Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world today, according to the International Society for Human Rights, which says 80 percent of all religious acts of discrimination target Christians. In his talk Monday night titled “The Global War on Christians,” CNN’s senior Vatican analyst John Allen highlighted countries experiencing heavy persecution of Christians today and debunked myths about such conflicts while arguing that the American Church can take a bigger role in addressing these heinous acts. Allen’s address was the second keynote address of the “Seed of the Church” conference on Christian martyrs. “We are talking in my opinion about the most dramatic, most compelling, most urgent Christian narrative of our time,” Allen said. Allen said according to the Pew Forum, persecution of Christians occurs in 133 countries. According to Aid to the Church in Need, about 150,000 Christians have been killed in religious conflict each year of the 21st century. “In the hour that we are going to be together tonight, somewhere on this planet, 11 Christians are losing their lives,” Allen said. “This number is not only astonishing but obscene.” One place Allen described as an epicenter of Christian persecution is Iraq. Even though this region was an integral part of the early Church, Iraq’s Christian population has shrunk from between one and a half and two million in 1991 to fewer than 450,000 today, Allen said. “A Church that took two millennia to construct has been gutted essentially in two decades,” he said. Since American intervention in Iraq has exacerbated sectarian tensions, putting Christians at greater risk for persecution, Allen said the American Church has an obligation to assist Iraqi Christians. “Given what we profess as Catholics and given the responsibility we bear as Americans, the fact that the situation facing the Church in Iraq is not a … top-of-the-brain concern for the Catholic Church in the United States is nothing less than a moral scandal,” he said. “Our failure to apply our last best efforts to meaningful gestures of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Iraq is quite simply inexcusable.” Allen said most people falsely believe Christian persecution can only come from regions where Muslim extremism is prevalent. “If somehow tomorrow, radical Islam were to disappear, the threats to Christians would hardly be gone,” he said. “What we face is a bewildering cocktail of threats.” Some threatening groups include radical Hindus in India, nationalists in Turkey and even radical Christians, Allen said. Christians can also be persecuted in countries such as Mexico where they are the overwhelming religious majority, he said. Another myth about Christian persecution is it is a political issue, Allen said. “If we are going to take a clear-eyed look at the global war on Christians, we cannot try to see it through the funhouse mirror of secular politics,” he said. Most of all, Allen said Americans can support persecuted Christians abroad merely by being mindful of their situation. When he interviewed Christian Syrian refugees in Lebanon during Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Beirut, Allen said they all agreed on how Western Christians could help them. “Do you want to know the number one must popular answer by far they gave me that they said would make the most tangible and appreciable difference to them?” he said. “The answer was, ‘Don’t forget about us.’ … You and I cannot solve the problems of the world. We can’t make the violence in Syria go away tomorrow, but we can try to find creative ways to broadcast the message that we have not forgotten them and that we are paying attention.” Contact Tori Roeck at [email protected]
Dr. G. David Moss, former assistant vice president of academic affairs, filed a lawsuit in federal court in South Bend against the University and Vice President for Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann-Harding, in response to alleged discrimination he faced from the administration. Moss, who now works as an administrator with the South Bend Community School Corp., sued because he was demoted following his condemnation of two incidents of racial discrimination at the University in the spring 2012 term. The complaint alleges Moss pursued a promotion from his position as assistant vice president of student affairs to associate vice president of student affairs. Subsequently, the complaint asserts Hoffmann-Harding demoted Moss to the post of senior consultant while attempting to arrange his further demotion or termination. Hoffmann-Harding indicated to Moss that she was considering terminating his employment from summer 2012 until August 2013, the complaint claims. Moss supervised the Call to Action movement, an African-American student group, in the spring of 2012 as part of his job duties, the complaint alleges. During this time, the complaint asserts someone or a group of people targeted the group, leaving pieces of fried chicken in the organization’s mailbox on two separate occasions. Moss responded comprehensively and vocally to these racial stereotyping actions on campus, the complaint asserts, and his actions earned significant publicity both on and off campus. His response included supporting the Call to Action movement, calling for investigation of the incidents and planning ways to “address the underlying racism on campus that caused them,” the complaint alleges. Moss sought promotion after his public involvement with the movement, and the complaint alleges Hoffmann-Harding’s subsequent actions in demoting and threatening Moss with termination were motivated by race and in retaliation for Moss’s contributions to the Call to Action student group. Moss is seeking monetary damages