Even though students will leave Notre Dame next week for winter break, the Office of Financial Aid will “seem just as busy,” student service representative Lynn Pershing said. Most offices around campus, including the Office of Financial Aid, will remain open until Dec. 23 and reopen again Jan 3 after a short break. “It’s just our normal business,” Pershing said. “We still get calls, grad students are still here.” Samuel Gaglio, assistant dean of the Mendoza College of Business, said faculty from Mendoza use the break as a time to catch up on things, as well as plan ahead for the future. “It’s a great time to take care of the paperwork and preplanning that makes it possible to spend time advising [students] while [they are] on campus,” Gaglio said. Until Dec 23., Gaglio and the rest of the college will focus on taking care of end of the semester issues, such as grades and registering for the spring semester. “We are still assisting students who ask about scheduling problems. We do graduation checks,” Gaglio said. “There are numerous issues students may have.” When the faculty comes back to campus in 2011, they will look ahead to the spring semester. One focus of Mendoza is to make sure that every student is on track for graduation. Gaglio said while seniors are the top priority, they also check to see that juniors and sophomores are taking the classes they need to be taking. “This is when we can go in-depth with the 1,800 students we have,” Gaglio said. In the Office of the Dean in the College of Arts and Letters, the faculty is looking even further ahead. Mo Marnocha, a personnel and operations specialist in the office, said one event they begin planning over break is the diploma ceremony in May. “We’re gearing up for the spring semester, as well as looking at the end of the spring semester,” Marnocha said. The Office of the Dean will also concentrate on finishing faculty appointments for the spring, as well as considering promotion and tenure packets. Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) is one department that will not have a break for the holidays. Dave Chapman, assistant director of NDSP, said his staff will remain at Notre Dame for the duration of the break. “We’re here 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Chapman said. NDSP will do most of its normal duties, Chapman said, such as walking through the buildings on campus and patrolling the parking lots. One additional job they have over break is to make sure students’ doors remain locked. “We continually check the dorms and make sure all the doors are locked on a daily basis,” Chapman said. “This is an open campus, so even though students are gone, the public still comes on campus.” Ava Preacher, an assistant dean for the College of Arts and Letters, said her office doesn’t make appointments from the last class day until the first day back, but they still handle many student concerns. “We handle emergencies, exam problems, registration problems,” Preacher said. “We also deal with transfer and readmitted students and preparing for them.” Although Marnocha agreed break is a great time to fix problems and catch up on the past semester, she said the Office of the Dean in the College of Arts and Letters will mainly use the break to plan ahead for the future. “We’re always working ahead,” Marnocha said. “We’re cleaning up some tail end stuff, but we’re always looking forward.”
Legendary comedy writers Bill Persky and Tom Leopold entertained students, faculty and staff at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday evening with a discussion panel. The talk was the first in a series of lectures, private master classes, workshops and performances during their two-day visit to the College. This is Persky’s second visit to Saint Mary’s in less than a year, as he previously visited in April. He is a five-time Emmy Award-winning writer, producer and director who has worked on such iconic television shows as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Who’s the Boss,” “That Girl” and “The Cosby Show.” Leopold is famous for his writing, story editing and producing for classic television shows such as “Cheers,” “Seinfeld” and “Will and Grace.” Together, the pair discussed with students how they got involved with careers in writing, producing and directing comedy. “I kind of got tricked into [writing comedy],” Persky said. “It’s mainly observing and looking at life and saying ‘that’s weird,’ instead of just letting it go by. It’s all about how you notice stuff.” Leopold, who said he had wanted to go into show business ever since he was five years old, also said writing comedy is about looking at everyday events in a different way. “You just have to pay attention to what strikes you, whether it is funny or sad or just some guy in the street,” he said. “I didn’t know I had the ability to be funny until I met other funny people and could make them laugh.” Leopold and Persky offered some help to writers seeking advice on how to improve and build on their skills. Leopold stressed the importance of simply sitting down and writing every day, even if no one sees it. “By writing, you’ll find out who you are,” Leopold said. “If you write every day, great accidents can happen. You find your voice.” Persky said practice can help one improve as a writer. “Don’t start out to write something great,” he said. “Just start out to write something. Nobody has the freedom to do what you want to do like a writer. It’s just you and your desire and the way you express it.” Senior Danielle Haydell said the lecture was not only an enjoyable way to spend her Wednesday evening but also a chance to learn about comedy and the personal backgrounds of the two writers. “(Their talk) was hilarious and was very insightful,” she said. “It was really great to actually meet the people who write the funny shows because I feel like you hear about the actors all the time, but you never hear about the actual people who write it. It was nice to be able to talk to them and ask questions and hear their life stories.” On Thursday, Leopold will perform his one-man show titled “When a Comedy Writer Finds God,” a story about his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism. The performance begins at 7:30 p.m.tin the Little Theatre of the Moreau Center for Performing Arts. Tickets and more information can be found at www.moreaucenter.com.
