‘Nowhere to run’: Survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide reflect on its legacy

first_imgEditor’s note: This is the first installment in a two-part series discussing two South Bend families’ experiences with the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in light of Notre Dame’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of this tragedy to take place April 26.Jean Claude Mugenzi cannot lie face down in his bed without thinking of his father and siblings’ murders and his own bullet wound.Mugenzi and his wife Anne Marie Bamukunde, now South Bend residents, survived the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis, in which one million people were killed in 100 days. Steph Wulz | The Observer Mugenzi, who was 24 at the time of the genocide, said he fled with his parents and four siblings for 80 days from the killers.“There was nowhere to run because the neighbors knew where we were,” he said. “They were home. So we fled. We saw some of them coming, and we managed to flee through banana trees, and we spent several nights in a swamp near where we come from. “We could hear them looting our property. We could hear them. We could hear the cows screaming because they were being taken away. Even though they are animals, they can feel. They know there are intruders in the home.“We could hear them removing iron sheets from our house, so there was a lot of noise and commotion. You feel uprooted right then and there. You’re sitting, hiding in the middle of a swamp, wondering if you’re going to make it on the other side, how you can hide maybe at a friend’s house before the killers discover you. And you hear all of that. You just realize, ‘This is the end.’”Mugenzi and his family sought refuge with Hutu friends throughout the country but could not stay long in one location, he said.“We would be discovered sometimes and get tortured and get stripped,” he said. “We had to walk almost naked and bare-footed. … Thanks to an old Hutu friend, we would escape sometimes when [the killers] stopped us at the roadblock when they were about to kill us. “I remember one time there was a Hutu who used to farm our fields who told the others, ‘I will take care of them,’ meaning, ‘I will kill them.’ He took us to a different place where we spent several days, and of course, after that time, we had to be on the move again.”Mugenzi said he and his family were “caught by surprise” one night when they had tried to reach a camp operated by Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels.“There was a group of people with knives and guns,” he said. “They ordered us to lay face down, and they started killing. Before they got to me and some others, the rebels arrived and shot from a distance. “When they heard the shots, the leaders said, ‘Shoot them all.’ So they started shooting, so I got shot, and my father and the others didn’t make it. Only my mom managed to slip away through the bushes and my two little sisters. “So I was left for dead in the cold blood, and I could see left to right, one was dead. I could see my younger brother agonizing, and there was nothing I could do to help him. So then there was fighting for what seemed to be an eternity for me, but after that, the RPF rebels took me with their injured to a make-shift hospital, where they treated me for the next maybe two weeks before I was reunited with my mom and my two sisters because they went a different way. They didn’t know that I survived.”Bamukunde said she also lost most of her close relatives in the genocide.“Sometimes I don’t trust people because of what happened,” she said. “I was 16 at the time of the genocide, so I lost my dad. I lost my brother and many aunts and uncles and many friends of our family. “So it was like after genocide, we were just alone, and we were just trying to organize ourselves. It was a new life to many people.”Mugenzi said one way survivors have tried to honor the memories of their loved ones is through ceremonial burial.“When they were killed, they were just thrown wherever,” he said. “Some were lucky to bury them a few days later, but in make-shift tombs. Others were lost completely. We don’t know where [my wife’s] dad was. We never found him and her brother. And it’s the case for many survivors. “So when you’re lucky to know where your loved ones were left, to bring some closure, you bury them with respect and dignity at a memorial site, a genocide memorial site. We did that for my older brother who was killed in Kigali.”To help other survivors process their experiences during the genocide, Bamukunde said she became a psychiatric nurse in Rwanda.“The concept of mental health was new,” she said. “Psychiatric nursing was new in our country before genocide. So they told us about mental health and they told us it’s about counseling. “It’s about taking care of people who have been through psychological programs, trauma, genocide. … I had some friends who went to [nursing] school together who were all genocide survivors, and we were all interested in doing that because we were thinking we could also reach out and help our family, friends and many other survivors.”Bamukunde said she treated many patients for trauma as a result of the genocide, even people who were in their mothers’ wombs during that time. Therapy has helped these and many other survivors to understand their feelings, she said.“We were trying to really listen to them and trying to go through all those stories because sometimes I felt like the story was too much for them, too hard,” she said. “So talking also helps them or using cognitive therapy, talking about the thoughts that they have that doesn’t help them, trying to change them [or] trying body relaxation.”To educate others on genocide, Mugenzi makes documentary films, he said. Mugenzi said he and Bamukunde moved to the United States five years ago so he could attend film school at Columbia College Chicago, from which he will graduate in May. “[My wife] always says, ‘Why didn’t you go to law school or something else in the country?’” he said. “I said, ‘I don’t understand. That is something I don’t want. I will find what I want, whatever it is, and I’ll go for it.’ So I came here to pursue that dream of mine, and thank God I’ve almost reached it, almost.” Mugenzi said he and Bamukunde moved to South Bend a year ago because of their love of Notre Dame and the strong Rwandan community here.“The first time I came to the U.S., I think we came to the Basilica [of the Sacred Heart],” he said. “I’m Roman Catholic, so with friends we came to pray here. We would come almost every Sunday. I love this Basilica. I love this place. … Maybe my kids will come here to study, or maybe I will get a job here.”As both Notre Dame and the world remember the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which took place from April 7 to mid-July, Mugenzi said the genocide is “always present” to survivors, no matter the year.“I should tell you that it took me probably 10 years before I could look at the moonlight and enjoy it, because whenever the moon was out we couldn’t come [out] from hiding and cross a road or something to go into another hiding,” he said. “So I hate it for that. … And it’s a little thing, to not be able to enjoy nature because of what I endured during the genocide, or not being able to lie down lazily in my bed [face down] because that’s how my people got killed. That’s how I got shot, in this position.  “Our life is disturbed by many little things. There are things you can’t take for granted that some people do. Some people are not even able to enjoy life because of their history.” Tags: Genocide, history, Notre Dame, Rwanda, South Bendlast_img read more

