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Senate installs new director of diversity and inclusion, amends bylaws

The Notre Dame student senate convened Wednesday night to nominate a new co-director of Diversity and Inclusion, discuss procedures for the upcoming elections and amend senate laws regarding proxies.

Vice president Sofie Stitt opened the meeting with executive announcements. Stitt introduced the director of sustainability, Nick Albrinck, who updated the senate on the sustainability department’s progress.

The sustainability department successfully reintroduced the Sustainability Cup this year, which awarded points to the dorms for attending sustainability-related events. Pasquerilla East won the cup “by a lot,” Albrinck said.

“Most of our initiatives are ongoing for the rest of the year, so we’ve made a lot of good progress on material waste, on energy use and on dining sustainability,” Albrinck added.

Albrinck clarified the University’s current recycling program. He said that there is recycling in every dorm, but only recycling put into the blue toters will be collected. Anything else labeled as recycling collection (except for flattened cardboard collection in dorms) will be thrown away. His department is working with administration to correctly label the waste bins. 

After Albrinck updated the senate, Madison Nemeth, the president of Judicial Council, presented campaign rules for the upcoming Student Union elections.

To those interested in running for an enumerated position in the Student Union, campaigning and petitioning can only occur publicly in a specified time period. The Judicial Council is set to publicize the timeline for campaigning within the next two months.

The senate then listened to the nomination of Eliza Smith for co-director of Diversity and Inclusion – Race and Ethnicity, as submitted by student body president Patrick Lee and vice president Sofie Stitt.

Eliza Smith is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, living in Johnson Family Hall. In addition to working with the department of Diversity and Inclusion, Smith is a member of the Department of Gender Relations – LGBTQ+ Advocacy, a Senior Fellow of Johnson Family Hall and a Building Bridges Peer Mentor.

Smith said that her goals for the department include focusing on the upcoming Walk the Walk Week and reaching out to multicultural clubs.

“We really want to empower the multicultural clubs on campus and find ways to fund their opportunities …We’re really excited to work with groups that haven’t necessarily had the spotlight in a while, like the Native American Student Alliance and the LatinX club,” Smith said.

Before the senate voted, Stitt voiced her support for Smith.

“Eliza is an absolute force. From the first time I talked to her, her energy was contagious . . . The presence she carries is really strong and we are incredibly excited,” Stitt said.

The senate voted unanimously to install Smith as co-director of Diversity and Inclusion.

Stitt then introduced order SO2223-15, which would amend the senate bylaws such that non-Senator voting members can nominate another member of their organization to attend senate on their behalf. For example, under this order, if the junior class council president had a class during senate meetings, they could nominate their vice president to attend and vote for the junior class council.

Because the senate bylaws do not allow for a long-term proxy, non-Senator voting members with scheduling conflicts could not participate fully in senate. With the unanimous passage of this order, that difficulty was eliminated. 

Senators also updated their peers on resolutions currently in the works. Eliza Smith described her work on a resolution which would increase LGBTQ+, racial, and ethnic minority representation in the university counseling center counselors. Smith’s department conducted a survey to fully understand how more diverse counselors would impact students.

Kate Brandin, the senator from Walsh Hall, said that though this resolution focuses on increasing visibility for LGBTQ+ and minority students, the increased number of counselors would benefit all Notre Dame students.

Finally, Lauren Taylor, the senator from McGlinn Hall, updated the senate on her resolution focusing on self-scheduling at the UHS. 

“​​UHS has now implemented a pilot program, which allows students to self schedule physical appointments though the portal,” Taylor said. Self-scheduling can be accessed on the student health portal.

After closing announcements, the meeting was adjourned.

Contact Katie Muchnick at kmuchnic@nd.edu

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University announces additional COVID-19 booster requirement

All Notre Dame students — undergraduate, graduate and professional — are required to receive the COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccine, director of University Health Services (UHS) Edward Junkins announced in an email Monday. 

