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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

Members say farewell amid tears and smiles

Between tears and laughs, senators made their goodbyes, heard discussion and passed a flurry of resolutions, setting an example for the newly elected representatives crowding the room at the current Student Senate's final meeting Wednesday night.

"When I was trying to figure out what to say at my last officer report at the last Senate meeting, first I was going to write a scathing report about how the administration treats us like children," student body president Adam Istvan said. "But we've already been there, so I'm not going to do that."

Istvan then said that when he next tried to come up with "something profound to change everyone's lives," all that resulted was a blank sheet of paper.

"I guess all I can say is thank you to everyone," Istvan said. "It's been an incredible year."

He cited the implementation of Fair Trade coffee in the dining halls and the Huddle, as well as "one mildly [successful] and one extremely successful Board of Trustees Report," as highlights from the current administration.

Istvan said he hoped the new senators would make sure the University follows through with the changes proposed by student government.

"It's the job of the people sitting on the outside of this room to be diligent," Istvan said.

"It's been a tough year for Notre Dame," he added, referring to the firing of head football coach Tyrone Willingham, the resignation of trustee David Duerson and the changing of University presidents.

"But I can't say the same for us," he continued. "We've persevered through problems - and they [members of the administration] are starting to listen to us."

Istvan said the fact that the administration initiated a meeting with him and senior class president Darrell Scott about the regilding of the golden dome was a sign of the student voice being heard.

Student body vice president Karla Bell gave a more emotional farewell than Istvan.

"Thank you for your commitment, your support, your enthusiasm," Bell said, pausing to wipe away tears. "Your passion inspires me."

Bell advised senators to "always believe in the possibility of change" and said it was important "to look back and [say], 'I'm glad I made time for that.'"

Chief executive assistant and student body president-elect Dave Baron thanked Istvan and Bell for the pair's service in student government.

Baron incited applause by praising the pair's leadership skills, acknowledging "Karla, whose enthusiasm for making student life better is just contagious, and Adam, who made us realize there are some things you just can't compromise on."

Following these farewell addresses, Ryan Willerton, assistant director of the Office for Student Activities, spoke about "From Old to Gold," a year-end campus yard sale created by a partnership between the University and United Way of St. Joseph's County.

"All proceeds raised will go to the United Way of St. Joseph's County," Willerton said, explaining that students are encouraged to donate gently used or new belongings to the sale to be held in the Notre Dame Stadium on May 21.

Willerton also discussed the options for shipping belongings home or storing them in hall storage trailers.

In other Senate news:

uJudicial Council president Brin Anderson appeared before the Senate to present the Student Union Ethics Committee's selection for the Michael J. Palumbo award: Siegfried senator James Leito.

According to a letter written by Anderson and presented to the Senate, the award "honors an undergraduate student for their outstanding dedication and service to the Notre Dame Student Union."

The Senate approved Leito as the honoree of the award.

uResidence Life Committee member Brendan McHugh presented a resolution on the Ruckus Network designed to provide Notre Dame with a legal alternative to pirating music and movies from the Internet.

McHugh said that the only payments would be for students to download music or movies.

"It's free to the University to facilitate the service," McHugh said, explaining that students could either pay by credit card or as an item in their tuition bill. The Senate passed the resolution.

uSarah Bates presented the Residence Life Committee's second resolution regarding same-gender activities for future Freshman Orientations.

Bates said members of her committee and focus groups that discussed the recent Board of Trustees report felt there needed to be "activity between dorms of the same sex [during Freshman Orientation] so we're not just pressuring students to meet members of the opposite sex."

The resolution passed, meaning a letter will be sent to next year's Frosh-O staff recommending that all dorms must engage in a minimum of one same-gender interhall activity and that an award be added to the weekend for "Best Intra-gender Activity."

uCommittee on University Affairs chair Katie Boyle explained a resolution on capping the maximum punishment for first-time parietals offenders, proposing that a first-time offender should not be removed from his or her residence hall. The Senate passed the resolution.

uSparking laughter among his peers, Sorin senator Erik Powers stood before the Senate and asked members to reconsider a motion previously proposed by him and former presidential running mate Alec White to change the name of Spring Break to "Erik and Alec's Week of Awesomeness."

"People say that student government doesn't get much done," Powers said. "This is something tangible."

Reasoning with senators, Powers continued, "If you're not going to do it for your dorm, do it for yourself. If you're not going to do it for yourself, do it for Alec and [me]."

The resolution passed, although Istvan immediately said, "I'm going to have to pocket that."

Powers was also the subject of a resolution read by Baron entitled "Resolution Bestowing Erik Powers Emeritus Status to Erik Powers."

Designed since "no award or accreditation really exists in the Student Union that could adequately give [senator] Powers his due recognition," the resolution praised Powers' "ingenuity and providential inspiration to showcase three different hairdos during the year: Classic All-American Powers, the Blonde Artificial Comb Over and the Skinny Stone Cold Steve Austin."

The resolution passed without opposition.

uWithout discussion, the Senate passed a resolution read by Bell recognizing the national champion fencing team. The resolution will be sent to the team's coach in congratulations.