Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) approved its revised budget Wednesday with a majority vote. The new budget presented to the Board had the same numbers as the previous budget, but student body president Rachael Chesley said the finance committee added a rationale, which helped clarify the decisions they made. “The finance committee was happy it was brought back to review so they could come up with a rationale and really be able to solidify why decisions were made in the first place,” Chesley said. Two concerns voiced in last week’s meeting were about the amount of money allotted to class boards and where the Capital Fund, money allotted for general campus improvements, would go. Class boards had asked for additional funds to pay for events such as parents’ weekends, but Griffin said that would be out of the realm of possibility. “We felt like we weren’t sure where we were taking money from to give class boards,” Griffin said. “The only way we could possibly make a difference would have to give you tens of thousands of more dollars.” Griffin also explained the need for the Capital Fund to help make improvements around campus, including renovating the student government offices and putting funds into Dalloway’s, the campus clubhouse. “Money from the Capital Fund would come into play,” Chesley said. “It is the leverage we need to fix things on campus.” Money that could be used for an updated version of the Notre Dame co-exchange program was added to the budget. The program, which was cut at the beginning of the academic year, allowed 75 Saint Mary’s students per day to have a meal at Notre Dame’s dining halls at no additional cost. Students have expressed concern over the cancellation of the program, which is now only available to students who need the tickets because they have classes or commitments at Notre Dame during meal times. Chesley said the addition of a budget for a new “social” co-exchange program doesn’t guarantee a new program will be formed, but will allow the Board funds to move forward on the issue. “I think we could do it and this is going to give us the financial leverage we need to even consider the different options for co-exs,” Chesley said. Chesley said she and student body vice president Laura Smith have continued to work on the issue, and are working on exhausting their options. “The goal that we’re looking toward is getting some form of social co-ex tickets back to students, free of charge to students,” Chesley said. After discussions closed, the budget was put to a vote and was passed by majority vote, meaning the Board can now start giving funds to campus boards, clubs and organizations. “We now have a budget. We can move forward with the year,” Chesley said.
As a way to reach out to the local community and help those in need during the Christmas season, Saint Mary’s Office of Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE) is holding the 12 Days of Christmas Project. The project began by helping eight families from Resources for Enriching Adult Living (REAL) Services in 2004, said Carrie Call, director of OCSE. “The Primary object of the 12 Days of Christmas is to collect funds, clothing, food and gifts for area families in need,” Call said. “This is done mostly through ‘adoptions’ of families or children by individuals or departments on campus.” Call said the project has continued annually. Each year, students, faculty and staff of the College are invited to participate in fundraisers, gift drives and volunteer opportunities in order to benefit a variety of charities. This year. the project’s proceeds will support Catholic Charities, the Salvation Army, REAL Services and the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) partner schools, Call said. “This year we are supporting over 40 adults and over 70 children,” she said. Call said the project offers a wide range of programs aimed to gather resources to benefit the local charitable organizations. A Winter Wonderland event, in which local children came to the College and participate in crafts and other activities, was held Saturday. Ornament decorating is scheduled for Tuesday and a blood drive is scheduled for Wednesday. Also, there will be a Christmas Craft Show Friday and bell ringing for the Salvation Army Saturday. Other events include a toy drive done by Le Mans Hall and a ‘comfort tree’ by McCandless Hall, which collects items such as socks, blankets and scarves for children. “There are so many ways students can be involved,” Call said. “They can attend the social events, sign up to ring bells for the Salvation Army, buy a gift for a child or adult in need, bake cookies for the food tables at the craft fair, attend the Pre-Kwanza event or go to Advent Vespers services or shop at the craft fair.” Call said it is important to have programs like the 12 Days of Christmas Project during the holiday season. “During a season that is often marked by huge expenditures of money, it’s good to remember those who are living without the basic necessitates,” she said. “There are still so many people without work, and there are so many children in South Bend living in poverty. For those of us who have been more fortunate, we need to make sure we lift up others around us.” The program is also important because it allows students to celebrate the Christmas season, Call said. “The events help the students feel closer to the holiday season,” she said. “For many of them it is hard to be away from home or loved ones during December. This gives them an opportunity to experience the holiday season and help out some folks, too.” Call said she hopes the 12 Days of Christmas Project puts the Christmas season into perspective, while still allowing participants to enjoy their experiences. “I hope that we all feel grateful for the many things in life we take for granted and we keep those in mind who are living through difficult times,” she said. “I also hope people have fun and experience some joy.”
