Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) worked on finishing this academic year’s issues at the second to last meeting before turnover on April 1. “There is always the chance that next year’s administration will throw out what we do,” Megan Griffin, SGA vice president, said. “But, we can’t let that stop us from making decisions and doing everything we can right up ‘til the end.” Hoffman said the SGA sponsors a large number of the events that take place on the campus but are not recognized. A particular issue the conference will be dealing with is child prostitution. McDonagh said they will be showing a documentary film on the subject, called “Very Young Girls.” The event will be open to the campus and public. The board also gave funding to two clubs during the meeting. It is sponsoring a political science event that will take place on April 7. The club will be showing the film “Frost/Nixon” concerning post Watergate issues and is open to all students. Next week’s meeting will be the last of this administration, and the last chance for clubs to receive funding for this academic year, Hoffman said. “Students wonder what their SGA board is doing for them,” Hoffman said. “So we are passing this resolution that events sponsored by SGA have to state so.” As one of its final acts, the board passed a resolution concerning the advertisement of SGA. Jennifer Hoffman, SGA president, brought the issue before the board. She said many people on Saint Mary’s campus have no idea what SGA does. Many board members said it was important for students to know what SGA has done for them, so that they will know what it can do for them. The resolution declares any group receiving funds for an event from the board must say “Sponsored by Student Government Association” on all advertisements for the event. Sophomore Cassie McDonagh, said the group is holding a conference aimed at studying and deconstructing the social norms of beauty. SGA also sponsored an event hosted by Lambda Pi Eta, the Communication Studies honor society.
Census participation and pep rally reform were among discussion topics at the first Council of Representatives (COR) meeting under student body president Catherine Soler and vice president Andrew Bell Tuesday.“A lot can get accomplished at COR,” Soler said. “A lot of the decisions that we make as an administration are based on your feedback.”Soler turned the discussion to the census forms currently being administered to the student body. She said student government is pushing for Notre Dame students to complete the census by sponsoring a dorm competition. The residence hall with the most participation will receive a pizza party from Hot Box Pizza.“We can receive up to $1,200 of federal funding for each person who completes the census,” Soler said. “It’s also incredibly helpful to the South Bend community.”One of the ongoing issues Soler brought to COR is the state of football pep rallies, which have been the source of much criticism.“Pep rally reform is a big issue and is something that we’ve really been working hard on,” she said.“They’re listening and they’ve been taking us seriously,” she said. “We know what the students want and we feel that we’ve really been making progress.”Soler said Irish football coach Brian Kelly will meet with COR in two weeks to continue the discussion about pep rallies.“Coach Kelly is going to set aside an hour to talk to us,” she said. “This is really important because we’re the first student group he’s going to talk to.”COR members approved sophomores Erin Pankiw, James Kenney and Elle Metz as Directors of Special Events. Freshman Brandon Vo was approved as Director of Communication and sophomores Claire Sunderland and Ricky Bevington were approved as Directors of First University Experience in Leadership Program for next year.Soler closed the meeting by reminding the new council of the importance of their role as members of COR.“As leaders of student organizations, you can bring issues here to COR to discuss or get feedback; anything on the table is open to discussion,” she said.