and a judgment that proves the University’s actions were unconstitutional and violated federal employment statutes. University spokesman Dennis Brown said the University is investigating the complaint. “We are examining the complaint, which we just received, but we’re confident that Mr. Moss was treated fairly during his employment, and we reject the claim that we discriminate,” Brown said. “We also want to make it clear that the incidents that occurred in February 2012 were unacceptable. We have taken them very seriously and – as evidenced by the committee on diversity appointed by [University President] Fr. Jenkins earlier this year – we continue to make every effort to ensure that our campus is welcoming to all.” Brown said the town hall meeting called by the University in response to the discriminatory incidents has been employed as a way to train staff. “The town hall meeting sponsored after the event in 2012 was videotaped, and has been used extensively in training of student affairs staff, including hundreds of residence hall staff and each department within student affairs,” Brown said. “In addition, in collaboration with student leaders and at the suggestion of students, diversity training has been added to freshman orientation and with campus safety officers.” Moss also filed a claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After investigation of his claim, the commission reported that it is “unable to conclude that the information obtained establishes violations of the statutes.” Thomas Dixon, Moss’ attorney, did not respond to requests for comment. Contact Nicole Michels at [email protected]
The entire Notre Dame campus lost power around 9 p.m. Thursday evening for “undetermined reasons,” according to University spokesman Dennis Brown. Wei Lin | The Observer “Power was restored across the campus at 10:33,” Brown said. “No injuries were reported. Power plant personnel are working to determine the cause.”Brown confirmed that people had been trapped in elevators during the outage, which lasted about an hour-and-a-half.Certain locations on campus, including residence halls, quickly regained power after the outage, reportedly through backup generators. Just before 10:30 p.m., some buildings on the north end of campus regained power, and at 10:33 p.m. the rest of campus recovered it as well.Firefighters and police flocked to the power plant on North Quad after the outage began.Brandon Russo, a sophomore employee at the Huddle, said he noticed unusual amounts of smoke coming from the plant as he evacuated the LaFortune Student Center.“The power plant looked like it was working overtime — there was a lot of steam,” he said.Russo said he saw the Hesburgh Library and buildings on North Quad buildings lose power.“The [Huddle] register went off, and then the fire alarm turned on,” he said. “We went outside and North Quad and the library had lights on, then went down.”Adam Hill, manager of operations for the Student Activities Office (SAO) facilities, said employees in LaFortune followed “standard protocol” during the incident.“We always look to ensure the safety of the students first, so we allowed students to be on the first floor hallway while the fire alarm was going off so they could stay out of the cold,” Hill said. “We wanted to make sure we were a safe haven for the students.”Hill said he maintained communication with other SAO and University representatives in order to prioritize student needs.“I was in contact with my supervisor [director of SAO facilities Brian Fremeau]. He was in contact with the University spokesman and his boss,” Hill said. “We were getting directions very quickly, and that’s how we were able to make the decision to let students back in. … We wanted to make sure we were a safe haven for students.”Diane Orlowski, library security monitor at the Hesburgh Library, said staff members asked students to evacuate.“We cleared the building because the elevators weren’t working,” she said. “Once the decision was made [to evacuate], it took maybe 10 minutes to clear it.”Senior Shelley Kim said she heard a “buzzing sound like a dog whistle” in the library, followed by a louder noise.“Out of nowhere, with a snap of your fingers, all the lights went out,” she said.Tags: Hesburgh Library, LaFortune Student Center, power outage, power plant, SAO
The Saint Mary’s group Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA) hosted a panel of professors to address LGBTQ current event policies and social justice issues as part of Pride Week on Tuesday in the College’s Student Center.Professor of history Patrick Pierce, professor of religious studies Stacy Davis and professor of psychology Catherine Pittman, discussed the difficulties the LGBTQ community may face and how there may be a variety of interpretations of issues and policies.Davis began the panel by presenting how some areas of the Bible are viewed based on the way individuals view the LGBTQ community.“There is no concept in the ancient world of sexual orientation,” Davis said.Davis interpreted different areas of biblical texts which are used to shape an opinion on sexual orientation, stating that the culmination of views is often “more based on tradition, not scripture.”Pierce then addressed how geographic religious views and generational gap differences can have an impact on policies of the LGBTQ community.Pierce noted how states have a variety of religious make-ups, including Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, and because of this, there are restrictive policies that are shaped around strict moral beliefs.“Legislatures at the state level are disproportionally white and … much more likely to be [composed of] males, which means that it is difficult to make the [LGBTQ] policies push forward,” Pierce said.Pierce finished by presenting how different tools, such as emotional responses, frame the LGBTQ issues by using symbols the community identifies with.“That matter of framing is really crucial, because if you can get control over the frame by which the issue is discussed, you can control the outcome,” Pierce said.Pittman concluded the presentation by pointing out the difficulties and circumstances of coming out for members of the LGBTQ community.Pittman explained how family could be a major influence on one’s decision to reveal their sexuality, as some families may struggle accepting transgender issues.Tags: LGBTQ, Pride, pride panel, saga, Smc pride week, straight and gay alliance