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Changes to printing policy spark conversation

first_imgNotre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies (OIT) overhauled the University’s printing system during the summer, implementing changes that include consolidating campus printers to two queues and changing students’ printing allotments to a point-based system.Vice president for information technology Ron Kraemer, who also serves as chief information and digital officer, said the purpose of the changes was to simplify printing on campus and reduce both waste and printing costs.“The University and the OIT know that students need to print, and we want to deliver easy and cost-effective printing solutions for campus while still maintaining a high level of quality,” Kraemer said.In previous years, students would send printing jobs from their computers to one of several queues depending on their location. Now, students can send printing jobs to every black-and-white printer or every color printer on campus at once, Kraemer said.In addition, students’ standard printing quotas, or the amount each student is allowed to print from campus printers, switched from a dollar amount to a point system. According to the OIT website, undergraduate students receive a quota of 1,000 points per semester. Each single- or double-sided black-and-white page costs two points, and each color page costs 12 points. Graduate students receive 3,500 points per year, and law students receive 4,250.Kraemer said points not used during the fall semester roll over to the spring semester, but points left over at the end of the year do not roll over to subsequent years, a change from the previous policy. He said students can increase their quotas by paying $3 for 100 points.Kraemer said the point system would be easier to use than a dollar amount, and the new standard quota, although a decrease from the former yearly allotment, reflected the number of pages students typically print.“The PrintND system shows that more than 90 percent of students print within 2,000 points each academic year,” Kraemer said.Students have expressed concern that the new standard quota will not allow them to print as often as they need. Sophomore Jackie Winsch said materials for classes and projects have used a significant amount of her points.“I was a week into school, and I was already a quarter of the way down, and then we did this half-hour presentation in one of my classes the other day, and we had to print a colored paper front and back, and it was like 50 points,” Winsch said. “It’s a really drastic change from having so much extra to being worried about running out.”Winsch said the change has prompted her to exercise caution with the number of pages she prints.“I don’t just print anything,” she said. “I have to make sure it’s double-sided, and [think], do I really need this? And I print four on a page — it’s really hard to read, but I get the most out of it.”Freshman Olivia Colon said the point system was easy to understand, but she worried about the allotment of pages. Her biology class requires her to print out PowerPoint slides and pre-lab information.“I feel like it’s been two weeks, and I’m already running out of points,” Colon said. “The classes that I have to take require me to print out a lot of stuff from Sakai and whatnot, and I just feel like 1,000 [points] isn’t enough. It may seem like a lot, but it’s not. It goes fast.”In addition to students being able to pay for increased allotments, professors also can use department funds to increase printing quotas for their classes or for individual students, according to the OIT website.Dan Graff, director of undergraduate studies of the department of history, said he often requires students in his classes to print out materials and bring them to class. He said his students have expressed concerns about using up their quotas in previous years but never this early in the semester.“Students might be getting mixed messages, that OIT suggests that they should be printing less,” Graff said. “. . . We don’t want you to be printing less because we want our classrooms to be technology-free spaces where there’s no distractions from email and Facebook and those kinds of things, so we want them to have stuff printed out.”Kraemer said OIT is open to input from students. At the beginning of the semester, printing a single-sided page cost twice as many points as printing a double-sided page, but OIT reduced the price of single-sided pages this week after receiving feedback from student government. Kraemer said the point allotment on a per-semester basis also leaves open the possibility for future changes.“The OIT opted to divide the quota for undergraduates between the fall and spring semester so that if students need us to make adjustments, we can make them at the winter break,” Kraemer said.Kraemer said OIT consulted student government and other campus organizations before implementing printing policy changes. Junior Shuyang Li, director of student government’s department of campus technology, said his division recommended simplifying printing quotas last spring and this semester supported the reduction in the price of printing a one-sided sheet.Li said student government also was working with OIT to communicate the changes to students. He said OIT technology liaisons in each residence hall explained the quota system to incoming freshmen during orientation, but student government and OIT were still looking for ways to reach upperclassmen.Li said student government was gathering feedback on the new system from Student Senate members and dorm technology liaisons.“We’re trying to get a compiled opinion on the changes, and we’re going to pose that to OIT and try to . . . make sure that the printing quota system is what students want,” he said.Tags: OIT, print quota, Printing, printing quotalast_img read more

