Handicap access examined

first_img­­When Mary and Rick Hurd traveled to campus for Junior Parents Weekend (JPW), they were looking forward to getting to know their daughter’s friends and their respective families.But during the weekend’s mass, Rick Hurd was separated from his daughter’s friends because he uses a wheelchair and needed handicap seating.“They didn’t anticipate that you might want to sit with a large group of friends and that seemed kind of odd because I thought the whole purpose of JPW was so you could meet your student’s friends and their parents,” Mary Hurd said.“[My daughter] cried and said, ‘this isn’t right,’” Mary Hurd said. “We were at a Mass and the homily and the priest were talking about Jesus would do.“I looked around and saw these handicapped people in these sections far away from the altar, and it was like you were kept at an arms’ length,” she said. “I’m not sure that is what Jesus would do.”Though Mary Hurd said her family’s experience with Notre Dame’s handicap accessibility has generally been satisfactory, JPW exposed glitches in the campus’ architecture and accommodations.Mary Hurd said the Basilica’s handicap seating could also be improved.“We have come to the Basilica. I think it was Easter we were there,” she said. “We couldn’t sit together because there wasn’t enough handicap seating.”With many buildings on campus built around 100 years ago, some architecture does not lend itself to handicap accessibility. With newer dorms, however, the accommodations are much easier for those with physical disabilities.“The bookstore, the dining hall — we’ve been ale to eat with my daughter and her friends,” Mary Hurd said. “The football stadium access has been wonderful. The ushers are very accommodating.”Program Coordinator for the Office for Students with Disabilities Scott Howland said the University has worked to include handicap accessibility into plans for renovations and new buildings.“The University has begun to have a formal plan that will be implanted across the next few years,” Howland said. “Since I’ve been here since 1995, there has always been an attempt made by the University when they are doing renovations or projects to include accessibility issues in that.”Howland said his office does not focus on accessibility issues, but will sometimes receive calls and redirect them to the appropriate departments.Specifically, Howland deals with students who have learning disabilities and provides them with services to assist them in learning.“My responsibility and my job in the office is to work with students directly for primarily academic accommodations. I think we do a pretty good job of meeting those needs,” he said. “[With] a need for a residence hall accommodations or adaptations, I work with housing to do that so I think that’s something that’s addressed and needs are met.”Howland said he works with around 225 students with learning disabilities, who seem to be satisfied with their services, according to surveys his office has conducted.Sophomore Katelyn Kelliher, a student with dyslexia, said she has been pleased with the services the University offers to accommodate her disability.“When I came here they offered me more services than I could ever imagine. I’d get extra times on my exams, which is great. I get my books on tape which helps a lot,” she said.Someone also takes notes for Kelliher in all of her classes, which allows her to focus on the information being presented, she said.“I am really good with auditory learning,” she said. “I sit in class and I absorb info. I can almost repeat back to you the entire class.”Kelliher said Howland helped arrange her class schedule to accommodate her disability.“I’m not really good at languages. You learn through reading and writing [in foreign language classes] and that’s my weakness area,” she said. “He worked with me to get into a sign language class to substitute for my language classes.“There are so many opportunities that Notre Dame offers so I try to take advantage of all of them.”Kelliher said she knows other students with both learning and physical disabilities, and has noticed a few accessibility issues on campus.“Sometimes the handicap access doors don’t work on certain buildings or the access doors are not the most convenient doors or the doors most used,” she said.“I’m in Breen Phillips Hall and I broke my ankle last year. I was only on crutches for a while [but] there are steps everywhere,” Kelliher said. “I don’t think that’s the fault of Notre Dame. They are old buildings. The newer buildings can accommodate people.”Mary Hurd said she was satisfied with accessibility in her daughter’s dorm.“I can’t say we’ve had any access issues when [my daughter] was in Pangborn. Pangborn has an elevator,” she said.Overall, Kelliher said she feels people are pleased with the University’s accommodations for physical and learning disabilities.“In the general sense when it comes up, most people seem satisfied,” she said.last_img read more

Read More »

