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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Government in Brief

ND Department of Constituent Services

The Department of Constituent Services executed town-hall discussions about the Office of Community Standards, mental health concerns and sexual violence. The department plans to host a conversation about Notre Dame Food Services. It developed the "One Is Too Many" campaign that seeks to combat sexual violence at a grassroots level. The Department is investigating increased movie-rental options and developing a community-improvement award to recognize students who serve South Bend.

ND Department of Community Relations

The department coordinated the Northeast Neighborhood Welcome Back Picnic, uniting students and local residents to celebrate the beginning of the school year. The community summit facilitated goal sharing between local leaders and the University administration. The department also sponsored a bus tour to expose new students to entertainment spots and South Bend's history. They created committees of students from all higher education institutions in South Bend, connecting them with community leaders to learn about internship and entertainment opportunities. Through this, they expanded students' lives beyond campus and into South Bend, earning them the A.

ND Department of Social Concerns

The department co-sponsored a day of service, sports and networking in Chicago with the varsity lacrosse team called Playing for Peace and also implemented the Serve ND website to aggregate all the on-campus service groups. In addition, the department orchestrated a prayer services and discussion in response to the crisis in Syria. They planned spring events including a benefit dinner for Syria, a local food campaign, another Playing for Peace event and a Social Action Network to facilitate collaboration among service groups at Notre Dame. These events and the ones in progress earned the department an A-.

ND Department of Academic Affairs

The Department of Academic Affairs met with administrators to discuss potential improvements to "DARTing" and PIN distribution. It continued its Last Lecture series, introduced a First Lectures series and teamed up with several University offices to bring TEDxUND to campus in January. It also created a study-space map, available on InsideND and mobileND. The department has many ambitious initiatives planned but has much to do in order to accomplish all of its goals by the end of the term.

ND Department of Campus Technology

The department successfully organized a mobile summit this semester and facilitated a Dorm Tech Liaison initiative to help students with technical difficulties in their dorms. However, they have a low grade because they failed to successfully improve policies on campus. They do have potentially significant projects in progress, such as upgrading the DART and printing systems, creating an updated mobile app and purchasing a new scanner for the Coleman-Morse Center. Each of these improvements would drastically enhance student life, but the department needs to make more headway.

ND Department of University Affairs

The Department of University Affairs increased the hours of access to DeBartolo Hall and worked with NDSP to repair emergency phones outside dorms. It partnered with Notre Dame Food Services to promote food sustainability. The department hopes to establish an easy and affordable transportation system for off-campus students and to implement a bike rental program. To improve from its B- ranking, the department will have to see more tangible results and must make significant progress toward implementing its other ideas.

ND Department of National Engagement & Outreach

This department devoted great attention this semester to benchmarking Notre Dame's policies regarding gender relations, financial programs, food services and museums with peer and aspirational universities, examining how such programs, policies and student outreach are structured at other schools. These efforts can show Notre Dame students the relevance and fairness of University policy, but the department has yet to endow its outreach work with great relevance for the student body. This department earns a B+ for its work.

ND Department of Residential Life

This department developed the first annual Irish State of Mind Week to raise awareness about mental health on campus, working with SMC and Holy Cross College. In addition, they are developing a formal proposal for open dining hall hours, a Grab and Go satellite and a swipes plan. Hopefully, they will fulfill their pledge to improve RecSports and student housing next semester. The Department deserves an A- for completing a number of very important issues affecting student life, and making progress on even more.

ND Department of Gender Issues

The Department of Gender Issues worked with NDSP to revise its sexual-assault alert emails - specifically, to change "forcible fondling" to "sexual battery" and to make the language more clearly supportive of victims. The department organized prayer services to follow alert emails and partnered with the Gender Relations Center to promote Sexual Violence Awareness Month. It will team up with PrismND to coordinate transgender awareness events in the spring and will continue to investigate the effects of updated dorm alarm policies.

ND Department of Internal Affairs

The department successfully addressed technical problems regarding language in the Constitution but has not successfully completed initiatives that affect the wider student body. In fact, their ongoing projects also are fairly trivial - most address clarifications regarding the Senate or the Constitution. They competently take on behind-the-scenes work and small tasks, but they need to evaluate ways to work toward a larger-scale initiative that can impact student life or student government as a whole. Because of this, the department earned a B.

SMC Residence Hall Association

Saint Mary's Residence Hall Association (RHA), part of the larger Council of Activities, implemented constitution changes for a productive fall semester. This year, RHA updated its constitution to create a "smaller and more dynamic" governing body, RHA president Kaitlyn Baker said. Because of these transitions and its work promoting events like its annual spirit week, Cookies and Coasters Freshmen Social, all-hall kickball tournament and hall directors' tea parties, the association deserves an A for its work.

SMC Student Activities Board

This semester, the Saint Mary's Student Activities Board (SAB), part of the larger Council of Activities, worked with the Notre Dame, Holy Cross and greater South Bend communities to host Belles Bash, Turkey Bowl, Fall Break Rescue, Bella-Boo, Winter Wonderland and Study Day Massages. The club has hosted several successful events but should work on advertising their events more. Because of this, the board deserves an A-.

SMC Student Diversity Board

Saint Mary's Student Diversity Board (SDB), part of the larger Council of Activities, chose a theme of "Rethinking Leadership and Diversity." This semester, the board hosted more than 700 people at the S'more Diversity Bonfire and closed the semester with a Hunger Banquet. It will host its annual Diverse Students' Leadership Conference this March. The board deserves an A for its unique way of expressing diversity. 