Last month, Notre Dame’s Habitat for Humanity Club began construction on the 17th house it has built during its time as a student group. The club commits to building one house each year for a family it chooses based on stability of jobs, support systems and Christian values, according to senior Deborah Olmstead, who serves as club co-president. This year, Habitat’s house is being built for a family of four, which consists of a father and three children, Olmstead said. Their future home is located on Milburn Court in Mishawaka. It will be a one-story house, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a basement and a garage. But Habitat does not simply hand out houses, Notre Dame senior and club co-president Olmstead said. “We do not give away houses for free,” she said. “The owner will have a mortgage that’s interest free and that’s worth the value of all the materials in the house. They pay that over 15 years.” Houses are built at the lowest cost possible by having volunteers do as much of the work as possible and by bargaining discounts for supplies from local businesses, Olmstead said. Habitat has had one regular weekend build so far this year, along with its annual Blitz Build event. The first regular build was attended by 25 to 30 volunteers and was a huge success, Olmstead said. “We finished our work two hours earlier than expected,” Olmstead said. Blitz Build takes place over Fall Break to construct the entire exterior of a home. “We invite past alumni to help us and we provide free breakfast and lunch for our volunteers,” Olmstead said. “At the end of the day we go out to dinner together and participate in social activities.” During the fall, builds take place on away football game weekends, and in the spring there is one nearly every weekend, Olmstead said. The next build is Saturday. Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County assists Notre Dame’s chapter of the organization. Beyond technical work such as electricity and plumbing, the house is built entirely by volunteers. “It touches me to know I’m giving families something they could not acquire on their own,” Olmstead said. Habitat’s funds come entirely from alumni donations and fundraising events. Their next event, Jail ‘N Bail, will take place Friday afternoon. For this fundraiser, students can sign up to have themselves or a friend “arrested” by NDSP and brought to a makeshift jail on South Quad. The “bailout” fee is $10. Next year, Habitat is looking to travel abroad, Olmstead said. “We hope to go abroad on a global village project and help with construction projects in either Mexico or Senegal,” she said. Olmstead, who used to be the family liaison for the club, said that she believes Habitat for Humanity enables families to provide opportunities for their children. “When I was family liaison we took a single mother and her kids to Mega Play,” Olmstead said, “and she came up to me and said I don’t get to do this kind of stuff with my kids.”
When Paige O’Laughlin told sophomore Ziqi Zhang she would transfer to another school from Saint Mary’s after their freshman year together, she said her friend was initially devastated. “A few hours later, she calmed down and told me she absolutely hated my choice, but she supported my decision and said our friendship didn’t have to end because we longer attend the same school,” O’Laughlin said. “Since then it has only flourished. … I attribute my greatest college memories I have made so far to her.” Zhang, 19, died Thursday evening from injuries sustained in an accident between her bike and an SUV outside the entrance to Saint Mary’s on State Route 933. A resident of Regina Hall, Zhang was a dual-degree student majoring in mathematics at Saint Mary’s and taking engineering classes at Notre Dame. She was a resident of Jiangsu Province in China. The accident occurred just before 9 p.m. Thursday, according to a release from the St. Joseph County Police Department. The driver, identified in the report at 34-year-old Erin Zick of Edwardsburg, Mich., told police she had a green light at the time of the accident. The report stated witnesses confirmed Zick’s account and that there is no evidence drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash. For O’Laughlin, Zhang’s friendship will stay with her as she mourns her friend’s death. Her memories with Ziqi on weekend trips to Chicago or hanging out together are some of her best college memories so far, she said. “When she wanted something, she went for it,” O’Laughlin said. “She always tried to turn anything unpleasant into a positive and something funny experience if applicable. She liked to look on the bright side of situations and focus on changing the future instead of dwelling on the past. “I found her attitude and outlook on life completely inspiring, having her as a friend changed me and made me a much better person.” Sophomores L.E. Evans and Jessica Filipski both lived with Zhang in a Regina Hall quad as freshmen. Zhang moved into an empty spot in the quad in the middle of the fall semester. Filipski said the death of her former roommate didn’t seem real when she first heard the news. “I was just really shocked,” Filipski said. “I still am kind of shocked that she’s gone. It’s hard to believe that. “I feel like today, going to classes, it’s more real. Even though she