Alumni showcase leadership

first_imgNotre Dame students generally maintain a consistent reputation of being motivated student leaders who strive for excellence both inside and outside of the classroom. But the 22 Notre Dame alumni who currently serve as presidents of American colleges and universities demonstrate the drive to lead others does not stop when students graduate from the University. University Spokesman Dennis Brown recently tweeted about the current contingent of university presidents with ties to Notre Dame, including 32 other living alumni who are retired college presidents. University President Fr. John Jenkins, a member of this group, attributes the display of leadership to Notre Dame’s success in developing students into the leaders of society “At Notre Dame, we seek to develop individuals who will, as our mission statement puts it, ‘take leadership in building a society that is at once more human and more divine,’” he said. “Our alumni are doing that in many fields.” Several members of this group have also held positions in the Notre Dame administration after graduating from the University with undergraduate or graduate degrees. Carol Mooney, an alumna and president of Saint Mary’s College, and Fr. William Beauchamp, president of the University of Portland, both earned law degrees from Notre Dame, served as members of the Law School faculty and spent several years in the upper levels of University administration before assuming their current positions. Mooney said her educational experiences at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s prepared her well for the duties of being president of the College, a position she has held since 2004. “My academic experience as a student at Notre Dame’s Law School … honed my analytic abilities and taught me to focus on the heart of a problem and its solution,” she said. “Above all, as both a Saint Mary’s undergraduate and a Notre Dame law student, I learned to never lose sight of the people involved in any situation and to be sensitive to the fact that decisions impact the lives of human beings.” Beauchamp, a former executive vice president of the University, said his experience working as an administrator with Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Fr. Edmund Joyce and Fr. Edward Malloy provided him a great deal of insight on how to be a successful university president. “Being part of their administrations, seeing how they functioned and spending as much time as I did with Fr. Hesburgh was a valuable experience, especially to see how a person at his level operated,” Beauchamp said. “I had a lot of things to deal with on a daily basis working as executive vice president under Fr. Malloy, but I learned over time what works and what doesn’t and learned from my mistakes. When I came to Portland I brought with me that sense of how to be an administrator.” Kevin Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin system, said Hesburgh and his visionary work at Notre Dame provide Reilly a constant model of excellence. “Fr. Hesburgh is a shining instance of what you can accomplish as a university president, so as I thought about the possibility of becoming a president, I had his example in mind,” Reilly said. Brian Casey, president of DePauw University, said Hesburgh’s omnipresence on campus significantly influenced his undergraduate experience at Notre Dame and the philosophy he adheres to in his current position. “We absolutely revered Ted Hesburgh … It was like Hollywood centrally cast him as president of Notre Dame,” Casey said. “I learned from Fr. Ted that he viewed one of his jobs as embodying and promoting the pride of an institution, so I could feel that and I view that as one of my jobs at DePauw. I try to learn from the master.” Casey, a member of the last graduating class of Hesburgh’s presidential tenure, also said Hesburgh contacted him within the first month of Casey’s term at DePauw. “I cannot tell you how much that touched me,” Casey said. Though Reilly serves as president of a secular university system, he said the Catholic education he received at Notre Dame gave him a unique perspective. “Part of what I got out of Catholic intellectual tradition was that knowledge itself is a good thing, and a greater understanding of the universe and the world is worth pursuing in its own terms. The search for it ought to be tied to using knowledge … for improving the lot of humankind,” he said. “The ability to help more and more Americans achieve higher education is how I always thought about getting an education, and I think about being president as a service to others.” Casey said his Notre Dame undergraduate experience was the most energizing of his higher education experiences, which also include a law degree from Stanford and a doctorate in history from Harvard. “Notre Dame opened up an entire intellectual world for me. I came as a fine student but became a better student there,” he said. “It’s a place of energy, excitement and community, so I always thought universities should be marked by such things and be alive with ideas, connection, friendship and joy.” Casey said the strong sense of pride and community at Notre Dame provides a model for American institutions of higher education. “When I arrived at Notre Dame, I came to a place that was an academic, social and spiritual community,” he said. “It’s a place where all things come together, and for me it has been a model of what an institution ought to strive for.”last_img read more

Read More »