Amid national controversy over the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception mandate, members of the Notre Dame community discussed the development of conscience in the Catholic faith Monday. Led by David Clairmont, assistant professor of moral theology, the talk provided context for understanding the debate over the mandate requiring employers to include contraception in their insurance packages. “The bishops want to have the specific effects of the mandate on Catholic institutions eliminated so Catholic institutions will not be in the situation of providing things that go against Church teaching, even if there are varieties of opinions among Catholics about those preferences,” Clairmont said. Mary Daly, program coordinator for the Office for University Life Initiatives, said the HHS mandate passed under the Affordable Care Act also requires coverage for Plan B, sterilization and education on family planning methods. This goes against the conscience of Catholic employers, including universities, charities and hospitals, she said. “[The mandate] requires individuals to perform immoral acts against their consciences,” Daly said. Daly said the event, which was cosponsored by Campus Ministry, the Center for Ethics and Culture, the Center for Social Concerns, the Gender Relations Center, the Institute for Church Life and the University Life Initiatives office, aims to improve understanding of the key assertions in the debate over the HHS mandate. “People were coming at this from different angles of not understanding what the church was teaching,” she said. “We thought the most helpful thing we could provide for the students was what it means to form your conscience. We thought that would be the best starting point for students for thinking and talking about these issues.” Clairmont referenced one of the most frequently cited descriptions of conscience, the Second Vatican Council, which describes conscience as human beings’ attempts to live in ways that bring them ultimate happiness with God. “Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself, but which he must obey,” Clairmont said. “His voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil.” Clairmont said people must work to improve their consciences by studying witnesses in the Church, like saints, and learning from the Church’s teaching authority. “[Conscience] needs to be developed throughout one’s whole life,” he said. “It’s never fully formed. It’s life-long work … There are always ways we can develop our moral conscience.” Clairmont contrasted this Catholic idea of conscience, rooted in never-ending improvement based in the Catechism, with the modern, secular belief that conscience is entirely individual. “Formation in conscience comes through studying the teachings of the Church on the matters pertaining to human happiness, and by studying the lived examples of other Christians,” he said. “Formation in happiness requires one to be constantly open to having one’s own experiences interrogated.” Addressing the pro-mandate argument that many Catholics do not adhere to the Church’s anti-contraception values and so do not oppose the mandate, Clairmont said conscience can always change and be improved. “It’s not as if conscience wells up in a pure judgment, saying, “This is what I must do,’” he said. “This is a judgment at this time, in light of what I know and the experiences I have already had. Those experiences might change.” Clairmont said he hoped the conversation about Catholic conscience would have long-term positive effects. “We have opportunities to shift the discussion slightly … as an opportunity to teach people in the wider society how Catholics understand religion and religious freedom, how we understand conscience,” Clairmont said. “Conscience has a very particular place in the logic of the faith’s presentation. And that is something that is relevant to the public discussion.”
