The Student Government Association (SGA) at Saint Mary’s College announced in its meeting Wednesday that it will make major changes to its basic structure, giving Saint Mary’s students more diverse representation in the voting process, SGA executive secretary Emma Brink said. After concluding last semester with a preliminary vote to change the structure of SGA, President Nicole Gans said the organization is focusing on answering a few basic questions this semester regarding the restructuring of SGA. “What ways can SGA be structured to best fit the students need?” Gans said. “What is going to happen? What is going to change?” Brink said these changes include restructuring the voting body of the organization into five councils and one senate, rather than the current board of 25 commissioners and the 8-member executive board. “SGA hopes that the new structure will include a board of unbiased voting members in the Senate, a focused group of Councils to produce new ideas and programming, a more efficient flow of information and, overall, more participation within SGA,” she said. Gans said she is optimistic about the restructuring of SGA with regard to student opinions and collaboration between students and the College’s administration and faculty. “I hope that the new structure gives more people a voice on student government,” she said. “We are attempting to build an inclusive system that promotes relationships with administration and faculty.” Brink said SGA is currently operating under a hybrid of the old and new structures, and complete changes will occur along with student government turnover on April 1. The turnover process and the new structure will involve more students in new roles, Brink said. “Now that students can run for Senator positions, the election process this year will be much more exciting and dynamic,” she said. “At the same time, students who prefer working behind-the-scenes can apply for Council positions as committee chairs or members. ” Instead of having the class boards and club presidents comprise the board of commissioners, the new councils will represent various student interest groups, including the Student Academic Council and the councils of Activities, Clubs, Class Boards and Committee Chairs, Brink said. The president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and chief of staff of SGA will each serve as the head of one of the five councils. Brink said the council members will be appointed by interviews conducted by the SGA president or by individual academic departments. However, this process will not appoint class board presidents and the Student Activity Board, Resident Hall Association and Student Diversity Board presidents. Position names will also be changed to incorporate the full responsibilities of each position, Brink said. The executive treasurer and secretary will now be vice presidents of Finance and Internal Affairs, respectively, and the chief of staff will now serve as the vice president of External Affairs. Brink said the new Senate will be comprised of 15 students who are not currently members of SGA, and these students cannot serve on any of the five new councils. Since Senate members will represent a variety of student perspectives and interests, such as class years, dorms, clubs and other student organizations, Brink said she hopes the Senate will provide opportunities for the freshman class to get more involved on campus and pursue leadership roles. “While this restructuring process will take time, SGA hopes that our work will result in a more efficient board and a broader, more diverse group of leaders representing the Student Body,” Brink said. Gans said she hopes the new system will complement the success of the current administration. “I am so proud of the current administration for all of their hard work,” she said. “I hope [our successors] will find the new structure is more efficient, allows for more effective communication, and that it will allow them to focus on important issues.”
The Saint Mary’s Alumnae Association Board concluded their week-long bi-annual meeting with the traditional Alumnae “Welcome Home” Tailgate on the avenue prior to the Notre Dame-Michigan game Saturday afternoon.President of the Alumnae Association Board of Directors Kelly Walsh, class of 2001, said the tailgate came out of the community work of several members of the board.“It has been an annual event that during our annual meeting, we meet for a fall tailgate,” she said. “It’s free of charge. We underwrite it in conjunction with help from Sodexo. We typically expect about 100 or so [alumnae]. We just welcome alumnae back to campus. It’s a way to engage with alumnae from around the country.”The board operates the “Success After Saint Mary’s” event for all students during its time on-campus, providing assistance and advice for career fairs and self-promotional speeches, Walsh said.“In the fall we try to connect with students on campus,” she said. “We do the ‘Success After Saint Mary’s’ [event]. We had 89 students. It was a great meeting, a lot of engaged alumnae, a lot of great ideas to keep it active in the future.”Welsh said she credits her educational experience at Saint Mary’s as instrumental to both her role at CNA Insurance and in her life.“I love the college,” she said. “I feel like it plays such an instrumental part in who I am today in preparing you for the world outside of Saint Mary’s. It’s a better place when you have more confident Saint Mary’s women out there.”Board secretary Kelly Cook Lewis said she was happy to be back on campus.“The meetings were wonderful,” she said. “We love being back on campus. We love to work. It’s a working board. We love being aligned with the college … This is kind of wrapping it up in a fun fashion to not only incorporate alumnae but also current students.”Lewis said it is important for students to maintain their relationships with current classmates and alumnae both now and beyond graduation.A class of 1997 business major, Lewis said she resides in Maryland but tries to visit Saint Mary’s several times a year.