Students had previously been required to receive the initial COVID-19 vaccine and a booster.

Those who do not receive the bivalent booster will not be able to enroll in classes for the 2023-2024 academic year, the email said. Students can apply for religious or medical exemptions.

“Bivalent booster vaccines provide an additional layer of protection against COVID-19 and, unlike previous monovalent boosters which were designed only to protect against the original virus that causes COVID-19, the updated bivalent booster vaccine protects against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants,” Junkins said in the email.

The CDC recently recommended a bivalent booster for those over 5-years-old who received their last booster at least two months ago in a Nov. 11 report.

The email, which did not mention any requirements for faculty or staff, said the University will hold an on-campus vaccination clinic in January. The deadline to receive the booster or an exemption is March 1, 2023.

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Senate participates in MiND workshop, provides update on UHS self-scheduling

On Wednesday afternoon, the Notre Dame student senate convened in the Montgomery Auditorium of LaFortune Student Center to observe presentations on the Health Department Expo and the MiND workshop, as well as share announcements over upcoming topics. 

Because senators were allowed to wear costumes, the meeting began with various senators sharing their Halloween costumes. Afterward, student body vice president Sofie Stitt began a roll call followed by a unanimous approval of minutes by the senators. 

Sophomore Sisy Chen, director of Health and Wellness, delivered a presentation on updates regarding her department’s progress on certain initiatives, including a high turnout event during midterms week. She highlighted a service project at the Basilica with the director of faith Ben Nash in honor of National Suicide Prevention.

She proceeded to speak about upcoming initiatives, including one with Campus Dining to set aside tables at North and South Dining Halls for students who attend the dining hall alone to sit with each other.

“We’re setting aside tables for people if they’re going to the dining hall solo, or they don’t have friends that can have lunch with them that day, they can proxy down at the designated table and get to know someone,” Chen said. 

Additionally, in late February, the dining halls will bring high-nutrient fruits, such as frozen fruits, avocado and other options. Finally, she spoke on the Code Red Initiative, intending to bring menstrual products to busy restrooms. 

Paige Jackson, assistant director of the Multicultural Students Programs and Services (MSPS), presented the MiND Workshop to the senate. Jackson discussed Critical Race Theory and microaggressions and how to respond to them.

“Critical Race Theory suggests the gains of marginalized groups are only achievable within the overarching systems of structural racism,” she said.

Evidence of her claims included institutions such as prisons that perpetuate racism.

“Our races are social constructs that we have developed on our own,” she said. 

Afterward, she moved toward the four types of microaggressions: the assumptions of criminality, exoticization, assumptions of intellectual inferiority and pathologizing cultural values. This, she said, is the consequence of racial battle fatigue.

To rid oneself of racial battle fatigue, she said, one must follow “R.A.V.E.N:” Redirecting the conversation or interaction, Asking probing questions, Value clarification, Emphasizing your own thoughts and offering concrete Next steps. 

She ended her presentation by praising Notre Dame’s inclusiveness.

“We’re very proud,” she said. “We have our spirit of inclusion statement. We have our mission statement. We have Jesus right there on God Quad. We have our pillars. We are very grounded within CSC (Center for Social Concerns).”

McGlinn Hall senator Lauren Taylor discussed updates on SS223-10, a resolution to add self-scheduling appointments to University Health Services (UHS) instead of by phone call. She spoke with Dr. Ed Junkins, director of UHS, who was impressed by the resolution. Taylor said UHS is hiring more individuals to answer phone calls. In addition, many have reservations that students will self-schedule an appointment and not attend. 

“They think that making someone go through the hassle of calling and waiting and all of that will make them more inclined to go,” Taylor said. 

Taylor suggested that the only way to know if their hypothesis is correct would be to test it out.

“We both agreed that kind of the only way to get over that is to test it out. We can do research, but it’s only so convincing as to what actually happens,” Taylor said.