President Obama to serve second term

first_imgMembers of Notre Dame College Democrats took over the first floor of LaFortune Student Center Tuesday night to watch state-by-state election results come in. Students arrived as early as 7 p.m. and stayed throughout the evening, which culminated in President Obama winning a second term as President. Juniors Vanessa Silva and Zach Agudelo came clad in their College Democrats shirts and eagerly watched the night’s coverage.    “I’m a political science major, so this stuff fascinates me,” Silva said. “I feel very passionate about Romney not winning so I’m here watching sadly [referring to the close results].  But hopefully that will change.” Agudelo is also a political science major who interned with Brendan Mullen, the Indiana 2nd District candidate for the House of Representatives, during this campaign season. “I’m pretty nervous about it,” Agudelo said.  “I interned with Mullen so I’m looking forward to seeing how that turns out.  I’m also from Maryland and sent in my absentee ballot for the first time. Obama will win Maryland, so that’s good.” Freshmen Kevin King and Matt Munhall said they have been closely following the election and were excited to vote for the first time. “I’ve been paying attention to the news this whole campaign cycle and following it pretty closely,” Munhall said.  “I’m from Arizona and voted with an absentee ballot.  I love that in America we can have free, fair and peaceful elections every four years and that no matter the outcome we’ll move forward as a nation to stop our problems.” They also agreed the atmosphere of the College Democrats’ election watch was electric. “Active democratic participation is what moves America forward,” Munhall said.  “I think it’s interesting how in this room everyone is on their laptop checking their Twitter feeds every five seconds, checking the polls.” King has been working on and off for the Donnelly and Mullen campaigns, he said. “I guess the only thing that could make [the election watch] better is if Obama was here himself,” King said.  “I’m definitely excited to see how [the election] turns out.” Sophomore and political science major Kevin Fernandez said he was pleased with the welcoming, friendly atmosphere of the election watch. “I thought everyone was going to be kind of in cliques watching on their own; I didn’t think it would be as friendly as it is,” Fernandez said.  “Everybody is talking and cheering as everything comes in.  I’ve been anxious and worried all day, waiting for 7 p.m., for when it starts to matter.  Nothing can pry my eyes off election coverage.  I’m going to stay here a long time.” Freshman Zoe Rote, who has lived in two key states for the election, said she was specifically watching their numbers come in across the news reports. “I’m from North Carolina, but I grew up in Colorado,” Rote said.  “So it’s been very exciting having allegiance to two swing states and closely following their progress.” Rote and freshman May Stewart said they planned to stay at the club watch until the final results across the country came in. “Nobody needs sleep, this is important,” Stewart said. Freshman Connor Hayes didn’t hold back his celebration when Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren was predicted to win in her race for the Massachusetts Senate seat. “I’m incredibly hopeful about Elizabeth Warren’s tenure in the Senate because she’s very unabashed in her views, and I think she’ll add a refreshing liberal presence,” Hayes said. Hayes also said he enjoyed being surrounded by other Democrats during the election watch. “I came because I really enjoy watching this with other people and seeing how energized my peers are about the election,” Hayes said.  “When you’re watching it alone with just a few friends you tend to lose hope.”  Graduate Will McBurney predicted the early announcement as he waited for what he considered to be a shoe-in victory for Obama. “Obama is definitely going to be president,” McBurney said. “The only two states left are really Virginia and Florida. To be honest, I am probably more excited about Romney not being president.” Just before midnight, Obama’s re-election brought deafening cheers and endless excitement among the Democrats in LaFortune. “It’s heartening that we don’t have an issue like we did in 2000, when the election was so close and so drawn out,” Hayes said.  “I’m just so thrilled to know that when I graduate it will be the result of four more years of Obama’s policies, so incredibly excited for this whole new administration to take on Washington.”last_img read more

Read More »

Seniors celebrate final victory at home

first_imgFor a quarter of the student body, Saturday’s football victory against Wake Forest represented more than an undefeated season at home. It also marked the seniors’ last game in the student section of Notre Dame Stadium. Saint Mary’s senior Maria Malm said this weekend’s celebrations were the perfect culmination to her four years in the student section as a Notre Dame fan. “I had so much fun in the stands on Saturday,” she said. “The atmosphere was incredible and it was so great to get to spend it with all of my classmates. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my last game as a student.” While the Irish victory and preservation of the undefeated record were key components to the weekend’s joy, Malm said one of the best parts of the game came after the final whistle when she and other seniors spilled onto the field. “Going on the field was by far one of the highlights of my four years in the student section,” she said. “I had so much fun taking pictures and just taking it all in. It was a special moment and I know I’ll remember it forever.” Saint Mary’s senior Claire Priestly joined Malm and the other seniors in rushing the field after the game. She also said it was a special way to celebrate her time as a student fan. “It was a great end to the four years I’ve spent going to the games with all of my friends,” she said. “We had so much fun and enjoyed it a lot.” Saint Mary’s senior Megan Lynch also spent her Saturday in the student section cheering on the Irish for one final time. She said her final game was enjoyable, if also surreal. “It didn’t hit me that it was the last game until I was walking into the Stadium,” she said. “It was sad thinking that I would never be able to attend a game as a student again, but it was extra special to walk into the last game with the same best friends that I walked into my first home game with freshman year.” Notre Dame senior Ellie Griep said she thought Saturday’s game marked the end of a fantastic senior season. “This is the perfect senior season,” she said. “No. 1 is the pinnacle and we will all ride out on that high.” Griep said cheering on the Irish this year was a different experience than past seasons. “I have never cared about football as a sport before, and still am not interested in any other team or league, but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to see Notre Dame at the BCS National Championship,” she said. In addition to beating Wake Forest and maintaining an undefeated season at home, Malm said she was also excited about other results in the college football world. “Going to bed Saturday night with the news both Oregon and Kansas State lost was the perfect ending to the day’s festivities,” she said. “I can’t believe the season Notre Dame has had, and I feel so blessed I was here to experience it all.” Notre Dame senior Eddie Hjerpe agreed the season has been a perfect culmination of the past four years and quoted the football team from popular television show “Friday Night Lights” on their quest for a state championship. “One team, one dream. … We’re going to state,” he said. “[I] could not have asked for a better year to be a senior at Notre Dame.”last_img read more