“I make it out here for two board meetings, but I just make it out here in addition to that, because I just can’t get enough,” she said. “Coming in on the Avenue, it just makes me happy. It’s just so exciting.”Alumna MaryJane Klein, a nursing student of the class of 1982, said she continues to come to the event because of the unique interaction and connection with other alumnae and current students.“It makes you really proud to be a Saint Mary’s grad because the women you see — both the current students and the past students — are just so friendly and welcoming and intelligent,” she said. “It’s fun to talk to people, and it’s fun to see if you can recognize anybody.”Klein said this visit was especially memorable since she had the opportunity to speak with several current students about their Saint Mary’s experiences.“I got to talk to some current students, and I was so proud of how well-spoken, articulate and friendly they were,” she said. “It makes me very proud to be an alumnae. This is the kind of alumnae that Saint Mary’s produces. It makes me very proud of my school. That’s what it meant to come back as alumnae.”Saint Mary’s only a capella group Bellacapella performed at the tailgate, singing favorites such as “I Love Rock n’ Roll” and the Notre Dame fight song, senior Nia Parillo said.“We have sung there for the past couple of years, and we absolutely love it,” Parillo said. “I was so excited when Claire Stewart, our president and the one that was contacted, told me that we were asked to sing at the alumnae tailgate.“We always feel so welcomed, and we get a great response from the audience when we sing there. My favorite part is when we sing the ‘Belles of Saint Mary’s’ for the alumnae. Some start to cry, others can’t stop smiling and then we have those who join us in song. It really brings the Saint Mary’s community together and the ‘once a Belle, always a Belle’ saying alive.”Parillo said she loves every opportunity she gets to talk with alumnae, especially since she will soon join the club when she graduates in May.“We compare experiences and update them on some changes to the college,” she said. “But for me, I always loved asking what they majored in as an undergrad. Being able to meet successful Saint Mary’s women is so encouraging. I love hearing about their paths up to and after Saint Mary’s.”Parillo said she also believes that Saint Mary’s forms students into strong and educated women.“SMC pushes us past what we think our potential is,” she said. “I think because of that, alumnae want to give back to the college and help the current and future Belles to have the same experience and growth.”The Saint Mary’s connection holds significance as a result of the shared experiences between all alumnae and current students, Parillo said.“There is a level of understanding and connection even between generations,” she said. “Alumnae give me the hope and energy to know that Saint Mary’s will help me get to where I want to be. Also, it’s important because alumnae really help on campus. They are generous enough to donate money to the College that helps the current and future Belles.”Tags: Alumnae, Alumnae Association, Success After Saint Mary’s, Welcome Home Tailgate
This Christmas, some celebrators may look for a bowed vehicle in their driveway, while others consider themselves lucky to receive a donated book. This holiday season, Saint Mary’s student body is catering to the latter.The College is hosting a two-week book drive that ends Dec. 19 in an attempt to increase literacy and to encourage students to focus on giving rather than on receiving, Erin Cisneros, senior member of the Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC), said.Cisneros said although all genres of books are welcome, textbooks would be the most useful donations because they are informative, expensive and casual — students will have no purpose for them once the semester ends. The drive’s acceptance of textbooks regardless of their condition leaves no student with an excuse to not participate, Cisneros said.“We are hoping that girls will choose to provide knowledge to others who don’t have the same opportunities as us,” she said. “Students can give away any reading materials they no longer want.”The recipients are not the only ones benefitting from the donations, Cisneros said. She said the drive was an opportunity for Saint Mary’s students to learn the value of selfless giving in the holiday spirit by giving away a book or two.Cisneros said the books collected on the College’s campus would then be given to WorldWide Books, an organization that has donated over 3 million books globally and an organization with ties to numerous institutions who share a the desire to spread a love of learning. WorldWide Books centers around raising awareness to the growing issue of illiteracy, hoping also to help the environment by promoting recycling, she said. Each year, it donates hundreds of thousands of books to people around the world in the hopes that everyone can gain at least a little bit of knowledge and can appreciate the importance of education.Cisneros said students should consider how lucky they are to attend college at all, given that 785 million people who are over 15 years old live without literacy.WorldWide Books serves both the local and a national community to create maximum impact on this statistic, Cisneros said. She said the organization takes hundreds of thousands of damaged books and turns them into useable paper.Cisneros said like the Saint Mary’s Book Drive, WorldWide Books encourages people to recognize the value of basic reading and comprehension skills, for these can lead to eventual employment. She said the success of the Book Drive lies in the students hands.“It’s important that students participate because we have been blessed to attend such a prestigious college and others would do anything to trade places with us,” Cisneros said. “Everybody deserves the gift of an education.”