Love Your Body Week continued at Saint Mary’s College on Thursday with a self-defense class, Spa Night at Hannah’s House and a screening of the documentary “Someday Melissa”.The self-defense class, co-sponsored by Athletics, BAVO (Belles Against Violence Office), Security and Women’s Health taught participants five basic physical moves that are part of the Self-Awareness and Familiarization Exchange (S.A.F.E.) national program offered by the National Self-Defense Institution. Connie Adams, director of the BAVO office, said self-defense is an important aspect to what individuals can do to reduce personal risk of experiencing violence.“Perhaps the most important reason [self defense] falls within the category of risk reduction is because it empowers participants,” Adams said. “If participants take one thing away, I hope it is empowerment, confidence.”During the program, facilitators discussed the importance of trusting one’s instincts. Recognizing one’s own inner strength empowers women to have the ability to trust in themselves, Adams said.“From what I have witnessed, Love Your Body Week focuses on recognizing your inner strength, being grateful for who you are and respecting yourself as well as others,” said Adams. “In my experience, sometimes women have a difficult time trusting [their] instincts, trusting themselves.“By encouraging women to connect with these instincts and follow them, we are supporting the overarching mission of LYBW.”A spa night was held at Hannah’s House, a maternity home in South Bend, which is the community partner of Le Mans Hall. Saint Mary’s women spent the evening with the mothers of Hannah’s House painting nails, doing facials and watching a movie.“The event [was] intended to promote the idea of dedicating time to caring for your body and connect with the community. We are hoping to make SMC students more aware of this wonderful organization and see how great the moms there are,” Le Mans Hall ministry assistant Kelly Gutrich said.Thursday night’s events also included a screening of “Someday Melissa,” sponsored by Project HEAL, a national nonprofit organization that promotes healthy body image and raises money for those with eating disorders who cannot afford treatment. “Someday Melissa” is a documentary inspired by the journal writings of a girl battling an eating disorder and her mother’s effort to understand the disease.“While ‘Someday Melissa’ is a story of loss and does contain some difficult content, ultimately, it comes down to hope,” leader of the Saint Mary’s chapter of Project HEAL and junior Mackenzie Woods said. “It is only through this type of education and awareness that we can work to prevent eating disorders in the first place.”The film was followed by a question and answer session with Gwen DeHorn, a local eating disorder specialist. Woods said she hoped DeHorn’s knowledge of eating disorders and the film would be sources of education that inform the community about eating disorders.Tags: Love Your Body, Love Your Body Week, Project HEAL, saint mary’s, Saint Mary’s College, SMC
In 2008, retired Saint Mary’s biology professor Thomas Platt was granted a two month sabbatical from the College. He used that period of time, between January and March, to study parasites in Malaysia. That’s where he discovered the parasite he named Baracktrema obamai after President Barack Obama. Platt stayed and conducted his research at Universiti Putra in Malaysia, where he spent his time dissecting turtles. Platt said he has devoted the bulk of his life to studying the parasites of turtles, and this is where he made his now-famous discovery.“During the course of those dissections, I found what I was absolutely certain was a new species,” Platt said. “And I knew that as soon as I saw it.”The new species of parasite was found in the circulatory system of the lungs of turtles. The parasite is measured to be two inches long and thinner than a stand of hair. The parasite was found in two species of turtles: the Black Marsh turtle and the Asian Box turtle.Platt said as a taxonomist, it is his job is to discover, name and categorize species for other scientists can use them in research. He said his goal is simply to increase human awareness of what is living on Earth.“What I’m attempting to do is add to our knowledge of diversity on the planet,” Platt said. “If somebody then utilizes the information that I find for other means that is fine by me.”Recently, Platt found out through one of his cousins that Obama is a distant cousin of his; the two share a common ancestor — a man named George Frederick Toot who lived in Middletown, Pa., from 1759 to 1815. Platt said despite what one may think, he considers it an honor to have a parasite named after you. He has had two parasites named after himself as recognition for his work. By naming this parasite after Obama, Platt said he intends to honor his distant family member.“I voted for Obama twice, I think he had done a fine job. I have a great deal of respect for him as a husband and father,” Platt said. “From my perspective, I am recognizing his achievements.” Platt, who retired in 2015, said he is happy this story is getting global attention. He said with the hard work he has done over the course of his career — especially on this eight-and-a-half-year project — and the hard work all other scientists do, expecting nothing in return, it is nice to receive some recognition and feedback.“I wanted the last organism that I’m going to name in my career to make a little noise,” Platt said. He said the story, which started to gain media attention a week ago, has already began to raise awareness of parasitology. For example, Platt added, the journal of parasitology website recently received ten times more hits then it usually does. “There are a lot of scientist out there who don’t do it for money or recognition but because they love it,” he said. “We are really just interested in discovering diversity on this planet.”Tags: Barack Obama, Baracktrema obamai, parasite, parsitoligy, Thomas Platt
Dominique DeMoe | The Observer Three tickets.Two elections.Five rounds of sanctions.Four appeals filed.Two appeals heard.402 students’ votes invalidated.On Feb. 25 — after a month-long campaign process that included countless hours of allegation hearings and sanction appeals, a runoff election and several unsubstantiated rumors — juniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart were elected student body president and vice president.However, due to two sanctions delivered by the Judicial Council Election Committee requiring McGavick and Gayheart and their runoff opponents — juniors Alex Kruszewski and Julia Dunbar — to forfeit 12 and 10 percent of the votes cast for them, respectively, 402 of the 3,592 students who voted for either ticket in the runoff election saw their votes invalidated.Furthermore, due to confidentiality requirements of the student government election process outlined by the Student Union Constitution, many students do not understand why this was the case.The Observer spoke with many different parties involved with the election process — directly and otherwise — in an attempt to piece together what just happened.Establishing the toneJudicial Council announced Jan. 31 that three tickets would be running for student body president and vice president: juniors Alex Kruszewski and Julia Dunbar, juniors Gates McGavick and Corey Gayheart and freshmen Andrew Gannon and Mark Moran.Kruszewski and Dunbar declined to be interviewed, answer questions via email or comment for this story other than to “reiterate how grateful [they] are to [their] supporters and team, who were absolutely incredible and ran a fantastic campaign.”Five days prior to announcing the three tickets, however, Judicial Council announced via a press release that McGavick and Gayheart would be required to suspend their campaign for five hours from the start of campaigning. This was because “the ticket was found to have petitioned in classrooms directly after class periods” when McGavick and Gayheart were gathering signatures to become an official ticket in the race for student body president and vice president, according to the release.McGavick and Gayheart appealed the Election Committee’s decision later that day, and over the course of a closed three-hour appeal hearing, the student senate reduced the ticket’s sanction from a five-hour suspension of campaigning to a two-hour suspension.This first allegation, sanction and hearing process, McGavick said, “set the tone” of the election before it officially got underway.