Mayoral winner promises changes

first_imgAs Democrat Pete Buttigieg celebrated an easy victory in South Bend’s mayoral election Tuesday, he called students to take ownership of the city and work with the local government to solve its problems. Buttigieg was a favorite since the spring primary and defeated Republican Wayne Curry and Libertarian Patrick Farrell. “When I entered this race in January, not many people believed that a young man with a funny name who had never held office before could earn the confidence of a community at a turning point,” Buttigieg said in his victory speech. “But together we have shown that South Bend can transcend old barriers, move beyond old habits and take a chance on a new way forward.” As he addressed the crowd at South Bend’s West Side Democratic Club, Buttigieg said his victory begins “a different kind of campaign.” “Now we have to turn our attention to a new kind of campaign, not a campaign for a candidate, but a campaign for our city, a campaign to make our city stronger and better and safer and cleaner,” he said. Buttigieg said an immediate focus would be economic development. “We are going to gather the leadership of this community to deliver a new economic direction, building on our greatest strengths true to our tradition but looking for new sources of wealth and income and prosperity,” he said. “We must take new risks and create new opportunities. We must, we can, we will, and it all starts tonight.” Notre Dame and its students can play a critical role in the city’s development, Buttigieg told The Observer. “I really need students to get involved,” he said. “In order for our city to move forward, we need to harness the brain power and the energy and the labor of Notre Dame students who should really feel ownership of this city, whether they grew up here or not.” Buttigieg said the University’s recent efforts to engage with the local community are a step in the right direction. “It starts one-on-one,” Buttigieg said. “I’m going to be on campus frequently talking about some of the ways we can work together, and I’m going to be as receptive as I can be to student perspectives and University perspectives. We really need each other to succeed. One of the things I love about my timing is that the University has this newfound interest in engaging with the city, and I can’t wait to take them up on that.” While the College Republicans Club said it did not contribute to Curry’s campaign, many Notre Dame students worked with Buttigieg leading up to his election.   Senior Matt LaFortune worked on Buttigieg’s staff as the field director for his campaign. He worked with Congressman Joe Donnelly’s campaign efforts last year and joined the Buttigieg campaign in August. “I helped organize the volunteer activities because we had a lot of volunteers interested in helping with Pete’s campaign,” LaFortune said. LaFortune, a South Bend native, said his responsibilities included organizing volunteers as they placed calls and canvased throughout the city. “The best part was being able to get to know a guy like Pete,” LaFortune said. “He is really going to bring a lot of change to South Bend … Being an ND student and also being from South Bend, I wanted to see a fresh start for this city, and I think Pete is going to do that.” A group of students from College Democrats were also active in the campaign efforts. Club members helped with phone calls and door-to-door campaign visits. College Democrats president Mike O’Brien said Buttigieg visited club meetings on several occasions, including one of the club’s first meetings of the year, to talk about the November election. “Being the mayor is a tough job, but his demeanor is one that, as it showed tonight, attracted a lot of people,” O’Brien said. “He has a lot of energy.” O’Brien said Buttigieg’s character throughout the campaign was an example for his own goals in politics. “Sometimes people talk about connections or money being the key to getting into politics,” O’Brien said. “Pete shows that being really passionate and having a lot of energy is actually what matters … if you are passionate and willing to make a difference, that shows through in your demeanor.” Sophomore Maria Wilson, a College Democrats member, said she helped with canvasing efforts for the Buttigieg campaign. “I think it is important to foster a great relationship with the community, and I think Pete will be a great mayor,” Wilson said. Even though Wilson is a not a native of South Bend, she said local politics should still matter to students on campus. “I don’t think you can look at national politics or international politics if you don’t look at local politics too,” she said. “The local government affects us in our day-to-day lives.”last_img read more