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Lecturer critiques ‘most violent region’

first_imgRafael Fernandez de Castro Medina, head of the department of international studies at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and former foreign policy advisor to former Mexican president Felipe Calderon, examined Latin America as a hotspot of increasing violence and crime in a lecture Tuesday.In his presentation, entitled “The World’s Most Violent Region: Causes and Possible Solutions for Latin America’s Crisis,” Fernandez outlined the report he created for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which detailed the statistics about the growing violence, crime and fear in Latin American countries.Latin America, he said, is the “single most violent region in the world, and it has been very costly.”Fernandez said that this violence has lead to an “insecurity crisis” in Latin America, which has left 11 Latin American countries with epidemic homicide rates — defined as more than 10 homicides per 100,000 — and 1 million citizens killed over ten years.Though economic stability is usually an indicator of a country’s violent crime rates, Fernandez emphasized that recent economic reforms have not eased Latin America’s homicide troubles.“In the past 10 years, economic reform has done really well [in Latin America], and then on top of that, we have people coming out of poverty and still violence increases,” he said.Not only are crime rates still rising in these countries but they are “growing exponentially,” Fernandez said. He said Honduras is the most violent country in Central America with 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people in 2012; that is an increase of 3.9 homicides per 100,000 people in just one year.This consistent increase in violent crime rates has had a huge negative effect on the morale of the Latin American people, Fernandez said.“Thirteen percent [of Latin Americans] said that they would like to change their place of residence because of violence,” he said. “Half of Latin Americans don’t want to go out at night because of fear. This is too much.”Fernandez outlined the key factors he has observed as to why the trends of violence are not improving.“It is about social fabric and of course it is about social capital,” he said.Fernandez and his colleagues collected data at various prisons in Latin America, and he found that many prisoners came from broken families. For instance, 28.2 percent of Chilean inmates surveyed never knew their mothers and/or fathers and 56 percent left home by age 15, Fernandez said.Another issue Fernandez addressed was the problems with states’ capacities for combating crime.“There is more private police in Latin America [than public police],” he said. “Not only that but regulation is terrible … we have big problems with police, justice systems and prisons.”Improvements can be made, Fernandez said, as long as there is “sustained commitment from decision-makers.”“It isn’t a two-year or three-year effort; it’s a ten-year effort,” he said.Fernandez further outlined more of his ideas for alleviating the violence, including prevention institutions, reducing impunity, aligning federal, local and state actors in politics and strengthening research into accurate crime data for the regions. With this information, Fernandez said Latin American governments can better combat crime and lower the violent crime rates for the future.Tags: Crime, Honduras, latin america, Mexico, violencelast_img read more

