Juniors Rachael Chesley and Laura Smith will be facing off against junior Meg Griffin and sophomore Emily Skirtich for student body president and student body vice president, respectively, during the election that runs from 8 a.m. Thursday to 8 p.m. Friday.Both tickets say they want to improve campus relations between students and the Student Government Association (SGA) during the 2010-11 academic year. Rachael Chesley and Laura SmithChesley has served as a member of the Student Activities Board (SAB) as well as on Dance Marathon and the Class Gift Campaign. Smith has been also participated in Dance Marathon and has served on the first year, sophomore and junior boards. Although both have never sat on SGA boards, they said they think that provides them with a “fresh perspective.”One of the ticket’s main goals, Chesley said, is working to connect campus clubs and SGA to create a better relationship.“We want to see more integration of the clubs on campus, more support, more open communication,” Chesley said.Smith said this would include members of SGA going out to meetings of other clubs when possible as well as holding events that bring together club leaders to encourage dialogue.The ticket would also like to increase knowledge and communication with the alumnae network, Chesley said.“This College is built on the foundation of tradition and one of the things that attracted me to this college is the alumnae base,” she said.Chesley said she and Smith would like to increase the “presence of alumnae on campus.”The two said they recognize that their opponents’ experience may appear to place them at an advantage, however they believe they bring an “unbiased view.”“Sometimes you just need to shake things up a bit with an outside perspective,” Smith said.Chesley agreed, saying their view is “exactly how a student would see student government from the outside.”“We have an understanding of the student body,” Chesley said. “We would be thrilled to dive in and learn SGA.”Chesley and Smith said their main goal can be summed up in two words: community and integrity.Both have studied abroad and hope to bring those lessons back to campus.“Everybody is involved in some way, and we want to encourage students to be the face of Saint Mary’s, this community, this integrity, this acceptance,” Chesley said. “We want them to be this face of Saint Mary’s whether they are here on campus or off campus and even after they graduate.”Meg Griffin and Emily SkirtichGriffin, who currently serves as student body vice president and previously held the post of sophomore class president, and Skirtich, who is currently executive secretary for SGA, said their overreaching goal for the next academic year will be to “invigorate the student body with a sense of unity and school spirit.”The pair hope to continue the work of the current SGA administration and hold more all-campus events, like the Navy Ball.The team also wants to work to connect students with the heritage of the College, improve communication with students, faculty and administration, and improve campus life overall, Griffin said.In order to help improve student’s connection with the heritage of the College, Griffin said she hopes to continue the work she did this year with Jenny Hoffman, current student body president, including planning the creation of an academic course on Saint Mary’s heritage.“Since it frequently takes more than one academic year to create a new course, we are still in the midst of the process and look forward continuing the process next year,” Griffin said.Ideas to improve communication between the student body and its government include closer ties between SGA and campus clubs.“Some of our plans are to refine the allotment process, hold club officer orientation sessions, make the SGA Web site a working tool for clubs, open a club workspace in the SGA office and release a 2010-11 Club Handbook that will serve as a reference tool and answer frequently asked questions,” Griffin said.Club changes would be part of their short-term goals for the end of this academic year. To improve campus living for students, Griffin and Skirtich say they hope to connect with Notre Dame’s student government and try to get nearby off-campus restaurants to get “campus currencies accepted,” Griffin said.Griffin said their experience makes them best suited for the job.“With our progression […], we are in a better position to serve the student body, to diagnose from afar potential mistakes and avoid them,” Griffin said. “Even with that experience, we will still make some mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, but we will have the experience to better react and address them.”
In the next year, Notre Dame will have the power to save the equivalent of 18 trees, water from 130 showers and 453 gallons of gasoline ⎯ all by switching to recycled paper. Office of Sustainability Programs Manager Erin Hafner said the change, which will begin Nov. 1 and take full effect Jan. 1, 2012, is part of an initiative several years in the making. “We asked about this change a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t feasible,” she said. “When the Office of Public Affairs and Communications changed the Notre Dame brand standards, we saw this as an opportunity to update the paper.” The change will affect University letterheads, business cards, envelopes and other paper items printed from Express Press, a South Bend printer. As a result of an agreement between the University, the printer and the paper supplier, the change will come with zero cost increase, Hafner said. “We pick and choose our initiatives based on the greatest impact,” she said. “This is a centralized change.” Javier Hernandez, a procurement specialist who worked on the project, said Express Press was an excellent partner to work with on the change. “Express Press made this transition easy,” Hernandez said. “We’re trying to be a leader with this initiative,” he said. Hernandez said the stationary will look slightly different. Although the paper will still come from the current stationary provider, Neenah Paper, the new stock will be a brighter white than the current stock. In an announcement through Procurement Services, Hafner said Neenah Paper advocates the green sentiments of its paper products through its company practices. “Neenah Paper is truly dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint,” she said in the announcement. “They generate their own hydroelectric power at their mills in Wisconsin and Germany, they are one of the largest purchasers of [independently certified] renewable energy in Wisconsin and they are putting major efforts into energy conservation. As a result, their North American mills have cut their [carbon dioxide] emissions almost in half over the last decade.” According to the announcement, six out of seven Neenah Paper company mills have achieved a company-wide goal of zero landfill waste.