Observer File Photo Notre Dame students, faculty and guests celebrate ND Day 2014 in the LaFortune Student Center. This year is the event’s second year.The campaign also includes voting for how a ‘Challenge Fund’ of $1 million will be distributed to hundreds of clubs, academic departments, teams, dorms and other “areas of interest” listed on the Notre Dame Day website.By donating $10 through the website or by phone or text, donors receive five votes, which they can direct to any of the listed entities. After the campaign ends, each organization will receive a piece of the Challenge Fund proportional to the number of votes it received.For example, Wall said if 10,000 donations are made, as he anticipates, an organization will win roughly $20 for each individual vote it receives, though the exact amount will vary based on how many donations come in.Wall said donors have to give $10 to be able to vote, and while they can give more if they choose, a gift of any size still garners only five votes, and each subsequent gift of $10 or more gets one additional vote. Wall said the purpose of these limits is to make sure everyone has the power to direct the Challenge Fund regardless of how much they are able to donate.“There are so many people that love Notre Dame, and all of them do not have the capacity to make those large gifts,” he said. “So through this million-dollar challenge fund, we’re putting a generational and income-level equity among all Notre Dame people, everyone in the community — faculty, staff, alums, people who just love the University.”As a result, some organizations stand to receive hundreds or thousands of dollars through the Challenge Fund voting. Wall said Knott Hall, for example, garnered eight percent of the vote for last year’s $250,000 Challenge Fund, allowing the hall to create a new weight room.While there are some limits on how the money can be used and each organization will not actually receive the money for another six weeks or so, Wall said participating organizations will generally be able to spend the money they raise as they see fit.“It’s meant to be on a large-scale mission of improvement,” Wall said. “[For example,] if Cavanaugh raised $10,000 through Notre Dame Day —[that’s] one percent of the vote — the idea isn’t to have pizza every night in Cavanaugh. That’s not what the money is used for. It should be to improve the long-term health of the residents, both physically and communally. It could mean that you take 20 girls to Costa Rica for a service project, but it also could mean new couches.”Several anonymous families donated the million dollars for the Challenge Fund in advance, Wall said. As is the case with normal financial gifts, donors who give $10 to participate in the voting can say where they want that money to be allocated: academics, financial aid, mission and service, student life, athletics, any other indicated organization or to “greatest need,” which Wall said can be used for any emergency expense but usually ends up in the financial aid fund.Students can also participate in a tug-of-war tournament Monday at 3 p.m., where dorms will compete for a $4,000 first prize, Wall said. Meanwhile, a social media lounge with food in the LaFortune Student Center will be available all day.Wall said planning for Notre Dame Day required custom-building a mechanism for taking and displaying Challenge Fund votes, working out how to distribute the funds and approve how they are used and explaining to clubs and other campus entities how the campaign works. A committee of senior University administrators guided the process.“It’s been really fun to work with a lot of the clubs who are really into this,” he said. “They go out, and they’re just promoting to anybody in their listservs and social media.”The goal, Wall said, is both to celebrate Notre Dame and to support it.“The Notre Dame family loves what Notre Dame students do in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in their clubs and in their residence halls,” he said. “This is the way that we can help all of these groups that want to raise money, raise money.”Tags: Aaron Wall, Challenge Fund, Notre Dame Day Starting Sunday, the University will hold its second annual Notre Dame Day, a 29-hour fundraising campaign that includes a live broadcast, a tug-of-war tournament, a social media lounge, the unveiling of The Shirt and the distribution of $1 million to more than 780 Notre Dame-affiliated organizations.The campaign will begin at 6:42 p.m. Sunday and end at midnight April 27. For the entire day, there will be a broadcast streaming on the Notre Dame Day website, featuring student organizations, current students, alumni, faculty and other notable figures such as ESPN’s Cris Collinsworth, former pro football player Brady Quinn and author Nicholas Sparks, who will talk about their experience with Notre Dame and encourage people to donate. The broadcast will also feature remote interviews and performances around campus, Notre Dame Day program director Aaron Wall said.
