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Saint Mary’s College staff announced last Friday they are excited to welcome actress and comedian Lily Tomlin to the Moreau Center for the Arts on September 27th. Tomlin replaced actress Sigourney Weaver as this year’s Margaret Hill Endowed visiting artist. “Ms. Weaver was asked to be in a movie at the last minute,” Gwen O’Brien, director of media relations at Saint Mary’s College, said. However, she said she is excited that Tomlin agreed to fill Weaver’s space. Tomlin has starred in a number of films including “Nine to Five,” “Flirting with Disaster” and “I Heart Huckabees.” Her television career includes work on such shows as “Desperate Housewives,” and “The West Wing,” and she was the infamous voice of Miss Frizzle on the children’s show “The Magic School Bus.” Tomlin also works alongside last year’s visiting artist, Glenn Close, on the television series “Damages.” Tomlin’s career successes include a number of Tony, Peabody, and Emmy awards, as well as a Grammy award. Emily Schmitt, a theater major said she is excited to work with Tomlin. Tomlin will teach a master class to the theater majors at Saint Mary’s, according to Schmitt. “She’s going to help us work on our character sketches and help us develop a more believable person on stage,” she said. Theater major Eva Cavadini is also looking forward to the master class. “I’m eager to learn whatever she has to offer me. As a young actress, I’m always learning new things,” Cavadini said. “This is a good opportunity for anyone who has a passion for acting.” While some girls may be nervous to work with the actress, Cavadini said, “I’m more eager rather than nervous to work with her, after all, she is a person just like anyone else.” In addition, Tomlin will dine with theater majors that evening. Schmitt is excited for this opportunity, as it will provide one-on-one time between the actress and the students. “I am really excited and feel fortunate that Saint Mary’s gives us the opportunity to work and converse with such a talented and well-known artist,” Schmitt said. That evening at 7:30 p.m., Tomlin will hold a public lecture in O’Laughlin Auditorium of the Moreau Center for the Arts, which all students are encouraged to attend. Bridget Gartenmayer, a political science major, said, “Although I am not a theater major, I am still really excited to attend Tomlin’s lecture. It’s an opportunity to hear a dominant figure in the media world speak, and I’m going to take it.” The event is free to all Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross students and faculty. However, tickets are still required to attend the event. Tickets are available at the Moreau Box Office. The event is also open to the general public with tickets costing $14 online or $13 at the window.
For the seventh consecutive year, the Gender Relations Center (GRC), in alliance with several other on-campus groups and offices, will be celebrating a week to increase awareness about body image and eating disorders. From today through Sunday, Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week will host events throughout campus on a variety of topics within the larger discussion. “We want people and students talking to each other about body image,” Heather Racokzy Russell, program director for the GRC, said. “We don’t want them to be silent about these things. At the very least people will realize they don’t have to be alone in these things.” Finding Balance in College: How to do it with your Healthy Voice is the first women-only event in the history of the week is tonight at Legends from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event will feature Meredith Terpeluk, a Notre Dame graduate and president of a wellness and life coaching company. Russell said she will bring a unique viewpoint to the lecture because she knows what the environment is like on campus. Tuesday night will feature the Mass of Healing at 10 p.m. in the Dillon Hall Chapel. “The Mass of Healing puts a special Notre Dame spin on this kind of thing,” Russell said. The panel, Perfectly Disordered: Eating Disorders, Body Image and College Life, is Wednesday night in the Eck Center Auditorium. The panel will feature talks from students as well as Valerie Staples, a staff psychologist from the University Counseling Center. “This will offer a much broader perspective,” Russell said. Russell said attitudes at Notre Dame can serve a breeding ground for body image problems and eating disorders. “Notre Dame is an environment where competition and perfection run rampant,” she said. “We need to work together to overcome obstacles and head in the direction of recovery.” Public service announcement put together by the Week’s organizers will run in Saturday’s football program. “Eating disorders are serious, life threatening illness — not choices,” the announcement states. “It is important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that contribute to the development of eating disorders and body image concerns.” Russell said this is the first time the week has run anything in the football program, but she is hoping it will help with the cause. “The point is for outreach to the larger community,” she said. “This is an issue Notre Dame students are concerned about.” More than 10 million females and 1 million males battles with an eating disorder, the announcement states. “Some people perceive that Notre Dame students have it all together and that Notre Dame students wouldn’t battles these issues,” Russell said. “It’s actually much more likely with high-achieving students to experience these issues.” Other events this week include a poster campaign and an event with AcoustiCafe. The poster campaign, called “This Is My Student Body,” is continued from something student government started last year, senior Mariah McGrogan said. McGrogan is co-chair of the Gender Issues Committee for Student Senate and works as a student assistant with the GRC. “It’s an idea that takes inspiration from the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign,” McGrogan said. “The ‘Real Beauty’ campaign is about not feeling anxiety about your natural beauty.” The posters have images of students, along with quotes and Notre Dame images to make the campaign speak to the campus about awareness. “The Week is a good healing experience for those who’ve dealt with eating disorders or body images issues,” she said. “But it’s also important to raise awareness …We need to check ourselves with our language and dieting habits.” The AcoustiCafe event will feature the regular musicians of AcoustiCafe with songs, spoken word pieces and information about body image and eating disorders. “The nice part about the AcoustiCafe event is we’re taking a signature staple event at Notre Dame and asking them to feature this issue,” she said. “We hope the regulars are exposed to something they wouldn’t have typically attended.” Russell said students should talk to someone if they are experiencing problems with these issues. “It’s so important for them to talk to one person they can trust,” she said. “Not someone who will support putting them down when they say things like, ‘I feel fat.’ They need someone who they can reach out to for help.” The Week is sponsored through the GRC, in collaboration with the University Counseling Center, Student-Athlete Welfare and Development, Feminist Voice and student government. Visit grc.nd.edu for more information.