“To be as vague as I can, the recommendation for punishment … would have seriously, seriously affected our future careers and times at Notre Dame,” McGavick said. “I think that set the tone for us pretty early. We went into that office kind of knowing that there could be some minor thing we could mess up on, and we were happy to accept the penalty for the first thing. But when we came out of the office having seen the recommendation for punishment from whoever filed the allegation, then Corey and I were pretty stunned.”The follow-up to these allegations occurred Feb. 2, when the Election Committee sanctioned the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket after junior David Carmack — who identified himself in a Letter to the Editor published Feb. 6 — brought forth allegations claiming the Kruszewski-Dubar ticket appeared to be implying it was endorsed by members of the University administration on one of its platform points.As an “appropriate sanction” for what the Election Committee determined to be a violation of Section 17.1(f)(6) of the Student Union Constitution, Judicial Council announced in a press release, Kruszewski and Dunbar had to rewrite the platform point in question — a promise to decrease tuition.While Carmack declined to comment for this story, he said in his Letter to the Editor that he filed an appeal of the decision with the student senate in order to “ask for a harsher penalty” and raise his concerns that McGavick and Gayheart had been punished more severely for a lesser offense.This appeal, however, was not heard because the student senate failed to meet quorum — the minimum number of voting members required to be present in order to hold a meeting — by one member. As a result, and per the Student Union Constitution, the appeal was cancelled and the Election Committee’s original decision was upheld.This instance of the student senate not reaching quorum to hear an appeal, senior Judicial Council president Matt Ross said, was one moment in which Ross identified an area of the Student Union Constitution he would like to see revised after election season ends.“Obviously, the senate — we try as hard as we can to get quorum if an appeal is filed. And I know from Judicial Council, from my perspective, there is certainly a lot of work I want to do looking at the appeals section of the constitution over the next few weeks that we still have in office,” Ross said. “That’s certainly something that I’ve talked to a few people about, and it’s definitely a place where we think we can improve the constitution and make it more effective.”These two initial allegations and subsequent sanctions meant that by the time the first student body presidential debate took place Feb. 5, the only ticket to not have any allegations filed against it was the Gannon-Moran ticket.Despite running as part of a Zahm House tradition, Gannon said he and Moran were careful to not violate any election rules specifically laid out for them. In addition, Moran said he believes no one felt the need to file allegations against their ticket because students weren’t taking their candidacy seriously.“I think that people didn’t think we were a threat, so they didn’t really feel the need to really come out and damage our standing in the election,” Moran said. “But also the fact that we didn’t do anything that directly attacked one of the other candidates — if someone attacks you, obviously you want retribution for that. But we didn’t attack anyone.”Gannon said the ticket’s primary goal was to introduce a lighthearted aspect to the student body presidential elections, a mindset with which the two approached the first debate.“The student body debate we thought was a huge success — the first one at least,” Gannon said. “We tried to bring some levity to the situation, show people that student government is a great option for people, but let’s not take it too seriously.”Despite the added humor Gannon and Moran introduced to the election, however, the tone turned negative again in the early hours of Feb. 6. Judicial Council announced in another press release that McGavick and Gayheart were required to publicly apologize on behalf of one of their supporters due to “Election Regulations based on Section 17.1(g)” of the Student Union Constitution, which the press release said read, “You are responsible for your actions as well as the actions of your supporters.”The supporter, senior Devon Chenelle, had posted a comment to a post on his personal Facebook page endorsing McGavick and Gayheart and used an offensive term in the process of responding to a Kruszewski-Dunbar supporter. Chenelle did not immediately respond to The Observer’s request for comment. Editor’s note: Chenelle is a former columnist for The Observer.In compliance with the Election Committee’s sanction requiring them to post a public apology, the McGavick-Gayheart campaign posted a statement to its Facebook page Feb. 6 requesting that students “remain respectful at all times when demonstrating any sort of support for [the] ticket, whether it be on social media or in person.”“There is no place for any sort of division or disrespect during a student body presidential campaign,” the statement said. “We are all part of the Notre Dame family, and should remain united as brothers and sisters.”McGavick said this moment, to him, was a cut-and-dry aspect of the campaign process.“It was the acts of a supporter that we publicly apologized for, and it was really important that we apologized,” McGavick said.After delivering their apology, McGavick and Gayheart intended to remain positive during the final days leading up to the election.“Moving forward, we want to finish this campaign on a high note with a focus on positivity and respect, especially for all those who have in some way dedicated time to this election,” their Feb. 6 statement said. “This election is important, but absolutely nothing is more important than maintaining the University’s core values.”The first forfeiture of votesIn addition to an article recapping the debate and candidate profiles for all three tickets, The Observer released its endorsement of the McGavick-Gayheart ticket the morning of Feb. 6.Later that day, senior Ryan Brickner said he received text messages from Kruszewski asking Brickner to recruit “some rogue xahmbies,” referring to Brickner’s Zahm House dormmates, to post comments on social media posts with the endorsement congratulating McGavick and Gayheart on “promising [The Observer Editorial Board] positions” and claiming that doing so “worked in getting [McGavick-Gayheart] the endorsement.”Senior and former Editor-in-Chief of The Observer Ben Padanilam denied the claims Kruszewski expressed in his text messages to Brickner.