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Professor speaks on political discourse

first_imgJohn Duffy, associate professor of English, spoke on the ethics of argument during “ND Votes ’16: Political Responsibility and Virtuous Discourse” at Geddes Hall on Monday night. The event was sponsored by ND Votes ’16, a nonpartisan campaign aimed at educating and registering young voters.Duffy, the director of the University Writing Program, said the “toxic rhetoric” used in contemporary political discourse has made finding truth in politics incredibly difficult.“This rhetoric has managed to undermine forces grounded in logical argument and empirical evidence, which once were considered authoritative,” Duffy said.Much of the blame for this unhealthy political atmosphere falls on the media, he said.“Cable TV, talk radio and all the other social media platforms have made toxic rhetoric a fact of everyday life, a form of entertainment and a product to be bought and sold,” he said.Duffy said the media has become unreliable in reporting the truth, which has made discerning fact from fiction a legitimate challenge.“We seem to have come to a place where we are unclear on the nature of factual information. We’re not agreed on what constitutes a fact,” he said.In order for this toxic rhetoric to end, a cultural change must occur, Duffy said, and this cultural change must be grounded in supporting statements with actual evidence.“There are assertions, assertions, assertions — but not evidence. When you provide evidence for a claim, you are demonstrating your integrity. You are not simply making wild statements, you are willing to back them up,” he said.Duffy said people must also be willing to listen to those challenging their ideas, who present opposing viewpoints.“You expose yourself to the contradictions, the uncertainties, the possibilities that attach themselves to any serious, worthwhile questions,” he said.By doing this, Duffy said, “we expose ourselves to the possibility that we might have to change our minds.”In closing, Duffy said personal arguments and opinions should be taken seriously, since they are a reflection of personal values and are “expressions of who we are, expressions of our character, expressions of the kind of community in which we want to live.”Lorraine Cuddeback, a Ph.D. candidate in theology, examined voting from a Catholic perspective. Cuddeback said developing a strong conscience is a necessity for choosing the best political candidate.“The formation of a conscience first involves a willingness to seek what the truth is,” Cuddeback said.Cuddeback said that Catholics should play an active role in the political world.“It is the particular vocation of lay Catholics to directly shape the moral character of the country,” she said.The event also offered students the opportunity to register as voters in preparation for the 2016 presidential primaries and elections and provided instructions for obtaining an absentee ballot.Tags: CSC, ND Votes ’16, Rooney Center for Ethics and Democracylast_img read more

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GRC hosts annual ’A Time to Heal’ dinner

first_imgImagine something as ordinary as a pair of shoes transformed into a symbol of both solidarity and hardship. Selena Ponio | The Observer The Gender Relations Center hosted its annual ‘A Time to Heal’ dinner Wednesday night as part of its Violence Prevention Initiative. Students engaged in discussions regarding relationship violence.Senior Katherine McManus spoke as the keynote speaker at the Gender Relation Center’s annual “A Time to Heal” dinner Wednesday night and shared her story about Converse sneakers and her sister, Victoria, who died as a result of dating violence.According to the Gender Relation Center (GRC), “A Time to Heal” has been an annual event that is part of the GRC’s Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI). It was started with the thought that gathering for a meal provides a comfortable setting for an otherwise difficult topic, such as relationship violence.“I know these events can be heavy and two years ago … I would feel the same way: uncomfortable, tired, thinking I’ve heard it all before, but most of all, thinking this would never happen to me,” McManus said.McManus said prior to her sister’s death she thought of relationship violence as a topic for TV shows and movies. However, she became aware of the reality of it as she watched her parents make decisions for her sister’s funeral.“To dwell on my sadness or move on in honor of her life was the choice that was put before me,” McManus said. “My choice was love, not anger. But with this choice also came change.”Christine Gebhardt, director of the GRC, talked about the importance of this annual dinner and stories like McManus’.“This is an annual event that is a collaborative effort intended to acknowledge the effects of relationship violence … but more importantly to embrace the survivors in our community and to celebrate the community of healing that we share as a campus,” McManus said.Student body president Bryan Ricketts talked about the immense amount of support visible within the Notre Dame community that became especially evident during the sexual assault prayer services at the Grotto. He then stressed the importance of community involvement and how support, rather than blame, is necessary in cases of sexual violence.“Avoid your curiosity because you’re helping a person, not an event. They will tell you when they want to,” Ricketts said. “The size of your action is not important, the fact that you’re doing it is.”Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president of student affairs, gave the blessing for the meal and led a prayer for all those affected by the injustice of relationship violence.“In the breaking of bread together, we offer each other a sign of Your peace as we commit to a stance of intolerance for those violent acts of injustice towards human dignity that have no place in our community and this world,” Hoffmann Harding said.McManus ended her keynote speech on a hopeful note by commenting on the flood of support she received from her lacrosse teammates, family and friends.“There are not enough ‘thank you’s’ or words in this world to express my gratitude for the love and support that I received and have continued to receive even a year and a half later,” McManus said.McManus said that without her network of support from her friends and the Notre Dame community, she would have had a more difficult time moving forward. She said she made the decision to love the footsteps her sister had laid out for her instead of hating the man who took her life.“In my laughing, my breathing, my loving and crying, and living, she is with me,” McManus said. “I could go on and on. … My support network made the choice to help me put my life together and define my new normal.“It’s hard to fall apart when everyone you know wears Converse sneakers to a funeral because those were your sister’s favorite shoes.”Tags: A time to heal dinner, Gender Relations Center, GRC, relationship violence, Violence Prevention Initiative, VPIlast_img read more