The Observer General Board elected Sports Editor Douglas Farmer as the 2011-12 Editor-in-Chief Sunday. Farmer, a junior Program of Liberal Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, is a native of La Crosse, Wisc. A resident of Alumni Hall, Farmer has led several sports beats, including football, men’s basketball, hockey, baseball, women’s soccer and men’s lacrosse. “I look forward to the opportunities and challenges this new role will bring me. Fortunately, I know I will have a talented and dedicated staff working with me every step of the way,” Farmer said. Farmer became Sports Editor in the spring of 2010 and led coverage of Irish football coach Brian Kelly’s first season as well as the Notre Dame women’s soccer team’s national championship. “Douglas has done a tremendous job this year as Sports Editor, specifically in improving the feedback given to writers and increasing the amount of quality content on our website,” outgoing Editor-in-Chief Matt Gamber said. “I have enjoyed working with Douglas over the past three years and know he will continue to serve as a great leader and example for others at the paper.” Farmer said he expects to build upon The Observer’s “strong journalistic tradition” with the help of the rest of the Editorial Board in the coming year. “I anticipate a year of great experiences thanks to this new position,” he said. Farmer will take over as Editor-in-Chief on March 7.
Although student body president Alex Coccia does not identify LGBTQ concerns as a priority of his administration, he said student government supported the implementation of the University’s “Beloved Friends and Allies” pastoral plan. Specifically, Coccia said he and student body vice president Nancy Joyce sat on the selection panel for the assistant director who would address LGBTQ student concerns. He said he also named a student representative to the advisory committee on LGBTQ issues to Vice President for Student Affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding. “One of our recommendations in the [Oct. 17] Board of Trustees report was that the [advisory] council meet regularly … that it gets off to a good start,” Coccia said. “The purpose is essentially to gauge campus climate on LGBTQ inclusion and help make recommendations to [Hoffmann Harding] as we move forward on this issue.” In the report to the Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, Coccia’s administration recommended the advisory committee meet for the first time no later than Thanksgiving break and gather four times in the spring 2014 semester. The administration also suggested the Office of Student Affairs “engage in action-oriented conversation regarding transgender students in the University housing system.” In his May 1 State of the Student Union address, Coccia said his administration backed the LGBTQ student organization PrismND, and reiterated his administration’s support in an interview with The Observer. “We plan to fully support the implementation of the new LGBTQ and ally student organization as it is incorporated into the student unions… and we look forward to the honor of co-sponsoring one of their initial events,” Coccia said in the address. This group now can assume the role played by the former LGBTQ student group, which operated without official University approval. “Students had a huge victory a year ago, which was the recognition of the LGBTQ student group,” Coccia said. “Many of the efforts that I think were necessary [before] … can now be facilitated by PrismND.” The founding members of PrismND began to develop the group’s bylaws last semester, Coccia said. “Then we started to formalize them a bit more, make the language consonant with what organization languages are and what organization bylaws look like, which includes components of funding and membership and meeting logistics,” he said. “Then it was back-and-forth conversation … to ensure that the bylaws were solid and reflective of what the purpose of the organization was.” Sophomore Connor Hayes, co-president of PrismND, said the club finalized its bylaws in early October, with the exception of one part that was solidified earlier this week. Co-president Bryan Ricketts said PrismND’s first major event was a celebration of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. The group set up “closet” structures outside DeBartolo Hall and the LaFortune Student Center and encouraged students to “come out” as anything – a member of the LGBTQ community, a fan of country music, a peace studies major or something else. Ricketts, a sophomore, said PrismND also sponsored a National Coming Out Day lunch with Pasquerilla East Hall. He said two speakers at the lunch discussed the concept of coming out both from an academic perspective and on a personal level. PrismND’s other main event this semester was StaND Against Hate Week from Nov. 4 through 8, Hayes said. The week, which the Gender Relations Center and Multicultural Student Programs and Services co-sponsored, featured a “What It Means to be an Ally” dinner, two lectures and a candlelight prayer service. Hayes said,between 20 and 30 people attend the group’s organizational meetings, every other week. He said next semester PrismND will hold separate meetings in which people can discuss issues they face. The organizational meetings do not serve this function because they are mainly meant as time for planning events, Ricketts said. “They’re not necessarily a space where community can grow,” he said. “We want to have a space where people can just come and talk about issues on campus, issues they’re having, issues they see in the world outside of the Notre Dame bubble.” PrismND aims to be a welcoming space for all parts of the LGBTQ and ally communities on campus, Hayes said. “We want to make sure that [the group] doesn’t develop some sort of reputation of being associated with certain things, associated with certain parts of the University. Someone could be like, ‘Oh, that’s a liberal part of the University, and I identify as gay, but I’m kind of conservative, and I don’t think I feel at home there.’ “That kind of thing – making sure that it is as inclusive as possible. … I think that’s kind of a guiding principle to a lot of things that we do.” Hayes said now that PrismND’s working dynamics are established, the group aims to host more programming next semester. LGBTQ concerns remain a “very personal priority” for Coccia, he said. “We’ve really come to a new step in campus culture,” Coccia said. “The way I like to frame it … is two-and-a-half years ago, the question was, ‘Are you an ally?’ … The question now is, ‘Why wouldn’t you be an ally?’ “Student government’s role in this respect, I think, is continually providing a support for that.” Contact Marisa Iati at [email protected]
Amid the Oscar buzz, student filmmakers are gearing up for their own event, the 25th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival.The festival will feature 14 films representing the work of 31 student filmmakers, and will be held in the Browning Cinema of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Screenings will begin at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The running time for each screening will be just under two hours.Maria Massa Ted Mandell, associate professor of Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) and founder of the festival, said the purpose of the event is to share and recognize the work of film students.“It’s an event to showcase the great work our students do, to give them an audience for their films and to provide a launching pad for their future careers in the film and television industries,” Mandell said. “This might be one of the best collections of films in one festival that we’ve ever had.”Mandell, also a producer for Fighting Irish Digital Media, said he founded the festival in his second year teaching film production in the FTT department as a way for students to share their work with more than just their professors, families and friends.“When I was a student here, I graduated in 1986, the only time we screened our films was during graduation weekend for our parents. After I returned as a member of the faculty, I thought the student work should be seen by a larger audience,” he said.There will be one award given for the single best film in the festival, as determined by audience preference, Mandell said.“We’re excited about the Audience Choice Award, which allows the audience to vote for their favorite film via text right after the show,” he said. “We will present the award before the final screening Saturday night to the winning filmmakers.”One film that has been selected for the festival and is eligible for this honor is “Lilith’s Game,” a horror film created by seniors Anthony Patti and Johnny Whichard.Patti said it was rewarding for the partners to have their film selected for the festival.“I was incredibly excited when I found out,” Patti said. “The film process is pretty strenuous, so making it to the festival, while it wasn’t the goal, was certainly a nice pay-off.“Movies are made to be watched, so being guaranteed an audience is pretty much the best a film maker can ask for.”Patti said believes the risks he and Whichard took in the making of their film will allow it to hold up against the competition and have a chance at earning the Audience Choice Award.“The film demanded everything effort-wise and my partner and I decided to take a lot of risks that ended up paying off,” Patti said. “I haven’t seen many of the other films, but I do have faith in the film Jonny and I made, and I do think it’ll at least be a contender.”The natural unpredictability of filmmaking made the process difficult, Patti said, but working at Notre Dame provides an advantage.“Whether it’s in the classroom or on the movie set film is very up and down,” he said. “You’ll have one week with nothing to do followed by another week of non-stop work with no sleep and no food.“Despite how difficult film is as a craft, it’s relatively easy to make a movie at Notre Dame because everyone is so friendly and obliging.”The films featured in each year’s festival are drawn equally from all films produced in the last two semesters — spring and fall 2013 — from the beginner, intermediate and advanced production courses by the professors teaching those courses, Patti said. The filmmakers behind each film are notified and allowed one last round of editing to prepare their work for the festival.“Lillith’s Game” has a 10 minute and 57 second running time, which makes it the fourth longest film of the 14, and was produced last semester for an intermediate production course, Patti said.Patti said the pair began work on their film on the first day of the fall semester. They logged six total days of filming, with shifts ranging from two to 12 hours and three main locations — the off-campus house of their lead actor, the Cedar Grove cemetery and the forest near the campus lakes.Patti said he urges everyone in the University community to attend the festival because each of the 31 student filmmakers has an important story or message to convey.“People should come to the festival because, despite the misconception that media students blow off school, the department is full of passionate storytellers who love their craft and truly have something to say,” Patti said.Mandell said another reason to attend is to see the work of some of these filmmakers before they make it big.“In 2011, festival alumnus Peter Richardson won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for Best Documentary. Some of these filmmakers will go on to very successful careers in the film and television industries. Our alums are executives at television networks, Hollywood screenwriters, editors, cinematographers, sound mixers, etc,” Mandell said. “The Student Film Festival is where they got their start.”Patti said he hopes to eventually join the numbers of film festival alumni who have gone on to work in Hollywood.“Right now my plan is to do a little mission work after school, but after that head out to Hollywood with a backpack and a cardboard sign saying ‘will film for food,’” Patti said.Tickets for the festival can be purchase online or in person through the DPAC box office. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for students and children.Tags: Student Film Festival