“The claims contained in the text messages that The Observer Editorial Board received bribes from a ticket in this election and that those bribes were in exchange for our endorsement are categorically false,” Padanilam said. “The members of our Editorial Board who voted for which ticket to endorse sat through hours of interviews with all three tickets, discussed the merits of each ticket and spent hours composing an editorial which laid out in detail why it felt the McGavick-Gayheart ticket offered the most reasonable and feasible plan for the student body. It is a shame that the work of all the individuals involved was even brought into question by such baseless allegations.”Brickner, who chose to go on the record with The Observer as the one who filed the allegations against the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket, said although he didn’t feel particularly strongly about the outcome of the election, he became more uncomfortable with the messages he received the longer he thought about them.“At first, I thought it was kind of funny — like, ‘This is so bold, I’m certainly not going to do that. But also, I’m pretty sure this is very unethical,’” Brickner said. “ … This is instructing someone to defame another candidate and instructing somebody to get other people to defame another candidate.”After sending a screenshot of the text messages to many of his friends — causing the messages to circulate throughout the student body over the course of the day — Brickner filed an allegation with the Judicial Council and presented his case in a hearing that night.“It was a pretty clear, cut-and-dry case, I thought. And part of [what the Election Committee wanted to know] was what my intentions were in filing the allegations,” Brickner said. “I told them, at first I didn’t think much of it, I thought it was a joke. But just the more I thought about it, the more it started bothering me. Again, I really didn’t care who won. But at least have a fair and clean election, at the very least.”Ross spoke to the general process of allegation hearings, confirming that members of the Election Committee confirm the validity of any evidence brought forth in hearings.“As the Election Committee, we have to make sure it is verifiable, make sure it is legitimate, make sure the claims in there are accurate and we try to do that to the best of our ability,” Ross said. “We do that with any evidence, text messages — we ask them to make sure this hasn’t been tampered with. So across the board … we definitely do the due diligence to make sure the evidence we are presenting before the Election Committee is legitimate to the best of our knowledge.”In the early hours of Feb. 7, election day, the Election Committee announced what it had determined to be an appropriate sanction through a Judicial Council press release: The ticket would be required to forfeit 10 percent of the votes it received because it was found to have engaged in unethical behavior, which Judicial Council defines as including “monopolization of limited bulletin board space, covering or defaming of any other candidates’ posters, insulting or defaming other candidates, and harassment or misconduct toward any election officials.”This sanction, Ross said, was determined partially due to the precedent set in the 2017 student body presidential election, when seniors Rohit Fonseca and Daniela Narimatsu were required to forfeit 7 percent — reduced to 5 percent after the student senate heard Fonseca and Narimatsu’s appeal — of votes they received in the election.“Last year, there was a precedent for that — and one example in a hall election a few years back — where a certain percentage of votes were forfeited for that hall,” he said. “But as far as using it in a student body election, I think last year, to my knowledge, was pretty much the first example of that. And then as we moved forward this year, using last year’s precedent that we established certainly informed our decisions with the sanctions that the Election Committee came up with this year.”Part of the reasoning for this, Ross said, comes down to timing. He said it is difficult for the Election Committee to come up with an effective and appropriate punishment for a ticket on the day of an election.“One of the things we really have to look at is if it’s feasible as an Election Committee,” Ross said. “ … So the Election Committee has to come up with what is the most appropriate sanction for the violation they have found the ticket to be in.”Kruszewski and Dunbar filed an appeal of the Election Committee’s sanction, which the student senate heard during a closed hearing after its regularly-scheduled meeting, after voting in the election had closed at 8 p.m. The group upheld the Election Committee’s original decision, and the 10 percent deduction of votes stood.The first results and runoff campaignJust after midnight Feb. 8, Judicial Council announced that the election would move to a runoff between the Kruszewski-Dunbar ticket and the McGavick-Gayheart ticket.While Judicial Council kept the official breakdown of votes private after the initial election and neither the Kruszewski-Dunbar nor the McGavick-Gayheart ticket revealed the number of votes they received, Gannon and Moran said they received 18 percent of the votes cast in the election.“We were really proud of that, cause I guess no one really expects that from a joke campaign,” Gannon said. “Considering we got a fifth of the student body vote, we’re pretty proud of that. I think without us there probably wouldn’t have been a runoff. … But us taking that 18 percent I feel like kind of prolonged the process, and that was what we set out to accomplish, was kind of to screw things up.”This breakdown of votes did prolong the election, as not only did the process move to a runoff election, but the remaining tickets — with the student senate’s approval — also chose to postpone campaigning until Feb. 19 and delay the runoff election until Feb. 23 in order to allow time to properly mourn Sister Mary McNamara, the rector of Breen-Phillips Hall who died Feb. 7 due to complications from a stroke.When campaigning did resume Feb. 19, Kruszewski posted a public apology to Facebook for his actions during the initial campaign, in which he took responsibility for the violation and absolved Dunbar and their campaign team of any guilt in the situation.“Our mission and platform address real issues on campus from sexual assault and mental health to diversity and inclusion and everything in between, and it pains me that my personal actions may have impacted our ability to make those real, positive changes for the betterment of student life here at ND that so many of you voted for, and I apologize for any harm my text may have caused,” Kruszewski said in his apology.No additional sanctions were issued between the announcement of the first round of results and the runoff debate, which took place Feb. 22.The second forfeiture of votesThe morning after the debate and the day of the runoff election, Feb. 23, Judicial Council released a press release announcing a sanction against the McGavick-Gayheart ticket, requiring it to forfeit 12 percent of its votes.According to the release, McGavick and Gayheart were “found to have supporters releasing confidential information from previous Judicial Council allegation hearings, as well as engaging in a continued pattern of unethical behavior,” which violated Judicial Council’s Election Regulations and Sections 13.4(e), 17.1(g) and 17.1(h) of the Student Union