The Election Committee of the Judicial Council announced Wednesday in a press release it will not release the student government election results pending an appeal of allegations of campaign spending misconduct against the Fonseca-Narimatsu ticket.Eddie Griesedieck According to the press release, the Judicial Council found juniors Rohit Fonseca and Daniela Narimatsu “in violation of Section 17.2(e) and 17.2(f) of the Student Union Constitution” over the course of their campaign for student body president and vice president.Section 17.2(e) requires all candidates to notify the Election Committee of any campaign purchases before the candidates use the materials purchased as part of their campaign.“Receipts for all election materials purchased or donated must be presented to the Election Committee prior to any use of the materials,” the section reads. “All receipts must be accompanied by a list of materials purchased.”According to the press release, Fonseca and Narimatsu violated this section through their social media advertising.“The ticket purchased Facebook advertising prior to receiving proper approval from the Election Committee,” the release said.Rather than a “forfeiture of candidacy,” as Section 17.2(f) of the Student Union Constitution calls for, the press release said the Election Committee has determined the penalty for these violations will remove 7 percent of the votes cast for Fonseca and Narimatsu in the election, according to the press release.“As an appropriate sanction the Election Committee hereby requires the Fonseca-Narimatsu ticket to forfeit 7 percent of votes cast for the candidates’ ticket,” it said. “In the event of a runoff, the Election Committee has decided to suspend campaigning for 24 hours from the time campaigning begins.”Fonseca and Narimatsu will have 12 hours to appeal the allegations, during which the results of the election will not be released, the press release said.“Judicial Council will not release the election results while there are pending allegations and appeals per Section 17.1(m) (5) of the Student Union Constitution, ‘No election result may be released to the public while any allegation or appeal is pending,’” it said. “The earliest release time for results would be tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 9, at 11:45 a.m.”As of press time, emails seeking comment from the Fonseca-Narimatsu ticket had not been returned. The Blais-Shewit ticket had no comment.Tags: blais-shewit, fonseca-narimatsu, Judicial Council, sanctions, student body president elections, Student government
Chris Collins Students assemble outside Main Building after the 2016 presidential election to protest Donald Trump’s leadership and to raise awareness about vulnerable populations.The national conversation surrounding the treatment of women in the U.S. continues on campus at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s a year after Trump’s election. From questions regarding potential changes in Title IX to Notre Dame’s flip-flopping stance on contraception coverage, these discussions have gained prominence in recent weeks.Sophomore Jessica D’Souza said the Notre Dame administration’s decision to stop allowing its third-party health insurance providers to cover contraception — a decision the University administration overturned just over a week later — was the first tangible effect Trump’s presidency has had on campus since the election.“The contraception thing is huge,” D’Souza said. “I’ve seen it shared from friends that don’t really know that I go to Notre Dame sharing it on their timelines like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the first effect that we’re really seeing in a way that directly impacts us.’ And it’s huge. I’ve seen it on news stories and in magazines and stuff.”The decision attracted so much attention after Trump’s rollback of the Affordable Care Act allowed organizations to choose whether or not to cover contraception because Notre Dame was the first university to openly take advantage of the change in policy. Senior Emily Garrett, who wrote an open letter in response to the University’s announcement to no longer allow third-party health insurers to provide contraception for its employees, said she was “disappointed but not surprised” by the decision.