Four Loko endangers students

first_imgFour Loko, the new popular caffeinated malt beverage with an alcohol content of 12 percent, has taken college campuses around the country by storm, and Notre Dame is no exception. “We do know that students are using Four Loko and a lot of cases related to this drink have come up recently,” Kelly Lawrence, assistant director of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, said. “I’ve heard it described as ‘cocaine in a can’ and I think that makes it more enticing to students.” Lawrence said the most dangerous thing about Four Loko is the added pressure it puts on the heart. “Students need to realize that Four Loko mixes a stimulant and a depressant, which are meant to have opposite effects,” he said. “The combination of the two things tends to mask how intoxicated you really are.” Lawrence said he thinks most students who drink Four Loko utilize the beverage as “a part of their ‘pre-game’ ritual.” “Judging by my conversations with students, Four Loko seems to be the first drink of the evening for most people,” he said. “Obviously the preference would be for students not to use it at all, but we do want to get involved in some type of dialogue and talk about why they are [using it].” Drinking Four Loko facilitates higher levels of intoxication, which increases students’ risk of legal and disciplinary problems, Lawrence said. “My sense is that students do know it’s dangerous,” he said. “But there’s this invulnerability where they think ‘nothing is going to happen to me.’” Junior Meghan Donoghue, 21, said Four Loko is popular among many of her friends. “I think people initially thought it was something that would get them drunk really fast and that’s where all the hype came from,” she said. Donoghue said she thinks drinking Four Lokos has become about bragging rights for many students. “People want to say ‘oh, I shotgunned a Four Loko’ or ‘I drank three in an hour,’” she said. Despite the health risks associated with Four Loko, Donoghue said none of her friends have discontinued their consumption of the drink. Lawrence said the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education is not currently advocating any policy change or du Lac amendment related to student consumption of Four Lokos, but the Office will continue to educate students on the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks. “We are all involved in educating students about the effects of the beverage and the risk factors,” he said. “And because it is a general concern as well, we have been generating discussion on Four Loko in our various education groups over the last few weeks.”last_img read more

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Students celebrate with Hesburgh

first_imgZahm House celebrated its 75th anniversary Sunday by honoring one of the few people on campus older than the dorm itself: 95-year-old University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh. The event began in the Hesburgh Library Auditorium with a reading of the “Hesburgh Challenge,” an agreement for all residents of Zahm House to live out Hesburgh’s legacy in their lives, and continued with an address from Hesburgh himself and a sharing of cigars near the Reflecting Pool. Zahm rector Scott Opperman said honoring Hesburgh was a great way to start off a historic year for the dorm. “The guys love him, and he means so much to Zahm and to the whole university,” Opperman said. “Zahm has stood up and said, ‘We want to carry on his legacy,’ and that’s a great way to celebrate our 75th anniversary … You could tell that he was touched. He even had a tear up there.” Opperman said he designed the contents of the “Hesburgh Challenge” to reflect Hesburgh’s priorities. “It’s things that Fr. Ted stands for, like service, sustainability, being inclusive,” he said. “The number-one thing was being inclusive and welcoming, and obviously that’s top on Fr. Hesburgh’s list.” To prioritize being inclusive, the men of Zahm agreed to respect themselves and others. The “Challenge” states, “We will never tolerate discrimination or hate-speech based on ability, age, class, color, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.” Zahm’s residents pledged to end their “Ole, ole, ole” chant and will challenge others to do the same. The “Challenge” also emphasizes service and charity. “We shall dedicate ourselves to service,” the document states. “We will all participate in at least one House or University-sponsored service opportunity. We shall make larger donations to charity, especially through the profits of Za, our pizza parlor.” After the recitation of the Challenge, Hesburgh thanked the men of Zahm for honoring him and imparted words of advice. “Zahm has always been outstanding among the many halls at Notre Dame,” Hesburgh said. “Zahm always had, like the Germans call it, zeitgeist. They had a spirit, a kind of feeling and character, a kind of daring … I’m very lucky to be adopted as a part of the family by Zahm.” Hesburgh said students should have the courage to be themselves and disagree with each other, even if that means questioning the status quo. “Don’t be afraid to disagree,” he said. “I think one of the greatest values of an intelligent life is to disagree. At this point in your life, you’re deciding how to come down on things, tough things like sex or tough things like honesty or tough things like intelligence or tough things like being able to stand up in front of the crowd and say, ‘I don’t believe that and here are my reasons why.’ … That’s one reason I’m very proud of you guys, that you can stand up and say what you think.” In addition to giving advice, Hesburgh recounted a story of one of his most interesting experiences, which involved saying Mass at the South Pole. A Notre Dame graduate who had been assigned to take command of a group of researchers there asked Hesburgh to bless his mission remotely, but Hesburgh said he decided to do it in person instead. “That day was the first Mass at sea on an icebreaker and the second Mass at the South Pole,” he said. Even after traveling the world, Hesburgh said Notre Dame is still the closest place to his heart. “Notre Dame is the best Catholic university, not just in the world today, but ever,” he said. Hesburgh said he prays for all Notre Dame students daily and is confident the residents of Zahm in particular will lead extraordinary lives. After his speech, the men of Zahm dubbed Hesburgh an “honorary Zahmbie,” gifting him with a dorm t-shirt, water bottle, bumper sticker and key to the residence hall. Freshman Christian Metzler said meeting Hesburgh was a special moment for him. “Fr. Hesburgh is a legend here at Notre Dame, and you hear great things about him all the time, and the fact that we were able to get to meet him and [make him] an honorary Zahmbie really means a lot, even as a freshman,” Metzler said. “I’m blessed that we had this opportunity to meet him and hear what he had to say. We could’ve listened to him for hours.” Junior John Brahier said Hesburgh’s speech was incredibly powerful. “The words of wisdom he was able to share with us will definitely be in our hearts for a long time,” Brahier said. “They will definitely inspire us to do bigger and better things in the coming years, and we’re really excited about that future.” Senior Peter Flores said the experience of smoking cigars with Hesburgh is unforgettable. “Fr. Ted is known for smoking a cigar or two, and there’s no greater bonding experience among men than smoking a cigar with a guy you look up to,” Flores said. Metzler said he looks forward to the positive results that will come of the “Hesburgh Challenge.” “We’re really looking to become more inclusive,” Metzler said. “It’s a huge thing, especially at a Catholic university, to accept everyone, and in a residence system where it’s all random. Even if you don’t have the same views as someone, respect what their views are and teach them about your views and learn from other people.” Senior Zahm resident assistant Luke Peters said he would take the “Hesburgh Challenge” very seriously. “I hope to live out the ‘Hesburgh Challenge’ by taking it upon myself to take the extra effort to stand for what Fr. Hesburgh did in his life, with that same spirit of inclusion, strong morals and character which he was able to carry out through his time at the University and what he still stands for today,” Peters said. Flores, also a resident assistant, said he hopes the “Hesburgh Challenge” will foster a familial atmosphere in Zahm. “Families don’t always get along,” Flores said. “Families aren’t always on the same page. But families love each other and stick with each other. That’s the real challenge, to make the Notre Dame family … alive.” Contact Tori Roeck at [email protected]last_img read more