Constitution.While no one involved in the situation would speak on the record about the specifics of the allegations and hearing, the press release said the aspect of the Election Regulations the ticket violated mandates that candidates are “responsible for [their] actions as well as the actions of [their] supporters.”As to the other violations the ticket committed, the press release said Section 13.4(e) of the Student Union Constitution states that, aside from information included in Judicial Council press releases, “all other information pertaining to hearings and appeals shall be considered confidential,” and Section 17.1(g) reads, “Candidates may not be involved in or instruct others to engage in any unethical behavior as detailed in 17.1(h).” The final section Judicial Council found the ticket to have violated, Section 17.1(h), states that “Candidates are expected to behave ethically at all times.” While he would not elaborate on the nature of the allegations, McGavick said he felt confident that he and Gayheart could present a strong enough case to the student senate upon appeal for the group to overturn the ticket’s 12 percent deduction of votes.“This final decision, the 12 percent sanction we got, we don’t feel that was a fair penalty at all, and we had a very long counter-argument to back that up with multiple witnesses, multiple phone calls, multiple screenshots,” McGavick said. “Just frankly, I am almost certain that if we had gotten to present to the senate, that we would have gotten our penalty greatly removed or drastically, drastically reduced.”The ticket did not get to hear its appeal, however, as the student senate once again did not meet quorum and could not hear the appeal. As a result, the 12 percent forfeiture of votes stood.Junior and current student government chief of staff Prathm Juneja said he remained confident in the commitment of the senators in spite of the two unheard appeals.“I would hate to say — and I hate for people to assume, rather — that senators didn’t show up because they were frustrated,” he said. “I’m not saying that about every senator — there might have been some, but I believe in the strength and the dedication of the senators, many of whom had legitimate excuses for [senior and student body vice president Sibonay Shewit].”While McGavick said he understands that scheduling conflicts may play a role in whether or not senators are unable to show up to unexpected hearings, he believes the constitution needs to be revised in order to ensure appeals are heard in the future.“I understand people have commitments, the meeting was held on Saturday — that’s tough, but at the same time, if our system gives that level of power to the senate, where that’s our only real means of appealing a punishment we feel we have evidence to effectively disprove, that’s a problem,” McGavick said.Shewit said the areas of the constitution that determine the proper procedure for senate appeals are among the current student government administration’s top priorities in terms of revising the Student Union Constitution throughout the rest of their time in office.“Overall, that section of the constitution is somewhat vague, and a lot of it is left up to interpretation,” she said. “And in those cases, we tend to rely on precedents, but we’re now starting to wonder if we should be putting in set rules.”Although McGavick and Gayheart were unable to present an appeal, however, Ross said the Election Committee did its best to ensure the 12 percent vote deduction was as fair as possible, not only to the ticket, but also to voters.“I think the way that we do it in that it’s a forfeiture for percentage of votes — it’s not, you know, I’m not coming up to you and saying, ‘Your vote didn’t count,’ right?” Ross said. “So that is kind of our way making sure we’re not feeling we’re disenfranchising voters, in that it is truly a sanction on the ticket rather than something that the campus or, you know, voters must really bear.”Juneja also posed the question of feasibility, noting that there are not many options available to the Election Committee in determining an appropriate punishment for a ticket on such short notice.“If you guys follow me outside of student government, you know I care a lot about voter enfranchisement,” Juneja said. “That’s the thing I work on, and I love voting and I think it’s really important, but what is the alternative punishment? What is the alternative if there is an allegation the night before that someone is found guilty?”Due to the requirement that everyone involved in a Judicial Council hearing keep any information from the hearing private, McGavick and Gayheart were unable to offer any clarification about the allegations to voters. Gayheart said this encouraged antagonistic behavior from students not involved with the campaign.“There was one instance where I was followed around in the dining hall with someone holding up The Observer with the 12 percent article,” he said. “I was literally going table to table in the dining hall reminding people to vote, and I was literally being followed around by someone holding up the 12 percent article saying we were unethical.”Many of the confidentiality requirements in the Student Union Constitution are intended to protect the anonymity of anyone who comes forward with an allegation. While Juneja said this will most likely not change due to the value of anonymity throughout these processes, he is open to seeing the rest of the hearing and appeal system become more transparent.“I think there’s something to be said that there could be some more transparency on the allegation process,” he said. “In terms of instead of just listing the rule, we could maybe get more information there and it’s a conversation we’ll have in senate, but for us, I think the anonymity of persons, whether it’s in closed senate meetings or in hearings like this, we care about our students more than anything else and if they’re vulnerable, we will protect them.”As someone who has been through the process of bringing forth an allegation, Brickner said he understands and agrees with the anonymity requirement, despite the fact that he was comfortable sharing his experience.“I don’t care if people know I filed the allegations, but I’m sure in different scenarios, the person may be afraid of getting targeted back or, for whatever other personal reasons, don’t want their secrecy unveiled,” Brickner said. “It’s definitely great they have this premium, this focus on secrecy. But I’m just like a different breed, and I couldn’t care less. The allegations I sent had a personal text message, so he’s going to know either I sent it in or somebody I sent the text to sent it in.”Still, Brickner said, he would like to see the option for people who bring forth allegations to choose whether or not to be anonymous.“I think I should have had the right, though, to waive my anonymity,” Brickner said. “In the way that it is, they’re getting sanctioned for unethical behavior, but if no one knows what the unethical behavior is, and if they can’t make their own independent decision on whether it was unethical or not, it’s almost like a moot point. I’m a very big fan of giving everybody the information.”The runoff results and aftermathDespite the 12 percent decrease in the number of votes they received, McGavick and Gayheart discovered they won the election Feb. 25, receiving 52.08 percent of valid votes cast in the election after the sanction was applied.Had neither ticket received 50 percent of the votes or more, the election would have proceeded to an electoral college-style system, in which votes would be broken down by hall and each hall’s vote would count toward one ticket or the other.After the number of allegation hearings and appeals — attempted or otherwise — he and McGavick went through, Gayheart said the two had an increased appreciation for what it took to make it through the election and the job for which they were elected.