Chesley, Smith to lead SMC student body

first_imgSaint Mary’s juniors Rachael Chesley and Laura Smith said they will bring a “fresh perspective” to their roles as Student Government Association (SGA) president and vice president, respectively, when they take office April 1.The pair defeated junior Meg Griffin, current SGA vice president, and sophomore Emily Skirtich, SGA executive secretary in the Feb. 26 election.Chesley has served as a member of the Student Activities Board (SAB) as well as on Dance Marathon and the Class Gift Campaign. Smith has also participated in Dance Marathon and has served on the first year, sophomore and junior boards.Neither Chesley nor Smith has sat on SGA.One of their main goals is to be a strong voice for the student body, Chesley said.“We will reach out to [the student body], and we want [them] to reach out to us and all of SGA,” she said. “We have open minds that are ready for your thoughts and ideas.”Chesley and Smith also want to work on increased communication between SGA and campus clubs.“We want to see more integration of the clubs on campus, more support, more open communication,” Chesley said.Smith said this would include members of SGA attending meetings of other clubs when possible as well as holding events that bring together club leaders to create a dialogue among them.They also have goals to connect alumnae back to the campus community.“We want to stress alumnae networking,” Chesley said. “This College is built on the foundation of tradition, and one of the things that attracted me to this college is the alumnae base.”Chesley and Smith said their mission can be stated in two words: “Community” and “integrity.”Both Chesley and Smith have studied abroad and hope to bring those experiences to campus as well.“Everybody is involved in some way, and we want to encourage students to be the face of Saint Mary’s,” Chesley said. “We want them to be this face of Saint Mary’s whether they are here on campus or off campus and even after they graduate.”Smith said she was happy to see student involvement on campus during the elections.“I feel so grateful to have all the support that we did this past week. The student body really responded well to our efforts, and it really feels worthwhile to know that we were able to at least see some excitement on campus because of it,” Smith said.Chesley said she looks forward to taking on the role of student body president.“I am excited for the opportunity to be a visible and involved voice for the students,” Chesley said. “This opportunity will be a challenging and rewarding one, and it will surely be an opportunity to provide a fresh perspective and to be an enthused and involved leader for the student body.”last_img read more

Resolution set to aid Haitian students

first_img“We have identified specific offices … to directly address these issues,” student body president Grant Schmidt said. In light of the recent tragedy in Haiti, the resolution asked the University to admit students displaced by the earthquake. Student Senate passed four resolutions during its meeting Wednesday night.Rachel Roseberry, chair of the Committee on Social Concerns proposed a resolution to help encourage aid to Haiti at the University. The next resolution, also passed unanimously, aimed to amend the student body constitution. Nick Ruof, chair of the Committee on Residence Life, proposed a third resolution on the organization of home football games. The final resolution — proposed by Shawnika Giger, chair of the Committee on Multicultural Affairs — passed unanimously.  The resolution passed unanimously. While dealing primarily with technical parliamentary details, the resolution also proposed to add a workshop for incoming student government senators. The event is intended to smooth the transition for new senators.center_img Jeff Lakusta, chair of the Committee on University Affairs, said the resolution offers a way to aid those in need. “Not only is it a unique way to help but it seeks to fulfill our Catholic mission,” Lakusta said. Among its proposals, the resolution targets specific offices to increase diversity programs, calls for more resources for Multicultural Student Programs and Services and encourages admissions to “increase its focus on promoting minority enrollment and maintain retention rates consistent with that of the racial majority students.”   Kevin Doyle, athletic liaison of the Committee on Athletic Affairs, said the resolution, passed unanimously, seeks to unify the undergraduate student body. Lewis Senator Cristi Yanker also supported the resolution, praising the importance of increasing diversity. “So we can have diverse students and people coming up with great thoughts,” Yanker said.last_img read more