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Debate captivates nation

first_imgThe final stretch of the presidential race kicked off last night as President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney faced off on employment, the economy and healthcare in the first of three 2012 presidential debates. Students tuning into the debates had mixed feelings about how convincing the candidates’ plans were on the controversial topics. Senior Betty Graham said the issue of education hit home for her as a college student. “Romney was quoted as saying college students should ask our parents for a loan, but that’s not an option for a lot of students, even from high-income families,” she said. “For me that was a big deal. … Romney didn’t really respond to it in a great way.” Graham found merit in both candidates’ philosophies toward education for younger students. “I think a lot of the responsibility lies at the state and local level, but I think in terms of what Obama talked about, with education being the future of America – they can’t just leave that up to towns and states,” she said. “Mississippi needs help, they can’t get it done on their own.,” she said. Senior Tom Swanson was not affected by either candidate’s statements on education. “No candidate is ever going to say he’s against education,” Swanson said. “They both end up saying the same politically-correct platitudes. I would call it a draw.” As much of the debate focused on the role of small businesses, Graham said she felt the distinction between “small” and “large” businesses was unclear. “I wish one of them would have taken the time to say what in their eyes is a big or small business,” she said. “When Obama brought up the fact that under some definitions Donald Trump is a small business, it gets tricky. … I thought small business was the ‘mom and pop’ hardware store.” Senior Patty Walsh was not wholly convinced by Romney’s claim he would not reduce taxes on large corporations as president. “He’s definitely easy to criticize as flip-flopping on issues,” she said. “The temptation is to say he won’t stick behind that, and that he’ll be tempted by his background to be lenient toward big business. But I don’t think, given the economy we’re in, he has the room to let his preferences decide.” As Obama frequently alluded to Romney’s alleged plan to cut taxes by $5 trillion, Graham was unconvinced by Romney’s explanation the cuts would be made up for by eliminating exemptions and loopholes. “When Obama said the math doesn’t add up … I’m cautious about that,” she said. “I know neither of the candidates want to say they’re not going to not cut taxes – we all want to hear they’ll cut them or not raise them.” Swanson said third-party research exists to support both sides of Romney’s claim. “I’ve read findings that would vindicate both sides,” he said. “I think [Obama’s refutation] will resonate with people’s common sense, true or not. I think voters are going to have to do their homework and educate themselves going into the other debates.” As the survival of the Affordable Care Act hinges on the outcome of the election, the candidates debated whether a $716 billion cut in payments to healthcare providers serving Medicare recipients was a result of streamlining inefficiencies or reducing quality of care. “I agree with Romney on this one,” Graham said. “I think it’s going to hurt the patients in the long run. [Quality of care] does affect me. Sure, I can stay on my parents’ insurance until I’m 26, but what does that do if the care is mediocre?” Graham found little comfort in Obama’s reassurance he can maintain Medicare successfully. “Cutting off the elderly is a big deal,” she said. “Romney backed Obama up in a corner there. Obama did not do a good job of explaining how it won’t collapse.” Following Romney’s pledge to replace Dodd-Frank, a package of regulations on financial institutions, Walsh said it was unclear as to what the presidential hopeful would replace it with, or whether it should have been focused on at all. “First of all, the fact they were talking about it in such a specific way was frustrating,” she said. “Even as an educated student in the business college, I can’t speak to that issue. He gave no information [on his proposed replacement regulation].” Swanson said the limited time available was not constructive for a detailed explanation of Romney’s proposed regulations. “I don’t think he was too vague,” he said. “I don’t think he could do much more on that score … and I don’t think Obama defended Dodd-Frank well.” Walsh said the debate did not affect her voting decision, although it may have highlighted some of her favored candidate’s weaknesses. “I think across the board, a lot of people are already locked into their beliefs,” she said. “You go in rooting for your candidate and based on their performance, my support might be affected. I think it’s more of a call-to-arms situation.” For Graham, the debate inspired her to seek more information. “After watching this, it definitely shook my thinking a bit,” she said. “I’ve got to do some research. People who are less firm in their decision could be swung in a different direction.”last_img read more