Students gathered outside Holy Cross Hall at 8:30 p.m. Monday for a candlelight vigil to kick off “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” week at Saint Mary’s. The College’s Student Government Association dedicated the first day of the week, World Suicide Prevention Day, to supporting women who suffer from anxiety and depression. The day marked the second anniversary of former Saint Mary’s student Lizzy Seeberg’s death. Seeberg passed away in September 2010. Susan Larson, vice president of the class of 2014, said the walk of solidarity from Holy Cross Circle to the Grotto was held not only in memory of Seeberg. “[The walk is] to show support for our sisters and friends who suffer from anxiety or depression,” she said. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 20 percent of adults in the United States suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. Junior class president Carolyn Backes, a freshman roommate of Seeberg’s, addressed the group of 47 women who walked in support of the cause. “It is only fitting that [Seeberg’s] memory be celebrated in action and activities that help others – particularly on the issue of mental health and well being,” Backes said. Seeberg, who would have been a junior this year, struggled with anxiety and a related depression disorder, she said. “Awareness of mental illness as a very real disease, as real as heart disease and cancer is a critical step in driving out the stigma that still surrounds the topic,” Backes said. Larson devoted a prayer to Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness. Backes said she believes the march is cathartic and crucial to maintain a close community on Saint Mary’s campus. “I think it’s a tradition we need to keep up because we are such a small community. I was her roommate freshman year, so it had a big impact on me,” she said. “It made me realize early on how much of a community and family we all are. The support on campus is part of the reason I am still here today.” Sophomore Anna Nolan said the transition to college can be overwhelming. “One is granted so much independence and has to cope with a multitude of new responsibilities while simultaneously losing … the physical presence of your support system, or family,” she said. Kristen Vokt, one of the “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” week organizers said she also felt very alone her sophomore year. “Knowing that others are empathetic and aware is comforting,” she said. “This march shows that there is a willingness to acknowledge the significant number of people who struggle with mental illness and aiding them to recovery,” she said. Vokt said the march is a symbol of seeking peace and comfort. “It’s supposed to be empowering,” she said. “It’s about letting things that burden you fall aside to find courage and being supported by those that walk with you.” Contact Rebecca O’Neil at [email protected]
Friends of Notre Dame Diabetes, a campus support group for diabetics, participated in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) Walk to End Diabetes on Sunday afternoon. Junior Nancy Joyce, who organized Notre Dame’s participation for the walk, said the annual event attracts diabetics and those who support them from the South Bend area. “Each year, Type 1 diabetics and their families and friends create teams, and they raise money for Type 1 diabetes (T1) research through JDRF,” she said. “After being in touch with the local South Bend [and] Mishawaka JDRF when our group first started out last year, we decided to participate in the Walk as ‘Team Notre Dame.’” The walk is a very popular event in the area, Joyce said. “The walk is a pretty well-established event in the South Bend community and based on our experience last year, it was very well-attended,” she said. “There were lots of local sponsors who came out in support of the event.” To raise money for the event, Friends of Notre Dame Diabetes sold baked goods in LaFortune Student Center and encouraged walkers to fundraise on their own. The team hopes to attract community sponsors to partner with for next year’s walk, Joyce said. Overall, Joyce said the response on campus has been positive. “We’ve had a really positive response to the event on campus,” she said. “Our group is a small group, so publicizing the event was our biggest challenge, but when people did find out about it, they were very supportive.” JDRF helps raise awareness of T1 diabetes and fundraise for research, Joyce said. “JDRF also supports advocacy for T1 diabetics through programs such as the Children’s Congress, a leadership program that brings T1 diabetics to Washington, D.C., to speak with congressional officials about key federal funding opportunities for T1 [diabetes],” she said. Friends of Notre Dame Diabetes was founded last year by seniors Joe Williams and Gina O’Riordon, who both have TI diabetes, Joyce said. Initially, the club was started to help diabetics transition from high school to college. “As the group has grown, we’ve added more of a service element,” she said. “Several of our group members have been trained at Memorial Hospital [of South Bend], and anytime a child is diagnosed with diabetes at Memorial, the hospital calls us and we send several [Notre Dame] diabetics to talk with the child and help ease their fears about their disease.” Joyce said the students working with the program at Memorial are called “diabetes sidekicks”. “Our hope with this program is to show both newly diagnosed diabetics and their parents that though diabetes can be challenging, frustrating and scary sometimes, it is possible to live a very normal life as a T1 diabetic,” she said.