Film festival celebrates 30th anniversary of justice education

first_imgThis week, Saint Mary’s Justice Education Program looks to harness the power of the moving image to celebrate the department’s 30th anniversary. In honor of the event, the department is hosting the Leadership and Social Change Film Festival from this Tuesday until Thursday. Jan Pilarski, director of the Justice Education Program, said she organized the festival with the help of the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership to draw attention to everyday people who strive for righteousness. “The whole idea behind this film festival is to highlight ordinary people who have developed their leadership by doing extraordinary things in their countries for social justice,” she said. Pilarski said the motive behind the event is to draw attention to these exceptional goals achieved by regular people. “Our goal is to have people realize that skills and issues are certainly what is going on,” she said. “What’s exciting is seeing people stretch themselves to realize that these issues are happening.” The film shown Tuesday night, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” is the story of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee, as well as other courageous women’s rights activists in Liberia.  “This film is only 3 years old, so it is fairly new,” Pilarski said. “We are excited to include this film because of Gbowee winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Her accomplishment highlights how lessons of work carries over in many ways.” Today’s film, “Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai,” is a dramatic story of a Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize winner whose simple act of planting trees grew into a national movement to protect the environment and human rights and defend democracy.  “The issues of land and environmental destruction are very prominent in this film,” Pilarski said. “Maathai not only built strength in herself, but she built a movement. This film highlights the importance of how to make change. “Maathai became a catalyst with her movement for continued action in Kenya including the poor and women of the country. Her act of standing up to people in power for taking land from the poor began with a simple act of planting trees.” Thursday, the department wraps up the film festival with a showing of “A Small Act,” a Sundance-featured film about a Holocaust survivor and the Kenyan student whose education she supports. The film demonstrates how individual actions can create a ripple effect to make a difference and support change, Pilarski said.  “This film has a lot of potential to show how individuals can create something bigger than they ever imagined,” she said. “Much of change is built on relationships and partnerships. “‘A Small Act’ shows each of us in our own way have the potential to make a difference through the connections we make.” Playing films that showcase leadership skills and the power of everyday people ultimately conveys to students the message of the Justice Education department, Pilarski said. “The Leadership and Social Change Film Festival truly hits the mark on our departments 30th anniversary theme,” she said. “The films are meant as examples of justice education in college, community and around the globe.”last_img read more

SMC plans speaking series

first_imgWith a pair of noteworthy speakers slated to visit Saint Mary’s in February, the College has announced plans for the speaking series in order to give students and other interested groups time to read the book in question, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” director of media relations Gwen O’Brien said in a Nov. 13 press release from the College. “We have begun to promote these speaking engagements a few months ahead of time to give the Michiana community plenty of time to read the book,” O’Brien said. “High school and college students or teachers, for instance, may have more time to read over winter breaks. The book could also be a good choice for area book clubs and it’s an excellent holiday gift idea.” Rebecca Skloot, author of the New York Times bestseller, will be speaking at the College on Feb. 27. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is a nonfiction book about an impoverished African-American tobacco farmer who had cancer cells removed from her body without her knowledge or consent in 1951. These rapidly reproducing cells became instrumental in gene mapping, the development of the polio vaccine and other modern medical breakthroughs. The book’s title refers to Henrietta’s cells being the first “immortal” human cells – capable of indefinite growth – grown in a laboratory. Despite the massive impact of the cells in the medical field, Lacks’ name and story remain largely unknown. Decades later, her family cannot afford to pay their own health insurance, according to the release. Henrietta’s son, David Lacks, will visit campus Feb. 12 for a question-and-answer session. Neither David nor his siblings knew about their mother’s cells and their success in medicine until the 1970s, the release stated. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is also this year’s selection for “One Book, One Saint Mary’s,” an annual community reading project organized and hosted by the Alumnae Association. The book selection is usually a title students are reading in courses at the College. Stephanie Steward-Bridges, a member of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, said in the release bringing David Lacks to campus would offer an opportunity to provide educational programming while drawing attention to an ignored injustice. “We thought that it was important to incorporate the family into campus programming because they received little to no compensation for the use of their mother’s genes and to leave them out would perpetuate that injustice,” she said. Skloot will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 27 in O’Laughlin Auditorium. David Lacks’ speech will be at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 12 in Carroll Auditorium.last_img read more