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The place needed us’

first_imgIn 1972, there were 325. In 2013, there are more than 4,000. When the University first included women in its undergraduate student body in 1972, female students were an extreme minority, a small contingent among more than 5,000 male peers. As Notre Dame marks the 40th anniversary of coeducation this academic year, women represent 48 percent of the student body. In 1972, women’s dorms still had urinals from converted men’s dorms, and female students didn’t feel comfortable eating in the dining hall alone. But as the population of women has grown and bucked early stereotypes, the conversations surrounding gender relations here not ended. If anything, they have become more relevant to the campus climate at Notre Dame.   Sisterhood and brotherhood It’s the first weekend on campus, and freshmen jump into school traditions and dorm life. Girls’ dorms serenade boys’ dorms. Boys escort girls to brother-sister dorm events. But for senior Lauren Palomino, orientation at Notre Dame had “a weird dynamic.” “We’re doing these serenades … [and] in the time a boy takes a knee and you sing back to him, you’re not going to build a solid friendship that lasts from that,” Palomino said. Senior Pat Rice participated in Frosh-O four years ago as a new member of Alumni Hall. This year, he helped lead orientation as an RA. For Rice, freshman orientation is a change to introduce incoming students to the University. Dorm events and traditions aren’t gender-biased institutions – they are ways to help young men and women begin to interact with each other on a college campus. “For me personally, Frosh-O was just a ‘Welcome to Notre Dame’ experience,” Rice said. “I never felt awkward, I never felt intimidated. … If nothing else, serenading and walking girls over to dances gives you something to talk about at the end of the night. You talk about Domerfest, you talk about what song you sang to the ladies. “I don’t think there’s anything [awkward] inherently. Frosh-O isn’t supposed to be your entire college experience. It’s supposed to be ‘Welcome to Notre Dame.’ Let’s get out there.” Orientation introduces students to the residence life structure at Notre Dame – 29 single-sex residence halls, divided into 15 male dorms and 14 female dorms. “I think same-sex dorms are a strong foundational principal,” Rice said. “It’s what Notre Dame is founded on, creating sisterhood and brotherhood. A lot of bonding goes on after parietals. It’s always good to interact with the opposite sex, but you would never have the frank, open dialogue you might have [after parietals] if girls were around.” For Palomino, parietals can sometimes stunt friendships between male and female students. A date might be worth the risk of evading hall staff post-parietals for students, she said, but just hanging out with a friend might not be enough incentive for breaking the rules. “Parietals aren’t going to stop you from doing any shenanigans you’re going to. … Parietals are going to stop you from watching a movie because spending a night in your [opposite sex] best friend’s dorm, it’s not worth the last 20 minutes of ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’” she said. “For me, it just limits friendships with the opposite sex.” Senior Shannon Warchol, also an RA in Welsh Family Hall, said the Frosh-O experience and single-sex dorms don’t necessarily stunt friendships – they just make the process of meeting the opposite sex more “formal” than at other schools. “I was raised like you don’t invite yourself to somebody else’s house, you wait until they invite you or whatever,” Warchol said. “So I would never go into a boys’ dorm and just walk around and see who was there. But if I lived in a co-gender dorm where they lived down the hall or on the next floor, I would just walk past and see whose door was open and I wouldn’t feel like I was inviting myself over to their house. “So I think that makes it more difficult freshman year because it makes it so formal, you have to always be inviting someone over. You can’t just build a friendship because you’re there [in the same dorms.] Now I don’t see it as much of a problem.” A classroom dynamic Warchol decided to pursue civil engineering when she was a high school student living in Minneapolis. When a major bridge collapsed in the city, she witnessed the massive problem-solving effort to revamp transportation in the large metropolis and then build a safer bridge. She’ll head to graduate school in May and then enter a male-dominated engineering field. At her summer internship, only nine of the 40 people in her office were women. But at Notre Dame, she hasn’t felt that same male monopoly, even though her department has enrolled more men than women. “I almost felt like I was going to have to come in and work harder, work 10 times as hard as the male students, to prove that when I received special recognition, it wasn’t just because I was a female student,” Warchol said. “You don’t want to be recognized because you’re different. You want to be recognized because you do superior work. “But there’s never been a problem with thinking I was receiving special treatment or different treatment because I was a female at Notre Dame. So maybe it’s prepared me to expect the best out of people.” While her parents’ generation has populated the engineering field with more men, Warchol said she didn’t expect that trend to continue as her own generation graduates from school. “You always hear this talk of people, especially in our parents’ generation or older, how they talk about industry in engineering being so segregated still and there’s such a high proportion of men,” she said. “Which doesn’t really mesh with what you see at the university level.” ‘A transitional moment’ Even in the 15 years since Dr. Susan Ohmer, professor in the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, arrived at Notre Dame in 1998, she has noticed a change in the percentage of women faculty at the University. “I can see a difference. … In the time I’ve been here, there seems to be more openness about children, about talking about children, about thinking about work-family balance,” Ohmer said. “These are issues that people feel comfortable bringing up now.” As the female population of professors and students continues to grow, Ohmer chairs the University Committee on Women’s Faculty and Students. The committee began in the early 1990s and reports to University President Fr. John Jenkins through the provost of the University. The purpose of the committee is to “consider policies, practices and the general environment of the University as they relate to women faculty and students,” according