Chris Collins | The Observer Students congregate in the new Duncan Student Center Tuesday. The new center, which was inaugurated by University officials on Monday, will serve as a new hub for many different student activities and groups.Associate vice president of student affairs Brian Coughlin said the Duncan Student Center stands out from the rest of the Campus Crossroads project — which includes the new O’Neill Hall and Corbett Family Hall — due to its centrality to student life at Notre Dame.“I think it’s the one building that is solely designed with you all in mind,” he said. “ … I think this was really intentionally put on this side of the stadium — closest to DeBartolo and Mendoza — so that there would be this flow between those buildings during the academic day, that you could see this as really part of your day-to-day experience.”While student feedback influenced much of the design of the building, including the innovation lab on the first floor, Chris Abayasinghe, senior director of Campus Dining, said these opinions were particularly crucial when determining what new dining options would be available in the center.“As we think about the restaurants themselves and the conceptualization, one of the main driving points for us was with our students,” he said. “We engaged them early on in the process. What we wanted to do was, we wanted to find restaurant concepts that speak to the trends of the future.”These “micro-restaurants” — Star Ginger Asian Grill and Noodle Bar, Modern Market and Haggerty Family Cafe — focus particularly on diverse and organic food options, Abaysinghe said. The addition of these restaurants, he said, is expected to attract more community members to Campus Dining services each year.“So historically, our program serves, on the student dining side, 2.1 million meals a year, and then on the retail side, about another two million,” he said. “We anticipate, with the addition of these three new restaurants to our restaurant portfolio, that we should see at least a 20 percent lift on those.”In addition to an increased number of dining facilities, RecSports’s move from the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center to the third floor of the Duncan Student Center has allowed the program to increase the number of fitness machines and activities studios available, Mark Williams, director of RecSports, said.“We’ve increased the amount of treadmills, for example, from nine to 28,” he said. “… One of our goals is to make sure that there are no waiting lists for anyone. Before you had to sign up and you would wait, but now I think we have enough equipment where the students, the faculty and the staff will have more of an opportunity to come in at their leisure.”Students played a role in determining what the focus of the RecSports facilities would be, Coughlin said.“At first there was more of an emphasis on courts, and now we switched it during the process to be getting more pieces of equipment and more activities studios,” he said. “The shape of the track — we heard that people didn’t want just an oval, they wanted something unique and something different to run on each day. So if you go up there, it’s kind of a funky shape.”The facilities feature state-of-the-art equipment, 98 percent of which is brand new, Williams said, including a 37-and-a-half-foot climbing wall, a spin room and personal viewing screens connected to the internet on the cardio machines.“You could watch ESPN, you could watch Netflix, whatever,” he said. “… We tried to make it where you could have a space where, if you really needed to, be engaged with social media or whatever, and another space where if you didn’t want to — if you just wanted to come up and just ride the bike or walk the track.”Hoffmann Harding said she is most excited to watch students discover the extent of the building’s capabilities and features, such as numerous outlets throughout the center, private study areas and meeting spaces for student groups.“It’s going to take time for everyone to live into the space to see everything that it does,” she said. “There are probably only about five people on campus … who have knowledge of all of the pieces of furniture and all of the spaces and their capabilities, so it’ll be fun to watch.”The office of student affairs is hosting a “Best of Duncan” event to introduce students to the building’s features, director of communications for the office of student affairs Kate Morgan said, which will offer performances by student groups, giveaways, food samples and interactive RecSports classes.“It’s being held just like Best of LaFortune would be, only it’s in conjunction with Walk the Walk Week,” she said. “So we will have student group performances throughout the building, I think using those various spaces on the stairs [and] in Haggerty Family Cafe. … I would say that that’s the next biggest event that is coming up in this space — to really show it off to students.”While Coughlin said parts of the Duncan Student Center were designed with specific uses in mind, he said his greatest hope is that students “use it how [they] want to use it” and come up with creative ways to take advantage of the facilities.