Program helps exchange students

first_imgFor international students traveling great distances to attend Saint Mary’s, a revamped International Peer Mentor program will help ease the transition to campus life. Junior Huyaling (Nora) Wang, co-chair of the International Committee of the Student Government Association (SGA), said the Peer Mentor program was not efficiently promoted last year, leaving international students susceptible to homesickness. “The program actually started second semester last year,” said Kaitlyn Tarullo, the committee’s other co-chair. “This year, we met with the international students at orientation in order to promote a cohesive relationship with the new Belles and the returning students.” There are 20 new international students at Saint Mary’s this semester, coming from countries such as Australia, China, Japan and Korea, Wang said. While each student chooses to stay at the College for either a semester, a year or all four years, she said the difficulties they face are similar. Smooth transitioning to another country requires easy access to cultural and second-language norms, which can be facilitated with the help of a peer mentor. Wang said Saint Mary’s students interested in the peer mentor position will undergo an online application and interview process. Once chosen and paired with an international student, they will serve as an outlet of support for that student.   Wang, a degree-seeking student from China, said she recalls good memories from her transition to Saint Mary’s as a first-year but the process would be easier with the help of a peer mentor. At that time, there was no peer mentor program offered. “We did have international activities on campus before this year, but I don’t think it had a large influence on campus,” she said. “We always had an international orientation, but we now have more activities for international students that will be noticed by the whole student body.” Wang said this addition will help the international students adjust to Saint Mary’s campus life as soon as possible, enabling them to become active participants in the student body. Senior ImJung Ha, an international student from South Korea, said peer mentors help exchange students adjust to the nuances of American life. “Peer mentors are great because they help you make friends and help with English when the dictionary does not explain which word is right,” she said. Simple activities such as taking international students shopping for supplies, helping them become familiar with the campus and the norms of an American college classroom and providing companionship will be incorporated in the Peer Mentor Program, Wang said. Wang said she believes that this program will also affect the entire Saint Mary’s campus. She also said that involving Saint Mary’s students in this program will increase the awareness of international students attending Saint Mary’s. “I think it would be really enough if all the students noticed,” Wang said. “I know students are always busy here, so sometimes they might not have the spare time. If we could promote the influence of the international student body this year, we would make progress.” Contact Stacey Avtgis at [email protected]last_img read more

Justice series tackles benefits of healthy eating

first_imgThe final meeting in Saint Mary’s “Justice Friday’s” lecture series, which Saint Mary’s Justice Education department held this semester to examine justice through different lenses, explored the nature of “real” food and how it can influence a healthy lifestyle. Members of the Saint Mary’s Food Sustainability Club orchestrated the event. The Food Sustainability Club, still in its first year, has worked to increase the amount of “real food” used on campus and in Saint Mary’s dining services as well as to increase students’ awareness about the importance of making healthy food choices, Emily Aldrich, a founding member of the Food Sustainability club, said. Students present at the event discussed the difficulties of making healthy and sustainable food choices on campus, she said. “Right now, about 18 percent of the Saint Mary’s food budget is spent on real food and there has been an increase in the amount of local produce available in the dining hall,” Aldrich said. At the event, Aldrich said the Food Sustainability club described the importance of eating more “real food” and taught about the four characteristics of real food. Real food is local and community based, encourages fair trade (everyone involved in the in the food production process is receiving a living wage), it is ecologically sound and it is humane, Aldrich said. She said it is important to educate yourself about the food sold in supermarkets, research regulations on how animals are treated and understand what companies advertise on the labels of their food products. “It is important that people take the time to research the differences between organic and natural. There are no FDA standards of what is considered all natural foods, so any product can advertise that,” Aldrich said. Aldrich said taking small steps to eat more real food is important, even as a college student with a limited budget. “The South Bend Farmer’s Market is a great place to support local members of our community and a great place to get local, fresh produce in the fall and spring,” she said. She said labels on food don’t always help people make healthy decisions about their food. “Just because it says it’s organic, doesn’t mean it is healthy. Foods like potato chips can be organic, but they aren’t healthy for you,” Aldrich said. The Justice Friday events will return next semester.   Contact Caroline Stickell at [email protected]last_img read more