Read More »

A big step for Notre Dame’

first_imgIn March, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution pushing for improved inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) students through the establishment of a gay-straight alliance (GSA). On Wednesday, the University announced a new plan to form an officially recognized student organization for GLBTQ students. The plan will also establish a new advisory board to replace the Core Council and hire a full-time staff member to act as a liaison between students and administration on matters of inclusion.   While the new organization will not be the exact GSA proposed in the March resolution, Faculty Senate chair Doug Archer said he thought the plan is a “major step forward.” “It’s part of a larger concern, just speaking for myself, part of a larger concern for full equity and full access and full equality for all persons on campus,” he said. “This was one very concrete step that could be taken.” The Faculty Senate most recently met Tuesday night, before the announcement about the new plan had been made. “The announcement hadn’t come out yet so I can’t give you a reaction from the Senate,” he said. “I expect that they will be very pleased and appreciative of [University President Fr. John Jenkins’s] decision, of the effort that went into it.” The decision is sure to incite criticism from some, Archer said, but he foresaw a fairly positive reception among his colleagues. “There will always be difference of opinion. … Fr. Jenkins said this, as quoted in The Observer, that you know some people will think he’s gone too far, some will think he won’t have gone far enough,” Archer said. “I would just say I think it’s a major positive step, and some faculty will think we haven’t gone far enough yet. I hope it keeps rolling over time.” The change in perspective on GLBTQ issues has been significant even in the last few decades since he joined the faculty in 1978, Archer said. “It’s hard to remember now that this issue, just including [GLBTQ] people, is new in my lifetime,” he said. “Growing up in the [1950s,] the atmosphere [on gay and lesbian issues] was certainly repressive and it has continued in that way in many places. But just in society in general, this change of attitude. We’re not there yet where it’s not an issue, but I see this huge improvement.” A GLBTQ organization for students would be an important avenue for their voice to be heard. “That’s what’s happening now, there will be a voice in the system,” Archer said. “And they have to determine, in a way, what their next steps will be. … How do they feel about where they are in this campus and where they would like to see things go?” Archer said the Faculty Senate has invited Jenkins to speak at one of its next meetings about the GLBTQ issues. Their next meeting is set for February.   While the new organization is primarily for undergraduate and graduate students, Archer said he hopes its inception will help build a more welcoming environment for faculty members who identify as GLBTQ. “I hope this is a positive thing for them,” Archer said. “I feel that if the student population is recognized and affirmed that it’s also true, it’s got to improve the atmosphere for faculty and staff.”,On Wednesday morning, Notre Dame announced the results of a “comprehensive review” of support services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning students (GLBTQ), stating in a press release University president Fr. John Jenkins had accepted the suggestion of the Office of Student Affairs to “expand and enhance” these support services, including forming a University-recognized student organization. As the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) co-president and 4 to 5 Movement leader who was actively involved in the decision-making process, junior Alex Coccia knew of the decision a few days in advance. After reading some of the documents relating to the study before the information was released to the student body, Coccia said he was excited with the decision. “That was a pretty cool moment, because we got a sense that yeah, this is happening,” he said. But when the press release was made available to the entire student body Wednesday morning, Coccia, an Observer Viewpoint columnist, said he was “thankful” for the output of support from current and past students, especially over social media. “I realize how many people have been involved in this for so long,” he said. “This is a big step for Notre Dame.” A mixed reaction Senior Charlie O’Leary is gay and said he is cautiously optimistic about the University’s decision Wednesday. Part