Researchers at Notre Dame discovered a new class of antibiotics to fight disease-causing bacterium such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).Dr. Mayland Chang and Dr. Shahriar Mobashery, both professors in the department of chemistry and biochemistry, spearheaded the research that led to the discovery of these new antibiotics, called oxadiazoles. Oxadiazoles are able to overcome MRSA’s antibiotic resistance, Mobashery said. Keri O’Mara | The Observer “The antibacterial oxadiazoles were discovered by in silico … search [a search using computers] for compounds that would bind to penicillin-binding protein 2a, PBP2a, of MRSA,” he said. “The physiological function of PBP2a is critical for survival of MRSA. The drug class disrupts the normal physiological process of PBP2a, hence MRSA dies.”This is first time that oxadiazoles have been described as antibiotics, Mobashery said. He said they can also be used to fight other bacteria. Bacteria that are stained in the laboratory can be classified as Gram-negative and Gram-positive, and oxadiazoles work against the Gram-positive species, Mobashery said.Chang said this discovery comes at an important time, especially because of MRSA’s resistance to other antibiotics.“MRSA can cause life-threatening infections,” she said. “Resistance to antibiotics continues at an alarming rate, thus new antibiotics are urgently needed. We have been working on understanding resistance mechanisms and ways to intervene.”Despite the new discovery, antibiotic research still needs to be expanded, according to Chang. She said many pharmaceutical companies have stopped antibiotic research because antibiotics act quickly against disease.“So the financial incentives are not there, compared to drugs that are taken for the rest of one’s life and do not cure the disease, such as cholesterol-lowering medications and diabetes drugs,” she said.Even still, both professors plan to continue their research on oxadiazoles, Chang said.“We are continuing research to understand how the oxadiazoles work and if resistance develops to the oxadiazoles,” she said. “We are also working in new classes of antibiotics.”While the research process can be slow, the rewards are great, Mobashery said. He said he has studied antibiotics and MRSA for 25 years and these discoveries hold a lot of promise.“These discoveries will be built on for the future direction of research for both understanding of the resistance mechanisms and for discovery of new antibiotics,” he said.Chang credited the University as an important supporter of her research.“Notre Dame provides the infrastructure to do research. We have wonderful animal facilities that make this research possible all the way from the computer to animal models of infection,” Chang said.Tags: Antibiotics, MRSA, research, Stapylococcus aureus
The Saint Mary’s College Department of Global Studies enlightened students on the cultural phenomenon of “K-Pop” at a lecture by John Lie, the C.K. Cho Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, Thursday evening in Carroll Auditorium.Lie’s lecture titled, “What is the K in K-Pop?” explored the identity and origins of K-Pop or Korean pop music and J-Pop, the Japanese equivalent, and how both have gained momentum internationally.The genre is characterized by a Western sound, synchronized dance moves, and a repetitive melody, Lie said. While the genre gradually gained international popularity for about 10 years, the crossover year in the United States was 2012 when artist Psy released his single, “Gangnam Style,” Lie said.Lie began his discussion with the concept behind the Japanese idol girl group AKB48, founded as a meet-and-greet musical performance on a regular basis, Lie said. Groups like AKB48 have crossed over to include sister groups in Japan, China and Indonesia, Lie said.K-Pop artists commonly use universal and generic themes in their lyrics such as, “I need you,” or, “I love you” to appeal to global audiences, Lie said. English might be used in small portions for the same reason, though the rest of the song is sung in Japanese or Korean, Lie said.