SMC playwright wins regional competition

first_imgWhile most students spent their winter break relaxing and recovering from the stress of finals, Saint Mary’s senior Emily Schmitt received some surprising news that made her break more interesting than usual. In December, Schmitt won the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s (KCACTF) Region III full-length playwriting competition for her play “San Luis, 1989.” The play was read at the Region III festival, held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign January 3-7. “My play, ‘San Luis, 1989′ is an example of staged journalism,” Schmitt said. “This means that it is based on a true story that I conducted extensive research on.” Her play addresses issues of racial bias and government corruption in regards to poaching in San Luis, Colo., in 1989. Schmitt first learned about the story of San Luis through Susan Baxter, professor of theatre and journalism at Saint Mary’s. Schmitt and Baxter were paired together through a Saint Mary’s Student Independent Study, Teaching and Research (SISTAR) grant project, a program that provides funding for teams of students and professors to conduct research. Schmitt and Baxter collaborated intensely in their research of San Luis, making two trips to Colorado and discussing ways to bring real life events to a stage. “I am working on a book which teaches playwrights to use journalism theory; Emily is my case study,” Baxter said. “We could not be more grateful to Saint Mary’s. If not for SISTAR, the play would not have happened.” Baxter said the selective honor has gone to a graduate student in an MFA playwriting program for the past 10 years. Despite the success of the play thus far, Schmitt said she encountered challenges throughout the process that sometimes made it difficult to persevere. “The biggest challenge for me writing this play was simply not getting discouraged,” she said. Writing a play is a very lonely process, and after the fifth or sixth draft, you start to feel like it’s never going to work.  I call that the ‘dark place’ of the writing process.” But Schmitt said pushing past the isolation and struggles strengthened her skills as a playwright. “After [the ‘dark place’], something always gives way and the words start flowing out,” she said. “That is the best part of writing for me.”­ Baxter agreed that in spite of the obstacles Schmitt met, she was still able to develop as a writer and learn throughout the writing process. “Emily is a self-starter, so I did not have to work very hard at all,” she said. “She jumped in and tried every technique I threw at her.  Not all was useful, of course, but both of us learned mightily from the process.” Schmitt applied to several schools to earn her MFA in playwriting but will not be informed of acceptances until late February. In the meantime, her work with “San Luis, 1989” is not finished, as the play is currently in consideration for two national playwriting awards. “My play is currently competing with the other regional winners for the [Michael Kanin] National Student Playwriting Award,” she said.  “I am also up for the National Partners for the American Theater Playwriting Award, which is granted to a new and original voice in playwriting.” Regardless of the outcome of these awards, Schmitt said she is pleased with how things have turned out so far. She said she hopes more people will become better informed about the issues surrounding San Luis addressed in her play. “The best part about winning this award has really been spreading the word about what happened in San Luis,” she said. “Winning this award is a huge testament to the political power of the stage.”last_img read more

Police fundraise at doughnut shop

first_imgPolice officers from a number of St. Joseph County departments will poke fun at the stereotype of cops hanging around doughnut shops today and tomorrow at the second annual event Cops on Top of the Doughnut Shop. The two-day fundraiser is sponsored by the Special Victims Unit sector of the Family Justice Center (FJC), a St. Joseph County non-profit that offers services for abused individuals. “During the two-day time period, police officers from various agencies in St. Joseph County, including Notre Dame [Security] Police, will ‘live’ on the rooftop of Krispie Kreme … to bring attention to the issues as well as to raise funds to help combat these crimes,” Sareen Lambright Dale, director of the FJC, said. The event will take place at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts at 5615 N Main Street in Mishawaka. Officers from the Special Victims Unit are partnering with Notre Dame Security Police, St. Joseph County Police, the South Bend Police Department, the Mishawaka Police Department and the Lakeville Police Department to staff the roof. Activities at the event include doughnut-eating contests, cornhole tournaments, Zumba, fingerprinting and pumpkin painting. “We hope to raise around $15,000,” Dale said. “We also want to raise awareness about our programs and how people can get help if they’ve been abused.” Proceeds from the event will benefit services for victims of domestic and sexual violence, including child molestation, rape and intimate partner violence, Dale said. The fundraiser will also donate profits toward the FJC’s victim and family support services, education programs and information and referral services, as well as The Protective Order Project, which grants protection orders to about 1,500 local residents per year. “We hope to gain support from the community. We are hoping for a big turn out to raise awareness for the cause as well as raise money for the organization,” Saint Mary’s senior Kristina Sorensen, who works at the FJC, said. “[FJC is] planning on moving to a better location during our Winter break. The money would help out greatly with the move and the start in their new location.” The FJC provides services to victims of domestic violence and their families in order to get their lives back on track, according to the center’s website. Their programs include confidential assessments, the distribution of emergency cell phones and a Clothes Closet and Diaper Bank. Later in Oct., S-O-S, a partner program of the FJC who holds a 24-hour crisis line, will hold a fundraiser called A Cut for a Cause at Haircrafter’s in South Bend.last_img read more