isn’t in any of my classes, she could be going back to class. It’s hard to think about how she will be missing and how her seat will be empty.” Evans remembered Zhang as someone with “genuine spirit.” “She just brought so much life to the room,” Evans said. “She was a genius, so grateful for the opportunity to be at Saint Mary’s and also doing the dual program at Notre Dame. … There’s not enough words to describe what kind of person she was.” The girls remembered joking with Zhang about American customs and slang. Evans said Zhang applied to a number of American colleges while in high school in China, and she planned to stay in the United States for a few years after graduation before returning home to be closer to her family. “What I always found remarkable was that it’s usually a fifth year if you’re doing the dual degree program,” Evans said. “[But Zhang] overloaded on classes. She was a very diligent worker. She wanted to graduate in four years, and she was very dedicated to doing that.” Evans remembered Zhang as a night owl who loved the sitcom Modern Family and Lay’s potato chips, someone who was always joking and smiling. “We would always sit and talk about the American way of doing this or that, she would always say funny things,” Evans said. The girls said they would often joke about American customs with Zhang, who tried to teach Filipski different words in Chinese as well. “I was so bad,” Filipski said. “We would laugh with each other about it. “Her personality shined out. She was so outgoing. She liked to live life to the fullest.” Zhang had not visited her home in China since she moved to the United States as a freshman, Evans said. She planned to return home for winter break this year. “If there’s anything I want people to know it’s just that she is a huge loss,” Evans said. “She was just that person that you could talk to about anything, and she would make you feel better.” College President Carol Ann Mooney expressed her sorrow for Zhang’s death in a statement released Friday. “On behalf of the entire Saint Mary’s College community, I want to express our shock and deep sorrow at the passing of Ziqi,” Mooney said. “We offer heartfelt condolences to her parents and sister and our prayers are with them. “Death is never easy, especially when it is a young person with so much promise.” University President Fr. John Jenkins also released a statement Friday afternoon to join in mourning a Zhang as a student at both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame. “Our deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Ziqi Zhang and to the entire Saint Mary’s community,” he said. “Ziqi also was well-known here at Notre Dame, where she was enrolled in the College of Engineering and involved in various clubs and activities. On behalf of the University, our prayers are with all who knew and loved her.” A memorial service for Zhang will be held today at 12:30 p.m. in Regina Chapel. Grief counseling is available to students through Saint Mary’s Women’s Health Center, Campus Ministry and Residence Life and Community Standards. Anyone wishing to contribute to a fund to help Zhang’s family with funeral and travel expenses may send donations to Karen Johnson, vice president of Student Affairs, in 175 Le Mans Hall. Checks should be payable to Saint Mary’s College and indicate in the memo line that the donation is for the Ziqi Zhang family. Johnson told students in an email Monday that the family will receive a list of all donors. Students can also send notes to Zhang’s family by sending them to the same address. The notes will be translated and delivered to her family when they arrive in the United States. Contact Megan Doyle at [email protected]
Karen Johnson, vice president of Student Affairs at Saint Mary’s, informed students March 19 of the plan to end the varsity swimming program, a decision made by College President Carol Ann Mooney and her cabinet in collaboration with director of athletics Julie Schroeder-Biek. The varsity swimming program began in 1975 and since then, five students have received a total of 12 all-conference individual awards. “The elimination of swimming as a varsity sport was a difficult decision and one that was not taken lightly,” Johnson said. “However, waning interest in participation, the lack of appropriate on-campus facilities and the recent resignation of current coach Mark Benishek led the leadership of the College to this conclusion.” The lack of an on-campus pool was the main factor leading to the elimination of the varsity sport, Johnson said. For the past four years, the team has used Notre Dame’s facilities for both practice and competitions. “Because of his position at Notre Dame, Coach Benishek was able to assure our team had practice time at the Rolfs Aquatic Center,” Johnson said. “Prior to that, our swimmers practiced as late as 10 p.m. or at a local high school. Facing the uncertainty of practice facilities and the potential hardship on our swimmers and our concern for their safety was a key consideration in this decision.” Benishek, who left at the end of the season for a job in Seattle, said his job at Rolfs did not influence his ability to acquire practice times for his team. “I worked at Notre Dame, but there was not preferential treatment given to me or the Saint Mary’s swim team, at least any