“If all we do is move currently existing programs or dances into the [Dahnke] Ballroom and into the space, then I think we’ve failed,” Coughlin said. “My hope is that the students and all the programming groups on campus create new programs to put in that Ballroom and to put in these spaces. The story of it’s unwritten.”Tags: Campus DIning, duncan student center, Erin Hoffmann Harding, Office of Student Affairs, RecSports, Student Life After years of planning and construction, the Duncan Student Center officially opened to the entire Notre Dame community Monday.The new student center, which vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said is meant to complement the LaFortune Student Center, sits on the west side of Notre Dame Stadium and houses RecSports, the Career Center, most student media and three new campus dining options.The decor of the building features homages to the Notre Dame football program — such as wood from the stadium’s old benches — and incorporates student art.“It has, we hope, a very lofty feel, but with nods to the stadium nearby, but really the ownership of the student body itself in many of the touches that you see around,” Hoffmann Harding said.
Rosie LoVoi | The Observer Experts speak on a Monday panel hosted by Saint Mary’s Master of Autism Studies Program about the portrayal autistic individuals in the media. Panelists emphasized the importance of avoiding stereotypes.Waddell said while “Rain Man” helped introduce the public to autism, it popularized unrealistic stereotypes about the lives of people on the spectrum. After the film’s release, he said, autistic individuals were typecast as “savants” who were incapable of functioning in normal society.“[Rain Man] was the image of autism for many years,” he said.Waddell added that recent media portrayals of autistic individuals have challenged some, but not all, of these stereotypes. He advised individuals to be mindful of how the disorder is depicted in film and television.“It’s very good for us to be reflective about the ways in which images of autism in the popular media are shaping all of our imaginations of what autism is,” he said.Dr. Nancy Turner, chairperson of the Department of Education at Saint Mary’s, said documentaries play a particularly important role in educating the public about the disorder. She added that documentaries that feature the voices of autistic individuals are especially valuable.“It highlights their views, that they’re fine, just the way they are,” she said. “That they don’t need to be fixed.”Fictional works, she said, can also help combat social stigma by offering a more intimate view into of the lives of those on the spectrum. However, she added, individuals ought to be wary of how accurately the disorder is portrayed.“While, again, there’s much that can be learned about autism from these shows, I think the viewer has to be cognizant of possible stereotypical portrayals,” she said.Dr. Susan Latham, director of the Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology program at Saint Mary’s, said the media can help individuals without autism understand the daily struggles those with autism face, such as navigating social situations.She said while watching the television show “The Good Doctor,” she noted that the protagonist, a physician with autism, is often portrayed as isolated from others.“It always seems as though he is separate from the other group,” she said.Latham noted that depicting such issues through film and television can help promote greater public empathy for those with autism.Dr. Joshua Diehl, chief strategy officer for LOGAN Autism Services, said he worries that past portrayals of autism in the media media has focused too heavily on the disorder itself rather than on the individuals who have it.“It’s very hard to find art that exists in which for that character, the autism isn’t the prominent thing in that story,” he said.Instead, he said, the media ought to tell stories that represent autistic individuals holistically.Dr. Juhi Kaboski, a faculty fellow for the Master of Autism Studies program, said it is important to remember the chief motivation behind producing a work of media is profit.“All these movies are, at least a lot of the times, for profit,” she said. “They want to be entertaining.”Kaboski added that this can often unintentionally cause misguided or insensitive portrayals of autism.“[Media is] made to entertain,” she said. “In the process of doing that, I think they forget that people with autism are watching them.”Tags: Autism, Master of Autism Studies, media portrayals To promote dialogue about how individuals with autism are portrayed in the media, the Master of Autism Studies Program at Saint Mary’s hosted a panel on the subject Monday night in the Duncan Student Center.Dr. Michael Waddell, director of the Master of Autism Studies program, opened the panel with a discussion about the 1988 film, “Rain Man.” The film was among the first to feature an autistic protagonist, Waddell said.“At that time, most people hadn’t even heard of autism, much less met someone who was on the spectrum,” he said.