Columnist addresses politics and journalism

first_imgAmerican Studies professor Jack Colwell delivered the fourth and final lecture in the Mendoza College of Business Ethics Week series Thursday, stressing the public’s responsibility to stay informed and invested in politics without falling into the trap of “taking things for granted.” Colwell, who is also a political columnist for The South Bend Tribune, framed his discussion of ethics with the interaction between politicians and journalists, two entities that deeply affect the public experience of government. He said the role of the journalist has shifted to accommodate the partisanship and divisive nature of politics today. “Many viewers seek out the news that they want to believe,” Colwell said. “Objectivity is boring and fact-checking is biased if those facts dispute what you want to believe.” The business of journalism affects the content of the message the public receives, Colwell said, and voters today are very willing to avoid logic and rationality in order to doggedly adhere to their political parties of choice. “Voters want to believe what is claimed by candidates and commentators of their particular side of the political spectrum,” Colwell said. “They think the other side must be lying, must be cheating, must be stealing the election, must be defeated.” Colwell discussed the prevalence of negative political advertisements and their success in altering the public opinion of political figures. The ads’ target populations take the policies of their affiliated parties for granted and assume these loyalties should supersede practicality, he said. The parties’ unwillingness to compromise severely inhibits legislative productivity and polarizes news outlets, Colwell said. “In Congress, it is easy to spout anger at any time, for any purpose, in any way and that is not good for democracy,” he said. “Divisiveness and anger in politics is not totally uncommon … but [compromise] is something I fear we lack today.” Colwell said the increased number of news sources, legitimate or not, creates a disconnect between the reality of politics and public awareness.   “Don’t think that [everyone] is providing unbiased news or objective news,” Colwell said. “I hate the term ‘news media.’ The term has come to encompass everything from The Wall Street Journal to tabloids at the supermarket … to Twitter to some blogger writing in the basement in his underwear. “The term now means anything and everything and thus, it now means nothing.” Colwell said the unbiased presentation of facts and political information is an important part of journalists’ duty, and society needs more qualified reporters to take on this mission. “We need reliable news in our democracy, even if it isn’t coming from newspapers delivered on our porch like it used to be,” Colwell said. “We need real journalists. We need real news. We can’t rely on what is said by that blogger in the basement, nor can we rely on what politicians say in their 30-second spots.” The ethical dilemma of the political media relates to the unbiased presentation of facts, Colwell said. The manipulation of public opinion to win elections is a dangerous, ignoble result of the media culture today. “It’s possible, though I won’t say probable, that the voters will stop taking things for granted,” Colwell said. “And if they do, the political consultants will respond. Their job is to win and the negative attacks have won [in the past], but if that changes, their strategies will change as wlast_img read more

