stitt, the vice president, was in Chicago completing a finance internship, but she said she contributed to the summer work virtually. 

Lee said the 17 department directors each have five to fine goals for the year, which are outlined on the Student Government progress tracker. The website is set up so interested students can click on each department and scroll through all of the goals. Lee said more information can be found by contacting each department. 

Lee explained that one of the main goals of the progress tracker is to combat voter apathy. 

“The number one thing that we encountered in our election was voter apathy. A lot of times, people don’t know what Student Government is and what we do,” he said. “Now, we have made sure that if anybody ever asks that question, they can reference this extensive guide and immediately know what’s going on.”

Lee, Stitt and Baumann all expressed excitement about the new progress tracker, saying it will help keep the cabinet on track. 

“We think that the progress tracker goes a long way for both accountability and transparency, which are really two of our highest values,” Lee said. 

Baumann, who described the tracker as a “holistic view,” also noted that the tracker and goals may change throughout the year. 

“[The executive cabinet members] are always looking for new ideas from their department chairs, as well as from the student body,” she said. 

Currently, the organization has finished 15 out of the 90 goals outlined, making them 16.5% of the way to completion. 

Many of the completed projects were oriented toward new student engagement, such as “Football 101” for international students and “Flick on the Field” at the end of the first week of classes. 

Two major improvements to student life occurred in the residence and dining halls. 

Safety after parietals was a massive change to Notre Dame student life that was implemented this fall after three years in the works. The final push was brought about by Lane Obringer, director of gender relations, Title IX and women’s initiatives.

The new rules state that if a student feels unsafe in a dorm environment past parietals, they can leave without fear of repercussions, Baumann said. 

Lee said he was happy about finishing a movement started by previous departments and about how they collaborated with administrators. 

“Certainly credit to the previous administrations, but it’s been our approach since we took office that the administrators that we worked with on safety after parietals, and as well as most administrators, actually share goals with our organization,” Lee explained. “We approached those conversations at first with a cooperative mindset, as opposed to an adversarial mindset.”

Stitt emphasized that, although the cabinet has completed the initiative, they will continue to promote those resources to the student body. 

Another one of the campaign’s main goals was to bring back healthier options for students in dining halls. The cabinet accomplished this by not only bringing back vegan and vegetarian options for every meal and carving stations on Thursday, but also by changing the dining hall hours to be open until 8 p.m. on weekends. 

Coming up, Baumann said she is excited about bringing back the Sustainability Cup, Race Relations Week in October and the suicide memorial prayer service, among various other programs in the works. 

Some of the goals for the cabinet won’t be completed until the end of their term, such as Pridefest 2023 and Back the Bend.

Baumann noted that this year, Back the Bend will hopefully be a national endeavor, with alumni clubs joining throughout the country. 

The leadership team also said they are working toward better communication in the coming year. They will start to implement better social media engagement and a podcast called “Pod, Country, Notre Dame.”

Stitt said they encourage interested students, especially first-years and transfers, to get involved in Student Government by coming to their weekly coffee chats and reaching out to department directors. 

“We’re just really excited for [everyone] to be here. We cannot wait to serve them this year,” Stitt said. “We really just encourage [new students] to get involved on campus, whether that’s with student government or with clubs or intramural sports or in the dorm.”

Lee, echoing Stitt’s sentiment, called for any interested students to bring them ideas. 

“I think I can speak for the three of us in saying there’s really nothing that we wouldn’t do for the student body,” Lee said. “If anybody wants to see anything or they have any ideas, come chat and we’ll make it happen.”

Contact Bella Laufenberg at ilaufenb@nd.edu.