Students taking part in the mass exodus to and from classes each day have been treated to a newly beautified campus landscape. From South Quad and the Grotto to DeBartolo Quad and Notre Dame Avenue, projects were completed to accommodate students’ walking patterns and to streamline overall campus upkeep. Sarah Misener, associate vice president for Campus Services, said the project ideas originated from reviews conducted by Landscape Services and Facilities Design & Operations. Landscape Services and Facilities Design & Operations review areas of campus and prioritize landscape installation renewal projects on an annual basis,” Misener said. Misener said the Landscape Services team begins reviewing campus project possibilities in the winter months and sets completion dates for the summer months. Because shrubs and plants on campus require annual renewal, Misener said, Landscape Services must narrow down possible new projects to a manageable list that will then be added to the summer workload. “Summer months represent the best time to do much of the planting work on campus,” Misener said. “Consequently, several projects are staged with completion dates that are prior to or near the start of the academic year.” Major projects this summer included the installation of brick sidewalk trim, perennial beds planted on South Quad, the placement of mulch around trees on South Library Quad and the realignment of pedestrian crosswalks near the Grotto, she said. DeBartolo Quad and the gazebo on Debartolo Quad, were refurbished, and visitor-friendly landscape was added, Misener said. Notre Dame Avenue’s aging and damaged trees were replaced and more were planted along parts of the avenue’s gaps, she said. Lyons Hall and the Morris Inn also saw completed renovations this summer, and work was done on the Center for Flow Physics and Control White Field Facility, Misener said. “[These projects] add to the students’ experience … by creating and maintaining beautiful spaces on which to study, pray, work and play,” she said. Misener said campus landscaping projects are funded by donations from benefactors, which was the case with this summer’s work on the Morris Inn, or managed within the annual landscape budget. Freshman Ian Flyke said he was pleased with the updates. “I really like the campus changes, especially the rock courtyard between DeBartolo [Hall] and the Snite [Museum of Art],” he said. Flyke said he began to follow Notre Dame’s landscaping team’s Twitter handle, @NDgroundscrew, to see updates on their work and pictures of continuing projects. “I really like seeing what they’re up to now,” he said. “They have entertaining tweets.” Senior Chris Ayala said he is impressed by the work done by the landscaping team. “I think the landscaping is nice, but I really miss being able to sit on the raised ledge outside DeBartolo [Hall],” he said. “It’s aesthetically pleasing, but beyond that I don’t see any tangible benefits.” Sophomore Ethan Muehlstein said he appreciated the improvements in front of Lyons Hall on South Quad. “In the future, I’d like to see more flowers on God Quad so you can walk along flower paths, and overall more lights so you can highlight the gardens at night,” he said. “Nevertheless, the work the Landscaping team does is phenomenal and I am proud to go here and see it daily.” Sophomore Haley Van Steenwyk said she is “still getting used to the changes,” especially by DeBartolo Hall. “I like that they’re doing something different, but I think they should have had it all completed before we got to campus,” she said. “I like that they have more plants everywhere, but I feel like we’re still waiting to see a finished product.” Contact Kyle Witzigman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) is investigating a report of sexual assault committed in the early hours of Friday morning, according to an email sent to students at 2:45 p.m. Friday.The reported assault occurred in a South Quad men’s residence hall, the email stated.The email quoted “du Lac: A Guide to Student Life,” Notre Dame’s official policy book, and warned students of the risks of sexual assault as well as the standards of consent.“Sexual assault can happen to anyone,” the email said. “Anyone initiating any kind of sexual contact with another person must seek consent and not engage in sexual contact unless consent is given.“On college campuses, perpetrators are more likely to assault an acquaintance than a stranger. Being aware of your own safety and watching out for your friends are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of sexual assault.“Being aware of your own safety and watching out for your friends are important steps you can take to reduce the risk of sexual assault.“The perpetrator, not the survivor, is responsible for any instance of sexual assault. Nothing a survivor does or does not do is an excuse for sexual assault.”Tags: NDSP, sexual assault
The justice education program at Saint Mary’s sponsored a panel of eight students Thursday in the atrium of the Student Center, where the student panelists discussed changes that need to be made regarding sexual assault on campus.The panel consisted of students involved in the justice education board, presidential task force and Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO). Panelists were: Maggie Langenfeld, Caylin McCallick, Nicole Caratas, Kayla Gaughan, Alex Shambery, Bri O’Brien, Katie Dwyer and Vanessa Odom (Editor’s note: Nicole Caratas is a news writer for the Observer).“Rape and sexual assault are not natural consequences,” Dwyer said. “They are consequences of disrespecting someone else … [and] it happens when people don’t consider a person enough of a person.”Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer Last week, Annie Clark and Andrea Pino — both of whom were featured in the documentary “The Hunting Ground” — spoke at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame and expanded on many important issues, Langenfeld said.