Justice conveys Court’s modern role

first_imgThough the federal government has shut down, Notre Dame students studying in Washington, D.C. listened to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy speak about the Court’s role in contemporary U.S. politics at a University of California, D.C. (UCDC) event Monday. Before the event, students submitted questions for Kennedy via a Google Doc for pre-approval by the planning committee. Students were told they would be able to ask unscripted questions later in the program if the committee did not select their submissions. Junior Nicole Sganga said time constraints prevented the Notre Dame students from asking a question, though she wanted to ask him about civic discourse in the United States.  “I was aching to ask Justice Kennedy his position on the current state of civic discourse,” she said. “Luckily, the moderator sneaked in a question regarding the current state of American politics toward the end of the Q & A. Justice Kennedy responded with an eloquent plea for a higher discourse founded on fact and reason [addressed to] his counterparts in the executive and legislative branches.” Junior Szymon Barnas said he hoped to ask Kennedy to elaborate on his description of the Supreme Court’s place in contemporary U.S. politics. “Justice Kennedy has been on the speaking circuit the past couple of weeks and has commented many times on the Supreme Court becoming an arena to settle the hot-button political issues of the day because of our dysfunctional democracy,” Barnas said. “As I read about the cases on the docket for this upcoming Supreme Court term regarding issues like campaign contributions, public prayer and affirmative action, I felt that Justice Kennedy’s description of the Court was all the more accurate and hoped he would comment with some thoughts on the upcoming term.”  Barnas said he was impressed by Kennedy’s forthright answers and engaging speaking presence.  “Justice Kennedy gave very forthright and though-provoking answers,” Barnas said. “I found his observations on what it takes to be a good judge and how the Court is affect by cultural pressures to be very insightful. I enjoyed his thoughts on the Court’s role in democracy. Kennedy said laws and the Supreme Court are really a ‘narrative of our moral sense’ and that ‘injustice is really hard to see in the present.’  “As a student who is thinking about attending law school, these observations really made me consider the interplay between justice, equality and the rule of law, [as well as] the more noble responsibilities of lawyers and judges.” Sganga said Kennedy’s remarks on the current government shutdown resonated with her. “When addressing politics, Justice Kennedy was very careful not to criticize or weigh in too much on the current state of the administration and Congress,” Sganga said. “He mentioned earlier that he is not a political man. However, he did say this much, [loosely] paraphrased, ‘Right now the whole world is watching the United States amid this government shutdown. And for half of them, the jury is still out on democracy. The way we conduct ourselves is a reflection on the nature of our governmental institution.’” Sganga said before she attended the event, she was excited by the prospect of seeing Kennedy speak because of the essential role he played in recent Court decisions.  “I’ve done some research on Justice Kennedy and even read a few of the decisions on gay rights and marriage that he had authored,” Sganga said. “Going into the presentation, I knew he was the swing vote. So, I figured it would be interesting to hear from a justice with such a large sway.” Sganga said she felt Kennedy connected with the students on a personal level. “Here was a man with so many experiences, so much wisdom, and so much say in how our government operates. Yet, he was funny, witty and even charming,” Sganga said. “He had a way of making the students he spoke to feel comfortable and at ease. … He came across as just so thoughtful and well spoken, as if he had really reflected upon each word he communicated.  “I guess that’s what you would like to hear about a Supreme Court Justice, but it also made me wish that more politicians in Washington, D.C. acted and spoke with the same care.” Kennedy’s talk was the highlight among other experiences she had with the Supreme Court while in Washington, D.C. this semester, Sganga said. “On Sunday, I attended Red Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral down the street and was lucky enough to sit through the same service as Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, Justice Breyer and Justice Kagan,” Sganga said. “It was the icing on the cake to hear from Justice Kennedy the next day. Six Supreme Court justices in one week – not bad. Our class visited the Supreme Court a few weeks ago. … A few of us vowed to return now that the court is in session, we would love to observe an oral argument in person.” Barnas said even among the Notre Dame in Washington Program’s various meetings with influential individuals in national politics, Kennedy’s talk stood out as a “surreal experience.” “A valuable part of the D.C. Program is meeting with individuals who have a big impact in the public policy arena, ranging from senators, to lobbyists, to White House officials and now a Supreme Court Justice. I want to find out what inspires and informs these people and how I should strive to be in their place in the future,” Barnas said. “Justice Kennedy is often seen as having a very powerful position on the Court as the ‘swing justice’ and many upcoming decisions will be contingent upon his interpretation of the Constitution and Court precedents.”last_img read more