College welcomes new director of Center For Spirituality

first_imgThe Division for Mission at Saint Mary’s recently welcomed Arlene Montevecchio as the new director of the Center for Spirituality.According to a College press release, Montevecchio earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from St. Norbert College, a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in systemic theology from Duquesne University.Montevecchio, who took over in the role July 18, served as the director of Center for Social Concerns and as an adjunct faculty member at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania.“My hope is to raise the profile of the Center locally and nationally to honor the vision of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in faithfully responding to the signs of the times in our Church and world,” Montevecchio said in the release. “We will continue to offer high-quality programming, bringing relevant topics in religion and spirituality to the campus and wider community in order to better reflect on the relationship between faith and reason and the individual and social dimensions of spirituality, including attention to poor and marginalized voices.”Judy Fean, vice president for mission, said in the release that Montevecchio has already done meaningful work for the College.“Montevecchio’s leadership and expertise will be instrumental in continuing the good work of the Center for Spirituality,” Fean said in the release. “She has already scheduled known speakers for the fall and spring lecture series that will engage the local and broader community in relevant topics that impact our world today and call us to a deeper understanding of the social dimensions of spirituality.”Tags: Center for Spirituality, Division for Missionlast_img read more

Saint Mary’s student discusses mental illness at Justice Friday

first_imgSenior Julianne Olivieri shared her story of her battle with mental illness on Friday as part of the Justice Friday series at Saint Mary’s. Oliveri began her presentation with a recollection of her time abroad and her struggle with depression while across the sea from her family, in Rome. Oliveri said she felt like she was expected to enjoy her time abroad, but her mental illness was getting the better of her, and it caused her to miss out on trips and events. “When in Rome, I still have depression,” Olivieri said. Olivieri said she wasn’t provided with the resources she needed from the school. Olivieri said had been admitted into a psychiatric hospital for her depression, and it was strange to be going through treatment with all the other patients. “It was like we were all part of a club we didn’t sign up for,” she said.Olivieri said she found comfort in a girl she met in the hospital. The other girl became a close friend to Olivieri as they went through their similar struggles together. “I met a girl in the psych ward like me,” she said. “It was a sign from God that I’m not alone.”She said they still talk and that she is happy to have someone to talk to who understands her struggles with her mental illness. Olivieri said that her journey and her time in the psych ward he changed the way she sees the world.“[My journey] has allowed me to understand others in my own way,” Olivieri said. Olivieri said her past has inspired her to advocate for others going through mental health issues and other disabilities.“I developed a passion for disabilities awareness,” Olivieri said. “Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.”At Saint Mary’s, Olivieri has joined clubs and organizations dedicated to advocate for people with eating disorders, depression and other mental illness.“I recognize the need to take action on campus,” Olivieri said. “Even if I can help one person, that’s one person I can help.”Olivieri is chair of the psychology club at Notre Dame. She said that her experiences have lead her towards her interest in psychology. She said that she will continue to take part in activities and clubs that give her a purpose.Olivieri said that when suffering with any kind of mental illness, it is most important to surround yourself with the right people.“Create an environment that builds you up, not tears you down,” Olivieri said. “[You] cannot change people who speak negative. Surround yourself with people who bring you up.”Olivieri said mental illness is never easy to talk about, but it is important to talk about it and to remember there is hope.“If it was easy, we wouldn’t need conversation like this,” she said. “I found my voice. You are so worthy of help and love.”Tags: Justice Friday, mental illness, Romelast_img read more