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Office of Civil Rights opens second investigation into possible Title IX violation

first_imgThe United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating the University for possible Title IX violations pertaining to two cases, according to documents obtained by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Dominique DeMoe | The Observer The more recent case was opened by the OCR on Dec. 23 and, according to the letter the OCR addressed to University President Fr. John Jenkins, “the complaint alleges that beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, the University subjected a female undergraduate (Student A) to discrimination based on sex. The complaint raises whether the University fails to promptly and equitably respond to complaints, reports and/or incidents of sexual violence of which it had notice, including Student A’s report of [redacted], thereby creating for students a sexually hostile environment.”University spokesperson Dennis Brown confirmed Notre Dame is under investigation and the University has complied with all requests for information from the OCR.“We have provided all of the information requested by the OCR and therefore there are no OCR investigation requests currently pending with the University.” Brown said in an email. “These matters, and the information we have provided in accord with the OCR’s investigations into the individual complaints, are now being reviewed by the OCR.”Documents have not been made available for the less recent of the two cases, which was opened by the OCR on Feb. 19, 2016.  Tags: Office of Civil Rights, Title IX, Title IX investigation, Title IX violationslast_img read more

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Right to Life looks to serve, engage community

first_imgNotre Dame Right to Life, perhaps most well known for its largest event — driving hundreds of students to participate in the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. — has a large repertoire of other activities planned for the year, designed to celebrate and protect human life. “Right to Life is essentially a social justice group dedicated to promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death,” club president and senior Sarah Drumm said. “We do that in a variety of ways — through education, through service events, through celebrating life in all stages.”Last year, Right to Life brought over 800 students to participate in the March, but the campus’ largest organization also looks to engage students throughout the year, Drumm said.“We have a lot of events for the year that I’m really excited about,” Drumm said. “In general, one of our main focuses for this year is just trying to expand our reach. A lot of people still think of us as an anti-abortion club, or a March for Life club. Yes, the March for Life is a very important part of what we do, but we do a lot on campus and off campus throughout the year that I think a lot of people just don’t know about.”The group aims to respectfully promote its values, Drumm said.“Essentially what we’re trying to do is create opportunities to protect and celebrate the dignity of vulnerable peoples,” Drumm said. “As our club has grown, different people with different interests have come in and started these groups. One of my goals for this year is to strengthen these and increase participation in all our events.”In addition to these new goals, many of Right to Life’s scheduled events this year are recurring events from years past, vice president of communications, junior Matthew Connell, said.“We always have a lot of stuff going on, and we have a lot of stuff that’s recurring each year,” Connell said. “We have a number of service commissions that go to all sorts of places in the community to do service work. We have a women’s care service commission, a commission that does baby showers, a senior outreach commission, high school outreach, stuff like that.”Connell also said the club plans on hosting several speakers and seminars, including a multi-part panel first held last year.“We’re planning on doing a panel this year that we started last year that was successful, called ‘A Pro-Life Vision of the World’,” he said. “We have multiple panels, one in September, October and November, and we just bring in three or four professors or other guest speakers who can speak to different topics and about what it would look like to have a pro-life world in each those areas. It could be things like feminism, refugees, poverty or war.”A main focus of the club for this year, Connell said, is sparking conversation about these difficult issues on campus.“We’re always trying to foster that dialogue on campus about these issues,” he said. “The whole purpose is what we do is change hearts and minds on the issue of abortion, but we don’t exist to just preach to the choir. There’s no point in that. It’s through dialogue when we reach out to others that we change hearts and minds on this issue and are able to actually make a difference for life in the long run.”Some recurring events Drumm said the club planned to continue were participating in the March for Life, hosting Respect Life Week and helping to organize “BeyoND the Abortion Debate,” a dinner for people with strongly different views on abortion to talk about other topics, designed to help students with political disagreements find common ground.Although the club was founded at Notre Dame over 40 years ago, Drumm said that its mission remains unchanged.“I think our mission has always stayed the same and will always stay the same,” she said. “It’s just promoting and protecting the dignity of all human people, but I think how we live that out changes. In recent years, our club has tried to really react to current events, for example the refugee crisis, or things that are happening with healthcare for individuals with disabilities … Our mission is always protecting and promoting all human beings, all human life.”Tags: March for Life, ND Right to Lifelast_img read more