special treatment I knew about,” he said. “I had to apply for pool times like any other group or club looking for pool times would have to.” Though Saint Mary’s never had its own pool, Benishek said the swim team always found a way to get past that challenge. Another major factor behind the decision to end the program was the lack of students interested in swimming next season, Johnson said. This deficiency was due to various events, such as study abroad, senior graduations and an uncertain number of incoming swimmers, she said. Benishek and Liz Palmer, a senior swimmer, said the College may have underestimated the number of walk-ons it receives every year. “I was never recruited,” Palmer said. “I just walked on. A lot of girls did that.” The College has received “very little feedback from the community” about the end of the swimming program and does not anticipate the decision will deter future applicants, Johnson said. “I think that this decision will discourage very few from applying to and coming to Saint Mary’s,” she said. “Our swim program is small and we haven’t met with many possible recruits this year.” A number of current swimmers said they wished they knew the program was going to be eliminated because this decision may have affected their decision to attend the College. “Had I known that Saint Mary’s would not have a swim team for all four years I would … be here, I would not have come,” first-year Carolyn Neville said. “Swimming was a huge part of my college search. I do not want to transfer schools now because I have made great friends and enjoy being here, but I definitely want to find a way to keep swimming competitively.” Benishek said he is disappointed other Saint Mary’s girls will not be able to experience being on the team. “It is not just a sport,” Benishek said. “It is an opportunity to form relationships that go beyond the four years on campus. My heart especially goes out to the juniors, sophomores and freshman that will not be able to finish out their careers at Saint Mary’s. It really is a shame.” Despite the College’s decision to end the swim team, Johnson said every intercollegiate sport is an asset to the school. “Athletes become leaders and build strong communities,” she said. “We are proud of all of athletes. Additionally, on our campus, athletes have strong academic careers. Johnson said the College will not sponsor a swim team until the College has a pool on site and “at this time there are no plans to build one.”
Saint Mary’s juniors Erin Hall and Anna Sullivan are two of the newest Belles jumping on the blogging bandwagon.The pair recently began writing as correspondents for fashion and lifestyle blogs targeting the Saint Mary’s community.Hall blogs for U lala, a fashion and lifestyle website for college women with correspondents from more than 28 campuses around the nation. Hall said she knew she wanted to be involved the first time she came across the website.“[I] thought it was a great place for college women to get ideas on everything from fashion to DIYs so when they accepted my application to start the Saint Mary’s branch I was super excited,” Hall said.Hall said she enjoys writing about a variety of topics, including travel, cooking, crafts, and music.“I love to switch up what I’m writing about and pick new things,” Hall said.Sullivan writes a blog for College Fashionista as the Saint Mary’s contributor. This website focuses on fashion style and trends making their ways on college campuses around the country. Sullivan contributes photographs and feature articles that highlight different looks and people around campus.Sullivan said her page on the blog is called “Fashionista Spotlight.”“Basically, I choose a girl once a week to interview,” Sullivan said. “I ask her a variety of questions ranging from her favorite designer to what her favorite trends are. Then, I take a few pictures of her to accompany the article once it goes live.”Hall said her blog not only offers the women of Saint Mary’s something unique, but also this writing format complements her own work as a student.“I was eager to do something other than just work and take classes,” Hall said. “I figured it would be a fun way to gain experience.” Sullivan said blogging enhances her academic experience.“Writing for College Fashionista or any other blog allows your work to get out there and [be] taken seriously in a different setting other than the classroom,” Sullivan said.Professor Helen Ho, assistant professor of communication studies at Saint Mary’s, said simply reading blogs and certainly writing in this format can be helpful for students.“When we are pushing students to become better writers, which Saint Mary’s does so often, part of being a good writer is to keep up your reading,” Ho said.She explained that any form of reading and writing, even online articles and blogs, all contribute to this.Hall said her inspiration often comes from other blogs such as ‘They All Hate Us’ by Tash and Elle, ‘Tuulavintage’ by Jessica Stein, and ‘LovelyPepa’ by Alexandra.Sullivan said she emphasizes fashion at Saint. Mary’s instead of focusing on national trends.“I really like writing about why girls dress they way they do. Most likely they have never thought about it themselves, but actually they way we dress says a lot more about us than we think,” Sullivan said.