SMC Council of Clubs

The Saint Mary's Council of Clubs, part of the larger Council of Activities, oversees the allocation of student government funds to various clubs and organizations on campus. This semester, the council used increased advertising to encourage students to take advantage of the money available to them via student government. The council deserves an A because this year, it gave out more sponsorships than ever before and went through its entire budgeted amount for on-campus events, as well as for travel grants. 

ND Freshman Class Council

Freshman Class Council (FCC) coordinated a Halloween dance, a concession stand during the Brigham Young game weekend and a class rosary event at the Grotto this semester. "Overall, our goal in FCC is to create freshman unity," president Andrew Green said. "All our events have been reasonably successful in that aspect." Green said FCC hopes to improve its communication with the freshman class via the class Facebook page, "Notre Dame Class of 2017," the Twitter account, @ND17_, and email address, "Our hope is to have our class outreach grow," Green said. Other plans for next semester include a skate night at the Compton Family Ice Arena, a First Year of Studies event and a "FROSH week" in March with social and service events for the class. 

ND Sophomore Class Council

This semester, Sophomore Class Council (SCC) aimed to create events that "draw people from different quads, majors and social groups," president Jake Grefenstette said. SCC's most successful event this fall was a Great Gatsby-themed dance outside Bond Hall in September. SCC co-sponsored the dance with the Junior Class Council. "One NDSP officer counted over 2,000 attendees [at the dance] and said it was the biggest and liveliest event he had seen is his 30 years at Notre Dame," Grefenstette said. Next semester, SCC hopes to host a spring dance, a class retreat and faculty talks. It aims to create opportunities for long-term service projects, capitalizing on the Council's relationship with the South Bend Center for the Homeless.

ND Junior Class Council

Junior Class Council tried to cater to the wishes of the junior class this semester by sponsoring a Great Gatsby dance, planning a volleyball tournament called "Santa, Set, Spike" and organizing a "Day in South Bend," when local businesses offered discounts to members of the class of 2015. Other popular events included the "Star-Spangled Send-Off," which targeted students who will study abroad in the spring, and discounted tickets to the show "Cabaret." "Next semester, we plan on holding more study breaks around finals, an organized trip to Chicago and a retreat for members of the class of 2015," president Olivia LaMagna said.

ND Senior Class Council

In an effort to bring the class of 2014 together, Senior Class Council hosted a class Mass, an apple-picking event and a Cornhole tournament that benefitted the Center for the Homeless. President Carolina Wilson said the council hopes to continue to organize fun events that include food, while also giving seniors resources that will benefit them after graduation, like information about financing, budgeting and investments. She said to look for the upcoming "Sip and Taste South Bend" restaurant tour. "We want to provide seniors with a year that is fun and memorable, but also beneficial," Wilson said. "This way, when graduation rolls around, seniors will not only be ready for whatever comes next, but will also look back on their last year at Notre Dame with great memories."

SMC First-Year Board

The Saint Mary's Freshman Class Board aspired to cultivate sisterhood within the community while simultaneously raising awareness for mental health. Freshmen worked alongside Sophomore Class Council to co-host Barn Yard Belles in Dalloway's Coffeehouse. Ellen Raymond, freshman class president, said the event provided an opportunity for first- and second-year students to form friendships through country dancing, eating and pumpkin-decorating. "Next semester, the Freshman Council will be participating in Love Your Body Week," Raymond said. "All of these fun and relaxing activities will cater to the student body's mental health." Raymond said her board is also looking forward to hosting a Masquerade Formal for the class of 2017.

SMC Sophomore Class Board

The Sophomore Class Board aims to promote a sisterly atmosphere on the Saint Mary's campus through event-planning and fundraising. This semester, the board exceeded its fundraising goal of $500. Brie O'Brien, president of the sophomore class, said members of her board planned and executed Barnyard Belles Fall Festival, sold class gear on two occasions and adopted an underprivileged family for Christmas. Next semester, the board will host Sophomore Parents' Weekend and a class of 2016 ice skating event in the Compton Ice Arena - both of which the team has begun to plan. "As a board, our overall goals are to raise funds for our class's line account and provide opportunities for the class of 2016 to practice the core values of Saint Mary's, form friendships and have an amazing experience at SMC within their own class, as well as with the entirety of the Saint Mary's community," O'Brien said.

SMC Junior Class Board

The Junior Class Board provided Saint Mary's students with a variety of experiences, products and fundraisers this semester. Board president Nicole O'Toole said the group played a key part in planning the Navy Dance for the Naval Academy Midshipmen in October and sponsored a student trip to Chicago in December. Both events were open to all students and crossed class aisles. The board fundraised with a Let's Spoon give-back day, and members sold personalized products created by Courtney Bock Designs, a local business run by an alumna. This semester, the board participated in the Adopt-a-Family program and donated toys, clothes, and a WalMart gift card for its adopted family's Christmas dinner. Next semester, the group will prepare for Junior Mom's Weekend in April, continue its philanthropy and host a T-shirt sale.

SMC Senior Class Board

The Saint Mary's Senior Class Board kicked off the fall semester with Senior Dads Weekend, an annual event that invites seniors' fathers to campus to spend quality time with their daughters.  The weekend began with a beer garden and a silent auction that benefitted the senior class, president Carolyn Backes said. Fathers and daughters played golf, toured campus and celebrated Mass. The two-day event closed with a game-watch at CJ's Pub on South Michigan Street. After Dads Weekend, the senior class board focused on co-hosting the Navy Dance, Backes said.  With the first semester of the members' last year out of the way, the Senior Class Board has begun preparations for Senior Week. "The board has a schedule of that week with events including an alumnae brunch, a wine-tasting [event] in Michigan and a blessing of Saint Mary's traditional class rings," Backes said. "The Senior Class Board is very excited to begin our last semester at Saint Mary's College, where we have already made a number of unforgettable memories."