of his tempered enthusiasm was due to the fact the University announced the formation of an organization rather than approving a club. “My initial reaction was excited,” he said. “The more I read, the [more] suspicious I became. I remain excited though.” He also was not pleased with the timing of the University’s statement, as he felt it “minimized” the announcement. “No one has a chance to respond in The Observer until after break,” he said. “Between now and the next time we are going to be talking about it, there will have been the BCS [National Championship] … and students are really busy with finals.” Senior Julia Kohn, who currently identifies as bisexual, said she was not expecting the formation of a student organization but is pleased with the University’s decision. “I was expecting to hear a ‘no’ eventually, maybe sort of quietly,” she said. “I was surprised that it was a different setup or structure than was under discussion. Overall … it seems the distinction between a club and an organization is pretty positive in terms of continuity.” One important function of the new GLBTQ student organization is it will allow for the participation of graduate students, something the standing Core Council did not allow for. Graduate Student Union president Doug Rice said in the past, many graduate students who identified as GLBTQ felt uncomfortable at Notre Dame or even left the University. “With this now being formed, I think this is going to be a good thing for our community,” he said. “For those who want to participate in that, it will just be a more welcoming place for everybody. I know that is something that has been important in the past.” A long time coming Coccia said he and others have been meeting with University administration regularly since fall break and was “impressed” with the level of student input they were seeking. He said conversations with University administration were “very positive, very candid.” “Ultimately, we understood each other,” he said. “We were really able to communicate in a way that moved it forward.” Wednesday’s decision was several months in the making, with the unofficial gay-straight alliance (GSA) AllianceND applying for official club status in the spring. The group originally expected a decision May 1, but the University postponed the verdict until early fall 2012. Coccia said in postponing the decision, it became “very clear” that the University was giving the decision a lot of thought. “There was this sense of, ‘If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right,’” he said. A place for all students Coccia said he most appreciates the fact that the new student organization will be open to anyone who wishes to participate, something he says is especially important considering allies’ desire to be involved. “Any student can join,” he said. “You also don’t have to go around and say what your orientation is if you’re not comfortable. It’s a good step for access for not only allies, but also questioning students.” Coccia said he is enthused about the organization for several reasons, not just for the current students it will serve, but in reassuring students who are potential applicants to the University. “I’m excited for the questioning student who sees this announcement, sees the excitement from students about it and really views this as, ‘This is a commitment from my University, to me,’ and hopefully that’s the sentiment, because it is,” he said. “I’m excited for the prospective student … that that’s going to help them in their decision to come. I think that’s a very important component.” A key cog in the machine As part of Wednesday’s decision, the University will hire a full-time student development staff member who, among other duties, will serve as an advisor of the new GLBTQ student organization. Coccia said he hopes students will continue to have their voices heard in the hiring process for this position. “That Student Affairs professional is so important,” he said. “Really we want to make sure it someone who is really accessible to students, who can relate to students.” Kohn said she believes whoever is eventually hired for the role needs to recognize student interests to ensure the success of the organization. “I think it is kind of interesting and questionable in a sense that all official meetings and decisions have to be made in concert with the advisor,” she said. “Depending on who that advisor is and depending on what their role and involvement with the University is, I think that could maybe not be as positive as a club that is student-organized and student-controlled could be.”last_img read more