Last weekend, 10 Saint Mary’s students attended the What You Do Matters (WYDM) Summit at the Field Museum in Chicago.Students from Chicago area universities and Saint Mary’s engaged in dialogue about the Holocaust, propaganda and hate speech, while inspiring students to recognize the way contemporary society is still dealing with the aftermath, first-year Molly Franklin said.Franklin said based on her application for the summit organizers contacted her prior to the conference about speaking on a student panel Saturday, the first day of the conference.Her youngest brother was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old, and Franklin said she began her advocacy for the special needs community when she was in middle school.“I imagined a situation where someone would say [‘retarded’] to my brother, and he would understand it and be hurt by it,” Franklin said.When Franklin applied for the WYDM Summit she had not expected to be contacted to speak, but it was because of that request she said she learned how important her work for the special needs community is.“I never really thought about what I was doing as work,” Franklin said. “But I realize that there are whole communities dealing with hate speech.”Franklin said she spoke on a panel of three other students who had faced and worked for varying causes on their campuses including LGBTQ issues and Holocaust denial.The WYDM Summit covered a variety of issues and propelled students to thinking about what action needs to be taken on their own campuses with a closing session creating action plans, she said.Franklin said she learned about the issue of contemporary propaganda and how to engage in effective dialogue. During the conference, dialogue was defined as a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn, she said.“It is important that we talk about dialogue because it’s not something that we utilize enough,” Franklin said.At the end of the conference Franklin said she took away valuable lessons and hopes to be able to apply them to her experience in the special needs community.“Propaganda is still a huge issue,” Franklin said. “People are afraid of what they don’t understand and the special needs community needs more understanding.”
Veterans, servicemen and women, Notre Dame students and community residents gathered at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Thursday for the 14th Annual Blue Mass to honor police officers, firefighters, first responders and all those who serve to protect others.University President Fr. John Jenkins presided at the Mass, at which Fr. Charles Kohlerman, superior of Our Lady of Fatima House delivered the homily, and Robert Tracy, chief of the Chicago Police Crime Control Strategy Unit, offered closing remarks.The Blue Mass is “a time to honor police, fire[fighters], EMS, rescue workers and their families … to pray for those we have lost and to pray for strength for all those who serve,” Phil Johnson, Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) chief, said.“I hope the men and women in public safety recognize the great outpouring of support and prayer from the community and the gratitude that our community has for all those who make sacrifices,” Johnson said.The first Blue Mass was held one month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to remember all those servicemen and women who lost their lives that day, Johnson said. Since then, the mass has become an annual tradition in the Notre Dame community.“We continue that tradition each year to remember police and firefighters and EMS workers, those men and women who really dedicate themselves and make sacrifices,” Johnson said. “While most people are running away from bad things that happen, the men and women in blue are running toward the emergency and are there to restore peace and order.”Kohlerman’s homily focused on the deep sense of compassion that servicemen and women have for the community and emphasized the importance of family.“You are members of larger families — families of firefighters and police officers who have deep concern for each other and those you serve. … We raise you up and ask almighty God to look after you,” he said, addressing all active and retired public service officers in attendance. In concluding the homily, he reminded all those in attendance of the importance to “love one another.”In the closing remarks of the mass, Tracy recounted his experience as an NYPD officer on the day that the attacks on the Twin Towers occurred.“I was strengthened by the bravery I witnessed that day,” Tracy said.Tracy also offered remarks about assistant New Carlisle fire chief Jamie Middlebrook, a St. Joseph’s County firefighter who lost his life Aug. 5 in the line of duty.“He was a hero, and we honor him for his greatness and his sacrifice he made,” Tracy said.The spirit of the Blue Mass illuminates a true Notre Dame tradition, Johnson said.“We are Catholic, and we pray together,” he said. “It is only fitting that we gather in gratitude and come together to give thanks at a Mass.“That’s what we do at Notre Dame.”Tags: Blue Mass, Fr. John Jenkins, NDFD, NDSP, NYPD, Phil Johnson, September 11