to Notre Dame’s Academic Articles. The committee has 22 elected members from across the University, including 20 women and two men. “I think that it’s a very important committee for bringing women faculty together to talk about issues that affect us as a group. … I think the committee feels empowered,” she said. Currently, the full-time teaching faculty at Notre Dame breaks down to about 70 percent men and 30 percent women, Ohmer said, but she expects that demographic to shift as long-standing male professors retire. “Over the past two years, we’ve had a number of key people involved in diversity initiatives, and Fr. John has defined diversity to include people of color as well as gender,” Ohmer said. Some of these people, however, have moved on from Notre Dame to other institutions, Ohmer said, citing vice president and associate provost Don Pope-Davis’ recent decision to move to DePaul University. “I hope there continues to be an effort to address issues of gender and diversity [in key positions,]” Ohmer said. “We are really in a transitional moment and I hope we don’t lose the momentum we have.” As a high-ranking administrator, University chief of staff Ann Firth has also served in a number of positions involved with women at Notre Dame, and she was instrumental in beginning the Gender Relations Center (GRC). But when she first arrived on campus as an undergraduate in 1977, only 25 percent of the student body was female.   “There were occasions when I was the only woman or perhaps one of very few in a class, and we were certainly outnumbered in the dining halls,” she said. “But this didn’t really detract from my sense of belonging and connection. … I guess I felt on some level like the place needed us, that having women here was part of an important and necessary evolution for Notre Dame.” As the presence of women has grown at Notre Dame and Firth has climbed in the administration, she said.”A mentor gave me some very simple but profound advice when I was first embarking on my professional career – to always remember who I am,” she said. “In some ways, that’s harder than it sounds, and while hardly unique to one gender, I think it can be a particular struggle for women. “One of the things I have most appreciated about my career at Notre Dame is that I have found it possible to be myself here, which among other things means that I can bring my perspective as a woman to bear on the work I do.” ‘What is the stereotype?’ Before there were Notre Dame women, there were Saint Mary’s women. Holy Cross sisters established the College as an all-female institution just two years after Holy Cross brothers established Notre Dame in 1842. Now, Saint Mary’s is one of the premier women’s colleges in the nation. But at one point, Saint Mary’s almost stopped existing. In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s discussed merging their two universities. Talks fell through for financial and institutional reasons, and Saint Mary’s remains its own university today. Saint Mary’s senior Ciara O’Halloran has participated in science classes at Notre Dame, taking advantage of the co-exchange program that still exists between the two schools. “Well, my classes at Notre Dame were a lot bigger, so I didn’t know my professors as well as I knew my professors at Saint Mary’s,” O’Halloran said. “I didn’t get to know as many classmates as I did at Saint Mary’s. “I guess the nice thing [at Saint Mary’s] was that I knew everybody in the class and I also probably took for granted in some respect that I had the professor for several classes.” O’Halloran said Notre Dame students were sometimes surprised to find her among their classmates. “For me, I would find people turn around and [say,] ‘You go to Saint Mary’s? You’re not like I imagined you.’ “I’m like, ‘What is the stereotype? What is the normal Saint Mary’s student?’” Notre Dame sophomore Erin Klosterman began her college career at Saint Mary’s, but she transferred to Notre Dame to pursue her dream – playing volleyball for Notre Dame.  Even as she has changed schools, however, she said she sees the difference between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s as a positive one. “I definitely think an all-girls education is unique,” Klosterman said. “I think it provides an excellent environment for learning as well as making friendships, and I think it really just allows the girls to go and really feed off each one another in an academic environment without having to worry about a lot of other things.” As she moved from Saint Mary’s to Notre Dame, Klosterman said she really appreciated the environment of a same-sex dorm, so similar to her experience at an all-girls high school and at the College. And when she tells Notre Dame students she has transferred from Saint Mary’s, she said she hasn’t experienced any kind of discrimination. “I think a lot of people hear about the stereotypes but their actions are based solely on the fact that they’ve heard about a stereotype but not necessarily that they’ve had a negative experience with a Saint Mary’s girl.” Loyal daughters This weekend, Palomino will direct this year’s “Loyal Daughters and Sons,” a student-run production that focuses on true stories of sexual violence and gender. The production is meant to open dialogue about sexuality, sex and its complexities on a campus like Notre Dame’s – one she said does not do the best job of opening itself to those conversations. “If you can’t talk about sexuality, how do you talk about bad sexuality, about [good sexuality]?” she said. “How do you determine the difference is there? If all sexuality is bad, if all sex is bad, then what’s the difference between sexual assault and consensual sex?’ “It needs to be a safer place to talk [about] things.” But Notre Dame has also helped her consider aspects of her own gender and sexuality, that Palomino had not encountered before. “I’ve dealt with a lot of gender issues that my friends haven’t at other schools,” she said. “Because I’m not Catholic, I’m at a Catholic school, I’m from the West Coast. It’s a different place. So I’ve thought about things a different way. No one anywhere else has to be curious about whether they can get their birth control pills filled. No one anywhere else wonders if it’s okay to buy condoms. And so I’ve thought about things. And that has helped me to really understand why I believe what I believe, where other people haven’t had to think about that.” As productions like “Loyal Daughters and Sons” continue, as men and women at Notre Dame continue to learn together, Palomino said she hopes the student body continues to learn to talk together as well. “I hope it continues to be a conversation,” she said.last_img read more