“Honestly, it made this process like an episode of ‘House of Cards,’” Gayheart said. “ … There were a couple of times when it was like, ‘Is this even worth it?’ Gates and I had a lot of heart to hearts about this, and especially when we were locked up in rooms on the second or third floor of [LaFortune Student Center] waiting for hearings. It really tested us in terms of what we were willing to go through to still be on the ballot.”The voter turnout in the runoff election was 47 percent of students, something Gannon said was most likely a result of voter fatigue after a long election process.“That’s another indicator, I think, of how crappy this election season was,” Gannon said. “Because people just don’t want to vote when they see all the crap flying around. After that, I think the statistic was that [the turnout] was 11 percent down from last year’s election.”Gayheart echoed Gannon’s sentiment and said he didn’t want this year’s election process to turn into the standard at the University.“That’s not what Notre Dame is and that’s not what it should be, but unfortunately, this election brought out the worst in people, and it definitely showed,” Gayheart said. “I think one of the direct ramifications of that was 47 percent voter turnout, down 11 percent [from last year’s election].”Senior and student body president Becca Blais said it was “disheartening to see” the election take a negative turn.“There’s been a fundamental shift both in the country and on this campus as negativity being a tying factor,” Blais said. “You saw it in the national election, you see it happening all the time and I think in many ways, it just happened on this campus as well. … I think those six allegation hearings and five rounds of sanctions were a product of the hate and negativity.”Having been through a student body election campaign before, Shewit said she was surprised to see the extent of the bad feelings in this election.“It wasn’t the norm to go through this process. It was very much kind of a last effort, I guess,” Shewit said. “You really thought for a long time about whether you wanted to put yourself through an allegation hearing and then if you want to put yourself through an appeals hearing, and I don’t know why, but this year I think that it was approached more as the standard way to go exactly. … It’s really hard to look at this and not feel a little disappointed.”Juneja said the allegations and resulting sanctions were the “product of a toxic nature of an election and building a campaign season on disdain” for the current student government administration.“I want to emphasize, our frustration isn’t with the work of student government, the nature of student government or anything,” he said. “It’s not even with the legitimate criticisms we had of student government. There is a legitimate criticism that if the senate doesn’t hit quorum, that just expires. That’s something we want to have a conversation about. I think that’s a legitimate criticism … but when we have to defend things we aren’t even responsible for or aren’t even true, I think that really hits us in an unfair way.”McGavick, however, said he feels that criticisms of student government processes weren’t the source of negativity in this election.“There are a lot of people who definitely think it was us that set the tone with this election — and I feel bad because there’s a level of passion and commitment to their work which is really incredibly impressive — but as a result, fair criticisms of student government are construed as personal attacks, which they’re not,” McGavick said. “ … There can’t be a stigma about criticizing your elected officials, because while this is a student government, it is a government system, and if we don’t feel like our representatives are doing a good job, and if there is criticism against us, we will never respond badly to fair criticisms of our policies and administrations, because we are elected officials, and we have to be accountable.”McGavick and Gayheart, along with others involved in the election and members of the student senate, have already begun to look for ways to improve the system for future elections.“What we’re getting at is the constitution was almost weaponized against us. And the fact that a constitution is able to do that is, first and foremost, a major problem,” Gayheart said. “I think a solution to this is, one, and I think we are going to — I mean, I know Matt Ross has already asked all tickets and all parties, ‘What are some election reforms we can work on? Because there are clearly flaws in the system.’ … We aren’t in office yet, but I think one of our big tasks ahead that we weren’t planning on is going over the constitution with a fine-tooth comb, especially the election section.”McGavick said his one regret from the election was whatever role he may have played in how bitter the process became.“Look, I think any time, like how nasty this election was, I think you regret being a part of it in a sense,” he said. “ … I regret that people got so tired of this election in the end, because of how nasty it was. I regret these things being construed as personal attacks, because that was not my intention. When I say that student government needs to change, I’m not saying these are bad people who aren’t doing their jobs, I’m saying that we need to reorient the policy, and I regret that that got lost in translation.”Brickner said he hopes, moving forward, students keep in mind that some of the consequences of the process go beyond the results of a student government election.“I think the takeaway is you’ve got to keep everything in scope here,” he said. “You’re running for student body president, which I still don’t think has that much power. Just keeping that in mind, don’t start playing dirty, don’t start bringing people into it that don’t deserve to be brought into it. Keep in mind that some of these allegations you file have very real consequences on people’s lives going forward.”For Ross, as well as the current and future leadership of student government, the next steps require significant reform to the Student Union Constitution.“Every year, we go back and look at the constitution and figure out if there’s things we want to change,” Ross said. “This time we do.”Senior News Writer Ben Padanilam, Managing Editor Katie Galioto, Assistant Managing Editor Rachel O’Grady, Associate News Editor Lucas Masin-Moyer, News Editor Natalie Weber and News Writers Elizabeth Greason and Tobias Hoonhout contributed to this report.Dominique DeMoe | The Observer Tags: 2018 student government election, Election Committee, Judicial Council, Student government