“An important issue they mentioned was compliance versus commitment,” Lagenfeld said. “We see this with a lot of issues, but particularly on college campuses.”McCallick said she thought the campus was more compliant than committed in regards to sexual assault.“As far as our efforts on campus, I think the university is more compliant than committed,” McCallick said. “Personally I think that there is not a strong effort to change policy.”The panel also discussed college alcohol culture, and both Langenfeld and Odom said no matter how much alcohol students might consume, alcohol is not a cause of sexual assault, but a tool.“Sexual assault is not a natural consequence of alcohol,” Odom said. “What is happening … is happening everywhere. … We put alcohol on a pedestal.”Odom said the vulgar language heard on college campuses is also a part of the sexual assault issue.“The language used around campus, like calling the bus ‘the sluttle,’ is an issue,” Odom said. “I hear it just as much, if not more [at Saint Mary’s], than when I’m across the street.”Throughout the panel, students addressed topics like sexual assault survivor resources and who survivors can talk to.Junior Maranda Pennington said she would like to have the LGBTQ community represented more in the sexual assault conversation.“What I’d like for you to address on the task force is that being out on this campus, a lot of times the language that is used is disrespectful,” she said. “I want the LGBTQ community to be recognized at the task force.”Gaughan said the presidential task force will meet for the first time Friday. She said the task force is investigating making all sexual assault and Title IX documents the same across the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross campuses.Tags: Hunting Ground, saint mary’s, sexual assault
Wei Cao | The Observer “This is by far the biggest thing humans have ever done, and by far the biggest task human beings have ever had is to stop it, and to stop it cold,” environmentalist Bill McKibben said of global warming in the 22nd annual Hesburgh Lecture on Tuesday. The lecture was sponsored by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.McKibben is considered to be one of America’s most important environmentalists and is the founder of 350.org, a planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement.When he wrote his first book on global warming,”The End of Nature,” in 1989, he had no idea the situation would become as dire as he said it is today. “The idea that we would have reached this point within barely a quarter century would have seemed preposterous, even to those scientists who most worried about climate change,” he said. “We knew that trouble was coming. We knew when you burned coal and gas and oil, you put carbon into the atmosphere. We knew the molecular structure of CO2 trapped heat that would otherwise radiate back out into space. But we didn’t know how fast and how hard it was going to pinch.” According to McKibben, 2015 broke the record for the hottest year — previously 2014 — by “more than a 10th of a degree Celsius.” “Think about how large a physical system the Earth is, and then imagine how much extra energy it takes to heat a system that large a full 10th of a degree Celsius within 12 months,” he said.McKibben’s movement has organized 20 thousand rallies around the world, holding them in every country except for North Korea. These rallies are dedicated to resisting climate change; protests have been against the Keystone Pipeline, while rallies have been in support of the fossil fuel divestment movement.350.org began with McKibben and seven undergraduate students at Middlebury College, where he is a professor.“There were seven undergraduates, there are seven continents — each one took one,” he said. “Our work was to find other people like ourselves. Everywhere, there’s someone worried about the world and they were our natural allies in this work. We didn’t really organize; it was more like throwing a potluck supper. That’s what we did. We said here’s the date, and we need everyone to do their part.” That date was November 2010 and the event was an art exhibit called 350 eARTh, where participants from around the world coordinated human sculptures that were photographed with satellites. “I had heard, always, that environmentalism was something rich white people did,” McKibben said. “It took about half an hour of watching these videos flood in to realize that was just nonsense. Most of the people leading this work around the planet were poor and black and brown and Asian and young because that’s what most of the world is made up of. They’re just as concerned as anyone else, maybe more so, because the future bears down hard when you’re in those places.”One of the pictures McKibben showed during his lecture was of Haitian children participating in his movement, holding signs that said, “Your actions affect me.” “As always with climate change, all of these things affect most the people who have done the least to cause the problem,” he said. “The perverse inverse justice of climate change is an enormous challenge, not least of all to those of us with a faith commitment that would be loving our neighbors. “There’s really nothing anyone in Haiti is going to do to fix this. They can’t use less fossil fuel, they use none now. They can’t get to the White House or any other seat of power to get people to pay attention to them.” When McKibben and 350.org were organizing a protest of the Keystone Pipeline in Washington, D.C., he said he told protesters to dress well. “I said, ‘If you want to come get arrested, will you put on a necktie or a dress?’ I wanted people to do that because I wanted the pictures from that day to send the same sort of message I’m telling you today, which is that there’s nothing radical at all about what we’re talking about. All we’re asking for is a world something like the one humans have always known,” he said. Tags: 350.org, Bill McKibben, Climate change, conservation, environment, environmentalist, Hesburgh Lecture