“They release a Japanese version, a Chinese version, and an English version,” Lie said. “As far as I can make out, none of the AKB48 members speak another language fluently.”Lie said these differences in music stems from the differences between nations.“Any two countries are quite complex,” he said. “People are quite different in their cultures. People have different tastes in art, in food. And what is popular for teenagers is not necessarily popular for their parents.”Lie introduced and explained the relatively new concept of popular music in popular culture, which was born from the folk and classical music of the late 19th century, he said.“Traditionally there [was] what we would call folk music,” Lie said. “There was always kinds of classical music, but beginning in the late 19th century, there arose a new genre called popular music which wasn’t something people could just sing. They would buy it, hear it on the radio.”Popular music became widely sung across Japan and Korea because of its western style, Lie said.“In South Korea, popular music meant singing choral music and church songs,” Lie said. “In the case of Korea, these songs became some of the first popular music.”Whether or not such a genre is considered an art form, Lie said he views the popular music as profit-driven.“Culturally speaking, the reason is it is not made for the sake of art,” Lie said. “You don’t make it for the pure beauty of it, but rather for the money, and that’s what defines popular music in a way.”In the cases of idol groups like AKB48, the first Japanese idol groups rose in the 1970s, and in South Korea in the 1980s when they had the means to enjoy popular music, Lie said.“What’s interesting about idols is they are produced and consumed as transient goods, meaning they do not last forever,” Lie said. “This rapid turnover in stars is very obvious, but it’s also partially designed by the industry to keep people interested. One aspect of the idol concept is constant change. These idols were sacred.”Nowadays, people tend to find music videos to be artificial, Lie said. The remedy is to make a more relatable series of idols less threatening in appearance and features.“Related to shows like the ‘X-Factor’ and ‘American Idol,’ AKB48 tries to bring fans into the voting process,” Lie said. “Of course it’s not really a democracy in the case of AKB48, because you have to buy CD’s. If you just watch the music video of AKB48, it’s hard to see why they’re popular because they’re [not that good]. People find them less threatening.”Lie believes artists create art for the sake of expressing something deeper within themselves, he said.“You are constantly expressing artistic autonomy,” he said. “In the case of these Japanese or South Korean pop groups, this is not the case. Someone thought of the group. He did this not to say something about himself, music is widely different. This is the sort of music that he was promoting beforehand. The humor or the interest was in that.”Tags: AKB48, Department of Global Studies, J-pop, John Lie, K-pop
Tags: Death, LaFortune, LaFortune Student Center, obituary, Student Affairs Connie Morris, a member of the Student Activities Facilities custodial staff, died Nov. 28 in a house fire at the age of 58. An email sent Monday to Student Affairs staff notified them of the incident.The fire started in the garage of Morris’ Elkhart home early Friday, according to the South Bend Tribune. Investigation into the cause is ongoing, but “early findings point to the fire being accidental in nature,” the Tribune report stated.Morris had worked for Notre Dame since 2008, the email said.“Her dedicated and cheerful presence will be missed by students, staff, faculty and guests of LaFortune,” Erin Hoffmann-Harding, vice president for student affairs, said in the email to her staff.A celebration of life service will take place Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. at Walley-Mills-Zimmerman Funeral Home.