MBA program rises in rankings

first_imgThis month, U.S. News & World Report ranked Mendoza’s Masters in Business Administration (MBA) program 23rd in the United States, a four-spot increase from last year’s ranking. The MBA program also rose to No. 6 in The Economist’s ranking of “potential to network,” another four-spot increase.According to its website, U.S. News & World Report considers a given MBA program’s selectivity, the grades and test scores of its students and other business school administrators’ ratings of the program, as well as job placement, starting salary and bonus and company recruiters’ ratings. Notre Dame’s MBA program, which offers one- and two-year programs, tied for its No. 23 spot with Georgetown University’s McDonough School.Patrick Perrella, director of MBA Career Development, said the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings in part reflect the program’s continuing emphasis on careers, including last year’s institution of a for-credit professional development course. He said for the last two years, the program has achieved its goals of having more than 80 percent of MBA students accept a job by the time they graduate and having more than 90 percent secure a job within three months of graduation. He said MBA graduates’ average starting salary has risen for the past three years.“The message that we get back from recruiters about our students once they’ve gotten into their roles is that they’re willing to get their hands dirty,” Perrella said. “They’re problem-solvers. They’re not job jumpers, which I think is important, because recruiting a student costs a lot of money, so once you get them you want to keep them for a good while.The biggest compliment they give us, though, is that most of them keep coming back to recruit our MBAs. Our MBAs are going into these firms and they’re being successful and the companies are coming back for repeat business.”Notre Dame’s MBA program has the No. 38 spot in The Economist’s “Which MBA?” ranking, released March 6, but it is ranked no. 6 in the “potential to network” category. According to its website, the rankings, which include schools outside the U.S., consider the student-alumni ratio, the number of countries with alumni clubs and students’ own perceptions of the network. According to a University press release detailing the Economist’s ranking, Notre Dame has 267 alumni clubs in 40 countries.“That’s one of the great things about Notre Dame,” Perrella said. “People think of us as, ‘you’re in the Notre Dame family and I want to help everyone that’s in the family,’ and I think that reflects in this ranking.“There’s 134,000 Notre Dame alumni out there in the world, and I think that no. 6 ranking reflects the fact that when our students and our alumni reach out to folks in the Notre Dame family, they get a response, and that doesn’t happen at a lot of other schools.”Tags: Master’s of Business Administration, MBA, mendoza college of business, rankings, The Economist, U.S. News & World Reportlast_img read more

Performance brings Harlem Renaissance to SMC

first_imgThe sound of the Harlem Renaissance swept through O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s Thursday evening, as the College welcomed award-winning actress, singer and dancer Jasmine Guy and the Avery Sharpe Trio for their performance of “Raisin’ Cane: A Harlem Renaissance Odyssey,” director of media relations Gwen O’Brien said.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer Inspired by the works of the musicians, composers, poets and actors of the Harlem Renaissance, the production is part of this year’s Shaheen/Duggan Performing Arts Series, O’Brien said.The play’s title refers to Jean Toomer’s 1923 book, “Cane,” which is considered by many to be one of the greatest works of the Harlem Renaissance, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune.Guy recited poetry from Harlem Renaissance-era poets including Gwendolyn Bennett and Langston Hughes. Guy also performed literary excerpts from some of the period’s most influential writers, including W. E. B. Dubois and Booker T. Washington, while dancing and singing to the musical backdrop of Sharpe’s trio.Director of Special Events, Richard Baxter said the community is incredibly fortunate to welcome the traveling production to campus.“This production is a rare opportunity for our students and community to experience the Harlem Renaissance through the presence of these talented performers,” Baxter said.“Raisin’ Cane” celebrates and honors the legendary voices of the Harlem Renaissance through text, song, music, movement and imagery, O’Brien said in the event’s press release.Though right on the heels of the college’s successful Christian Culture Lecture series speaker Reza Aslan, “Raisin’ Cane” presents an opportunity for students to learn about the history of modern day music through theatre and not the classroom, Baxter said.“It’s a little early in the season, so it was a little harsh from that standpoint,” he said. “I thought it would be worthwhile. It’s a labor of love for all the artists working on this piece. It’s such a rich topic, that I thought, ‘Yeah, let’s bring it in September.’ People aren’t too tired. They don’t have semester fatigue. They might be excited about this type of activity.  That’s what led me to do it.”The production’s backdrop is the Harlem Renaissance at its peak with a modern artistic explosion of music, dance and self-expression, Baxter said.“You get a history lesson where the music and the dance add to the fabric of what you’re seeing,” he said. “You don’t just get a dry lecture or you don’t just experience the book, but you get this real engaging and invigorating performance from jazz musicians. It’s the best way to experience that kind of history.”Baxter said he was excited to hear Guy took on the project with the jazz trio, and he couldn’t wait to make it come alive at Saint Mary’s.“I am very familiar with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, which is what she was in before she really developed her broader career,” he said. “That dance company is one of the best dance companies in the world. I was familiar with her work in television, and kind of followed it.”Students interested in experiencing the origins of current music genres such as pop, hip hop or rap were encouraged to participate in this one-of-a-kind event, Baxter said.“This was a time where jazz was just beginning to come alive,” he said. “I mean this is the music that inspired Ella Fitzgerald [and] Billie Holiday, and from that came Motown, and from that rock, and from that what we have today. If students want an experience in what the background of the music they are listening to now is, [this production] is full of life. It’s almost a religious experience.”An intercultural and historical event for the entire community, “Raisin’ Cane” especially applies to the mission of Saint Mary’s, Baxter said.“If you look at the fact that we are educating women to make a difference on the world, those performers made an impact and a difference through their courage and through their artistry and through their talent and ability in the world of entertainment,” he said.To better understand today’s music and culture, Baxter said students should educate and enjoy themselves with this display of rich music and dance.“This is such an opportunity,” he said. “Make it count. Believe it or not, this is going to be better than a football game. That’s a promise.”Tags: Harlem Renaissance, O’Laughlin Auditorium, Raisin’ Canelast_img read more