The Harper Cancer Research Institute, a Notre Dame and Indiana School of Medicine collaboration, recently initiated a partnership with local healthcare organizations including the Beacon Health System (BHSMH), The Medical Foundation (TMF) and Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) in order to provide mutational profiling to local cancer patients through the acquisition of a Sequenom MassARRAY instrument.Associate director of the Harper Institute Andy Bullock said grant funding for the project began July 1, and the community partnership organizations have since purchased and validated the analyzer, which is now located in the South Bend Medical Foundation.“We just got a note from the South Bend Medical Foundation that in the patients they’ve [screened] so far, they’ve found 22 percent more mutations in these samples that they never would have found previously,” Bullock said. “It’s already having an impact and it’s only been going on for a few months now.”According to the Notre Dame press release, the project received a total of $851,910 including a substantial grant from the Walther Cancer Foundation. Bullock said the Foundation was a driving force in making the project a reality.“This is not a community where everybody can just fly to Boston or MD Anderson [Cancer Center for treatment] and we wanted to do something,” he said. “We had partners in the community that were willing to [help since] it was not something we could do on our own.”Bullock said the partnerships with other organizations in the community were key in pursuing and funding the research because Harper is a basic cancer research institute.“The Medical Foundation is doing this test at [their own] cost since just to buy the kits to do the tests costs a few hundred dollars,” he said. “Now, all the other costs associated with the tests, the staff time, overhead … they’re not charging any of that so the price is only a couple hundred dollars a test as opposed to almost a thousand for what this test might be somewhere else.”Bullock said the collaboration has made the test available to qualifying patients at no cost for the next two years.He said the analyzer tests about 200 mutations simultaneously in approximately five hours to identify certain mutations in tumors and determine how drug therapies may effect treatment.“You want that information so you don’t spend six months on chemotherapy that’s going to do nothing for you and to deal with all the side-effects,” Bullock said.Bullock said the screening is already guiding treatment. In two years, Bullock said he hopes other hospitals in the area join the effort and screening expands to cover more tumor types.“In two years, hopefully it will be a bigger project, and we’ll be going to Walther to show them all the people that have benefitted in the last two years and why we should keep doing it.”Tags: Beacon Health System, Harper Cancer Research Institute, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend Medical Foundation
“Jake loved and was loved. While Jake loved, our faith reminds us that God is love. Despite our struggles that God took a beloved member of our community away too soon, we can’t help but see how God poured his love into Jake’s heart, and man, did it change lives,” Fr. Pete McCormick, director of Campus Ministry, said in his homily at the memorial Mass to celebrate the life of junior Jake Scanlan. Scanlan, a resident of Siegfried Hall, died unexpectedly in his sleep Wednesday morning from what appear to be natural causes. Scanlan’s family and friends, residents of Siegfried Hall, and students, faculty and staff from across campus attended the Mass, which was celebrated by University President Fr. John Jenkins at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Thursday evening. McCormick described the 20-year-old mechanical engineering major from North Potomac, Maryland, as a “man for others.” “Jake was deserving of the spotlight, being a great athlete, great academic, loyal friend, faithful brother, loving son. Jake preferred to use his God-given talents to make others happy, living his life so authentically that he could not help but inspire others to do the very same,” he said. “In fact, it was pointed out that having an entire Mass for Jake would be enough for him to turn in the exact opposite direction, so not wanting to draw attention to himself, so rather being invested in others.”McCormick said he led a procession from Siegfried Hall on Wednesday evening to the Grotto after attending a standing-room only Mass in the Siegfried Chapel. “As we rounded the corner into the Grotto, coming down the steps, I realized that we were no longer just a group of Mass-goers having left Siegfried,” he said. “Instead, we were joined by hundreds of people from around campus who had come together to pray for this young man. All standing in silence, all standing in honor and prayerful respect of their friend and their brother.”After everyone had lit a candle, Fr. John Conley, rector of Siegfried, brought together those gathered at the Grotto, McCormick said.Margaret Hynds | The Observer “In that moment, though, something happened that I will never forget, as I stood there, huddled in the cold, my hands buried in my pockets, looking down in prayerful reverence. I immediately felt a large arm over my right shoulder and then another one over my