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University criticizes concessions CEO

first_imgNotre Dame publicly criticized Des Hague, CEO of Centerplate, a sports catering company that supplies concessions for Irish sporting events, for allegedly abusing a dog in an elevator in Vancouver.“We find the actions of Centerplate’s CEO to be deplorable and will closely monitor this matter as the company conducts its internal review,” University spokesman Dennis Brown said in a statement Monday, according to a WSBT report.A viral video that surfaced last week depicted a man dragging and kicking a Doberman puppy. According to a statement made through his attorney and published Monday by Fortune, Hague apologized for the incident, which was “completely and utterly out of character.”“I am ashamed and deeply embarrassed,” he said. “… a minor frustration with a friend’s pet caused me to lose control of my emotional response … I would like to extend my apology to my family, company and clients, as I understand that this has also reflected negatively on them.”Centerplate has supplied concessions at Notre Dame since 2011 and currently covers all on-campus sporting events, according to a WSBT report.“We’re continuing to monitor the company’s response and await to see what authorities in Vancouver report before commenting further,” University spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement.Tags: abuse, Centerplate, Dennis Brown, Notre Dame, Paul Brownelast_img read more

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Student government initiates ‘coffee hours’ program

first_imgNotre Dame’s student government has started a new initiative this semester called “Coffee Hours” in which students can invite their professors to Starbucks and the Student Government will pay for their coffee.Student body president Lauren Vidal said this initiative was on her mind even before she was elected for the 2014-2015 term.“When Matt and I ran for office, we included an idea for ‘happy hours’ with professors and coffee,” Vidal said. “We truly value the out-of-classroom experience and conversation between students and faculty, and we wanted to find an active and meaningful way to encourage just that.”Coffee hours will not take the place of already existing office hours; however, coffee hours will provide a different and unique setting for students to ask teachers questions about course material or simply talk about their lives,” student government director of academic affairs Michelle Lacouture said.“Coffee hours and office hours can definitely coexist with one another,” Lacouture, who headed the initiative, said. “Coffee hours is a more intimate and relaxed meeting that you can schedule at a time that fits for you.”Coffee hours is also distinct from traditional office hours in that the conversation need not focus strictly on academics.“We hope that students use the meetings to continue working on language proficiency, discuss with their professor various internships, grow closer to their professor as a mentor,” Lacouture said. “… It’s an open conversation.”Vidal said she hopes the informal nature of coffee hours will appeal to students and make them more willing to meet outside of class with their professors.“It will give some structure to what students may otherwise be somewhat hesitate to initiate, especially as underclassmen,” Vidal said. “We also hope it will allow students capitalize on the knowledge that can be gained from one-on-one conversations with professors.”Lacouture said she hopes coffee hours will provide a new method for professors to mentor students outside of a classroom setting.“We talk a lot about mentoring, and we have lots of mentoring programs, but that’s not always super effective for everyone,” she said. “In coffee hours, the conversation is organic and can grow, connecting students and professors in a different matter than is already offered.”Students can sign up for coffee hours online at the Student Government website. Registering your coffee hours earns students a $10 voucher to Starbucks, which they can then pick up from the Student Government office on the second floor of LaFortune.“It takes the financial responsibility off of you and your professor, making it easier to invite them,” Lacouture said.Tags: coffee hours, Lauren Vidal, michelle lacouture, Notre Dame, Student governmentlast_img read more

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Professors analyze Trump’s presidency, media