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Senate nominates co-director, discusses constitutional changes

first_imgThe student senate confirmed senior Molly Knapp as the co-director of the department of social concerns at a meeting Wednesday.The senate confirmed Knapp, a commissioner in the department during the fall semester, with zero oppositions and zero abstentions.Senior and student body president Becca Blais said she nominated Knapp to join the current director, senior Austin Matheny, due to the shifting focus and size of the department.The department of social concerns is split into two groups to focus on separate topics: global affairs and sustainability. Each group meets separately, and Blais said Knapp has been leading the committee on global affairs with great success, while Matheny has been leading the group on sustainability.“It was getting a little complicated,” Blais said of the decision to make Knapp a co-director. “Both sides of the department still have a lot of work to do in the last two months in terms of massive programming and policy initiatives.”Because of the broad scope of the department of social concerns, having two directors will allow the groups to work independently and might allow future senates to split the department into two, Blais said.“As co-director, Molly will have greater autonomy in leading her department committee,” she said. “The department as one cohesive body will have a greater chance at tackling all of the remaining platform and other items.”Knapp previously served as an NDVotes dorm representative in Lewis Hall, vice president for the class of 2018’s Sophomore Class Council and a member of the class of 2018’s Freshman Class Council. She is also a student worker at both the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and the International Summer Service Learning Program (ISSLP).“I have full confidence that Molly and Austin will serve as an incredible team, and that she will fit perfectly within the executive cabinet for the remainder of our term,” Blais said.Blais read a letter from Matheny in which he also expressed his endorsement of Knapp to be his co-director.“Within her role, Molly has continuously demonstrated passion for the work that she does and poise in the face of adversity,” Matheny said in the letter.Last semester, Knapp’s team on the global affairs committee organized the events to raise awareness about the Rohingya refugee crisis, and Matheny said the work would have been impossible without Knapp.“As a member of the executive cabinet and of student government as a whole, I have been lucky enough to work alongside some of the most passionate … people that this prestigious university has to offer,” Matheny said. “I can say without hestitation that Molly Knapp is one of those people.”Following Knapp’s confirmation, student union parliamentarian and junior Colin Brankin presented proposed constitutional changes to the student senate.The changes reorganize and clarify various articles in the constitution, including instructing future student senates on how to vote on new constitutions, explicitly requiring all nine student union organizations to submit bylaws to the ethics committee and clarifying the quorum — the minimum number of voters to make a proceeding valid — to be two-thirds in any student government vote.“There are essentially zero content changes, with the exception of one point of clarification,” Brankin said. “Everything is just reorganizing it for the sake of reading it and so it flows well together.”The changes reiterate that the student union secretary must post the minutes, agenda and resolutions of each meeting on the website. Another edit clarifies that, given certain offenses, any position holder in the student union can be impeached.Brankin also noted the upcoming student senate elections and brought the senators’ attention to the addition of a “For Prospective Senators” tab on the student government website.The site includes information about who can be a senator, what senate does and the meaning of senatorial committees. The website also has links to the constitution, the Judicial Council website and embeds the Parliamentary Procedure and Senate Rules Guidebook.Brankin and judicial council president and senior Matt Ross will be holding a prospective senator information session Feb. 13 to provide interested students with more information about senate. The session will be held at 7 p.m. in the Montgomery Auditorium of the LaFortune Student Center.Tags: constitutional changes, department of social concerns, Notre Dame Student Senate, student senatelast_img read more