Contact Sam Godinez at sgodinez@nd.edu

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Senate passes resolutions calling for UHS self-scheduling, subsidies for RecSports passes

The Notre Dame student senate passed resolutions Wednesday aimed at making recreational passes more affordable and improving the accessibility of University Health Services (UHS).

In the past year, RecSports announced they were switching from a pay-per-class system to a pass system for group recreational and fitness classes. Now students can pay $95 for a year-long pass, $60 for a semester pass or $35 for a half semester pass. 

Sophomore senator Derick Williams from Keough Hall introduced resolution SS2223-09, which seeks to fix financial issues caused by the switch to a pass system. Williams brought up concerns that the pass system is too expensive and prevents students from enjoying recreational opportunities. 

In the resolution, Williams calls for the Office of Student Enrichment (OSE) to coordinate a plan with RecSports to subsidize passes or provide financial assistance for students with demonstrated financial aid. Williams said he hopes the subsidies will come in the form of free or reduced price passes for those with demonstrated need seeking a pass. 

Williams also expressed concern that the cost of the recreational passes was having a particularly negative effect on those struggling with their mental health.

“Recreational and fitness classes can serve as a useful tool for students to relax and reflect as a therapy and treatment method for mental health concerns,” Williams said.

In the second part of his resolution, Williams called on the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being and the University Counseling Center to work with RecSports to “identify ways in which a RecSports pass can serve as a further resource for sustaining mental well-being.” The resolution passed unanimously.

The senate then passed resolution SS2223-10 which calls on UHS to implement an online self-scheduling system. The resolution was introduced by McGlinn Hall senator Lauren Taylor.

Currently, appointments can only be made by calling UHS. Taylor and resolution co-authors Sisy Chen, the director of health and wellbeing, and Hunter Brooke, the Carroll Hall senator, argued that this system discourages students from seeking medical attention. 

“UHS offers many vital resources to support a healthy campus community, but the only way for students to schedule an appointment at the UHS currently is via phone call — a process which troubles students with significant hold times, inefficiency and inconvenience, and frequently requires students to leave a message and await a return call,” Taylor said.

The authors argued that the method of scheduling over the phone is outdated, claiming that other similar universities have self-scheduling systems in place.

With the resolution in place, UHS will work with the senate to look into developing an online self-scheduling system.

Also announced at the meeting was an initiative to ensure that menstrual products are available in the unisex bathrooms in men’s dorms. 

Next Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the senate will host a new program called Student Policy Collaboration in the Hesburgh library. Students will be able to come and voice their concerns and give ideas to senators.

Contact Liam Kelly at lkelly8@nd.edu

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University to require flu vaccines for students

Director of University Health Services (UHS) Edward Junkins announced in an email Wednesday that all Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate and professional students will be required to receive a seasonal flu vaccine again this fall.

This is the third year the University has required students to get the flu vaccine. The requirement began in the fall 2020 semester during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[B]ecause symptoms of the flu can often mimic COVID-19, minimizing the cases of flu on campus can preserve UHS testing resources for COVID-19 testing and help conserve local health care resources,” Junkins wrote in Wednesday’s email.

As in previous years, the University will offer free flu vaccines to students at its annual flu blitz. This year, the first Flu Blitz will take place Sept. 20 to 21. The first round of vaccines will be for students only.

The second flu blitz will be open to students, faculty, staff and dependents from Oct. 11 to 12.

Registration is required for both flu blitzes and will open Monday, Sept. 12.

Junkins wrote that students are also permitted to receive their flu vaccine at a local primary care provider, pharmacy or walk-in clinic but must upload documentation proving they received the vaccine to their UHS patient portal. 

Students who fail to get vaccinated by Monday, Oct. 31 will have a hold placed on their student account — preventing them from registering for classes next semester.

According to the email, students, faculty and staff who have any other questions or would like to submit a request for a medical or religious exemption to the vaccine should email immunizations@nd.edu.

Students who previously received an exemption from the flu vaccination requirement do not need to provide updated documentation this year, Junkins wrote.