Every year leading up to winter break and finals week, the Student Activities Board (SAB) at Saint Mary’s hosts an event for children in the community and students to destress. Club president and senior Emma Freund helped make this year’s event possible.“Winter Wonderland is one of SAB’s longest-standing events,” Freund said. “I’ve helped plan it during all four years of my time on SAB, and I’m sure it will go on for many years after I graduate.”The event took place Saturday in the Reignbeaux Lounge. From 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., children from the community gathered for crafts, snacks and a visit from Santa. The second half of the event, from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., was intended for the Saint Mary’s students, and included crafts, giveaways and a gingerbread house-building contest.“This event was created to help students celebrate the holidays during the stressful end of the semester,” Freund said. “It’s always been SAB’s goal to create events where students can take a break to come enjoy some good food and quality time with friends. This is also the only event involving the South Bend community, so it is especially important for us to put in the work necessary to make it a wonderful event for the children.”This year, around 150 children and over 300 Saint Mary’s students attended the event. Organizers had 300 hats to give away — and there were no left overs.Setting up an event of this scale is not easy, Freund said.“Winter Wonderland is such a significant event for SAB, and it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication and hard work of every single one of our board members,” Freund said.One of the board members, co-executive and junior Grace Nolan, helped with selecting the snacks and organizing the giveaways.“We have been planning this event since Oktoberfest was over,” Nolan said. “So, we have been planning it for about the past seven weeks. However, it really only took us a week or two to get the food and giveaways ordered.”Sophomore Lindsey Herdsman attended the event for her first time with her roommate and friends.“The main reason I originally wanted to go was for the free hat and the food, which was Chick-fil-A,” Herdsman said.Given all the activities available, Herdsman and her friends found that they stayed for much longer than they planned.“Once I was there, I made decorated ornaments and ate some candy canes,” Herdsman said. “It was such a fun event, and really got me in the Christmas spirit. I would definitely want to go again next year.”Tags: christmas, Student Activities Board, Winter Wonderland
Notre Dame has decided to forgo federal stimulus funds in order for the coronavirus aid to be redistributed to other institutions in need, vice president of public affairs and communications Paul J. Browne said in an email.The Washington Times reported Friday that after Notre Dame declined $6 million in federal aid, the latest school to do so. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin called on other private universities to do the same.According to the article, Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun criticized Notre Dame in a letter to the University, saying the funds should be “redistributed to other schools that have an acute need for these emergency financial aid funds.” University President Fr. John Jenkins replied to Braun in a letter obtained by The Observer, writing, “the University neither sought nor applied for the funds in question.” Regardless of endowment, Jenkins wrote, the U.S. Department of Education created a formula for every college and university in the nation to receive funds.“Also, it is my understanding that the monies not claimed by universities will be automatically returned to the Treasury Department’s general fund,” Jenkins wrote. “Perhaps you can convince the Administration to, instead, as you say, have ‘the stimulus money be redistributed to other schools that have an acute need of emergency financial aid funds.’”As Jenkins initially said, federal funds received by the University for coronavirus relief will be used to aid students whose families are struggling by the loss of a job or another hardship as a result of the pandemic. Browne said in an email that a Student Emergency Relief Fund has been established to provide additional financial aid to students whose families have been hurt financially by the pandemic.“Of course, we expect most of those families to include students who were eligible for financial aid before the pandemic,” Browne said. “Only now, that number is certain to grow because of the pandemic’s economic upheaval.” Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article said Notre Dame is the largest school to decline federal aid when it is the latest to do so. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: COVID-19, President John Jenkins, Sen. Mike Braun, Stimulus funds
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Pixabay Stock ImageNAPOLI – Several fire departments in Cattaraugus County are responding to a “fully engulfed” structure fire Saturday night.Crews were dispatched to 9741 Route 242 just after 9 p.m. Firefighters from Randolph, Little Valley and Ellicottville are among the departments responding.When crews first arrived on scene, heavy smoke and flames were spotted coming from the structure. Crews immediately requested further assistance to help fight the fire.It is unclear if residents were inside at the time of the fire.This is a developing story and will be updated.