Following a resolution passed by the Student Senate before Thanksgiving break, the Judicial Council is restructuring the Elections Committee, which is responsible for ensuring the fairness of student government and Class Council elections. Judicial Council president Marcelo Perez said the existing committee was less effective due to its large size and the fact that its members were spread across campus. “Two weeks before Thanksgiving break, we had that resolution passed to do away with the previous elections committee that was in place, which consisted of the election commissioner from each of the dorms,” he said. “It was always hard to get them together.” The new election committee, which will be significantly smaller, will assist in approving candidates for student government positions and dealing with accusations that may arise regarding candidates’ fitness to run for office, Perez said. “The newly formed Elections Committee, as outlined in the constitution, will deal with the allegations that come forward during the campaign season and will help the vice president to run the elections,” Perez said. “What we did was make it a smaller group so it might be easier to get them together.” The Judicial Council has sent out multiple solicitations to the student body looking for applicants to the reformed committee. “We want to make sure anyone who wants to apply applies,” he said. “Sometimes if you send one e-mail people may not look at it.” Perez said he hopes more students applying to the committee will result in a wider perspective when handling the campaign issues members face. “You need a committee that’s not too divided but at the same time you don’t want everyone having one single opinion,” he said. “That way, if it comes to an allegation, any interpretation of the constitution is made in a fair way, that it’s not just a one-sided interpretation.” The application to the Judicial Council is only the first step for students hoping to become part of the committee. After the Judicial Council selects applicants, they need approval by the Council of Representatives, Perez said. The election committee falls under the Judicial Council’s responsibility of handling elections, which, paired with assisting students facing disciplinary proceedings, makes up the Council’s objectives as defined by its constitution, he said. “I believe in the constitution it says the role of the Judicial Council is to run the elections as well as to help the student body with a better understanding of the rules as outlined in du Lac,” Perez said.
University president Fr. John Jenkins was recently appointed to a national commission that will examine the future of teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), is co-chaired by Richard Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John Rowe, chair and chief executive officer of Exelon Corp. The commission includes prominent Americans from the humanities, social sciences, physical and life sciences, business, law, philanthropy, the arts and the media. The commission was spurred by a bipartisan request from U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Reps. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.) and David Price (D-N.C.). They presented the commission with the following charge: “What are the top 10 actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?” “The humanities and social sciences are often seen as having little application to the real world in which we live,” Jenkins said. “I couldn’t disagree more. The liberal arts give us important insight into our past, present and future — in politics, religion, the economy, education and other areas of our collective culture — and are integral to being an informed and contributing citizen of the world.” The commission expects to publish a report in 18 to 24 months, the press release said. Its members will focus on education, research and the institutions critical to advancing the humanities and social sciences in the nation. The commission will draw on past research efforts, the experience and expertise of its multidisciplinary members and data from its Humanities Indicators to analyze the nation’s excellence in the humanities and social sciences. Jenkins was elected to the AAAS in 2010. Other members of the commission are Amy Gutmann, John Hennessy, John Sexton, Donna Shalala and David Skorton, the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford, New York, Miami and Cornell Universities, respectively; Robert Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities; documentarian Ken Burns; musician Emmy Lou Harris; retired Supreme Court Justice David Souter; actor John Lithgow; director George Lucas; and Charles Vest, president of the National Academy of Engineering and former president of MIT.