first_imgThe first 12 days of President Donald Trump’s term in office have been marked by a flurry of executive orders and nationwide protests. In response, NDVotes organized a Tuesday installment of its Pizza, Pop and Politics series and brought two University professors to discuss Trump’s time in office thus far, focusing on his consolidation of power and his approach to the media.Susan Ohmer, associate professor of film, theater and television, said today’s media landscape has been fragmented by the current political environment, representing a return to previous media eras.“We often hear that many elements of today’s political scene are unprecedented, and in many ways, that’s true — but in some ways that’s not,” she said. “In the 19th century, and the late 18th century, newspapers … were openly partisan. If you could imagine a landscape populated with a lot of Fox Newses, that’s what it was.”Ohmer said while this fragmentation is not unprecedented, the media landscape has changed dramatically in other ways in recent years.“I think one of the most significant differences we see is the sheer amount of news from every form — whether it’s social media, print, broadcast. It comes at you all day long,” she said.According to Ohmer, Trump’s relationship with the media is a unique aspect of media coverage in this election.“We certainly have a president who is more savvy than many previous presidents when it comes to news, not just media representation,” she said. “President Trump is very knowledgeable about the news cycle. One of the things that strikes me is his ability to time tweets in sync with the news cycle.”Ohmer said this relationship between the president and the media is also made more interesting by Trump’s preference for particular news organizations.“Another thing that we’ve seen that been very striking is the fact that this President picks favorites — Sean Hannity comes to mind,” she said. “For example, at this first news conference, he didn’t take questions from CNN and lumped them in with BuzzFeed, saying they were both bad.”Ohmer said echoes of presidential confrontation with the media have been seen before, but they have typically been on a much smaller scale.“Many people have drawn parallels between this administration and the Nixon administration in 1968,” she said. “Nixon did all this in secret. He didn’t come right out and say, ‘CNN, I’m not taking your questions,’ or, ‘I’m going to kick you out of the White House if you don’t cover me how I want.’”Gary Hollibaugh, assistant professor of political science, said it is important to look at the early policy actions taken by the Trump administration in order to better understand how the next four years will play out.“A lot of the things he has been signing are, by and large, presidential memoranda, which are policy directives given to agencies to implement specific things,” Hollibaugh said. “The success of President Trump’s policy program is going to be dependent on the cooperation of departments because all of these policies need to be interpreted and implemented — or perhaps not implemented — by others.”According to Hollibaugh, there are three key elements necessary for Trump to maintain political control, the first of which is politicization of advisors and appointees.“[Politicization] is the stacking of political officials in administrative agencies,” he said. “This is not a tactic that is unique to Trump. … This is something that lots of presidents have done. President Obama was criticized a lot in his administration for the use of policy tsars.”The second key for political power, according to Hollibaugh, is resolving any ambiguities about preferences, exemplified with his dismissal of acting Attorney General Sally Yates.“Once President Trump realized that [Yates] was not going to implement policy the way [he] wanted, he removed her,” Hollibaugh said.Hollibaugh said the final key aspect for ensuring political control is bureaucratic organization.“President Trump has, to a minor extent, done this,” he said. “One of his executive orders … directed that within the immigration and customs enforcement office, there be the creation of an office to focus on crimes committed by ‘removable aliens.’”However, the administration has come up short in some aspects of bureaucratic organization, according to Hollibaugh.“The National Park Service employees who publicly denounced the President’s policies, whether or not you agree with the policies, does represent a fundamental failure of the President to control his administration,” he said.Similarly, Hollibaugh said Trump had fallen short in another aspect of agency coordination, which was demonstrated in his failure to inform Homeland Security Secretary General John Kelly of his new immigration policy.“General Kelly only found out about this by watching TV,” Hollibaugh said. “This typically doesn’t happen — because General Kelly was caught flat-footed, the entire Department of Homeland Security and the entire border control really had no idea what to do, because there was a complete breakdown of coordination.”Tags: and politics, Donald Trump, media, Pizza, pop, president trump, trump administrationlast_img read more

