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Friday, April 19, 2024
The Observer

Student senate reconvenes, votes to increase diversity in UCC staff

The University of Notre Dame has a robust ROTC program for undergraduates in all areas of the military. The student senate passed a resolution Wednesday evening to start the process of giving ROTC students priority class registration times.
Courtesy of the University of Notre Dame.

This Wednesday, the Notre Dame Student Senate passed resolutions to increase LGBTQ+ and minority representation among the staff at University Counseling Center (UCC) as well as give Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students earlier registration times for selecting classes.

Resolution 2223-13, introduced by four senators as well as several executive cabinet directors, urges the UCC to make efforts to hire more LGBTQ+ and minority counselors.

The resolution came after recent surveys revealed that LGBTQ+ and minority students at the University feel less comfortable both reaching out to the UCC as well as sharing aspects of their identity with counselors. 

Briana Chappell, director of gender relations - LGBTQ+ advocacy, expanded upon this point, stating, “47.7% of students of color and 35.5% of LGBTQ questions declare that they have been hesitant to reach out to the UCC for support as a result of their identity.”

While students can specify if they would prefer either a male or female counselor or a counselor of color, Chappell said the wait to meet with a specific counselor can be very long.

Chappell also noted that the UCC is facing a shortage of counselors generally and that any and all efforts to increase the number of counselors ought to be taken.

“Additional staffing would not only increase diversity in the UCC staff but would also benefit all students on campus regardless of minority status,” she said.

One senator made a similar point, emphasizing, “we don't have enough counselors to supply the needs of people that need health resources on campus, and hiring more diverse counselors helps everyone.”

The resolution passed overwhelmingly.

During this first meeting of the spring 2023 semester, the senate also passed resolution 2223-11, which requires the office of the Provost to work with the office of the Registrar in order to help ROTC students get earlier class registration times.

Keough Hall senator Derrick Williams, a co-author of the resolution, spoke in favor of the change. He argued out that ROTC students, like student-athletes (who do have early registration times), have complex schedules — making registering for classes much more difficult for them than it is for the ordinary student.

“With great complexity in their schedules and increased course load, ROTC students find it difficult and frustrating to obtain the classes they need while still maintaining a reasonable schedule,” he explained.

Williams added that the students often “deal with many of the same situations and challenges faced by Notre Dame student athletes. ROTC students must balance early morning drills, university travel and afternoon workouts to fulfill their ROTC responsibilities.”

Williams argued that having a scheduling system that is favorable for ROTC students will help the University to both maintain and recruit ROTC students.

“If the University is to continue to attract and recruit these valuable members of the Notre Dame student community, the University must address the difficulty and frustration these students have when registering for classes,” he said.

A current ROTC student and senator also spoke out in favor of the resolution, explaining, his difficulty with fitting long lab classes into his schedule.

“If you ask any ROTC students on Tuesday and Thursday past two, a lot of engineering students have labs right then and they can't go to those labs,” he added, “I think this is really valuable to recruit more ROTC students. I think it's healthy for the university, and I just want to push this as far as we can get it.” 

This resolution also passed overwhelmingly.

Campaign rules were the subject of two additional resolutions passed on Wednesday evening. First, resolution 2223-16 clarified the rules for campaign reimbursements.

Under the current University Constitution, only candidates for student body president and vice president are guaranteed reimbursements for money that they spend campaigning. While it is true that in the past two election cycles, candidates in all student government elections were reimbursed by the Judicial Council, the council was under no obligation to do so.

Now candidates for first-year class council, any class officer position, hall senator, hall president and vice president, Student Union Board (SUB) representatives and off-campus candidates are all guaranteed reimbursements under the University Constitution.

Finally, resolution 2223-17 amended the University Constitution to make clear that campaigning for student government offices is not allowed in the first-floor lobby of the LaFortune Student Center (LaFun). This comes after Student Government announced plans to relocate to the renovated Sorin Room on the first floor of LaFun. 

Next meeting, the senate will discuss a resolution to amend the constitution in order to give diverse student groups more freedom in planning events.

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