At least 10 ambulances have responded to alcohol-related incidents on Notre Dame’s campus so far this semester, according to Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP). NDSP Director Phil Johnson said extreme intoxication should not be taken lightly. “Sometimes a student sees another student drink too much,” Johnson said. “Putting them to bed can be a very dangerous idea … You can’t simply put someone to bed who is intoxicated who might aspirate and stop breathing.” In 2010-2011, Johnson said ambulances transported individuals to the hospital for alcohol poisoning on 78 occasions. The prior school year, NDSP reported 76 alcohol-related dispatches for ambulances, and from 2008-2009, 71. At one of two local hospitals, students can receive treatment ranging from rehydration to stomach pumping for alcohol poisoning. Johnson said these statistics include both Notre Dame students and visitors to campus. Football weekends increase the risk of excessive intoxication on campus, Johnson said, and more alcohol-related trips to the hospital occur during the fall semester. “During the fall we often see an uptick, definitely an uptick on Saturdays [for football weekends],” Johnson said. Emergency medical responders need to evaluate a number of factors when they deal with a student who is extremely intoxicated. Johnson said an EMT will evaluate a patient’s level of responsiveness, general medical history, ability to speak and stand, blood alcohol content (BAC) and other factors. “From a first response standpoint, we make sure we get appropriate medical care to someone who needs it,” he said. In over 20 years with NDSP, Johnson said both law enforcement and campus officials have become more proactive about alcohol education. “I think now that we are more keenly aware of the perils of alcohol with an overdose, we are operating with more caution,” Johnson said. Some students are reluctant to call an ambulance for an underage friend in danger because they are afraid of disciplinary consequences for that person or for themselves, Johnson said. But he said discipline is far from the minds of emergency responders. “We’re trying to make sure people are safe and are getting the best care when presented with a potentially life-threatening situation,” he said. “Call 9-1-1, and take care of the person. Life safety comes first.” Kathleen O’Leary, director of Residence Life for the Office of Student Affairs, agreed with Johnson. “When a friend has consumed alcohol and you are concerned about their well-being, always contact hall staff or NDSP at 9-1-1 for medical assistance,” O’Leary said. “Leaving a friend to ‘sleep it off’ is extremely dangerous … While the University does not currently have a medical amnesty policy, the surrounding circumstances of an alleged violation of University policy are always taken into consideration.” O’Leary’s office handles discipline cases for students who are taken to the hospital for excessive drinking. “When addressing instances of severe intoxication, our office’s primary concern is for that student’s physical, emotional and spiritual health and well-being,” O’Leary said. “Students will meet with us to go through the disciplinary process, which we intend to be an educational one.” The disciplinary process is a chance to have “an educational conversation” about decision-making, as well as the University’s expectations and policies regarding alcohol possession and consumption. O’Leary said students could also receive alcohol assessment and education through the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education. “If the Office of Residence Life determines that a student is responsible for a violation of University policy, the nature of the offense and the circumstances surrounding it, the student’s prior disciplinary violations — if any — the impact of the misconduct on the community and prior similar cases will be among the factors considered in determining a sanction,” O’Leary said. According to du Lac, this sanction could include alcohol counseling, loss of on-campus parking and driving privileges, community service and disciplinary probation, among other punishments. Christine Nowak, director of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, said her office exists to educate students about the consequences of alcohol abuse. “We are student-friendly, student-driven and educational,” Nowak said. “We’re not a part of discipline, not a counseling office and not the police. We are giving students the power to make better decisions.” Excessive drinking is a problem on most college campuses, Nowak said. “There’s a progression, and at the far end of that progression is alcohol poisoning, sexual assault and property damage,” Nowak said. “The biggest change has to happen at the student level with students positively confronting other students … This is a safety concern and a health concern.” While some students might shy away from these conversations, Nowak said expressing concern about dangerous drinking habits to a friend is important. “For some folks, that’s all they need to hear from a friend,” Nowak said. “I have great faith that students can change the culture if they want to and make it safe and healthy for everyone … A lot of people have a social life without alcohol.”