Badin Hall embraces move to Pangborn

first_imgKathryne Robinson | The Observer A whiteboard at the entrance of Pangborn Hall welcomes the Badin community to its home for the year. As renovations take place in Badin Hall, the Bullfrogs have relocated to the opposite side of South Quad.This positivity stems largely from the residents embracing the benefits that come with moving into a newer building on campus, Badin rector Sr. Susan Sisko said.“Our ladies are embracing the challenge of being in another hall,” Sisko said. “ … The rooms are fine, we have a beautiful chapel [and] we have air-conditioned lounge spaces here, so it’s great really. There’s not been any real challenges or issue yet that we’ve faced.”In addition to benefits such as an elevator, McNerney said moving into Pangborn offered the Badin community a new opportunity to expand and diversify.“Badin is so close-knit to begin with because we’re one of the — I think we may be the smallest female dorm on campus, and this semester I think is a little different,” McNerney said. “We have a lot of international students because Pangborn is bigger than the Badin occupants of it. So we’re incorporating them a lot into our community and really trying to bring it together. We’re putting flags all over the dorm [representing] where everyone’s from and just really trying to create that same community there.”Badin’s community spirit has already manifested in the form of hall decorations as well as the attitude of the residents, Sisko said.“We’ve sort of — this is my word — ‘Badin-ized’ the place,” she said. “ … You see a whole lot of Bullfrogs floating around the hall already. So we’ve tried to really not only embrace this challenge as a community, but also to move into the space. Even though it is a temporary hall, it’s our hall for the year, so we really wanted to embrace it by putting up all our Bullfrog stuff and really making it feel like home. And we still have a long way to go yet, but I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”McNerney credits Sisko with creating an environment that allowed Badin residents to embrace the change.“It’s the people that make it, not the building,” she said. “And I think Sr. Sue has done such a great job in instilling that positivity and instilling that community within our girls already from the start.”In order to ensure Badin Hall residents recognize Pangborn as their new home, the residents and hall staff have taken to calling the building “Badin on the Green” — in reference to its location next to the Burke Golf Course — rather than Pangborn, McNerney said.“The P-word [Pangborn] is banned, we’re not allowed to use the P-word — it’s all ‘Badin on the Green,’” she said. “And I think it just really does make a difference when you’re that positive in a community. Everyone kind of feeds off of each other, and it just makes everything better.”The re-design plans have also eased residents’ concerns about maintaining the integrity and beauty of Badin Hall, Sisko said.“Badin is a hall that is steeped in history and beauty,” she said. “If you’ve been inside there, you know that we’ve got a lot of wood — it’s gorgeous, but it just needs some love. … Notre Dame is a university that cherishes history, cherishes the beautiful spaces on campus, and I think with the renovation, they just want to enhance the beauty of Badin — as they’ve done with Walsh.”The addition that excited Sisko most, she said, is the brand-new chapel.“You can see already — it’s kind of exciting — that back area is being readied, our new chapel is going to pop out from there,” she said. “ … Badin’s old chapel we loved because it was our chapel, but it was a space that was turned into a chapel rather than created as a chapel. We loved, it we worshipped there [and] we miss it, but now we’re getting a space that is being built to be a chapel. And all the plans — the designs that I’ve seen — that’s what kind of makes my heart skip a beat.”In the end, moving into a new building for a year is a small challenge for Badin to overcome, Sisko said, especially given the positive impact the renovations will have on the community.“Badin is a gorgeous hall — it’s beautiful, it’s filled with history, it’s a 120 years old this year, but it needs a little help,” she said. “It needs a little work, and our ladies know that. Our women know that, and they know that this is only temporary, so they’ve really embraced the challenge.“And it is — for them and for me — kind of a challenge to really see what Badin is made of. Is Badin the hall what defines us, or is our community spirit and the community of Badin what defines us? And all of us believe it’s Badin’s spirit and community. And so everyone, I think, in the hall here — and I think I can speak for most of them — have embraced that challenge and are doing everything they can … to make this Badin.”Tags: badin hall, Pangborn Hall, renovation The Badin Bullfrogs have hopped over to Pangborn Hall this year while their usual home, Badin Hall, undergoes extensive renovations. Badin is the second hall community to be relocated to Pangborn in as many years, as the Walsh Hall community moved back into their newly renovated home this year after living in Pangborn throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.While the response to the news of certain halls being relocated for a year of construction was initially mixed, Badin Hall senior and Resident Assistant Natalie McNerney said the move has been met with nothing but positivity from the women of Badin.“It’s really positive, which is really exciting because I know there was a little concern with us going over to the new building,” she said. “But everyone seems to love it. There are really nice lounges — it’s just great. The rooms are bigger than Badin’s and, so far, the freshmen are loving it.”last_img read more