Editor’s note: This is the second part in a series exploring the experiences of low socioeconomic students at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.When sophomore Eric Kim was ranking colleges for his QuestBridge application, he added Notre Dame because he applied to “any school that had a business program.” It wasn’t until after he was matched with the University that he began to understand the campus culture.“When I applied, it didn’t hit that this was a Catholic institution; it didn’t hit that we are financially wealthy; it didn’t hit that this was a white-dominated university,” he said. “I lived in an area that was 50 percent Asian, so it was a culture shock coming here. It is a culture shock for many people who live in California who are low-income, minority and low socio-economic status.”As the QuestBridge liaison for the Quest Chapter of Notre Dame, Kim works with many low-income students who might be having similar experiences and helps them find resources on campus. The Office of Student EnrichmentOne resource Kim said he and his executive board “push as available” is the Office of Student Enrichment. The office’s assistant director, Consuela Wilson, said they were created almost three years ago to “formalize” what used to be called the Rector Fund and provide financial resources and programming to first-generation and low-income students. “As the need [for resources] grew, more people were trying to tap into the Rector Fund,” she said. “It seemed to need more than that one person in Student Affairs. But also, having an office such as this is a direction that more and more schools are moving into: having dedicated personnel in resources and programming for first-generation or low-income students.” Wilson said there are two main funds available: the Experience Fund, which is used for club dues, seminars, retreats, football tickets and the like; and the Opportunity Fund, which assists with funds for laptops, winter clothing, professional attire and travel for emergency purposes. There are also programs to help bring parents and families to campus for both Junior Parents’ Weekend and Commencement. “We don’t want a lack of funding to keep a student from having the type of experience they would like to have here,” Wilson said. While rectors have remained an important reference point even after the change in name, Wilson said “word of mouth has been really crucial” to informing students of the resources available. “Word of mouth, especially here at Notre Dame, goes really, really quickly,” she said. “We’ve utilized some of the different classes — the junior class, the senior class — to get the word out about the assistance programs for JPW and Commencement. Often the clubs will know, so if there are members of a club who are having trouble paying their dues, often those treasurers will know and will make them aware of that.”Income disparityKim said he personally believes Notre Dame generally does a “good job” and that he has been “appreciative” of the efforts in the Office of Admissions to recruit more low-income students, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t areas to improve. “I really am thankful being here at Notre Dame,” he said. “I’m really thankful for financial aid, really thankful for admissions counselors who have reached out to me, who have helped me through this whole process, my friends here, the professors here — everyone at this University I’m really thankful for. But of course, no matter what school you go to, there will be flaws to look into. So it’s a matter of us taking action towards it.”Describing his home in southern California, Kim said he didn’t “really face much income disparity.” “Coming here, you do see some divide between income disparities,” he said. “Not that students flaunt their wealth, but you see that these students are privileged and sometimes they don’t understand people of low socioeconomic status and their struggles, and they don’t need to understand that. “It’s one thing that is kind of controversial, I would say: How much help can we get without being stigmatized?”Kim tried to study abroad in Spain during the summer but, as financial aid does not transfer to the summer, he was unable to do so. “I had this encounter with a person who asked me if I’m studying abroad,” he said. “And I said, ‘No, I can’t afford it.’ And she was saying, ‘But, there’s this scholarship, the SLA grant.’ And I said, ‘That’s only $5,500 of the $9,000 dollars you have to pay.’ And she said, ‘That’s still $5,500.’ And I’m like, ‘Even $1,000, itself, I can’t afford.’”Minor comments can make it clear students are “oblivious” to the experiences of some of their classmates, Kim said. “If you’re not living that lifestyle, you don’t need to know,” he said. “You don’t want to know.” Looking forwardDon Bishop, associate vice president of undergraduate enrollment, has spent the last few years looking at how to recruit and admit more students from low-income backgrounds, raising the percentage of Pell Grant recipients at Notre Dame from 8 percent to 11 percent between 2001 and 2014.Notre Dame is not the only school making the push to enroll more low-income students. Thirty elite colleges — including Princeton, Vanderbilt and the University of Michigan — banded together over a year ago with the goal of enrolling an additional 50,000 low- and moderate-income students at top institutions by 2025. “Our goal is to not only keep the students that we have, we want to grow in the number of low income just like a fair number of our peers are doing right now,” Bishop said. “ … We’re seeing the Princetons and some of the others, most of them are at between 15 and 20 some-odd percent Pell. So, when can Notre Dame get there, and why isn’t Notre Dame there now?