For a few recent graduates, a class project turned into national recognition. “The Elect” and “Picking Up America,” two documentaries created for a documentary production class in 2010, have been official selections and award winners at film festivals across the country this year. Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) faculty member Ted Mandell taught the class for which the films were made. “In the past few years [Notre Dame] has been more successful in terms of getting into national and international film festivals,” Mandell said. Produced by 2011 graduates Erin Zacek and Dan Moore, “The Elect” was selected for the Los Angeles film festival for its behind-the-scenes look at the Scottsboro Baptist Church. “When we went to the LA film festival, out of 5,000 films, to be selected and to stand out from that many quality films was really exciting,” Zacek said. “Picking Up America,” produced by Michael Burke and Marie Wicht of the Class of 2011, tells the story of the environmentalist group Pick Up America, which has been picking up trash across the country since March 2010 to raise awareness about waste and pollution. In addition to being selected for 12 festivals, the film won the Social Change Award at the Ivy Film Festival and Best Nature Film at the Yosemite Film Festival. “It was super rewarding to have someone stand up and say, ‘This is the film that can inspire the most change’… Knowing that it worked and people are responding to it is rewarding,” Wicht said. “We’re college kids … We got in competing against non-student films.” Mandell said Notre Dame’s FTT department offers students unique opportunities that have contributed to such successes. First, Notre Dame offers filmmakers funding and grants to travel, which is key when making films of national scope and interest, Mandell said. Both films’ creators took advantage of the Broad Avenue Filmmakers Award, a grant for FTT students created by a 1986 Notre Dame graduate. “We got funding totaling over $1,000 … That covered all our travel expenses, as well as submission fees for somewhere around 20 film festivals,” Burke said. The relatively small size small of Notre Dame’s film department gives students the benefit of more faculty attention and more access to equipment, Mandell said. “Our documentary class had eight people. To get that kind of one-on-one attention from the professor and feedback from the class … was a luxury,” Zacek said. Because of small classes, film students participate in every aspect of the filmmaking process, including writing, producing, cinematography, directing and editing, Mandell said. “For [“Picking up America,”] it was me and Dan doing the whole thing,” Zacek said. “At a bigger school I’d just have one job, like editing. But for FTT, here we got to do the whole thing just the two of us, and that versatility was great to have.” The Arts and Letters and University requirements that FTT majors must take in addition to their film classes also make more well-rounded students, Mandell said. “Students are more prepared when they get to the real world,” he said. “They are more aware of issues and ways to approach them.” As these documentaries continue their tour of film festivals, the students are enjoying their success, Burke said. “I’m still surprised how welcoming all these festivals are to student filmmakers,” he said. “The fact that a college student — and even a high school student in some festivals — can have an opportunity like that is something I was totally unaware of. “What’s been most surprising is the way you get treated as a filmmaker at festivals.”
After holding a diversity discussion two weeks ago, three experts on campus diversity, Emerald Woodberry, Dr. David Moss and Iris Outlaw, addressed Student Senate during Wednesday’s meeting. Woodberry, academic and university affairs commissioner for the Black Student Association, began the conversation by updating the group on what her organization has been working on. “We have spent our time trying to gather information from constituents of Call to Action, especially things that happened over the summer that we weren’t aware of,” Woodberry said. “We have focused on putting committees together since a lot of Call to Action students from last year graduated. We’re actually still recruiting by contacting the multicultural commissioners from each dorm.” She also spoke about her work with Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) to enact initiatives conceived of during last spring’s Call to Action Town Hall. “NDSP went through an increase in cultural competency training,” Woodberry said. “We made a pamphlet with information on reporting and tried to write it in a fair tone rather than one of authorities looking down on the students. Also, for increased accountability of officers they will start carrying business cards so students will know and be able to contact who they interacted with.” Moss, from the Office of Student Affairs, described his office’s current project – a one-stop website for reporting any type of issue. “Call to Action had a great deal of confusion on how to report, to whom, where to go … this way we’ll have one website called reportit.nd.edu to report different instances of issues that don’t fit into the Notre Dame environment,” Moss said. He is also currently inspecting campus websites, working on amending course syllabi and continuing to encourage student involvement. “We commissioned an internal and external audit of Notre Dame websites, basically to see whether or not they are welcoming and inclusive,” Moss said. “We are also working very hard to include on every course syllabus a phrase about valuing an inclusive environment.”nLater in the meeting, Student body vice president Katie Rose transitioned to a discussion about students’ opinions of the Career Center. “Our major concern is that for a lot of students the Career Center seems only for business jobs, so if you’re not interested in strictly business or graduate school you’re kind of lost on where to go,” Rose said. “We want to centralize all opportunities on campus because a lot of the students that fall into the gap I just mentioned are going to other institutions on campus. We would like better communication and referrals between all these places.” Chief of staff Katie Baker said the amount of resources available for students applying to graduate school is also very limited. Keenan Hall senator John Vernon works for the academic affairs committee and voiced other student concerns. “The days surrounding the career fair, students were really upset about Go Irish and the Career Center. They felt that it wasn’t helpful or that they didn’t know how to use it,” Vernon said. “There was also feedback from students in the College of Science that the Career Center is not really for them, that, like Katie said, it’s more geared towards business students.” McGlinn Hall senator Ali Wellmanmsaid girls in her dorm have an overall positive view of the Career Center. “The McGlinn girls really love the Career Center because of the mock interviews, especially the College of Science girls,” Wellman said. “However they said it was irksome to call in and make an appointment. Maybe they could make it online like the Writing Center and just have us fill out a timeslot. That would be really convenient.” Monica Daegele, Farley Hall senator, provided perspective from the College of Engineering. “There is a whole engineering career fair of its owe,” Daegele said. “However, it comes right at the beginning of the year, so a lot of students hastily put together resumes and didn’t really know what they were getting into.” Class of 2014 president Lizzie Helpling concluded the conversation on a positive note. “Speaking as someone who very recently decided on a major, the Career Center was an invaluable resource,” Helpling said. “I think they are a completely untapped resource for many people. They have job shadows for every single job available. I think what people don’t realize is what they could find out if they just went and talked to somebody there, you just have to go find them.”