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Panel discusses rise of right-wing populism in Europe

first_imgProfessors from the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Nanovic Institute for European Studies explored the current political landscape and the rise of right-wing populism in Europe through the lens of four countries: France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany.Olivier Morel, assistant professor of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and Romance Languages and Literatures, began the panel Monday night with an analysis of the political sphere in France. While he said the rise of far-right institutions is threatening, it is nothing new in French politics as the trend has been apparent for at least three decades.“Nothing erupts by total chance or accident,” he said. “The idea that most of what we see is a disastrous, unique, unprecedented event is a fallacy.”Citing evidence of rising hate speech, “non-verbal approaches to politics” such as marches and ceremonies, and quotes that know how to attract media attention, he said this political far-right in France is catering to the masses who are losing jobs through industrialization. Morel also said hate, especially toward minorities, is becoming institutionalized, which is difficult to undo.Finally, in a theme reiterated by the other panelists, Morel said the European Union (EU) is now an “ideological vacuum.”“You will not see voters get enthusiastic about the European Union anymore,” he said.Michel Hockx, director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, drew on this same point when discussing politics in his native country of the Netherlands. The current populist party in the country, the Party for Freedom, includes leaving the EU as one of two primary points in its election manifesto. The other point is that it wants to de-Islamicize the Netherlands.“The right-wing, anti-Islam organizations in the Netherlands present themselves as defenders of the Dutch vision of tolerance, liberalism, openness to the gay community, etc.”Hockx was hesitant to use the word “right-wing” when describing the populist party, though, since he said most of the parties use right-wing ideas to gain votes.“The situation in the Netherlands is such that is has already changed from being right-wing populism to simply being populism,” he said.Lucia Manzi, a Ph.D. candidate in political science, focused on a current party in Italy — the Five Star Movement. She said the group serves those who feel they have a lack of representation in government and who distrust democracy by focusing on implementing direct democracy and more transparency in government.Manzi said it is hard to define the group as belonging to the left or right since all the policy issues are voted online. Reiterating the previous statements about the EU, she said many politicians today are relying on supranational institutions.“It is not by chance that populist movements all aim target at the European Union because the European Union has become a major political actor. Several policy decisions that are made at the country level come down or are affected by the European Union,” she said.Manzi said while the party does not directly threaten democracy, the movement does threaten democracy in its current form, which is one based on political parties.The final panelist, A. James McAdams, director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, discussed German politics.He said the Alternative for Germany party is “populist, Euro-skeptic, anti-immigrant … and anti-science.”McAdams said the movement matters, whether it wins an election or not.“It represents a powerful influence on German attitudes about what appropriate behavior is and about the political course that the elites should follow,” he said, citing that the group legitimizes violence and sets the political tone.McAdams said he is primarily concerned about the political state of Germany since it holds great influence over the future of Europe.“Now that Britain has left, there is no other power that is in the position to set the tone for Europe, whether we like it or not. The problem is … the Germans just aren’t sure that they like it. This is not the Germany of old; this is ambivalent Germany,” he said.Tags: Brexit, Europe, germany, populism, right winglast_img read more

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Professor discusses nuances of autism