left shoulder,” he said. “And as I looked up, what I realized was that not only were we drawing closer to the front rail of the Grotto, but we were doing so together, with arms outstretched …“And I thought to myself, how fitting that a young man who has committed himself to loving others, to giving of himself to others, to bringing others together, even in death, has the ability to, last night, bring so many together — and this night to bring so many people that we literally could not fit them all in the Basilica. What a beautiful thing that is.” Scanlan’s death leaves his family, friends and the Notre Dame community with “big, substantive questions,” McCormick said. However, he said people of faith are ultimately challenged to consider that a loving God would not leave Scanlan at death. “That we understand just as God has blessed Jake with life … he will not leave him alone, abandoned,” he said. “And just as we support one another, as we continue to do now and into the future, God, too, calls Jake to himself, and invites him on a new journey — a journey to a deeper and fuller understanding of God, of life eternal. To a place prepared for us all, by Jesus, through his death and resurrection. … Jake’s life has not ended, it has merely changed.”Those whose lives have been touched by Scanlan can best honor him by building community, McCormick said. “In the minutes, and hours, days, weeks, and months and years ahead, all of us will be impacted by Jake and his death, in unexpected and sometimes confusing ways,” he said. “When those cases occur, instead of sinking into grief and despair, perhaps each of us might challenge ourselves to honor Jake’s life by reaching out to a friend, being intentional about helping others in need and, you know what, not always taking ourselves seriously. Because as Jake’s life demonstrated, sometimes what this world needs most is a good laugh.” After the concluding rites of the Mass, McCormick read a statement from the Scanlan family. “On behalf of the family, we’d like to thank everyone for the prayers, love and support shown during this difficult time. We all love Jake and are much better persons for having known him. And we are now better equipped to complete our mission on God’s behalf to achieve lasting eternity in heaven. May we always cherish and remember Jake’s humble demeanor, his big smile and his witty sense of humor. May God bless.” Tags: Fr. John Jenkins, Fr. Pete McCormick, Student death
Last Friday, members of the Labor Café, a biweekly event hosted by the Higgins Labor Studies Program to foster discussion on work, inequality and social justice issues, met at the Snite Museum of Art to discuss Henry Mosler’s “Forging the Cross.” Bridget Hoyt, curator of education at the Snite, led the discussion.“We do these single-work exhibitions once in a while in order to show that the meaning of a work of art is fixed, and in fact, it’s in dialogue by all of us,” Hoyt said.“Forging the Cross,” the focus of the discussion, is a painting of craftsmen laboring over an iron cross with a priest nearby and community members in the background. Much of the discussion was centered on the labor component of the piece.“Although this is work, it is not private work. It is work that has a public dimension … it’s not just that the workers are exerting themselves, but that they’re doing so for these people who are waiting for their product,” Kevin Christiano, professor of sociology, said.Hoyt then focused the discussion onto the possible class divisions portrayed in this painting, especially regarding the role of the priest.“I feel that the priest’s presence shows that they’re making it [the cross] as part of their business; they’re not necessarily thinking about the religious implications … He is sort of the patron paying for this, and they are providing the priest and upper class this service,” freshman Julie Mardini said.Daniel Graff, director of the Higgins Labor Program, offered a different interpretation of the significance of the various roles in the painting.“You can read this completely positively, that forging a cross, forging a church or forging a religious community, [this painting] shows the work involved in that. Even though it’s showing men at work and women watching, they’re still in the frame,” Graff said.Hoyt and Cheryl Snay, curator of European Art, furthered the discussion by speaking on the time period and context of the piece and the artist Henry Mosler.“Mosler, as an artist, has a career that’s really emblematic of American artists of the later nineteenth century,” Hoyt said.Hoyt explained that Henry Mosler immigrated to the United States after spending much time in Europe, and he painted “Forging the Cross” in 1904 in New York City.“By the time this painting was painted, he had moved back to the United States, set up his studio in New York and had embarked on a series of historical paintings,” Snay said.Snay explained that Mosler described the community members in the painting as being dressed in Puritan clothing when he applied to copyright his work, but the priest in the painting is not illustrative of a Puritan minister. This has led to ambiguity surrounding the priest and the meaning of the work.Graff also commented on the historical context of the piece.“He’s painting this in 1904 … this in the midst of class conflict of urban America. … [Mosler] may be somehow commenting on something to do with religion and the workplace and community,” Graff said.Similarly, the discussion then concluded on the meaning of the work and the significance of this painting in relation to present day America.“I’m wondering what the effect of this painting is today, … and I don’t really know what it is besides thinking about … [how] everyone in their lifetime will experience some type of work, whether they’re viewing it … [or] doing it,” senior Hannah Petersen said.“Forging the Cross” will remain in exhibition at the Snite Museum of Art until March 13, and the next Labor Café will be hosted by the Higgins Labor Studies Program on April 1 in the Geddes Coffeehouse.Tags: Forging the Cross, Labor Cafe