A 2012 undefeated Notre Dame football season has resulted in excitement, celebration and anticipation for the BCS National Championship Game. At a time when students and fans want to show support and represent their home team, it is no wonder that the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore has stepped up to fill those demands. “Our main strategy is to ensure that all of our customers’ merchandise needs are addressed,” director of retail operations Keith Kirkpatrick said. In order to ensure a positive shopping experience, the Hammes Bookstore hired additional staff to meet increasing demands over the next month. Kirkpatrick said a number of items highlighting the undefeated regular season schedule are currently available and a focus has been placed on potential products related to the National Championship Game. “The release of those products cannot actually begin until the matchup is officially announced on Sunday,” Kirkpatrick said. There are currently select items available for sale both online and in the store, and additional goods will be introduced during the course of the next week. The bookstore wants to ensure that anyone who wants something can purchase it. With the Irish victory against USC on Saturday, Notre Dame became the only eligible undefeated team in the BCS. This game caused an increase in online bookstore traffic, but sales actually picked up much earlier, Kirkpatrick said. “It’s been ramping up steadily over the course of the entire season,” he said. “In-store traffic also is stronger than normal at this point in the season than in years past.” Several off-site bookstores were also constructed at away games this year. The first of these was at the game in Chicago against Miami and the second was at the USC game. These chosen locations are based on the criteria of fan-demand and local alumni support. Kirkpatrick said the sales from the off-site bookstores were quite favorable to comparable years. “The USC game produced the best results we’ve ever had out there,” he said. Sales are strong and the biggest seller over the course of the year is still The Shirt, Kirkpatrick said. Player-jerseys are also favorites among fans in the store, and as a result they can now be personalized at the Varsity Shop. “Notre Dame fans are some of the most consistent in college football today,” he said. “They don’t need undefeated seasons to support their University.” Contact Caroline Huytra at [email protected],A 2012 undefeated Notre Dame football season has resulted in excitement, celebration and anticipation for the BCS National Championship Game. At a time when students and fans want to show support and represent their home team, it is no wonder that the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore has stepped up to fill those demands. “Our main strategy is to ensure that all of our customers’ merchandise needs are addressed,” director of retail operations Keith Kirkpatrick said. In order to ensure a positive shopping experience, the Hammes Bookstore hired additional staff to meet increasing demands over the next month. Kirkpatrick said a number of items highlighting the undefeated regular season schedule are currently available and a focus has been placed on potential products related to the National Championship Game. “The release of those products cannot actually begin until the matchup is officially announced on Sunday,” Kirkpatrick said. There are currently select items available for sale both online and in the store, and additional goods will be introduced during the course of the next week. The bookstore wants to ensure that anyone who wants something can purchase it. With the Irish victory against USC on Saturday, Notre Dame became the only eligible undefeated team in the BCS. This game caused an increase in online bookstore traffic, but sales actually picked up much earlier, Kirkpatrick said. “It’s been ramping up steadily over the course of the entire season,” he said. “In-store traffic also is stronger than normal at this point in the season than in years past.” Several off-site bookstores were also constructed at away games this year. The first of these was at the game in Chicago against Miami and the second was at the USC game. These chosen locations are based on the criteria of fan-demand and local alumni support. Kirkpatrick said the sales from the off-site bookstores were quite favorable to comparable years. “The USC game produced the best results we’ve ever had out there,” he said. Sales are strong and the biggest seller over the course of the year is still The Shirt, Kirkpatrick said. Player-jerseys are also favorites among fans in the store, and as a result they can now be personalized at the Varsity Shop. “Notre Dame fans are some of the most consistent in college football today,” he said. “They don’t need undefeated seasons to support their University.”