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Air Force ROTC to host 32nd Annual Flyin’ Irish Basketball Tournament

first_imgObserver File Photo Students compete in the annual Flyin’ Irish Basketball Tournament last year. The event is the largest ROTC sporting event in the country and will include over 800 ROTC members from across the country.The tournament will begin Friday, with the finals held Sunday. Early games will take place primarily in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse, while the championship game and three-point competition will be held in Purcell Pavilion. The championship will also be live-streamed for the first time this year, Notre Dame junior Natalie Petro said. An Air Force ROTC member, Petro was responsible for coordinating the tournament this year.Kernan — who will be participating in the tournament for the first time — said she is excited to see ROTC cadets from schools from all over the country and meet new members as well.“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone from around the country,” she said. “It will also be really cool because I have friends from the University of Dayton who will be coming.” Petro also said one of the best things about the tournament is the opportunity to make new connections. The event has grown significantly over the years, she said, and it is easy to find people who know about the event.“It’s fun when you go to field training [with members of other ROTC programs], you get to appreciate it,” Petro said. “On the second day I mentioned the Flyin’ Irish Basketball Tournament, and two people had heard of it.” While the environment is friendly for the most part, it can get competitive at times, which Kernan said is likely due to the nature of multiple ROTC programs coming together.With the tournament taking place in the middle of the Notre Dame basketball season, it can be difficult to find time for so many teams to play, Petro said.“We try to schedule the tournament around the basketball program so that we can get enough courts,” she said.Both a men’s and a women’s team are crowned as champions at the end of the tournament. Last year’s winners included the Texas A&M Tri-Military in the men‘s bracket and the Marquette Golden Eagles Army ROTC in the women’s bracket, but both Kernan and Petro said they are confident in Notre Dame’s chances at this year’s tournament. While Notre Dame has multiple teams participating from all three military ROTC branches, Kernan said a group of cadets known as “the scrappers” are particularly hopeful this year.“Scrappers are the players that are not on the ‘real’ [Air Force ROTC] team,” she said. “They’re mostly miscellaneous people, but they are great athletes.” Kernan, who is on one of the scrapper teams, saidBoth Kernan and Petro are members of scrapper teams, and Petro said she is confident in her team’s ability to dominate the tournament.“We’re going do great, of course,” she said. “We’re going to win the whole thing.” Tags: Air Force ROTC, basketball, Flyin’ Irish Basketball Tournament, ROTC The Notre Dame Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Core (ROTC) will host 56 teams and more than 800 students for the 32nd annual Flyin’ Irish Invitational Basketball Tournament this weekend. The competition has grown to become the largest ROTC sporting event in the country, Saint Mary’s sophomore and Air Force ROTC cadet Marta Kernan said. “It started out as a group of [ROTC members] trying to get together and have fun, but more people just kept joining and joining,” she said.last_img read more

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Student government candidates discuss parietals, student life at debate