“It’s always to disappointing to hear that your employer or your place of higher education is suddenly just not covering your health care because they have a moral objection to it,” she said. “That’s just a weird concept to have to deal with — like something about my body or what I need to do to take care of my body is so offensive to you that you don’t want to help me do it. That’s kind of the vibe that we get, but it wasn’t shocking.”The response to the decision was so strong, D’Souza said, because of the gender politics that would be involved in such a policy change.“I know that people are afraid because … regardless of what your thought on contraception is, this is a policy that overwhelmingly affects women,” she said. “And the fact that the University is rolling back on contraception, to me, says somewhere that they don’t care about my education as much. Because we don’t have amazing pregnancy resources, we don’t have anything in place for women to take care of themselves.”Saint Mary’s senior Christina Herrera, however, said she believes Notre Dame does not have the responsibility to allow its health care providers to cover contraception due to its Catholic identity.“I think that the University needs to remember that it’s a Catholic school first and foremost and do everything accordingly,” Herrera said. “In reality, if women want [contraception], then they can buy it from the store. And honestly, if you can’t afford contraception or birth control or Plan B, you probably shouldn’t be having sex anyway.”This stance, Garrett said, discriminates against lower-income members of the community and does not account for married faculty members who might not want to have more children. She also pointed out that the University would not be paying for anyone’s contraception — third-party health care providers such as Aetna and Meritain would be paying for it.“I want this to be very, very clear — Notre Dame has never, nor will ever, pay for contraceptive care for their employees, students or staff,” she said. “ … I can’t tell you how many people have commented on articles or spoken to me in person and been like, ‘You can’t make a university pay for something they don’t believe in.’ But I’m like, ‘They’re not paying for it.’ They’re literally checking a box that says, yes, let Aetna cover it or no, don’t cover it.”Even if the University was covering the cost of contraception, D’Souza said, University administrators would not have the right to make a decision about someone else’s body and health care. D’Souza said she believes the number of people who spoke out against the administration’s original announcement is what caused the decision to be reversed.“I believe that the University is private and they can make a lot of decisions on their own,” she said. “But … if active members of this community have issues with health care … I think that the University as an entity that constantly talks about how it cares about student well-being, student health, student emotions [and] mental state, all that — I think that in order to uphold that claim, [the administration] also has an obligation to listen to what we have to say about things.”The University’s and College’s identities as Catholic institutions have not only played a large role in the discussion surrounding contraception since Trump’s election, but have also come into play during discussions concerning abortion. Anna Byrnes, a junior at Saint Mary’s who identifies as pro-life, said she has received pushback on her pro-life stance as a student at the College.“It’s very discouraging for me, especially in a Catholic community, because I am very pro-life,” she said. “I believe that life is sacred from conception to natural death, and so I’m not sure exactly why there’s so much division. Maybe it goes back to the root of what life is and what our role is in protecting life.”Other students have changed their opinions since coming to college, however. Saint Mary’s senior Olivia Bensett said the intellectual debate surrounding the issue of abortion on campus has led to her rethinking her stance on the subject.“My family is devout Catholics,” Bensett said. “I came to Saint Mary’s, and I was pro-life. But I’m leaving Saint Mary’s pro-choice. We’re constantly talking about the issues that impact women in classrooms, no matter what class you’re in. You could be in a mathematics classroom and still talk about women’s issues. You learn a lot from other girls talking about it.”Students are beginning to expand these intellectual debates even further, with more community members paying attention to the issue of sexual assault. Notre Dame junior and president of BridgeND Christian McGrew said he believes Trump’s election has drawn more attention to sexual assault in the U.S. over the past year.