Boxers fight to raise funds for Bangladesh

first_imgThe boxers participating in the 2016 Bengal Bouts are fighting — not just in the ring, but also to eradicate poverty in Bangladesh, a country where most people make under two dollars a day, according to the Bengal Bouts website.According to senior captain Mike Grasso, the combined efforts of the boxers participating in the bouts raises over $100,000 every year, which goes to the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh. Grasso said that the boxers raise the money through a variety of ways including ticket sales, donations, sponsoring and ad sales. Zachary Llorens | The Observer Adam Pasquinelly, right, tries to clinch Ryan Dunn at Sunday night’s preliminary bouts.“Besides [Bengal Bouts being a] display of all of our hard work in the ring and our endurance and our strength, we really have a greater mission and a greater purpose in serving those less fortunate than us in Bangladesh,” Grasso said. “For example, a $150 donation is the same as sponsoring a child’s tuition for a full year and their room and board at the school. With just a little money, we can really help these people.”Freshman Cam Nolan agreed, and said that the most important part of Bengal Bouts is the mission behind it.“I liked that there is a purpose behind the sacrifice — instead of just playing sports for the fun of it, it’s playing sports for the good of another,” Nolan said. “Knowing that the money and the fight is for a good cause, and knowing that I am going this summer to see firsthand what that cause is, and knowing the reasons for our suffering, it’s given me so much motivation to work hard and to suffer.”Grasso said he credits the greater mission with uniting the boxers into one team, even while participating in an extremely individualistic sport.“We start off every week with our ‘Mission Monday,’ and that ‘Mission Monday’ really emphasizes the main point that we’re here to serve those less fortunate than us,” he said.  “When we start off our practices with that tone, when every boxer knows that we are here [for that purpose], we use that as fuel for our workouts. And we know that the harder we work, the better shape that we’re in, the more entertaining the bouts will be. And the more entertaining the bouts are, the more people will donate and come to the bouts and the more money we’ll raise.”Junior captain Alex Alcantara said while people may have entered Bengal Bouts because of their interest in the sport of boxing, most people chose to stay because of the team bond that ultimately forms.“Most people are drawn to the Bouts for the competition aspect of it,” he said. “However, I think what makes them stay up until senior year is the camaraderie and teamwork that they build, as well as becoming part of the mission.”However, Alcantara said the boxers do not just raise money for this far-off country and forget about it. They are invested in the work the missions provide in the country. Many boxers participate in an International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP) in Bangladesh, which is sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns.Alcantara went to Bangladesh over the summer of 2015, along with three other boxers. The boxers stayed in Bangladesh for two months, teaching English during the day and helping during Mass at night.“The best part of the experience, is knowing that we’ve supported [the people of Bangladesh] for 86 years,” he said. “It really felt [like] we were family with the people we were helping, which was really the most rewarding part.”Tags: Bengal Boutslast_img read more