first_imgWith the student government elections this week, the Notre Dame chapter of the Knights of Columbus hosted a student government election debate Sunday evening in the Carey Auditorium in Hesburgh Library. The candidates discussed the parietals policy, areas for improvement in student government, the role of Catholicism at Notre Dame, student life and sexual assault prevention. The candidates running for student body president and vice president respectively this year include junior Noble Patidar and freshman Connor Patrick, junior Connor Whittle and sophomore Jack Rotolo; junior Zachary Mercugliano and freshman Aviva Lund, freshmen Henry Bates and Thomas Henry, juniors Michael Dugan and Ricardo Pozas Garza and juniors Rachel Ingal and Sarah Galbenski.The Bates-Henry ticket was not present at this debate.  Max Lander | The Observer Pictured From left to right, senior Mark Spretnjak, junior Connor Whittle, junior Noble Patidar, sophomore Sam Delmer, junior Michael Dugan, junior Rachel Ingal, and junior Zachary Mercugliano all pose with Knights of Columbus flag after a student government debate on Sunday, Feb. 9.Each candidate was given approximately a minute to answer each of the five questions posed as well as a minute and a half for an opening and closing statements.Candidates were asked to share their stance on the Universities parietals policy, specifically in light of growing concern over the policy voiced by student protests in Stanford Hall and Sorin College fall semester.Lina Domenella | The Observer Generally, candidates called for education about parietals amnesty and the need to foster open, meaningful and civil dialogues regarding parietals.“Given that parietals are going to stay at the university, at least in the short term, parietals amnesty is something that should be very clearly known from the first week that kids get here,” Patidar said.Mercugliano said that while he and his campaign welcome discussion about subjects such as the parietals policy, he criticized the form the protests Stanford and Sorin took last semester.“In Stanford and Sorin it was done in such a way that was disruptive to the life of that dorm,” Mercugliano said. “We would prefer to see discussions like that pursued in a more civil manner.”Ingal said that the need for having dialogues about issues like parietals on campus was essential, and she highlighted the need for education on parietals amnesty, specifically during welcome weekend.Lina Domenella | The Observer “[Parietals amnesty] is something that we would like to have mandatorily implemented in welcome weekend so that people are aware that parietals amnesty exists,” Ingal said. “Especially during the ‘red-zone,’ a time at the first six weeks of the semester where first-year women are susceptible to being sexually assaulted.”Dugan also said that parietal amnesty was very important but raised the possibility of altering parietals slightly.“I think the question itself is what is parietals, what is its purpose and how should that interact with the Notre Dame community,” Dugan said. “I think there are actually a number of ways you can actually revise parietals within what the board is willing to do.”Whittle said that he agreed that key to the issue of parietals was better education about parietals amnesty but also said that civil dialogue was essential for assessing the root cause of issues with parietals as a policy.“Overall, these movements stem from a much broader issue on campus that needs to be handled and need a student government that‘s going to lead them in having civil discussions on this campus,” Whittle said.Lina Domenella | The Observer Candidates were also asked to share areas in which they thought student government could improve, as well as ways they planned to make such improvements happen.Overall, candidates highlighted transparency, communication and representation as some areas where student government could be better.Mercugliano said that greater transparency was needed around student government and student government funding. He also said that he planned to make himself available to leaders of small and newly formed clubs on campus in order to keep them informed. Lina Domenella | The Observer “I believe in releasing frequent reports, so that the student body can follow along if they wish with what‘s happening in student government,” Mercugliano said. Ingal said that it was important for student government to mediate and represent the student body to those in power and that a greater effort should be made to make student government present in places like student dorms.“I think the way that Sarah and I have envisioned it is acting as a liaison between the people and power, so we understand student government is presented a lot of resources and what we want to do is disseminate that and really empower students,” Ingal said. “The idea is not only making yourself available within your space but going out of your space to halls, not just being in the office.”Dugan said that the two main ways that student government could improve were by fostering better communication with the student body, citing the need for redundancy in roles like director of communications, and reducing the budget to provide greater club funding as a way to empower the student body.Lina Domenella | The Observer “Student government continues to prioritize its own initiatives and own funding at the expense of student clubs,” Dugan said. “The fact of the matter is this, more people are involved in clubs than experience the direct impact of student governments programming side.”Whittle said that he thought student government could do a better job working with rectors and hall leadership to ensure that all students feel integrated into and represented in the Notre Dame community in the first month or so students are on campus. Specifically, he mentioned working to promote greater diversity in hall resident assistants to accomplish this.“We need to make sure students feel like they are represented within hall leadership and feel like they are going to be integrated and an influential part of the overall Notre Dame community,” Whittle said.Lina Domenella | The Observer Patidar also focused on greater inclusivity and communication between hall residents and student government officials. He said he would promote a greater degree of communication between the two.“Connor and I plan to visit each dorm once a semester. It’d be a very rare occurrence but it would be enough where you could go to each hall, update them on policy initiatives and ask them for survey data, like what they think about x, y, or z,” Patidar said.Tags: Budget, parietals policy, student government debate, Student government electionslast_img read more

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