Read More »

Debate examines Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage

first_imgCaitlyn Jordan | The Observer Stephen Macedo speaks in defense of same-sex marriage Tuesday night. Macedo took part in a debate with Ryan Anderson, who argued same-sex marriage leads to the deterioration of American families.Only a quarter of Americans supported same-sex marriage 20 years ago, but today, around two-thirds of the population is in favor of it, according to Macedo. There is a difference, Macedo said, between the sacrament of marriage and civil marriage and how they combine to form the public meaning of marriage. “People want to get married, not just because it’s a matter of private commitment to another person, but because they want it to be recognized that they’ve entered into this public commitment,” he said. “The law facilitates this recognition. You wear a ring — it’s very public. It’s extremely private and very public to enter this sort of commitment, and it makes the understanding known in society.”According to Macedo, the opposing view of same-sex marriage is centered on the possibility of children, disqualifying same-sex marriage. “The general argument, at its core, is that sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is the ‘sine qua non’ of marriage, even if, owing to the sterility to one or both partners, procreation is impossible,” he said. “It’s on this basis that Ryan [Anderson] and his coauthors [of “What is Marriage?,” Robert George and Sherif Girgis] argue that gay couples are not denied a right to marriage — rather, they’re ineligible for marriage by nature.”While he said he acknowledged some legitimate points in Anderson’s argument against same-sex marriage, Macedo said these concerns are not enough to justify using them as the basis for law. “I think the question is whether it’s appropriate in a religiously diverse society to make one particular ideal of marriage — and I think it’s a very respectable ideal of marriage — the basis for the law of marriage so that it applies to everyone within this religiously diverse society,” he said.In Anderson’s response, he said his opposition to same-sex marriage is based on the unknown consequences it could have on the American family and the deterioration of marriage in the United States. According to him, more than half of the children in America’s two largest minority groups — Latino and African American — are born out of wedlock, another sign of a deteriorating state. “Gays and lesbians are not to blame for the breakdown of the American family,” he said. “They’re not to blame for the increase of nonmarital childbearing — they’re not the ones creating children outside of marriage. I do want to suggest that the vision of marriage and human sexuality that is to blame, a liberal ideology, is the vision of marriage that has largely fueled the public discourse for the past decade, and now that it’s enshrined in law, it will further the deterioration of marriage in the United States.”This “vision of marriage,” Anderson said, has convinced people that love and consent between adults are enough to justify a marriage. “Professor Macedo said it was principles of ‘liberty, equality and justice’ that propelled the Supreme Court’s decision, and he thinks it rightly was decided to redefine marriage in all 50 states and to say the Constitution requires it,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything in the Constitution that tells us what sort of consenting adult relationship is a marital relationship.”Anderson said, using Macedo’s own logic, the legalization of non-monogamous marriages should also be covered — Macedo is not in favor of legalizing these types of marriages. “This is where I don’t think we’ve heard enough from same-sex proponents, about why they’d limit it to just two people in a committed relationship. Increasingly, if you look at the academic and popular literature, they’re arguing that there is no reason to limit it as such. … All I’m going to say about this [non-monogamous marriages] is that it directly undercuts the state being in the marriage business in the first place.” The government is only involved in the marriage business because of the consequences marriages and families have on American society, Anderson said. “The state’s not in the marriage business because it’s a sucker for your love life,” he said. “The state’s not in the marriage business because it’s concerned about the romance of consenting adults. The state’s in the marriage business because sexual unions between men and women can result in children, and children deserve mothers and fathers. Governments try to get men and women to commit permanently and exclusively to one another and fulfill their obligations to their kids. When this doesn’t happen, social costs run high.” Anderson also said the legalization of same-sex marriage has had consequences for religious freedom, specifically for those whose faith doesn’t support it. “There are a number of stories of bakers, florists, photographers — people of faith who have no problem serving gays and lesbians, no problem employing gays and lesbians, but they do have a problem celebrating a same-sex wedding because they believe that would be using their God-given artistic gifts and talents for something against their beliefs — they have been fined in both their professional and personal live,” he said. In his final rebuttal, Macedo said while there are problems with the American perception of marriage, same-sex marriage should not be one of the major concerns. “If we want to strengthen marriage the best way to do it is to get past the argument of same-sex marriage,” he said. “The real crisis of marriage in this country is a class-based marriage … that points to a widening economic gap. It seems to me the debate of same-sex marriage is a distraction from this issue. The politicization of marriage is turning some young people off of it altogether.” Tags: BridgeND, gay marriage, LGBTQ, same-sex marriage Eight months after the landmark Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges, which decided same-sex couples had the fundamental right to marry, the debate over the decision is still going. As part of this ongoing discussion, the Tocqueville Program and BridgeND sponsored a debate between Stephen Macedo, a professor at Princeton who defends the ruling, and Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, on Tuesday night. Macedo, author of “Just Married: Same-Sex Couples, Monogamy and the Future of Marriage,” spoke first in the Lincoln-Douglas format debate.“Public opinion on gay rights and same-sex marriage, specifically, have shifted astonishingly over the last 15 years and even more so over the last 20 or 30 years,” he said. “Americans in their 50s and older didn’t know any openly gay people when they were younger — I certainly didn’t. But as Americans came out of the closet, partly in response to the AIDS epidemic, and Americans began to come to grips with the fact that homosexuality is not a lifestyle choice but rather a settled and deep-seeded feature of one’s personality.”last_img read more

Read More »