Standing out as a signature event among many on Notre Dame’s campus can be challenging. As a relatively new dorm on campus built in 2016, Flaherty Hall is taking on the challenge of cooking one up from scratch.Flaherty Hall will be kicking off its new signature event, “Flaherty Food Fights,” Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. in both North and South Dining Halls. The event — a cooking tournament that will culminate in a competition between a team from North Dining Hall (NDH) and another from South Dining Hall (SDH) — will raise money for Beacon Children’s Hospital in South Bend.“It’s like the show ‘Chopped’ on Food Network,” Theresa Rogers, sophomore signature event commissioner, said. “Every dorm gets one team, and then they all compete in a tournament-style cooking competition in the dining halls. So, as in ‘Chopped,’ you get a mystery ingredient, and you have to incorporate it into a cohesive dish.”Rogers came up with the idea for the event after talking with a family friend who used to be a resident in Pangborn Hall.“She was telling me how her friends used to do this thing in the dining hall where they would find a random person to give them a mystery ingredient,” Rogers said. “They would have to go and make a dish with the ingredient and bring it back to the table for dinner. They would all taste test each other’s dishes and judge which one was best.”In Tuesday’s competition, a panel of judges — some who are from the dining hall staff — will taste the dishes and rank them based off of creativity, presentation and taste. The winner will move onto the next round of competition, which will be at 5 p.m. on Thursday.The third and final round will be between the winning teams from NDH and SDH and will take place at NDH at 5 p.m. on Friday.Rogers said her committee has been taking advantage of the NDH and SDH rivalry.“It already exists, so we might as well use it to our advantage to generate some excitement. Friendly competition is always good,” Rogers said.The winning team will get Insomnia Cookies at their dorm’s next hall council and a trophy to be placed in the dining hall they represented in the competition.In terms of hall tradition, it can be said that Flaherty is in a unique situation because of the hall’s origins. When Flaherty opened in 2016, all of the residents then living in Pangborn were moved to Flaherty.“It’s been a combination of saving traditions and making new ones,” Rogers said. “Most of the people in Flaherty now have only known Flaherty, which is cool because we’re getting to the point where we’re establishing this is our dorm and this is what we do.”Along with balancing old and new, Rogers said she faces challenges that can come with establishing any new tradition at Notre Dame.“It’s definitely challenging because we want to get it to a point where our events are mentioned and then people know what they are, but it will take time,” Rogers said. “It’ll take years to get there, but it’s definitely really fun to get to be the ones to decide what those events are going to be.”Rogers said another challenge in creating the event has been getting the word out in order to increase participation.Earlier this February, sophomore Blake Johnson of Siegfried Hall started Siggy Week, Siegfried’s first-ever spirit week. Johnson said the biggest challenge of starting a new tradition at Notre Dame is getting people to buy into it.“When things are new, people are hesitant to participate because it’s unestablished,” Johnson said. “People might think, ‘This is not going to last, it’s a new thing.’ But as soon as people start getting into the spirit and start realizing that this is something that can be a lot fun, that’s when people rally around it.”Rogers said she and her committee are focused on publicizing the event by handing out information in dining halls, speaking at hall council meetings and circulating a Facebook invitation.“It’s super new, so this year we’re really focusing on getting participation up,” Rogers said. “That way, in subsequent years, we can raise more and more money for Beacon because they’re a really good charity that we enjoy working with.”The amount of money each dorm raises for Beacon Children’s Hospital will be directly related to how much time that dorm’s team gets to prepare their dish. Donations can be made through Venmo payments directed to @flahertyfoodfights with the name of the dorm one wishes to support in the subject line.Tags: dining hall, Flaherty Food Fights, flaherty hall, Siegfried Hall, signature event
An expert in the genomics of malaria vectors and the O’Hara professor in the department of biological sciences, Nora J. Besansky has been elected membership in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), according to a Monday press release.In order to better understand the relationship between malaria-transmitting mosquitoes and their environments, Besansky’s lab studies the closely related Anopheles species. Her research focuses on determining how chromosome structural rearrangements and the transfer of genes between species allow for enhanced disease transmission.“A key to this puzzle is ‘ecological plasticity,’ which allows the mosquitoes to thrive and be efficient vectors in a wide variety of environments, whether they are found in rainforests or in semi-deserts,” the release said. “Fully understanding the evolutionary, ecological and functional genomics of malaria vectors will allow scientists to develop new control strategies that can interrupt transmission of the disease.”Besansky received her bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College, followed by her doctoral degree from Yale University. After working as a staff scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and as an associate professor in the department of biology at Emory University, she was hired as an associate professor at Notre Dame in 1997.To make genomic resources available for more than 16 malaria vectors, Besanksy worked on two international genome sequencing and analysis projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Having published over 140 papers during her career, the press release said Besanksy’s research has also been supported by the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.When Besansky received news of her election in the NAS, she was initially taken by surprise.“My first thought was one of disbelief,” she said in the press release. “My second thought was gratitude for my numerous students, trainees, mentors, collaborators and support team, without whom this would have been impossible.“And the third thought is a feeling of great responsibility, given the mission that the NAS is charged with. It’s a great opportunity for me. I will be in the company of giants — with people I never thought I would rub shoulders with.”Tags: Department of Biological Sciences, National Academy of the Sciences, O’Hara professor
View Comments To commemorate the official opening, Broadway.com resident artist Justin “Squigs” Robertson created this portrait of McDonald embodying the legendary blues singer, gin in tow and backed by her band. Show Closed This production ended its run on Oct. 5, 2014 Audra McDonald Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill Related Shows Star Files Somebody’s on our minds, and she’s giving one hell of a performance. Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill, starring five-time Tony winner Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday, opens on April 13. Under the direction of Lonny Price, the bio-show, written by Lanie Robertson, will run through June 1 at the Circle in the Square Theatre. About the Artist: With a desire to celebrate the magic of live theater and those who create it, and with a deep reverence for such touchstones as the work of Al Hirschfeld and the wall at Sardi’s, Squigs is happy and grateful to be among those carrying on the traditions where theater and caricature meet. He was born and raised in Oregon, lived in Los Angeles for quite a long time and now calls New York City his home. Welcome back to Broadway, McDonald, and happy opening to everyone at Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. We’ll be the ones crying at the lounge table a few rows back.
