BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Coronavirus cases have dropped at U.S. nursing homes and other long-term care facilities over the past few weeks. The dip offers a glimmer of hope that health officials attribute to the start of vaccinations, an easing of the post-holiday surge and better prevention, among other reasons. Statistics show that more than 153,000 residents of the country’s nursing homes and assisted living centers have died of COVID-19, accounting for 36% of the U.S. pandemic death toll. Although experts say the vaccination rollout may be contributing to the drop in cases, other factors are likely playing a larger role. And they caution that threats are still looming, including new strains of the virus.
The 21 Notre Dame alumni currently serving in the Peace Corps have earned the University a place among the top middle-sized schools involved with the organization for the 10th consecutive year, according to the “Peace Corps Top Colleges 2010” list posted on the Corps’ Web site.“We have a huge international focus here on campus,” said Anita Rees, associate director at the Career Center. “We try to tie that in with making the world a better place.”Rees also mentioned that a résumé that includes the Peace Corps will aid students applying for government positions as well as certain graduate schools.Many of the students who inquire about the Peace Corps have studied abroad, enjoyed the international perspective and “become impassioned about a sort of social issue or a vocation to make a difference there,” she said.“I think that the leadership experiences that students can take on here at Notre Dame and the breadth of classes offered on international concepts make them ready to build networks with people who are different than them,” Rees said.A Peace Corps recruiter at the Career Fair in the fall sparked senior Elizabeth Pinto’s interest in the program. She said the agency was “an excellent fit” for the volunteer work she was hoping to find after she graduates in the spring.“One of the most important things I think I have learned while at Notre Dame has been that we, as students, are given the privilege of an outstanding education and tremendous opportunities for growth, but it is not simply for us,” Pinto said.Pinto said she hopes to apply her degree in Arabic to a location in the Middle East or North Africa.“We must take that education and all of our experiences over these four years and use them to make the world a better place in some way or form,” she said.Notre Dame’s history with the Peace Corps began when the agency was founded in 1961 and trained some of its first volunteers on the University’s campus. Since then, over 800 Notre Dame alumni have joined the Corps as volunteers, surpassing any other Catholic college, a University press release said.“The ethos of social justice within the Catholic tradition is one thing that sets that up very well,” Rees said.Second-year graduate student Mirjam Wit said that the her two years in Panama as a Peace Corps volunteer were the reason behind her decision to come to Notre Dame for her Masters in Business Administration.An undergraduate degree from Boston College and a plan to become a lobbyist for United States-Latin American relations brought Wit to the Peace Corps, but her plans changed when the lack of jobs and funding in Panama led her to pursue a graduate degree in business.“My ultimate goal in all of this was to create opportunities for people in underdeveloped regions,” she said.When undergraduate students approach career counselors about the Peace Corps, Rees said they should question whether or not they are cut out for the unique volunteer experience offered by the agency.“Students who are now considering going into the Peace Corps have some tremendous examples in alumni who have gone before them,” Rees said. “We can find these alumni to speak with our students on a one-to-one level about the experience.”
“Even thought a lot of companies are coming out with more and more ‘better-for-you’ products, they aren’t necessarily the best choice for you,” she said. “People don’t realize that the goals of business and the goals of public health are so different.” According to Nestle, rates of obesity have risen dramatically in the past 30 years. Nestle said she believes a national food revolution has been set in motion to counteract these trends. “We live in a country where we have a great deal of food and people are confused about what to eat,” she said. “There is definitely a gorge-yourself environment with too much food, too many choices and too much eating.” There is strong evidence that people are eating more, and there hasn’t been a big decline in physical activity, Nestle said. She said government programs, such as Michelle Obama’s push to end childhood obesity, make an integral contribution to the food revolution. “Farmers were once paid not to grow food, and now they’re being paid to grow as much food as they can,” she said. “The number of women going back into the workforce and the way Wall Street now evaluates corporations are also a big reasons for why people are eating more.” Nestle said this type of a food environment has arisen for a variety of reasons. “This trend isn’t just a matter of personal choice, but also a part of the food environment in which we live,” she said. People not only tend to eat more food, but more of the wrong kinds of food, Nestle said. “The food revolution isn’t a social movement in the classic way,” she said. “It is very grassroots and is fragment along so many different issues, such as the organics movement or the school food movement.” Leadership on food issues in the White House has set a national standard for the food revolution, an expert said Tuesday evening. Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University, delivered a lecture titled, “Sustainability: The Key to Today’s Food Revolution,” as a part of Notre Dame’s “Food for Thought” film and lecture series in the Hesburgh Center auditorium Tuesday. “I really think that there is a food revolution going on in this country,” Nestle said. “We certainly have a new era in personal and social responsibility for sustainable food choices and one that I hope will continue to grow,” Nestle said.