first_imgProfessor Michael Waddell, director of the master of autism studies program at Saint Mary’s, called for a more complete understanding of autistic identities — acknowledging both the struggles and gifts of individuals with autism — during a presentation Wednesday.In the lecture, Waddell read from his personal work exploring autism in relation to the Catholic faith and said he plans to publish a book on the subject in the future.“The task of my book is to search Catholic intellectual tradition for resources that can enrich the way we understand and respond to autism,” he said. Mary Steurer | The Observer Professor Michael Waddell speaks on autism and individuality during a presentation in Malloy Hall on Wednesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Notre Dame chapter of Minorities and Philosophy.Waddell opened his presentation by discussing autistic identity in context of the “Autism Rights” movement, which advocates for autism to be viewed not as a disability, but rather as a form of neurological diversity.Members of the movement believe that, for those on the spectrum, autism is an intrinsic part of the self, Waddell said.“Accordingly, the much-sought-after cure for autism has been condemned by some autistic self-advocates as an assault on a minority group that is akin to eugenics or genocide,” he said.Waddell said he looked to St. Thomas Aquinas and his writings on the metaphysics of identity and relationships to gain insight into how those with disabilities form their identities.He referenced a reflection on Aquinas’s writings by Fr. Terrence Ehrman, assistant director for life science research and outreach at Notre Dame, entitled “Disability and Resurrection Identity.”Waddell said Ehrman “goes so far as to explicitly deny that disabilities are intrinsic to a person’s identity” and “rejects the notion that healing a disability would destroy an individual’s identity” in his article.“Indeed in this way of seeing things, curing autism might even be thought to make a person’s life better,” Waddell added.However, he said, advocates of autistic identity would strongly object to the idea that their condition is a privation, instead seeing it as an inalienable part of themselves.Waddell said his research led him to view autistic identity as uniquely relational, defined by the way autistic individuals bond with one another.While those with autism are often misunderstood as antisocial by nature, Waddell said, in reality, they can develop profoundly meaningful relationships if given the opportunity to freely interact with others like themselves.“In this way, autistic identity is not merely a matter of being a subject of privation, or even a matter of a diagnosis — it’s an act of self-understanding that creates connections with others who become friends,” he said. “These relations that comprise autistic identity are real goods in the lives of autistic people.”With this in mind, Waddell said, public discussion of autism ought to focus on both acknowledging the struggles life with the disorder brings as well as celebrating the unique minds of those who have it.“I think that there’s room for meeting in the middle,” he said. “It allows us to have meaningful conversation in a way that’s not happening now.”Waddell added that Catholic Social Teaching can provide insight into how dialogue between non-autistic individuals — so-called “neurotypicals” — and those on the spectrum can be achieved.“Here I think the Catholic Church has even more resources to offer — teachings and practices about using power to serve those who are vulnerable, rather than to persecute them, about forgiveness and reconciliation in broken relationships, about understanding all people as having inherent identity,” he said.Tags: Autism, autism rights, Catholic Social Teachinglast_img read more

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Notre Dame to hold Ally Week

first_imgThe fifth-annual Ally Week began Monday with a new focus on intersectionality, in addition to encouraging engagement from students who want to be allies. Director of the Gender Relations Center (GRC) Christine Caron Gebhardt said the focus on allies was intended to change University culture. “We realized that for our students who are LGBTQ to have a sense of belonging, their peers have to be involved and understand the path they’re walking and participate in a way where we’re all doing this together. We’re a community together,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for allies to understand the complexity of issues, be able to participate with students and to stand in solidarity with them. “Some students aren’t sure as to what it means to be an ally, and this helps to answer some questions as to how you can support students who are LGBTQ.”Sara Agostinelli, who is in her first year as the assistant director for LGBTQ student initiatives at the GRC, said Ally Week sought to accomplish several goals. “We’re looking for education, for opportunities to engage — to be social,” she said. “We’re looking for opportunities to pray and reflect together. We’re always striving to live up to that spirit of inclusion.”A T-shirt giveaway started off Ally Week Monday morning, followed by “More Color, More Pride,” a talk by Amber Hikes, executive director of LGBT affairs for the city of Philadelphia.The Philadelphia pride flag includes black and brown stripes, in addition to the rainbow stripes, to encourage racial intersectionality. “[Hikes is] going to talk about how marginalized people and communities be allies for one another and how we can do that work to be really intentionally welcoming and inclusive and being allies across that spectrum of social identities, of racial identities, of faith identities,” Agostinelli said. Right to Life, one of Ally Week’s co-sponsors, is hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday at the Grotto from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.; the event is also part of Right to Life’s You Are Loved Week. Agostinelli said the event was a prayer service for “those who have been murdered because of their identity.” On Wednesday night at 7 p.m., an interfaith LGBTQ and ally Mass will be held in Sorin College, followed by a reception. Gebhardt said they tried to make the week more proactive and create opportunities for service, like Thursday’s event: assembling “Blessing Bags” to be donated to the Center for the Homeless in South Bend. Agostinelli said that because the rate of homelessness in the LGBT community is higher than average, the GRC wanted to assemble bags with various basic-needs items from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in 106 Duncan Student Center. To close out the week, two events are planned for Friday: an ally social at noon at Fieldhouse Mall and Greendot bystander training at 5 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room in LaFortune Student Center. The idea to deliver Greendot training with an LGBT perspective came from the GRC’s Firestarters. “This idea came out of students who asked if we could do the training from the LGBTQ lens,” she said. “The examples and the training … will help our ally students realize that these situations exist in all communities but will help them see what they look like.”Gebhardt said the GRC chose to do an Ally Week instead of a Pride Week because of the role allies play in shaping the community.“One of the reasons why we do the Ally Week is we do have a sense of standing up for the LGBT community as part of Stand Against Hate Week. … We really are wanting an Ally Week because without allies, you can’t change the culture,” she said. “There’s an intentionally as to why it’s an Ally Week. There are different events during the year where we feel like we are bringing visibility to the LGBTQ community.” Tags: Ally Week, Gender Relations Center, LGBTQ, StaND Against Hate Weeklast_img read more

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