“There’s been, especially recently, a lot more awareness around the issue surrounding sexual assault,” he said. “People are taking it seriously now, which I think is a great thing, and it hasn’t been taken as seriously as in the past. I think that Trump being elected was a wake-up call and raised more awareness around this issue than if he hadn’t been.”In response to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinding Title IX protections put in place by President Barack Obama, students have started a “Stand 4 IX” campaign that asks University President Fr. John Jenkins to pledge to uphold Obama-era Title IX standards. Notre Dame junior Sabrina Barthelmes said her biggest concern relates to the standard of evidence universities are now allowed to use in determining the outcome of Title IX cases.“In my opinion, the worst change is that schools no longer have to use the preponderance of evidence standard — they can now choose between using that and clear and convincing,” Barthelmes said. “Which I think is detrimental to the progress we’ve been making in the fight for survivors’ rights. Notre Dame hasn’t made an official announcement about where they stand on any of this. … I’m concerned about what will happen when Notre Dame finally does decide to take a stance on it — because they’re going to have to.”Notre Dame junior Jeffrey Murphy, treasurer of the College Republicans, said while he believes sexual assault and survivors should be taken “super seriously,” he wants the University to switch to clear and convincing.“I hope everybody feels strongly about sexual assault and rape,” Murphy said. “ … I think the problem is, I don’t think sexual assault should be considered individually from the rest of the law. So I don’t think a more-likely-than-not scenario is good. It’s got to be beyond a reasonable doubt, because if someone is convicted of sexual assault, that’s a life-ruining conviction.”Barthelmes said absolute certainty is almost impossible to reach in cases of sexual assault, however.“I think some people think we can’t accuse innocent people of sexual assault, and I agree, we shouldn’t,” she said. “But I think, due to the nature of the crime, preponderance of evidence is the only standard that should be used. You’re never, ever — in 99 percent of cases, I would say, have clear and convincing evidence.”Only 2 to 8 percent of sexual assault reports are false, Barthelmes said, and the Title IX process involves several steps before a decision is reached.“Some people jump to the rights of the accused … [but] the process of Title IX and reporting and going through the entire [process] up until you get a decision is incredibly difficult,” she said. “ … It is not as easy as people coming from the side of the rights of the accused might think to get a guilty decision. And especially here at Notre Dame, we don’t do that very often.”The issue of determining what can actually be considered sexual assault is also something Murphy said he believes should be clearer, and he said he does not believe the problem is as pervasive as others make it out to be.“I do think sometimes this issue is exaggerated beyond the reality,” he said. “I think the majority of American men and women are good people. For example, I don’t think college campuses — I don’t think Notre Dame has a culture of sexual assault. I think most people here are … good people trying to do good things.”Whether the issue is contraception, abortion or Title IX, however, Herrera said she does not believe any one thing should ever be labeled as a “women’s issue.”“The worst thing you can ever say is ‘women’s issues’ because I think every issue is a women’s issue,” she said. “I don’t think our issues should be degraded down to our body parts, and that’s why it bothers me that some women are single-issue voters based on abortion. There are so many other issues that pertain to women, like tax, economics, immigration. Anything else can relate to them too.”Tags: Abortion, Contraception Coverage, Donald Trump, Pro-choice, Pro-life, sexual assault, Title IX Editor’s note: This is the third story in a three-part series addressing various political issues and their impact at Notre Dame one year after the 2016 election. Today’s story focuses on issues that most frequently affect women at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets for a series of women’s marches, drawing attention to challenges women face in the U.S. and their concerns that these challenges would increase during Trump’s time in office.
Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli, known for her annual residence hall sleepovers and appearances at the midnight breakfasts during final exams, announced in an email Aug. 30 she will be further opening her door to students by implementing scheduled office hours throughout the fall semester. These ten-minute, one-on-one meetings with Cervelli will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. An email sent to College community detailed the office hours which the administration hopes that this opportunity will encourage students to speak directly with President Cervelli about issues and concerns.President Cervelli said she decided to host office hours in order to foster dialogue and strengthen relationships with the student body.“We take seriously the idea that this campus community is a family and, in the busy rush of administrative responsibilities and academic schedules, I want to ensure that we make time for that essential part of what makes a family: open communications that lead to trust and understanding,” Cervelli said in an email.The goal of these ten-minute meetings is to increase accessibility to the administration while addressing the issues and concerns of students, Cervelli said.“I like to hear directly from students,” she said. “It’s why I often go to the dining hall at lunch and drop into Angela [Athletic & Wellness Complex] on the weekends. It’s important to stay in touch with what’s on students’ minds. Establishing a regular opportunity to have those conversations will be beneficial in strengthening the lines of communication and will deepen my understandings of the issues that most concern them. Students are at the center of all that we do, and listening to them one-on-one tells me what additional support they need, who they are and what sparks their curiosity.”Sophomore Grace Maher said she heard about the office hours through the campus-wide email, and will be attending an office hour session with other students from the Saint Mary’s gender and women’s studies department.“A small group of gender and women’s studies students have noticed that Saint Mary’s doesn’t have any statement of any kind in their admissions policy regarding transgender students, and while we understand that it’s a controversial issue, especially considering we’re a Catholic college, there are other women’s colleges who at least state a support statement regarding diversity, social justice or supporting students of various backgrounds applying to the colleges,” Maher said.Maher said she feels it is important to talk about these controversial topics in a personal setting to guarantee that the subject is being heard. The conversation, she said, will be extraordinarily helpful in creating further dialogue. “[The office hours are] a good opportunity to encourage one-on-one student-to-president conversation, especially if it’s an issue you feel needs direct attention from the president, rather than going through the various levels of administration,” Maher said. “The ten minutes can allow for a base level, a foundation to be set without needing to feel that we need to come fully prepared with a solution to whatever we’re bringing to President Cervelli.”Maher said she hopes her meeting with President Cervelli will lead to lasting changes on campus. “I hope that out of these conversations, we can start to enact some small changes that students feel personally affect them and affect other people that they know, and that they can really bring some big changes to the college,” Maher said.Senior Regan Hattersley said she received the email containing details on President Cervelli’s office hours in the middle of her class. “I was so excited, I immediately pulled up my calendar and was reading the [office hour] times,” Hattersley said. “That night I sent an email to her office requesting the first slot.”Having signed up for a time during one of her classes, Hattersley said she was intent on meeting with President Cervelli, and arranged with her professor to leave early so she could attend. “I’m personally interested in speaking with President Cervelli about my personal experiences being a student at Saint Mary’s that does not come from a lot of privilege,” Hattersley said. President Cervelli’s “friendly, personable” reputation shows that she is willing to listen to the stories of students, Hattersley said, especially those with stories like hers, something she felt was lacking in other presidents and administration. “I am a first-generation college student, and I have had several small interactions on this campus throughout my three years here … that I think she might be shocked to hear have happened to me,” Hattersley said. ”Like things that faculty and staff have said to me that I feel shouldn’t be the default way to interact with students. I don’t think there’s a lot of understanding on this campus beyond ‘college students are poor.’”Hattersley said she hopes her story as a first-generation college student helps President Cervelli learn more about the experiences of Saint Mary’s students with various backgrounds, and enact progress towards inclusivity and diversity.“I’m not interested in going to her with an agenda — I’m interested in going to her with my story,” Hattersley said. “It seems to me that my experience is not the norm, and I am aware of that. But I also know that I cannot be the only student that has these additional difficulties and challenges placed before them. I know that other students must have similar situations.”Hattersley said she wants President Cervelli to be aware of the things happening on campus even if her meeting does not result in instant change and hopes that students are better accommodated on an individual level. She is especially interested in sharing stories that illustrate several instances of Saint Mary’s staff and students misunderstanding her financial situation, she said.“‘Can’t you just ask your parents to cover it? Can’t you pay them back? Can’t you get a loan or something?’ For someone like me coming from a first generation family, I do appreciate all that my parents do for me, but they don’t have that to give,” Hattersley said. “It can be incredibly demoralizing. When that rhetoric is consistently used … it makes you feel like you’re never doing enough, or that you’re somehow wrong for not having.”Her meeting with President Cervelli will give the president a better understanding of the struggles faced by some Saint Mary’s students, Hattersley said, and hopefully improve the lives of future generations of Belles.“How can [Saint Mary’s] help students like me?” Hattersley said. “How can they prepare students like me? When it comes down to the individual student, what is being done? My story might inform [President Cervelli] in those respects.”Tags: Cervelli meeting, Jan Cervelli, Office Hours, President Cervelli