Chesley and Smith have optimism for SGA’s role in the current school year. “I know how aggravating of a situation it is, but I hope that people come [to the forum] in the most mature, respectful manner possible,” Chesley said. We are hoping that students will come; we know they are angry and upset.” New bylaws were established with the creation of the new committee. If students believe they deserve more than the committee has allotted, there is an appeals process in which the clubs can appeal to the SGA board at the weekly SGA meetings. “We want SGA to become known for sponsoring clubs, but also really being an advocate for the student body on issues such as [the co-exchange meal program],” Smith said. Currently, SGA is doing its part with the co-ex issue. The co-exchange program, which used to give 75 meal tickets daily on a first-come, first-serve basis to Saint Mary’s students to dine on Notre Dame’s campus, changed at the beginning of the school year, placing more restrictions on who could get the passes. “We kind of realized that [the old system] was wasting time, because the big board wasn’t able to really focus on the needs of the student body,” Smith said. “They were just handing out money every week.” The finance committee will consist of the executive president, vice president, treasurer and secretary, the chief of staff and the campus clubs commissioner. The committee meets once a week. SGA is focusing on communication between clubs. There will be a club social event where club presidents and vice presidents will be able to interact. This way they will be able to have a basis to collaborate on events and meetings, Smith said. “We are having a blast so far,” Chesley said. “It’s been challenging, but fun. We are excited to see what we can accomplish this year.” Smith agreed and said students should present their thoughts in a collective manner so they can be heard. One new addition to SGA is the international commissioner, who will act as a liaison between SGA and the international and transfer students. In regard to the communication between student government and clubs, Chesley and Smith have developed a finance committee, a new sub-committee of the SGA board. Chesley and Smith said they hope this will allow the big board to focus on other pressing issues of the student body. “Overall, we have on established goal: to take action,” Chesley said. “I think one of the biggest things is that SGA is kind of the umbrella organization for clubs on campus,” Smith said. “Our big point is to really communicate effectively with them so that they know they can come to us, or if they have any questions or need resources, we have commissioners to represent the students of the college.” “We have met twice with Karen Johnson [vice president of Student Affairs] since we found out about the situation the Saturday before classes began,” Chesley said. “We have also contacted Notre Dame Food Services but are waiting to hear back from them to set up a meeting to further discuss the issue.” Chesley and Smith said they believe all of their initiatives this early in the semester will provide a foundation for this year. There will be an open forum Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. where Johnson and Barry Bowles, director of dining services. will be able to address students’ questions. The co-ex situation was not the smoothest of starts, but it has provided an opportunity for SGA to demonstrate their support for the student body, she said. “The sky is the limit” is the new motto for this year’s Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA). President Rachael Chesley and vice president Laura Smith, both seniors, said their main goals for this year are to establish transparent and effective communication between student clubs and SGA and to be a strong advocate for the students. “We are trying to make everything really fluid and fair,” Chesley said. In the past, clubs presented their cases to the big board at the weekly meetings for funding from SGA, but the finance committee will now review these cases. Meg Griffin, the treasurer of the committee, will be hosting a financial seminar for the first time where all of the clubs treasurers and one other executive member are required to attend. They will go over how to fill out allotment fund forms, requirements for asking for funds and fundraising ideas. “Once we get the clubs their budgets for the year, and the financial board going, we can really hit the ground running,” Chesley said.