“I do think that that assurance campaign that Stanford or Northwestern [has], Notre Dame needs to develop that and that’s in front of us. We haven’t accomplished that yet. And part of it, we were trying to see how much we could raise in fundraising, so that if we’re going to do an assurance program, can we fund it?”When the Office of Student Enrichment was created, they really wanted to “formalize the financial assistance part first,” Wilson said. Looking forward, though, she said more focus is being put on creating programming opportunities beyond the leadership development and budgeting workshops they currently offer. “Programming is — and will be — a really big part of what we feel like we are are charged to do in helping students with [culture shock],” she said. “Not just preparing, but giving them a space to talk about that with people who may understand or may have that shared experience.”Expanding the financial resources available is also in the talks, Wilson said. “Right now, we don’t assist with anything that would be over the summer. We only assist with asks that are during the year,” she said. “ … I think it’s because we needed to wait and see how our funding stretched for these first couple of years with students for that academic year, before we made that jump. So, that’s something we’re in the talks about. That’s one thing that I can see will be a challenge of ours. Not to say that it’s not doable, but it’s a challenge of ours.” Access to financial and social resources on campus is taken into consideration before students are even on campus. Bishop said the hardest part of his job was figuring out how to strike the right balance when deciding which students who might be more of a “risk” should be admitted.“Part of my responsibility as a University administrator in charge of enrollment and admissions is, do I put them in that situation or not?” he said. “Where’s the ethical line for Notre Dame to put a student into a level of opportunity or to sit there and say, ‘Are we exploiting this student?’ Where it feels good to put them in our statistics, but how do they feel about being here? We have to be honorable about that, and caring.”Kim said he’s not sure how much the University will — or even can — stand up to “what is going on in our culture.” “It’s also hard for us to make any changes because no one wants to talk about it,” he said. “And because no one wants to talk about it, it’s hard to find anything to change, when no one knows what there’s to change. So that’s why I’m trying to voice my opinions. Because who will?”Tags: financial aid, financial resources, income inequality, low-income students, Office of Student Enrichment
According to a newly released report, Notre Dame has a $2.46 billion impact on the South Bend-Elkhart region each year. The impact is calculated based on money spent on investments and research; money spent by students, visitors and event attendees and the wage premium that Notre Dame graduates earn.“Notre Dame’s economic and cultural impact is growing beyond South Bend to incorporate the broader region,” Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins said in the press release. “This growth reflects Notre Dame’s partnership with the thriving South Bend-Elkhart region — a place for robust employment and cultural life beyond the boundaries of the University. Notre Dame’s success can be measured in part by how well our neighbors flourish.”According to the release, Notre Dame supports 16,700 jobs in the region. It uses a $1.2 billion operations budget annually and has a three-year average of $271 million in capital expenditures, which includes several of the recent large-scale construction and renovations projects. The impact of participant spending from events ranging from athletic to cultural is $256 million, and each home football game contributes $26.4 million to the local region.This year’s report includes a wage premium section, which highlights the 10,000 Notre Dame alumni who live in Indiana and contribute to a $76 million aggregate annual wage premium by being in the workforce.Notre Dame assesses its economic impact every five years. This year’s report was prepared by Econsult Solutions Inc.Tags: economic impact, research funding, wage premium