The University implemented a number of changes to its process of reporting and resolving cases of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking at the beginning of the academic year. The changes included the hiring of two additional deputy Title IX coordinators, an increase in the role of the deputy Title IX coordinator in the administrative resolution process — which can result in disciplinary consequences — and the new option of pursuing an “alternative resolution” in lieu of disciplinary action.“We always get feedback about incidents that have occurred,” University vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said. “We’ve made a variety of changes trying to be responsive to what we’ve learned and how we can be more supportive of all students.”These changes were rolled out in the midst of an unsettled lawsuit against Notre Dame filed in April by a former student — referred to as “John Doe” — alleging he was unjustly dismissed from the University less than a month before his graduation.Doe was experiencing episodic depression and suicidal thoughts in the summer and fall of 2016, according to the original lawsuit, and sent related texts to his girlfriend — referred to as “Jane Roe” — over the course of months. Roe perceived the texts as sexual harassment and dating violence and reported the incidents to deputy Title IX coordinator Heather Ryan on Oct. 14, according to documents from a preliminary injunction hearing in the Northern District Court of Indiana. After an investigation and subsequent administrative hearing, the University found Doe in violation of its sexual harassment policy and expelled him, with an opportunity to re-enroll at a later date.The lawsuit alleges Notre Dame mishandled the case and conducted an investigation full of “procedural flaws, lack of due process and inherent gender bias, designed to ensure that male students accused of any type of sexual misconduct or harassment — concepts that do not apply to John’s conduct — are found responsible.”Judge Philip Simon ordered the University to permit Doe to take his final exams in May, stating in his order following an April 28 injunction hearing that “the University’s limits on hearing testimony — particularly the application of its narrow witness standard — might be found to be arbitrary or capricious in several respects.” Notre Dame was required to grade Doe’s work, the order said, but it could still withhold his degree and ban him from campus pending the result of the case.An initial date for the trial has not been set.Hoffmann Harding said she could not comment on an unresolved court case. Of the policy changes, however, she said similar revisions and improvements are made each summer.“We try to learn from each and every situation where a student has been hurt or harmed and look at it every summer,” she said. “We’ve looked at it every summer since I’ve been in this role.”For its most recent changes, she said Notre Dame looked to Baylor University’s newly-implemented model.“Baylor’s system is one of the most recent that has had input … from the Office of Civil Rights, but also from outside folks with expertise in fairness and ensuring that we can be supportive of students involved in these situations,” Hoffmann Harding said.Ryan said the University is in the process of hiring the two new deputy Title IX coordinators, who will collaborate with her to fill the position’s heightened responsibilities. Instead of contracting work with external investigators as Notre Dame has done in the past, deputy Title IX coordinators will now conduct investigations by talking to the complainant and respondent, interviewing witnesses and examining information provided.This change was made in response to student feedback about conversations with external investigators and the timeliness of investigations, Hoffmann Harding said.“In some cases, [students] felt a bit less comfortable sharing information with an external investigator, as excellent and well trained as they are,” she said.In the past, once an investigation was complete, a Title IX case was referred to the Office of Community Standards for a hearing. Now, a three-person panel — comprised of the deputy Title IX coordinator conducting the investigation, a member of the Office of Student Affairs and another individual from the Title IX office — will recommend a finding and outcome, Ryan said.“Everything will happen much sooner than it’s happened in the past, in terms of timeline for a student who’s experiencing this,” she said.In his injunction order, Simon pointed specifically to delays in the investigation and hearing processes as merits to why Doe’s case had some likelihood of success, part of the burden of proof required for the order allowing Doe to take his exam. Simon wrote that in its handbook, the University sets a goal of finishing each case within 60 days of the initial report; the decision in Doe’s case was made 111 days later.Additionally, Doe filed complaints against Roe in February that “evidently remain pending,” Simon wrote, preventing Doe’s allegations from drawing Roe’s character and credibility into question.Now, Ryan said, after a final report is released by the investigative panel — stating whether or not a respondent is found to have violated University policy and recommending disciplinary action, if necessary — both the complainant and respondent have the opportunity to accept the outcome. If either party contests the decision, the case moves to an administrative review proceeding to determine if there was a procedural flaw, substantive new information or insufficient evidence to support the recommended finding — reasons the University accepts as grounds for review.