Shawn Sullivan, a lawyer, real-estate agent and pro-life activist from the South Bend community, spoke at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday night about with his involvement with the pro-life movement as director of the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life.Sullivan presented a half-hour long talk for students and faculty in Stapleton Lounge titled, “The Pro-Life Movement in Saint Mary’s Backyard: the Who, What, Where, Why, When and How.” The event is the first in a series during Saint Mary’s Right To Life week, Saint Mary’s Respect Life Club member junior Jana Zuniga said.To contextualize the closest abortion clinic’s location, Sullivan began his discussion by drawing a map of where the clinic is located in relation to the Apostolate of Divine Mercy Chapel.“The epicenter of what’s going on in the pro-life movement is here,” Sullivan said. “This is where the spiritual warfare occurs. This is where Jesus does battle. We have a real presence right here.”Sullivan is currently the vigil director of 40 Days for Life campaign held during both the spring and fall seasons, he said. Since the campaign began in 2008, it has evolved with the Life Center, he said.“We eventually got a deal worked out [where] we would just come out and be there, and by the grace of the person who owned it allowing us to be there,” Sullivan said. “We did a spring campaign in 2009, and it allowed us to be more of a focal point when Obama came to Notre Dame in 2009. We got to meet a lot of people and evangelize the movement even more.”Sullivan said after his 12th campaign he spoke with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades about putting a chapel next to the abortion clinic.“We [were] having meetings with the bishop, and we put a name to it, the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life,” Sullivan said. “Everything else just [keeps] brewing, just keeps coming together.”Students were encouraged to visit the Chapel and consider participating in sidewalk counseling, Sullivan said.“It’s really fun to come out and see what we’ve got going on,” Sullivan said. “I really invite you to just show up. You can stop by on your own. [It’s] a principal way to spend your time. Our training is really simple. It’s really streamline, trusting God to be your shield.”Whether counselors talk with mothers for five seconds or 10 minutes, those words matter, Sullivan said.“So, say you’re talking to somebody for five seconds,” he said. “You could sit down with them and have a conversation. We call that ministry life support. If we get somebody to sit down, then a whole other ministry kicks in. We’ve got to go disintegrate their problems. It hits across the board. They can’t go home to parents. They can’t go home to boyfriends. They’re going to get fired.”In Sullivan’s time with the Life Center, he has witnessed more than 50 saves, meaning his team’s influence changed many women’s minds about aborting their babies, he said. The Life Center keeps in touch with all of the moms they come in contact with, often sending them necessary items for their child, he said.“I know we had a great save on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade,” Sullivan said. “The husband didn’t want her to get it, and she didn’t want to get an abortion, but the last two ladies who got pregnant at her job were fired. So, we had to promise her legal help, save the marriage, save everything.”Tags: 40 Days of Life, Life Center, Pro-life, saint mary’s
Senior design major Mary Kate Healey said she tries to think of her major as problem-solving.In the spring of their junior year, design majors propose an idea for their big final project. Healey said when coming up with an idea she mulled through the things she was really passionate about and eventually decided she wanted to do something raising awareness for sexual assault, specifically at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.Mary-Kate Healey “We always hear about statistics, we get crime emails,” Healey said. “There’s a lot of impersonal information passed around. It’s very statistics driven and there’s also the kind of hidden shame and embarrassment that comes with it.“I wanted to collect these very intimate stories and display them in a very public, unapologetic way while still maintaining the story of the storyteller.”Healey’s project is a 9-foot wide and 4-foot tall white sheet with quotes from sexual assault stories from students at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. The quotes were first written out on the sheet and then Healey went back and stitched them on afterwards.“The reason I’m doing the stitching is because there’s a lot of art history between women and the domestic craft,” she said. “Women have always been making art, but because they didn’t necessarily have the resources, doing domestic crafts like creating clothing, embroidery, cross-stitch, quilting … those were never considered art because those women weren’t considered artists.”Healey said stitching and embroidery has been used a lot among feminist artists such as suffragettes and most recently on signs at the Women’s March on Washington.