Student government weighs in on research report

first_imgStudent government presented research on alcohol culture at Notre Dame during its semi-annual report to the University Board of Trustees on Oct. 19.“We looked at alcohol culture at Notre Dame and we said, ‘Why do students drink here? What are the factors that feed into an alcohol culture?’” senior and student body president, Becca Blais, said. “And when I say ‘alcohol culture,’ that’s not just the presence of alcohol. It’s heavy use. We actually have a higher rate of usage of alcohol than pretty much all of our peer institutions both academically and athletically.”Blais said student government began its research by examining why students drink.“We came up with about 12 reasons: the residence life traditions, the Notre Dame bubble, social interactions, [a] work hard, play hard [mentality], stress, parietals, lack of conversation on the topic, tailgating and football, this perception that there’s nothing else to do, alumni, policy enforcement and the double standard — specifically in the dorms — and then home and prior life experience,” Blais said.Student government found widespread abusive drinking produced several negative effects, including unhealthy drinking, sexual assault and lack of intellectual curiosity, Blais said.“We saw that 66 percent of females and 46 percent of males who indicated that they had experienced non-consensual sexual intercourse while at Notre Dame said that they were unable to provide consent because they were asleep or incapacitated as a result of drugs or alcohol,” Blais said.According to the University’s 2016 Sexual Conduct and Climate Questionnaire, 17 percent of males and 26 percent of females observed a fellow student who was unable to give consent to sexual advances because of drugs or alcohol.An unhealthy alcohol culture can also negatively impact relationships, Blais said, in particular between female students and hall staff.“[We saw] for example, women being afraid to go back to their dorms for a perception of being judged after drinking — so not going back home and instead spending the night elsewhere —and how dangerous that can be,” Blais said.Senior and student body vice president, Sibonay Shewit, said student government’s research relied heavily on a year-long study conducted by the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being.“On top of that, we collected input from the student senate,” Shewit said. “The executive cabinet talked to the Office of Community Standards [and] different administrators, looked update previous board reports and then just [talked to] students. We tried to get as many voices as possible.”Based on student government’s finding, the executive cabinet made several recommendations for improving alcohol culture at Notre Dame. Blais said the first recommendation focused on examples of healthy drinking in residence halls.“We went around and we asked a lot of people, ‘Have you ever seen healthy drinking on campus?’” she said. “There were a few positive answers, and it was mostly game watches and stuff like that. So we want to see more opportunities for students, especially underclassmen, to interact with upperclassmen and alcohol in a really safe way.”Blais said student government proposed replacing parietals with quiet hours, creating consistency in policy enforcement amongst dorms and focusing on building healthy relationships between students and hall staff.“This will come out of conversations with rectors, primarily on the best practices in the dorms,” she said. “Some of the dorms are doing a really, really good job at building sustainable, healthy hall community, so what are they doing to build that community, and how can rectors emulate those practices?”Providing information about events in South Bend would also help counter an abusive alcohol culture, Blais said.“That’s where we would be advertising more of the alternatives that students have in South Bend as opposed to drinking all the time,” she said. “Again, this is also focusing on our drinking population at Notre Dame, which is about 80 percent, which is high.”Student government chief of staff and junior Prathm Juneja said student government hopes to continue the conversation on “everything from the alcohol issue in terms of safe drinking, sexual assault [and] the drug policy, etc.”“We’ll be comparing other university policies, policies that other Notre Dame students have had — whether it’s summer housing or abroad housing — so that we can have the best collection of information as to what policies are effective for the Notre Dame student population and which ones aren’t and which one the students on campus are in favor of,” Juneja said.Though the report focused primarily on alcohol culture on campus, Blais said, student government also considered the potential effects of the new housing policy on Notre Dame’s alcohol culture.“Looking at the three year housing policy, if you’re requiring students to stay on for three years, how will that affect alcohol culture?” she said. “Especially considering all these factors that we mentioned before, such as relationships with hall staff and rectors and parietals and everything, how do students interact with their dorms? What type of experience are we looking for in the dorms, and how does alcohol play a role in that?”While student government made certain recommendations to the Board of Trustees, members are not looking for changes to the University’s alcohol policies, Blais said.“We’re not asking for a new policy,” she said. “We’re asking for a conversation.”“I know that with the new housing policy there was a lot of confusion about what student government’s role was in that decision, seeing that housing recommendations were the focus of the previous board report,” Shewit said. “So, the biggest thing to be clear is that wasn’t necessarily the focus of [Blais], [former student body president] Corey [Robinson] and [former student government chief of staff] Michael [Markel’s] board report in the spring, and a new alcohol policy wasn’t the focus of our presentation or report to the board this year.”Blais said she hopes the report brings about changes in parietals and the drinking culture.“I hope that the impact [of the report] would be a change in parietals,” she said. “There’s a group within the rectors leading some research on this right now … I would love to see healthy drinking on campus, to be led by hall communities and club communities and all over. That would be amazing.”A healthier drinking culture would expose students to examples of healthy drinking, especially in dorm communities, Shewit said.“I think that the best thing we could do for our alcohol culture is to end this taboo where students are afraid to talk about alcohol in their dorm or approach it as if it’s this topic that can’t be talked about around adults or [resident assistants]” she said.Juneja said changes to the drinking culture would also help improve the community as a whole.“We want to hopefully make steps towards making Notre Dame a safer, more equitable and more community oriented place,” he said. “That’s the community on-campus and off-campus and the South Bend community at large.” Tags: alcohol, blais-shewit, Board of Trustees, board report, Student governmentlast_img read more