“This scope allows us to have an administrative review board really look at a case in a way that is comprehensive and really responding to student concerns,” Ryan said. “They’d be able to still have an opportunity to speak in front of that panel and share information, ask questions.”The administrative review board is now chosen from a pool of trained individuals from the University appointed by University president Fr. John Jenkins, she added.In the past, a case review board consisted of three faculty and administrators, according to a transcript of the April injunction hearing. Simon discussed the review of Doe’s case in his order, referencing a “conclusory and dismissive denial by the Conduct Case Review Board” as another merit of the case to allow Doe to take his exams. Simon wrote that the board refused to consider Roe’s “cherry-picked” text messages and “evidence pertinent to Jane’s credibility and state of mind,” which could have qualified as reasons to remand the case to the Office of Community Standards before taking any disciplinary action.Hoffmann Harding said in previous years, when a case came to the Title IX office, a complainant had two options: to pursue an administrative resolution, potentially dealing with disciplinary consequences, or — if the deputy Title IX coordinator found no threat to the general community — to close the case. Now, complainants have the additional option of an “alternative resolution,” she added.“This has the objective of stopping a behavior, but not necessarily going to that next step, a disciplinary outcome,” Hoffmann Harding said. “So it involves sharing the feedback … and then basically agreeing that it ceases and desists, but not necessarily taking that next step.”Ryan said participation in the alternative resolution process would be voluntary for both parties and entail non-disciplinary outcomes, such as mediation, support services or a non-contact order. The goal of it all, she added, is to make the process more “restorative.”“It’s going to be very individual, depending on the needs of the complainant and the nature of the concern,” she said.This option was not available in October, when Roe made her complaint against Doe. Ryan Willerton, Notre Dame’s vice president of career and professional development and former director of the Office of Community Standards, said the disciplinary outcomes were meant to be “educational,” while speaking about the old process at the injunction hearing in April. In his court order, Simon wrote that he did not find this testimony to be credible.“Being thrown out of school, not being permitted to graduate and forfeiting a semester’s worth of tuition is ‘punishment’ in any reasonable sense of the term,” the judge wrote.Hoffmann Harding said the University is always looking at ways to adapt policies and procedures to ensure it is “providing student care in the fairest and most compassionate way.” And despite the numerous changes made to the University’s process of dealing with Title IX cases internally, the process of reporting sexual harassment or misconduct remains the same, she added.“I think it’s very important to realize that most things really haven’t changed in terms of getting support from confidential or non-confidential resources,” Hoffmann Harding said.The University introduced the changes in its summer training and Welcome Weekend programs and will continue to publicize them in other ways, such as the Moreau First Year of Studies courses. Ryan said she will be hosting a monthly “Lunch and Learn” series, where students are welcome to discuss and learn about the new policies. “We’re trying to make it accessible and transparent for all of you so that students have enough choices and agency and the support they need,” Hoffmann Harding said. “That’s truly at the underline of what’s driving all of this.”Assistant Managing Editor Rachel O’Grady contributed to this report.Tags: deputy title IX coordinator, John Doe, Title IX
Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series exploring the experiences of low socioeconomic students at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.From 2001 to 2014, the percentage of Pell Grant recipients at Notre Dame increased from 8 percent to 11 percent of the student body. At Saint Mary’s, the percentage of Pell Grant recipients decreased from 25 percent in 2009 to between 22 and 23 percent in 2018. Pell Grant recipients are awarded a federal scholarship based on financial need, and colleges often use the percentage of Pell students to measure the number of low socioeconomic status students enrolled.Don Bishop, associate vice president of undergraduate enrollment, said while Notre Dame’s percentage increased at the same rate as its peer institutions, the University still lags behind in enrollment of low-socioeconomic status students.Claire Kopischke | The Observer “The numbers are the numbers and while we can show we’re growing, we’re not up to most of the other schools yet,” Bishop said. “Why aren’t [we] there now? It takes time. Do [we] mean to get up there? Yes.”The University is a need-blind admission school, meaning that it does not consider a student’s financial background during the admissions process. In 2010, the University implemented an “enrollment management model” to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants and attract those who might otherwise feel that the University was out of their reach, Bishop said.