“I wanted to tap into that history,” Healey said.Healey said use of a sheet as her canvas was purposeful; the fabric itself holds a double meaning since a bed should be considered a safe place for rest, but that for many people “it often becomes a crime scene.”Healey went through the Institutional Review Board since her project technically counted as human research and had to be declared ethical before she could proceed. After it was approved by the board, she went on with a survey that she circulated and received 64 responses from. On April 7, her project will be put on display at the Snite Museum of Art.Healey said the act of sewing itself was so laborious and that it took her several hours to sew even a sentence, however, that was not the most difficult aspect of the project.“The hardest part of it has been the emotional toll of it,” she said. “A lot of these people revealed very upsetting stories and I don’t know if I anticipated going into it how difficult it would be.”One story that stood out, Healey said, was a submission that was in the form of a poem. She said what was striking was that each line of the poem started of with “he was a friend of mine.” Healey said the way the poem ended powerfully when the student wrote, “I wish trying to erase my pain hadn’t caused me more pain.”Because she wanted the project to be collaborative, Healey started a sewing circle to create dialogue in a very straightforward way. The group has met five times so far and she said everyone is welcome to join, and most of those who have joined did not have prior sewing experience.Healey said she received some negative responses from her survey from people who had misconceptions about rape on campus and thought that it was not as prevalent a problem as she was making it out to be. She said her hope is that her project expels these “rape myths” and raises awareness.“I think people also just don’t understand that it could happen to anyone,” she said. “It happens to tons of people, so I think that just the way people interact with each other, the way people look out for each other, the way people speak with each other … I just want people to be more conscious of that and to have the courage to engage in these conversations.”Tags: design, Mary Kate Healey, sewing circles, sexual assault
Past University Commencement speakers have included United States Presidents, television personalities and famous journalists. This year — despite months of speculation on whether or not the University would invite President Donald Trump — Vice President Mike Pence, the former Governor of Indiana, was selected to address the class of 2017 at Sunday’s Commencement ceremony as the graduates go forward into the next stage of their lives.Michael Yu | The Observer The March 2 announcement of Pence as the Commencement speaker was met with mixed reactions across campus, with students and community members both coming to Pence’s defense and protesting against what they consider to be his record of exclusionary policies.Sophomore Dylan Jaskowski, president of the Notre Dame College Republicans, said the organization is looking forward to Pence’s visit and speech.“We at the College Republicans are very excited to have Vice President Pence here to speak on campus,” he said. “It’s a great honor that the University can bring in such prominent figures like the Vice President of the United States to speak, and I think it’s especially a great thing given he was the Governor here for many years and he can come back to speak at Commencement.”Pence previously visited the University during his time as Governor of Indiana, meeting with College Republicans while he was on campus.“Last year, [Pence] called up our club and just wanted to sit down with us and some of our members,” Jaskowski said. “ … From what I heard, it was a great event.”The reaction to Pence’s selection has not been universally positive among members of the class of 2017, however. In order to protest Pence’s record on issues relating to LGBT rights, fifth-year student Bryan Ricketts helped organize the distribution of LGBT pride flags to be displayed across campus.“There were a couple of us who came together after realizing that Mike Pence had been invited and understanding how frustrating that felt to the LGBT members of Notre Dame’s community,” Ricketts said April 20 in a previous interview with The Observer. “ … We came together and reached out to alumni who actually donated almost 500 flags for people to put up as a show of support, solidarity for the LGBT community and recognizing that it’s something that needs to be visibly said on Notre Dame’s campus still.”Ricketts said Pence’s record on LGBT issues made him a concerning choice to address students at Commencement.“[Pence has], in the past, been against same-sex marriage because it harms people, which is demonstrably false and really offensive,” he said. “In addition to that, he passed a budget which supported funding for conversion therapy … so it feels pretty offensive to have him coming on campus and [giving] a Commencement speech where he tells me how to go out into the world.”Jack Bergen, a member of the Class of 1977 and Chair of the LGBT Alumni Group of Notre Dame & Saint Mary’s (GALA-ND/SMC), voiced similar concerns about Pence’s record.“For many years, Vice President Pence as governor of the state of Indiana has demonstrated his intense opposition to the LGBT community,” he said in an email statement. “He has advocated and voted repeatedly to restrict and/or to remove rights of LGBT individuals. He has expressed views that are totally without merit such as, ‘Being gay is a choice.’ … Notre Dame has made significant progress toward becoming a more welcoming place for all individuals. The decision to invite [Vice President] Pence is outrageously inconsistent with those goals.”Backlash against Pence’s speech has not been limited to the University, as members of the South Bend community have come together to organize a peaceful protest off campus. The main organizers of the event are We Go High! of St. Joe County, IN; Michiana Alliance for Democracy; the Nu Black Power Movement; South Bend Equality; Inclusive Michiana; and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.The Michiana Alliance for Democracy said it believes Pence has a record of infringing upon basic human rights.“As Indiana residents, we have lived through the extreme conservatism of a Mike Pence administration,” the group said in an email statement. “His theocratic doctrine and myopic view of what is essential for the good of his state led to disastrous legislation that continues to reverberate throughout Indiana. … We consider [Notre Dame] to be a valuable community partner and are confused by the decision to have Pence deliver the Commencement speech.”South Bend Equality shared the view that Pence’s selection was wrong and said in an email statement it ought to be protested.“We know all too well how his policies endangered or caused direct harm to public education, health care, women’s rights, the environment, LGBTQ individuals, immigrants and refugees, reproductive rights, local infrastructure, the economy of our state and more,” the group said. “We are angry and dismayed that the University of Notre Dame not only invited Mike Pence to be its Commencement speaker, but also its decision to bestow an honorary degree upon him. By exercising our right to peaceably assemble on public land in front of the University, we hope to draw attention to Pence’s failed policies, destructive ideology and abysmal legacy.”While there have been many protests lined up, Jaskowski said he felt it was an incorrect assumption to believe the University community was completely against the decision to select Pence as the Commencement speaker.“I think that with the protests coming out, there has been this sort of perception that Notre Dame doesn’t want Vice President Pence here speaking at Commencement,” he said. “But I would just reiterate the fact we have over a thousand people on our listserv for College Republicans, so there are a lot of people at this University who are very excited to hear Vice President Pence speak at Commencement.”Jaskowski said he hopes those protesting Pence’s invitation still listen to what the vice president has to say.“I would encourage them to keep an open mind,” he said “Obviously having a constructive dialogue is an important thing, and I think that if you don’t attend Commencement, it’ll be hard to keep that dialogue open.”Tags: Class of 2017, College Republicans, Commencement 2017, LGBT, Michiana Alliance for Democracy, Mike Pence, South Bend Equality
Saint Mary’s philosophy professor Patricia Sayre has decided to think outside the classroom this semester with the introduction of her new course, The Philosophy of Walking.This one-credit course takes a different approach to philosophy and requires that students simply walk during every class period. Sayre said she came up with the idea for the course after reading a book entitled “A Philosophy of Walking.”“It’s not something philosophers seem to talk about a lot,” Sayre said. “I read the book and I thought there was something I could build a course around here, but I don’t think I’d want to teach this as a straight academic course, because what’s the point in talking about walking if you’re not ever walking?”Sayre said she connects philosophical readings to every walk she and the students go on as a class. “We go on a different path every time, and it’s key to the reading in some way,” Sayre said. “One week the readings were about escaping — using walking to escape [from] ordinary life — so for this I decided we were going to go off campus. Each person got to lead for a little bit.”Sayre said she always is surprised by the walks with her students, and she is even more surprised at their responses to the walks. “Walks are unpredictable, and that’s part of the joy of it,” she said. “And even though I will do the walk in advance to plan it, it never goes the way I thought it would go. And so the responses are terribly interesting that I get in the written work.”Hanna Makowski, a senior in the class, said she appreciates this approach to philosophy because it allows room for individual thought. Makowski said she likes how the class differs from other classes.“In most classes you analyze and dissect the work of others, but in this class we are given the chance to create our own work based on our own philosophy of walking,” she said in an email.The unconventional approach to the class about more than just walking, Sayre said, and the course is about creating connections to the larger world. “We’re doing philosophy in a somewhat different way,” she said. “It’s more like thinking symbolically about what you’re doing, what you’re seeing and how, in many ways, it might be a metaphor for other existential problems you might have in life.”Sayre said one of the best things about her course is how free walking makes her feel. For her and her students, she said, this time is a time to get away from the stress of the responsibilities of everyday life.“It’s like this little window of time when you are free from all of that,” Sayre said. “When you’re walking you simply can’t do those other things, you have time to yourself, your mind is free.” Tags: new class, philosophy, walking