Catholic Relief Services and Saint Mary’s’ environmental studies department are promoting the use of reusable water bottles and containers on and off campus by organizing a water bottle challenge.The challenge was created by two sophomores, Gabriella Garcia and Ana Liu, and English professor Aaron Moe and has been gaining traction among students and faculty.“[Garcia] and [Liu] are taking my Native American literature course,” Moe said. “In that course, I shared my interest in something like a water bottle challenge. They came and talked to me after class and shared their work with Catholic Relief Service, so we decided to work together to sponsor this water bottle challenge.”Interested students can fill out a Google Form with their name and the amount of time they wish to participate in the challenge — one, three and six months, or a full year. The form also lists specific ways participants can reduce the use of single-use plastics, like using reusable containers instead of disposable plastic bags.“The water bottle challenge specifically challenges those participating to not drink from single-use plastic,” Garcia said. “One could take their own liberties on what they consider single-use. The main goal for us is to reduce the use of single-use plastics as much as possible. I participate by only drinking out of reusable containers, and I will also try to not eat anything that comes packaged in single-use plastic in order to reduce my contribution to the plastic industry.”Over 142 students, faculty and others have signed up to participate in the challenge so far. The motto of the challenge, “Not even a sip from a single-use container,” promotes the discussion behind its purpose, Moe said.“When we recycle, we feel like we are being green when really we should be reducing,” he said. “[We learn] ‘Reduce, reuse, recycle,’ [the] last resort being recycle and throw away. The water bottle challenge is geared towards reducing and not even recycling it. By the time we recycle, that should be a last resort. We should try to find alternatives before it even gets to that point.”Students can pick up a sticker supporting the water bottle challenge Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Center Atrium.“If a student picks up a sticker, it symbolizes that they recognize that there is a problem,” Garcia said. “Hopefully they see changes that they can make in their life to lessen their plastic footprint.”Tags: catholic relief services, environmental studies, reduce, water bottle challenge
Over the course of the year, the University expects to welcome between 2,150 to 2,180 first-year students to the class of 2024 after receiving 21,273 applications and admitting 4,055 students this cycle.Diane Park Predicting that COVID-19 would decrease the yield rate of first-year students, the University offered a few hundred more acceptances than in previous years; however, more students enrolled than anticipated. The incoming class is expected to be at least 100 students larger than last year’s incoming class.With incoming international students still struggling to obtain visas, the exact number of first-year students will remain in flux for the next few months. Don Bishop, associate vice president of undergraduate enrollment, said the University will offer midyear options for international students to enroll at Notre Dame, and depending on how many students receive visas, the makeup of the class of 2024 may change.Admissions received around 60 summer cancellations this year, in comparison to around 30 cancellations in past years. While this number was greater than in past years, Bishop said admissions prepared for an even greater loss. In addition, the number of students electing to take a gap year increased to around 60 to 100 students as opposed to the usual 15 to 20 students.Less than half of the students who applied with an ACT of 34, 35 or 36 or an SAT score of 1500 to 1600 were admitted this year. While the typical Notre Dame student ranks in the top 1 to 2% in their high school class, Bishop said the admissions committee considers more than numbers in its review process.“We look at the rigor of their curriculum,” Bishop said. “Did they seek out more active and creative and challenging learning opportunities? Do they like to think not just accomplish? We looked at their motivation for their success, not just their grades and test scores.”Bishop also said admissions tries to assess how students will use the resources Notre Dame has to offer. When reviewing applications Bishop said the committee asks themselves the following questions: “Do they see the mission of Notre Dame, and do they articulate a connection with what we’re trying to accomplish? Do they want to give more to other people than just take and get tribute for their own talent?”The demographics of the incoming class are comparable to previous years. The class is expected to be composed of 27% U.S. students of color, with 6% African American, 10% Asian American, 10% Hispanic/Latino and 1% Native American.Bishop said 14% of the class will be what he considers “global.” Six percent of these students are international citizens, while the rest are dual-citizen American students or American students raised abroad.“Fifty-nine nations are represented,” Bishop said. “That counts the U.S., so 58 other countries and the United States are represented. The largest countries, China and Mexico, were pretty close to tied, and then Canada, Brazil, England, United Kingdom, Puerto Rico, as a region, South Korea, Ireland, Poland and Spain.”This year, 384 incoming first-years are first-generation college students, recipients of Pell Grants or from families who earn below $65,000. More than 100 students have a home income between $65,000 and $100,000.