“We are starting to contact students as early as seventh and eighth grade, and we put a high priority on low-income or U.S. students of color or first [generation students], because those are not the natural groups that, even [in their] junior or senior year, assume that they should apply to a top-end school,” Bishop said. “You have to be more inviting, you have to get out there and contact them more.” As part of its efforts to achieve this goal, Bishop said the University pairs with a number of Community Based Organizations (CBO’s), such as QuestBridge, Cristo Rey and KIPP, to identify and attract students.Sophomore and QuestBridge liaison Eric Kim said he first discovered Notre Dame through QuestBridge, an organization that partners with schools who provide extensive financial aid packages to low-socioeconomic status students. “There are approximately 40 partner colleges, which means they will offer a financial package or scholarship that resembles a full ride,” Kim said. “Notre Dame is on that list, which is how I found out about the school. Not to generalize, but a lot of the scholars have not heard about Notre Dame when they apply, so it’s never on our radar, whether it’s because we’re not good enough, it’s not in our culture [or] we live in a family that hasn’t been exposed to Notre Dame, such as myself. These schools are just never on our radar, even if we have qualifications to be at these schools.”While QuestBridge does not provide any financial aid towards student tuition, it helps connect low-socioeconomic status students with the resources they need, Kim said.Kim described QuestBridge’s senior year program as “a long, arduous application process.” Students first complete a QuestBridge application, and the organization selects a pool of finalists. As finalists, students can choose up to 12 colleges from QuestBridge’s partner schools, and apply to be matched with the schools through QuestBridge.“If you get matched, you get a financial aid package that resembles a full ride, plus a stipend, depending on the college,” Kim said. “A few students here have stipends so they can go back home. It really depends on the financial aid office at each school. If you get matched with multiple schools, that’s where their ranking system comes in. … The match process is a binding one to the highest-ranking one you’re matched with.”Bishop said in addition to working with schools such as QuestBridge, the University has also focused on its financial aid, increasing its aid budget by 44 percent over the past seven years.In the 2017-2018 school year, 99 percent of Saint Mary’s students received some sort of financial aid from the College. Beginning in 2018, 100 percent of incoming students will receive some sort of financial assistance, Saint Mary’s director of financial aid Kathleen Brown said. “In the past, not every student would receive a merit scholarship, but beginning this past year admission changed how they award scholarships and now every admitted student receives some type of award from the admission office,” Brown said. “So that award is not based on need, that’s based on a combination of their high school curriculum, their GPA, and their test score on either the ACT or SAT.” Brown said she encourages students to apply for small and local scholarships to aid them in financing their education.“There are a lot of free scholarship searches on the Internet, but because they’re on the Internet everyone in the world is applying for them and often the small local ones that perhaps don’t post their scholarships on the Internet — perhaps they don’t have the tech savvy to do so — they have a much smaller applicant pool and students have much better odds of winning them,” Brown said. Although finding local scholarships can be difficult for students, Brown said she recommends students speak with high school guidance counselors for information on locating them. “A lot of high schools have award ceremonies right before graduation, where the high school counselor will collect information where all of their high school seniors have won scholarships,” Brown said. “So if a student goes back to that counselor, that counselor usually knows what organizations have given students scholarships.”An additional resource Brown feels Saint Mary’s students should be aware of, she said, is the emergency fund for personal needs.“[The emergency fund] is for financial emergencies not related to paying your bill at Saint Mary’s,” Brown said. “Any student that is having any sort of a personal emergency that they feel they need funding for should go to Karen Johnson to see if she might be able to help them with some of that funding.”To further increase the number of low-socioeconomic students at Notre Dame, Bishop said the University is working to create a $1 billion endowment to fund student scholarships. Currently, the University would need to raise approximately $300 million in endowment to increase the percentage of students with incomes below $60,000 from 11 percent to over 15 percent, Bishop said. To raise that figure to 20 percent, the University would need to raise $700 million in endowment.To date, the University has raised over $580 million in pledges. However, Bishop said, this does not mean all of the money is available to use. “Some of that money has been raised and received and it’s given us more money to fund,” Bishop said. “Others are promises that, over a period of time, that donor has identified when the money will be given … so it’s in all different levels of readiness to help fund.”Bishop said the University does not currently have the funds to increase the number of low-socioeconomic status students as quickly as schools like Princeton University, which increased its Pell student enrollment from 7 percent to 23 percent between 2001 and this year. However, Bishop said he remains optimistic when considering Notre Dame’s progress.“Do we have all the money right now, lined up, to be as aggressive as Princeton and the other schools? No, we do not,” he said. “Are we getting more money each year? Yes. Do we need to show progress each year and report it? Yes. And then you guys can judge each year if we’re making enough progress or not.”Senior News Writer Megan Valley and News Writer Mary Bernard contributed to this story.Tags: Don Bishop, financial aid, income, low socioeconomic students