Corey Robinson and Becca Blais, who take office as student body president and vice president today, plan to hit the ground running in their mission to lead, connect and serve Notre Dame students.“We want to give the students all we’ve got,” Robinson said. “We’re going to be fighting for [the student body’s] best interests — with the administration, with polices, with ideas, programming, events, relationships with the community.”Starting next week, the administration will launch a student senate reform initiative, Blais said, implementing a new structure that separates senators into four committees — health and wellness, sustainability, student affairs and community engagement. At each meeting, which will now be held Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune Student Center, senators will spend a portion of the time in their committees discussing items on the agenda.“Each senator would share the perspective not only of their committee, but of the departments they sit on, their residence halls, the constituents they represent,” she said. “The small group discussion in the committee is not only to bring that committee’s perspective, but also give them a chance to vocalize where they’re coming from.”Olivia Mikkelsen | The Observer After committee discussions, Blais said all members of the senate will assemble to decide what action to take moving forward.“Every committee will approach it in a different way, so it will be nice to spur dialogue and attack the same subject from different viewpoints,” Robinson said.Three days after the pair was elected in February, they met with St. Liam’s to discuss their plan to train Notre Dame nurses as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), Robinson said. Junior Gracie Watkins, the administration’s policy liaison, is working on a research report to present to St. Liam’s before the end of the school year.“We’ve got to show that there’s similar and successful satellite programs,” Robinson said. “… We’re going to give them the report. Then hopefully over the summer, we’ll co-present it to St. Joseph Hospital, so that we’re ready for the fall.”To further the administration’s community engagement goal, student government is also working to increase student involvement in the Riverlights Music Festival, a three-day event in South Bend in May, Robinson said. The festival features a variety of local bands and other performers at various venues throughout the South Bend area.“Hopefully we can make this not only a Notre Dame staple, but a South Bend music festival that is permanent,” he said. “It’s a really cool event for both college students and the people of South Bend.”Blais said their administration will continue to work on some of the same issues the Ricketts-Ruelas administration focused on, in small-scale and large-scale ways.“They have a lot of similar ideas as us — diversity and inclusion, sexual assault — generally working towards those goals of making it better. Honestly, that’s not something that ends with one administration. Those are things that we’re carrying on,” she said.Robinson will be on campus over the summer, working on events and policies for the upcoming school year. He said he and Blais both have an open door policy and welcome students to share their ideas with student government.“Right now what we have to do, in my opinion, is be able to foster communication on these important issues,” he said. “We can’t keep going around them, beating around the bush.“Talking is great, but the most important thing we want to do is have a result — an attainable result. But we realize we can’t get that tangible result in policy, unless we have discussion about it, unless we know what the students think.”Blais said she hopes to increase awareness about resources the University offers, such as the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being (McWell Center).“We have all of these structures and resources in place,” she said “Now it’s just about making them accessible to students, making it a part of the everyday talk, everyday lingo, so you know that you have them and that you actually utilize them.”Robinson said he is trying to pursue goals that are realistic yet ambitious.“For us, this is not necessarily doing anything different or reinventing the wheel. It’s just continuing the great legacy already left,” he said. “Diversity and inclusion, sexual assault, health and wellness — these things don’t just disappear. We’re trying to push it forward a little more, before we pass the torch on to the next administration.”Tags: Becca Blais, Corey Robinson, Senate, Student government, student government turnover
Saint Mary’s annual Junior Mom’s weekend attracted 540 moms, aunts and sisters this year, according to junior class president Maggie Carswell.Carswell said this weekend attracted the most for any parent weekend at the College including First-year Parent’s Weekend, Sophomore Parent’s Weekend and Senior Dad’s Weekend.The weekend kicked off on Friday with a wine and cheese reception. The board also invited vendors including Adesign & Sons, Inspire Me! and Saint Margaret’s House to sell items like jewelry and scarves.Saturday began with yoga in the morning followed by yogurt and granola bars. Saturday afternoon events included cupcake decorating, Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto and culminated with dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn with President Carol Ann Mooney.“I’m excited for the dinner with President Mooney,” Carswell said. “It will be really nice for everyone to spend time with her [since] a lot of the moms are alumnae.”Junior class vice president Aly Parrett said the weekend provides Saint Mary’s women an opportunity to bond with their moms and friends.“I hope they get to cherish these moments,” Parrett said. “When you’re in college you don’t get to spend a lot of time with family. I hope [the juniors] are able to spend time and make memories.”Junior Johna Mitchem said she thought the weekend was well planned.“I loved having all the mom’s around,” Mitchem said. “I thought I was a nice balance of doing things and having time with our moms on our own.”Mitchem said the dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn was her favorite part of the weekend.“Just being able to hang out with my friends and my friends’ moms meant so much to me to have my mom here this weekend,” she said. Mitchem said it was nice to share her weekend activities with her mom.“I really enjoyed showing my mom my favorite parts of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame.”Carswell said planning the weekend was a difficult, but rewarding experience. She and Parrett credited the other class boards for helping to make the weekend run smoothly by serving as volunteers.“It’s not easy planning this, it’s hard,” she said. “We try to make a weekend that everyone will enjoy. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”News Writer Stephanie Snyder contributed to this report.Tags: Junior Class Board, Junior Moms Weekend
A sexual assault was reported to the University’s deputy Title IX coordinator, according to Wednesday’s Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) crime log.The alleged rape occurred in a North Quad men’s dorm early Sunday morning, according to an email from NDSP sent to students Tuesday evening.Information about sexual assault prevention and resources for survivors of sexual assault are available online from NDSP and from the Committee for Sexual Assault Prevention (CSAP).Updated Wednesday at 11:36 a.m.Tags: committee on sexual assault prevention, NDSP, sexual assalt