Swoon For Bridges One Last TimeMay 18 at the Schoenfeld TheatreIt’s the end of the road for The Bridges of Madison County, the beautifully bittersweet musical by Jason Robert Brown and Marsha Norman. So make sure you catch Tony nominee Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale as the two strangers whose lives get thrown for a passionate loop over a heated four-day romance in the most exotic of locales: Iowa! If you need a fix afterwards, fear not—there’s the novel, the movie, and of course, this fan fiction. Click for tickets! Learn Lessons From Kate BaldwinMay 15 at 54 BelowLet’s be honest: we’d pay to hear Kate Baldwin sing a takeout menu. But the Tony nominee singing her Broadway favorites while sharing the lessons she learned in her journey from college student to the star of Finian’s Rainbow and Big Fish? We’re so in! That’s the focus of Baldwin’s Sing Pretty, Don’t Fall Down, her first NYC solo concert in three years. Click for tickets! Get Creeped Out by Michael ShannonMay 17 at Theatre for a New AudienceThe perpetually intense Michael Shannon is playing a “cheerful, well-meaning everyman?” What the what? Hold on. In Eugene Ionesco’s 1959 play The Killer, Shannon begins as a man who discovers a dream city of beautiful gardens and stunning architecture near his own shabby digs. But there’s a catch. No, not sky high rents and limited parking. A serial killer is running amok! And you thought stalled subways were a pain. Click for tickets! Michael Shannon Support the ClassicsMay 12 at the Hudson Theatre in the Millenium Broadway HotelWant to dress up like a million-dollar trooper and support the arts? Well, the Classic Stage Company provides the perfect opportunity with its annual Musical Masterworks Gala. This year, a collection of stage stars, including Jeremy Jordan, Brooke Shields and Santino Fontana, salute Rodgers & Hammerstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Kern and Lorenz Hart. Try your best not to sing along—or get mustard on your gown. Click for tickets! Spring is finally, officially, here. Woo-hoo! But if Mother Nature suddenly plays some sick meteorological joke and New York gets blasted with a blizzard, that’s still no excuse to say inside. There’s plenty of great stuff happening this week, including the arrival of a new Phantom and Christine, the early departure of a new musical, and a Broadway belle’s one-woman show. It’s all part of this week’s must-see list! View Comments See Norm Lewis Make HistoryMay 12 at the Majestic TheatreIt’s time to go down to the Phantom’s lair once more! Tony nominee Norm Lewis debuts as the first African-American to play the title role in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Even better: It’s the venerable actor’s dream role, so he’ll be primed. Even betterer: He’s playing opposite his Little Mermaid co-star, the returning Sierra Boggess, who is “the best Christine,” according to Andrew Lloyd Webber. So, yeah, this is a “dear diary” moment waiting to happen. Click for tickets! Star Files
Laura Osnes 3. Kristin Chenoweth, Wicked—9% We’re just months away from the Tony winner’s return to Broadway, but if we’re bringing Idina back to Oz, why not Kristin? She’s on record saying that she would be up for playing Madame Morrible in the inevitable Wicked movie, and that’s crossed our minds as well. Honestly, Cheno, you can play whomever you want to play. Doctor Dillamond for all we care. We’d be jazzed either way. 2. Laura Osnes, Cinderella—14% Once a princess, always a princess, right? Osnes took home two Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards for her performance in the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic (for Favorite Actress and Favorite Onstage pair with Santino Fontana). While there are plenty of roles we’d love to see the Broadway darling take on in the near future (ahem, NBC), a Great White Way return would certainly make for a lovely night, and then some. Star Files Who says you can have too much of a good thing? We have Constantine Maroulis reprising his Tony-nominated performance as Drew in Rock of Ages next month and Tony winner Andrea Martin swinging back into Pippin as Berthe after that. That had us thinking—which other original star would you like to see return home to a current Broadway show? We made you choose, and here’s who you voted for! Kristin Chenoweth View Comments Idina Menzel 1. Idina Menzel, Wicked—32% Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Let’s be real. Idina Menzel would probably win a “Who’s your favorite Jersey Boy?” poll around here. But we can’t disagree that it would be amazing to see the Frozen queen reprise her Tony-winning performance as Elphaba. A lot has happened in the past ten years since she last threw on the green on Broadway, but as she proves in her powerhouse performance in If/Then, Menzel’s still got what it takes to belt her face off eight times a week. Now grab a broom and get back on that floating platform thing.