Jodi Lo In a game with a much closer final score than many initially predicted, Notre Dame defeated Navy with a final score of 49-39.Irish senior quarterback Everett Golson accounted for a school-record six touchdowns – three passing, three rushing – as the Irish improved their record to 7-1.Senior Connor Stacy said he expected the Midshipmen to play well, but knew the Irish would win.“Navy always plays us tough,” he said. “I was pretty confident that we would pull it out in the end.”Senior Blake Prunsky watched the game from the comfort of his own home as he celebrated his birthday with an Irish win.“I only watched the first, second and fourth quarters, so from what I saw, the Irish played great.” he said. “Everett played like a Heisman-caliber quarterback today, and I’m confident we can win out.”Junior Matt Castellini echoed Prunsky’s sentiment, saying he believed Golson played like a champion yesterday.“He very much deserves to be in the Heisman conversation,” he said. “Big time players make big time plays. That’s what he does.”Senior Dolff Hanke said he wonders if the team’s performance was based on Navy playing well or the Irish letting up against an unranked opponent.“I’m not sure if we sometimes play down to our opponents or it’s simply that we struggle with Navy, but we need to realize that we have the potential to beat any team in the country,” he said.The Irish have a tough schedule ahead, with matchups against ranked Arizona State and a rivalry game with USC.Senior Alysa Kane, who watched the game from home, said she believes the Notre Dame defense may be bringing down the team.“The offense played like a championship-caliber team, but the defense seems to be dragging the team down in recent games,” she said.Junior Connor Brown said he believes the game was somewhat of a snoozer.“I fell asleep during the first half after we went up big,” he said. “I woke up, and we’re losing in the third quarter.”Tags: Everett Golson, football, Midshipmen, Navy
Erin Rice | The Observer Thursday evening, the Notre Dame student government hosted a training session for those interested in volunteering for the “It’s On Us” campaign on sexual assault awareness and prevention.“The ‘It’s On Us’ campaign is a campus-wide movement to change the way we view sexual assault on our campus,” sophomore Kristen Loehle, student government’s director of gender issues, said. “It calls all members of our community to actively create a positive environment that prevents sexual violence by looking out for one another, intervening when necessary and spreading awareness.”The Notre Dame campaign is part of a nationwide “It’s On Us” initiative, which the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault launched in Sept. 2014. According to a White House fact sheet, “It’s On Us” takes its name from the notion of communal responsibility for all cases of sexual assault and aims to create a safer communities at universities.“It’s On Us is a national campaign that we have tailored to reflect the values of our Notre Dame community,” Loehle said. “We focused on being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and aimed to reach out to all different voices that make up our community.”Loehle said beginning Monday, student volunteers will distribute pledge cards to dorms and in facility building across campus, similar to those distributed during the “One Is Too Many” campaign last year. She said the pledge cards will hang in the dorms as a demonstration of Notre Dame’s support for sexual assualt awareness.“I’m excited for this very visible commitment that we will all be making to one another, and hope it drives participation in sexual assault education, a culture of respect in our dorms and an understanding of the reporting and support structures that exist on campus,” junior Bryan Ricketts, a Gender Relations Center FIRE Starter and participant in “It’s On Us,” said.Rickets said the initiative is a way for students to become involved in sexual assault prevention on an individual level.“The ‘It’s On Us’ campaign is a way to bring the conversation about sexual assault back to what each of us can do to protect our friends, classmates and peers,” he said. “It’s about creating a culture of love and responsibility where respect for others, intervention in dangerous situations and support for those who are victims of sexual assault are the norm.”Ricketts said he hopes the University and its students will support the initiative.“We want to attend school at a place that helps to change entitlement into respect, harm into help and victims into survivors,” he said. “Notre Dame, both as an institution and as a student body, will need to take further steps, such as increasing resource accessibility, but this campaign is an important part of the transition from education to action.”Loehle said while the campaign is national, the issues still remain local.“There is overwhelming support for this cause at Notre Dame and it has been inspiring to see such a strong response throughout this process,” she said. “We want to make sure that every student and every place is safe here at Notre Dame.”Tags: Bryan Ricketts, campaign, It’s On Us, Kristen Loehle, Obama, sexual assault, Student government, White House