Student government seeks to promote diversity

first_imgDuring their campaign in the spring, student body president and vice president Corey Robinson and Becca Blais stressed diversity and inclusion as one of their top priorities.Before the school year started, student government directed much of their attention to addressing violence from and against police officers, Robinson said. “This year — after this summer — a lot of our efforts have been on police brutality and the unjust reaction, as far as the violence toward our law enforcement officials and officers,” he said. Blais said the political climate — including police brutality and concerns post-election — was having a heavy influence on how student government was approaching diversity and inclusion, especially when it came to students protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). “I would say, especially this fall, that has become something that we’re focusing a lot of attention on,” she said. “How do we make our DACA students feel comfortable? How do we make them feel safe? And not only DACA students, but just students who feel marginalized, especially following the election.” Robinson said Race Relations Week was intended to directly engage with and start dialogue around political issues. Race Relations Week included a showing of the one-man play “The Cop” and a panel exploring racial justice in the context of opportunity. The panel included David Robinson, former NBA player and father of Robinson; David Krashna, Notre Dame’s first African-American body president; Christina Brooks, the City of South Bend’s diversity and inclusion officer; and Maria and Gabby Muñoz, undocumented students at Notre Dame. Originally, Race Relations Week had two more events — a talk on the intersection of race and sexual assault and a mock presidential debate — but they fell through. Both events occurred later in the semester. “We did have a lot of mishaps, and there’s no excuse for that,” Robinson said. “There’s no excuse that we had four events planned and two fell through. That was a week before. We packaged it as a four-event week and then a week before, turns out some things had to be changed.”In spite of the scheduling issues, Robinson said he thought the week was a success, in terms of starting dialogue on campus, a sentiment that Blais echoed. “To be fair, it was the first of its kind in terms of student events, so I think it’s a good starting place and hopefully it’s continued,” she said.Robinson said that if Race Relations Week were to become an annual event, it would be a “very nice compliment” to Walk the Walk Week in January.“We really talked about a breadth of issues,” he said. “ …  It could encourage campus to talk about diversity and inclusion year-round.”Student Union representative to Diversity Council Rachel Wallace, a fifth-year, acts as a liaison between the cabinet for student government and the Diversity Council board. She said she was especially pleased with the turnout for “The Cop.” “Our target for that was really majority students and white students and thinking about ‘how do I have different biases,’ but it applied to everyone,” she said. While Wallace has worked with other student groups the last four years, she said working with student government was a “completely different experience.” “We bring a new advantage to events because we have access to more students,” she said. “We represent the whole student body. So do other groups, like Diversity Council … but sometimes people see Diversity Council and think it doesn’t apply to them. So for student government to be on an event, it’s helpful because people feel like they’re included in the conversation.“ … We program things, but we had a focus on supporting groups who have been doing this and who have expertise in the field. For example, [Multicultural Student Programs and Services] and Diversity Council have expertise on diversity and inclusion, so if we can support what they’re doing, that’s where our focus has been.”While student government is planning more programming for next semester — including an event for Walk the Walk Week and a town hall meeting  — Wallace said much of their involvement has been centered on supporting existing programming through cosponsorship. “The students who are in the trenches, doing the groundwork, we’re going to support them any way that we can,” she said. “ … We try to stand in solidarity as best as we can, with the presence the student body has authentically built up.”As someone who is involved in both student government and Diversity Council, Wallace said each side has different goals for next semester. “One thing [to improve on] from the senate perspective, that I agree with, is bringing in people who might not be interested inherently,” she said. “We’re hitting an audience with these events, but they’re people who already care about these issues, who are already actively involved, and we want to figure out how to reach the general student body. “ … I know from the Diversity Council perspective, one thing we want is more action based on the dialogue we’re having. One thing we’re interested is to partner with other organizations to take action on these issues and not just talk about them forever.”Diversity and inclusion are critical to forming the community of Notre Dame, Robinson said. “I think Fr. Jenkins said it the best,” he said. “Notre Dame is for all students and if we don’t do that, we’re not Notre Dame. We’re either all Notre Dame or none of us are Notre Dame.”Tags: 2016 Student Government Insider, DACA, Diversity, diversity council, inclusion, police brutality, Race Relations Week, Student governmentlast_img read more

Read More »

Notre Dame hosts debate about potential results of midterm elections

first_imgThe United States is in a time of great political divide. With the midterm elections around the corner, people are seeking answers and closure. Tuesday, Notre Dame Constitutional Studies and the Center for Social Concerns’ ND Votes hosted a debate titled “A Blue Wave? The 2018 Mid-Term Elections and the Future of American Democracy.”This event featured Damon Linker, a senior correspondent at The Week, a consulting editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press and the author of books on the relationship between religion and politics. Linker described himself as politically liberal while the other guest speaker, Ramesh Ponnuru, identified himself as a Republican. Ponnuru is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, senior editor of National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the author of two books.After introductions and a reminder to vote in this election, Linker and Ponnuru were asked to opine on the outcome of the midterm elections and what Democrats should be doing. Linker began his response with a warning about deceptive polling data and examples of how polling predictions have failed in the past.“I will say that I believe in the conventional wisdom, probably the Democrats are going to win the House by some indeterminate margin and they will not win the Senate,” Linker said.He expanded, stating that most polling is based on those voters who are expected to show up to the polls but that this could be incorrect if another group is more motivated due to controversial issues, such as the threat of immigration. Lastly, Linker suggested that the Democrats should divide and conquer by using the diversity of their party to get certain candidates elected based on the demographics of the district, such as a socially liberal candidate in New York or a culturally moderate candidate in the Midwest.Ponnuru agreed with Linker that Democrats will win the House and even predicted that the House will be made up of 225 Democrats and 210 Republicans. He and Linker concurred that Democrats tend to live in highly populated areas, resulting in wasted popular votes, which ultimately benefits the Republican Party in presidential elections due to the Electoral College.“A lot of the votes for Hillary Clinton were actually against Donald Trump,” Ponnuru said.He explained how certain disadvantages that plague Democrats, like urban clustering and gerrymandering, could be fixed if the party would make a few ideological and style changes. He also noted that such a change would not take place in either party, coming back to the idea that each party believes that it already represents the public.Tags: conservative, Election, liberal, midterm elections, ND Voteslast_img read more