Following the announcement that Notre Dame would be implementing at least two weeks of online classes in an effort to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases, there were murmurs among many students who thought the University would shut the campus down after the two weeks. This unease and the possibility of being told to leave campus before the semester is over has led many students residing on campus to look into off-campus housing.Junior Jim Broderick said he and his friends talked about looking into an off-campus place Tuesday, Aug. 18, before University President Fr. John Jenkins’ spoke to the student body.“When we saw that Monday results were so high, we were like ‘Oh shoot. Let’s look into [housing]’ just to get an idea of what’s available and what our options are,” Broderick said.Broderick said he considered living off-campus before the year started but ultimately decided to stay on campus because of his role as vice president of O’Neill Family Hall.Currently, Broderick said he is in preliminary research and waiting to see the University’s next steps.“I just don’t know the University’s plan,” Broderick said. “So it’s kind of like a waiting game to see how things will shake out in terms of what their plans are like how the case COVID cases look on campus.”Broderick said he is more optimistic about staying on campus for the entire semester than he was when classes first started.“I think from a logistical standpoint, it would be very complicated for the University and extensive,” Broderick said. “And I think that students kind of got the message that [the University] was trying to send with the two weeks of online classes now as almost like a warning to kind of behave because otherwise, they will take drastic action.”Meanwhile, junior Lizzie Cunningham is not convinced that students will be living on campus until the end of the fall semester. She said these sentiments have led her to extensively search for an off-campus apartment.“My friends and I were talking and none of us really thought that we were going to make it all the way to November, which was really sad to think because we’ve been away from each other for so long,” Cunningham said. “But we were all thinking we want to stay together if we do get sent home. So we weren’t really actively looking but we were like, if we get sent home, we want to go home. We’d rather find somewhere to stay together.”Junior Makira Walton echoed this skepticism, and said in an email that she is “not confident at all” the University will remain open for on-campus students.Walton — a resident of Pangborn Hall after she could not return to her home hall, Pasquerilla West Hall — said she is currently in the research phase of searching for an off-campus apartment along with five of her friends.However, apartment space close to campus is a popular commodity. Cunningham said she and her friends were supposed to view an apartment at University Edge last week, but the complex filled up, and they were waitlisted. She cited Notre Dame renting out apartments to quarantine students as one of the reasons she thinks housing isn’t readily available.“Right now, we actually don’t have anywhere anymore that we’re looking,” Cunningham said. “We’re slowly trying to find new places, so we’re kind of in a worse spot now than we were the beginning.”Cunningham has been in contact with the Office of Residential Life to find out how her housing contract would be affected by her decision to move off campus. She said it was unclear if she would get her money back since she signed an incentive contract her sophomore year where she pledged to live on campus through the end of senior year for a discount on room and board.In a statement to The Observer, Leah Kicinski, assistant director of residential life, said students may cancel their housing contract at any time by contacting residential life.“Room and board will be prorated, and the cancellation may be subject to a $500 fee,” Kicinski said in regards to refunds on housing.While on-campus students are still living on campus during the two-week virtual instruction period, the fate of the semester remains somewhat in limbo as students await the news of how instruction will look going forward.In the event that the University does send students back to their hometowns, Cunningham said she believes the University should play an active role in assisting students with other local housing options.“I think the University needs to realize that some people can’t go home. Just because they’re not comfortable there, and it’s like not safe for them, even,” Cunningham said. “I think it would be great if they were like, ‘We can help you if you’re not comfortable’.”Tags: coronavirus, off-campus housing, Office of Residential Life, Room and Board
Pool PhotoWASHINGTON – The White House has issued guidelines for Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.Titled “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America: 15 days to slow the spread,” many of the guidelines are broad and have been what the administration and health officials have been saying from the start of the outbreak.Included in the guidelines: The guidelines also say states that have seen community spread should close bars, restaurants and other public places, though again, that is not a mandate. New York State has already issued the order for bars and restaurants to close as soon as this evening. People should avoid gathering in groups of more than 10People should stay away from bars restaurants and food courts, and to not travel if possible. 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)