Law student organization aims to assist immigrant youths in legal processes

first_imgImmigrant youths may be better informed of their legal rights in the near future thanks to the work of a group of Notre Dame Law students.Impowerus — which was founded in September of 2016 by Katelyn Ringrose, a second-year law student — is an organization that connects immigrant youth to pro bono legal aid and has continued to compete in various innovation competitions in the South Bend community.Ringrose said she first experienced the magnitude of the issue of information disparity as an employee of the Washington state public school district specializing in refugee students. She said she realized how many students had the technology but lacked the guidance to utilize their phone as a resource.“Impowerus is about utilizing already-established resources and better educating clients on their legal rights,” Ringrose said.The difference in legal outcome for youths facing deportation who have received some degree of legal advice compared to those who haven’t is staggering, Ringrose said.Veronica Canton, a third-year law student and member of the Impowerus team, said Impowerus allows immigrants to learn about their rights in a comfortable setting.“It’s important that people who may fear reaching out to the authorities or those in positions of power, have a place where they can share candidly and build trust before engaging in the next step of the legal system,” Canton said.Canton, who immigrated from El Salvador when she was 9 years old, said she sees her background as a way to help establish trust between her clients and the organization.Erika Gustin, a second-year law student and internal consultant of Impowerus, said the organization is working toward becoming more accessible.“We’re finishing the process of rebranding the initial concept and making the entire presentation more cohesive, and now we’re focused on generating funds to go towards our beta-test,” she said.The team operates less through titles and rather through collaboration, Gustin said.“In many ways Katelyn is the backbone and we’re serving as the connective tissue, all working to see this idea flourish,” she said.Impowerus has recently partnered with a South Bend organization, La Casa de Amistad, which has agreed to provide 100 youths to pair with five attorneys to run and troubleshoot the software.“The information we receive from that sample will help us make adjustments as we go,” Gustin said.These adjustments may include further protecting the information of clients, Canton said.“Beta testing will allow us to address the elements of cyber security and confidentially through technology,” she said.Currently made up entirely of Notre Dame law students, alumni and professors of the Eck Law School and Mendoza College of Business, the team is looking to expand in the near future, Canton said. She said the organization’s platform is very applicable to students in the South Bend community.“If a student decides to move off campus, they might need assistance understanding their housing contract or addressing issues if their housing situation is not adequate,” Canton said.Ringrose and Gustin both said the University and the city of South Bend have been extremely supportive of Impowerus, providing them with mentors through the IDEA Center, the South Bend Code School and the ESTEEM program, allowing them to continue their research. However, both said the law industry is slow to change and can be reluctant to catch up with technological innovation.“It’s about scalability,” Ringrose said. “We envision this expanding and have identified this as an area of crucial need.”Once testing is complete, the team will shift its focus to launching the website.“As we continue to move forward, people have started to realize we aren’t simply students working on a project, but that we have a long term vision for an organization,” Canton said. “Although this may seem ambitious, but I hope to see Impowerus evolve into a national platform.”Tags: Eck School of Law, Immigration, Impowerus, Lawlast_img read more