New Asian art history course to encourage global awareness

first_imgNotre Dame will be offering its first-ever art history course focused on Asia during the spring semester. The course, titled “Introduction to Arts of Asia: Materials, Processes, Contexts,” is being offered by the Liu Institute for Asian Studies and through the Keough School of Global Affairs. Thirty seats are assigned to the class, two of which are reserved for Asian Studies majors while the rest are open to students of all majors.The course will be taught by visiting professorial specialist Fletcher Coleman. Coleman is a joint fellow at the Liu Institute and the Department of Art History who is expecting to receive a doctorate in art history from Harvard University in 2019. Coleman, who takes a strong interest in materials and production processes in art, said the art history course will emphasize these aspects of historical artifacts.“We’ll be doing an introductory Asian art course, but unlike traditional chronologies that start from the early period and go era-by-era to the modern period, we’re going to be basing the course around modules on specific production processes related to particular historic epochs,” he said.Each module will take roughly two weeks and consist of two opening lectures, a hands-on or close-looking session and a small group discussion. Coleman said he plans on inviting several speakers — including two specialists from China — and hosting a class trip to Chicago’s Art Institute to meet with the curator of Chinese Art. The curriculum will focus on the art of China and Japan, but will include discussion of the art of Korea and Central Asia, Coleman said.“Anybody is welcome to join this course,” he said. “It requires no background in Asian studies or art history because part of what we’ll be doing, as we go along, is to more generally understand how the contexts and production of artwork reveal a lot about historical contexts. We’ll be learning together how to do close examination of artwork and develop our skills for writing generally about artwork.”Coleman encouraged students to consider the course in terms of whether or not it aligns with their major.“Things like close-looking and analysis and being able to write about more broadly what you see and encounter in the world is extremely important to many disciplines,” Coleman said. “I know, for example, medical schools often now look for students who have backgrounds in the visual arts because it can help them with, for example, diagnoses.”According to its mission statement, the Liu Institute for Asian Studies was founded in 2011 to provide “a forum for integrated and multi-disciplinary research and teaching on Asia.” Director of the Liu Institute, Michel Hockx, said the new class is part of an effort to increase coverage of Asia in the humanities at Notre Dame.“In the art history program there’s ten professors [and] only one of them, Professor Coleman, who’s just arrived, teaches about Asia,” Hockx said. “The history department has 43 faculty. Only seven teach about Asia. Thirty-three teach about Europe and America. That made sense maybe 20 or 30 years ago, but those things don’t make sense anymore. Asia’s such an important part of the world as a whole, and also so many of our students have links or roots in Asia, and so many of our students will end up working in Asia. It makes no sense anymore for what we focus on to be predominantly America and Europe. Therefore, it is part of our mission at the Liu Institute to try to encourage departments to start hiring faculty and focus on Asia.”Asia is a large part of the world right now, Hockx said, so each student should have some awareness of global culture including Asia.“Art is a wonderful way to study culture, but also to study history and religion,” Hockx said. “ … I think it’s a great opportunity for any Notre Dame student to learn something about the place that houses around 60 percent of the world population.”Tags: Asian Art History, Keough School of Global Affairs, Liu Institute, Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.last_img read more