Read More »

Panelists share their hopes for Christian unity

first_imgRYAN KOLAKOWSKI | The Observer Five church leaders gathered in a panel discussion Thursday in McKenna Hall to find common ground between their faiths.The discussion was led by Rev. Neil Arner, an assistant professor from the department of theology.The panel, titled “From Conflict to Communion: The Future of Christians Together in the World,” provided a space for the five church leaders to find common ground. The discussion covered topics such as interpretation of scripture, theology and ethics. While the panelists recognized divisions among Christian denominations, they also agreed Churches must stand together to support one another going forward.“Imagine, in the depth and the terrorizing expanse of violence and division in this world, that five communions would stand together … and not tell the story of the Protestant Reformation as a story mostly about division, but that the grace of God so profoundly freed us that our differences could be honored and robbed of all powers that divide us,” Ferguson said. “Our now urgent task is that the Church may be one so that the world may believe.”Jones, the dean of St. David’s Anglican Cathedral in Wales, recognized Christians build stronger communities when they choose to work together rather than intensify divisions.“It’s actually been so easy to sit together, to feel that we have been compelled by the Holy Spirit to say, we don’t just tick that box and say, ‘Well, that’s been done,’” Jones said. “We should never do separately what we can do together.”Junge, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, articulated the respect different Christian traditions hold for each other.“We recognize each other as people, as Churches, as communities that are fully committed to living up to the vocation of faithful living,” Junge said.Despite differences between faith traditions, Jones believes Christian communities can still be united in matters of faith.“One part of the body cannot say to the other, ‘I don’t need you,’” Jones said. “We’ve come to the point where we now see differences potentially being something that enriches and resources and strengthens and broadens and deepens our common life.”While the panelists recognized differences can serve as instruments of communion, Ferguson also noted disagreement causes division among Christian traditions.“The way that we read scripture divides us as much as it unites us,” Ferguson said. “Scripture, in itself, really has to be embraced through the centrality of living in and through the word of Jesus Christ,” he said.The panel followed an ecumenical prayer service held in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday night. At the service, ministers from several Christian denominations co-presided in a space typically reserved for Catholic Mass.The efforts toward ecumenism on campus included representatives from five major Christian traditions: Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Reformed and Roman Catholic.Fr. Gerry Olinger, the vice president for mission engagement and Church affairs at Notre Dame, said each of the five Christian traditions hold important theological teachings in common.“We share in Jesus’ prayer for unity, and we seek to build a culture of encounter [that] leads to greater understanding, collaboration and love,” Olinger said in a March 11 press release. “Notre Dame strongly agrees with Pope Francis when he says that ecumenism is not optional.”Pope Francis maintains the belief that ecumenism is necessary for building relationships with others and for individual formation.“If we go in search of other people, other cultures, other ways of thinking, other religious, we come out of ourselves and begin that beautiful adventure that is called dialogue,” said in 2013. “Dialogue is very important for one’s maturity, because in relation with other people, relations with other culture, also in healthy relations with other religions, one grows.”Following the meeting, the panelists agreed on several important Church teachings.“I think ecumenism comes into reality — especially reality for me — when Christians work together,” Macquiban said.Macquiban pointed to the collaboration between Catholics and protestants to receive and welcome Syrian refugees to Fiumicino Airport in Rome as an example of ecumenism.“That is God’s work in action ecumenically, and it brings mission and unity together,” Maquiban said.Tags: Anglicanism, Christian, ecumenism, Lutheran, United Methodist Church In an effort to strengthen ecumenism, the unity of wide-spanning Christian churches and faith traditions, five church leaders gathered for conversation and communion in McKenna Hall on Thursday night.Rev. Christopher Ferguson of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, Rev. Sarah Rowland Jones of St. David’s Anglican Cathedral, Rev. Martin Junge of the Lutheran World Federation, Cardinal Kurt Koch of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Rev. Tim Macquiban of the Methodist Ecumenical Office in Rome contributed to the conversation.last_img read more

Read More »

Marching band benched due to pandemic

first_imgEven though the Band of the Fighting Irish began band camp this week, the marching band announced Friday they would not march on the field this football season.In an email to band members, the marching band staff said, “We will play in the stands, occupying a greatly expanded seating space to facilitate social distancing.”For the 2020 football season, the Notre Dame athletic department will only allow essential personnel on the football field such as teams, coaches and referees in order to safeguard against COVID-19.“The Band and others will have to remain in the stands and will not be allowed to perform on the field,” the email said.The band will play music in the stands during games as they have in the past. The marching band staff said they will try to find a way to continue to perform field shows even though they will not be performed at the football games.Tags: 2020 football season, COVID-19, football, marching bandlast_img read more

Read More »