“The University leadership and the trustees worked with me to increase our planning and our funding for financial aid to go out and recruit more high-need students, and we were successful in that, and I’m very proud of that,” Bishop said.Despite COVID-19, Bishop said the yield rate for lower-income students was comparable to that of past years, but admissions saw an increase in competition for that same group of students.“About 50% more of [low-income students] that we lost went to the top 10 schools in the country than the rest of our applicant pool,” Bishop said. “So they had more of the top 10 options in our pool. The competition for the highest ability low-income students is fierce among the top 15 schools.”The University will also welcome 249 transfer students this year. Seventy-four of those students will transfer to Notre Dame through the Gateway Program in collaboration with Holy Cross College. Traditional transfer students account for 143 of all the transfer students, about half of which are coming from other Catholic universities. Thirty-one students will transfer to Notre Dame through programs in the College of Engineering.“Thirty-one students are three-two or four-one engineers, so they’re three years at the other school or four years at the other school, and then they spend two or one years here getting an additional undergraduate engineering credential,” Bishop said.Since the University gave undergraduate non-first-year students the option of living off-campus in light of COVID-19, most of the transfer students were offered and accepted campus housing.“This is probably the first time that nearly all the transfers were given that opportunity, so in a way that’s kind of nice,” Bishop said.Almost 1,500 high schools across the nation and the globe are represented in the class of 2024, with 44% of students having attended public high schools, 40% Catholic and 16% private or charter schools.About a quarter of the class has chosen to enroll in the College of Arts and Letters, about 21% in the College of Engineering, 24% in the Mendoza College of Business, 28% in the College of Science and 2% in the School of Architecture.“Science has the highest growth,” Bishop said. “Women in science has been, for the last 10 years, a real mover. There are more women going into science than men. I think the percentage of women in the science department is about 60 to 62%, so it’s a very strong trend that continues.”To make up the first-year class, Bishop said admissions looked to admit a diverse set of students in culture, ethnic background, global awareness and economics while looking at applications from a holistic perspective. This year, he thinks, the admissions committee has met their goals.“I used to praise our admitted classes and note how impressed I was with their accomplishments,” Bishop said. “I can now honestly say I am inspired by our students — they have done so much and care so deeply. … I would not trade our enrolling class for any other in the United States.”Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated over 50 incoming first-years are first-generation college students, recipients of Pell Grants or from families who earn below $65,000, and more than 40 students have a home income between $65,000 and $100,000. The Observer regrets these errors.Tags: Admissions, class of 2024, COVID-19, Diversity, Don Bishop, Welcome Week 2020
Rachel Palermo, a third-year Notre Dame Law student will work as assistant press secretary to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated next week, according to a Jan. 8 Biden-Harris press release.Palermo completed her undergraduate degree at St. Olaf College in Minnesota, and from there, worked for the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election as Assistant Press Secretary and Director of Women’s Media. While she was in college, she interned at the Department of Justice.She also worked as a legal extern for former South Bend Mayor and democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, while she was a second-year law student. Since the fall of 2020, Palermo has worked remotely as part of the Biden-Harris Transition communications team.Palermo’s position was announced in the press release detailing new staff to the Office of the Vice President.“These deeply experienced public servants reflect the very best of our nation, and they will be ready to get to work building a country that lifts up all Americans,” Harris said in the release. “I am proud to announce these individuals will be joining my team and look forward to working alongside them each and every day.”Palermo is from Minnesota and is the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant. According to a Thursday post from the Law School, during her time at Notre Dame, Palermo held the roles of president of the Women’s Legal Forum and managing articles editor for the Journal of Law, Ethics & Public Policy, in addition to being an oralist for the Moot Court Board.Tags: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Notre Dame Law School, Rachel Palermo