As an online forum for students, by students, The Hub works to spark dialogue about academic life at Notre Dame through a digital medium. As The Hub nears its first anniversary, seniors and Co-Editors-in-Chief Kirsten Adam and Paul Baranay said the website successfully established creative conversation at the University during the past year. “We wanted it to be a forum for academic dialogue, but we wanted to redefine the definition of academic,” Baranay said. “To us, your academic life isn’t just what you do in the classroom.” Adam said any student with a Notre Dame ID could post on the website, found at thehub.nd.edu, about research, study abroad experiences, service, written work or any idea that gets them ticking. “It’s peer discussion, studies with professors, or even just issues people want to talk about,” Adam said. When the two began planning the website in spring of 2010, their first objective was rallying a staff around the project. After they assembled a team of nine students, The Hub editors worked on realizing content in a web interface. “The biggest hurdle was the technical one — coding and developing the site,” Baranay said. Baranay said once the team overcame this first challenge, they pitched the idea of The Hub to different academic offices on campus. The website received sponsorships from nine different offices, he said. Once autumn arrived, The Hub made its debut. Since its launch, The Hub has gained a following of at least 450 visitors per week. The editors-in-chief said the website grew in popularity mainly through word of mouth, though they recently launched the “Poster Wall” campaign. “Charles Xu, an editor, put it together and it’s been the most popular lately,” Baranay said. “It shows posters for everything from lectures to dorm or club events.” The Hub also created a spotlight for smaller publications on campus, as well as study abroad and service experiences, Adam said. “I think one of the great things about making it so anyone can write articles is that you hear about study abroad and service,” she said. “People can get a feel for how they would really fit into it.” One recent top pick — both by editors and visitors — was a series of articles about an internship at the Salvation Army. In “Interning with the Salvation Army: the Food Pantry,” Christian Moore, an editor on staff for The Hub, documented his work at the internship. Adam said Moore’s article highlighted the goals of The Hub — to share experiences, open discussion and inspire others. “There’s so many people at Notre Dame doing interesting things,” she said. “But you don’t learn about those things unless you know them.” Baranay said The Hub planned to bring the dialogue to the students through events next semester. “One thing we have planned for the spring is a symposium called ‘Notre Dame Thinks Big,’” he said. “In it 10 professors and people of the community will give talks on things students can get involved with.” Until spring, however, The Hub editors-in-chief said they would focus on continuing to improve the website. Adam said while many people visit the website and read its articles, she would love to see more students contribute content. Submissions of student research, experiences abroad or in service, poetry, short stories and even informal blogs were welcome, Adam said. “You just need a Notre Dame ID to contribute in a post,” she said. “We’re always looking for people with more ideas.” A one-year birthday party for The Hub will be held in the CUSE Think Tank, found at 233 Geddes Hall, Wednesday, Oct. 26 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The gathering will include food and casual conversation, Baranay said.
On Wednesday night, diners at North Dining Hall were treated to a special surprise when they swiped in around 6:30 p.m. — a piece of live performance poetry. As a way to promote the Silent Disco event at Legends this Saturday, senior Britt Burgeson, who is on the marketing team for the nightclub, decided to coordinate her own version of the Mp3 Experiment. “The Mp3 [Experiment] is a flash mob of sorts,” she said. “It’s a 21st century happening.” The Mp3 Experiment is the brainchild of Improv Everywhere, a New York City-based prank group. Staged yearly in New York City, the group also tours college campuses and international festivals. According to Improv Everywhere’s website, improveverywhere.com, the group puts an original Mp3 file online that people download and transfer to their mobile devices. Participants will head out to the same public location and at the same time, everyone presses play. Participants carry out coordinated instructions that are delivered to their headphones, confusing outsiders. Burgeson decided to bring the Mp3 Experiment to campus after experiencing one of the events this summer in New York City. “I was involved in one event this summer at Battery Park,” she said. “You follow the instructions from a track downloaded on your phone — they are varied and ridiculous,” she said. She said the MP3@ND event came into being during a Legends marketing meeting. “I was in charge of promoting the Feb. 23 to 25 events, one of which is a silent disco,” she said. “I was unfamiliar with the term — this is Legends’ first time hosting this nightclub. I wanted to make sure people knew what the ‘Silent Disco’ would look like.” Burgeson said participants downloaded an almost seven minute Mp3 file to their phones, iPods and other mobile devices. Students then showed up at North on Wednesday night and followed the instructions on the track. Sophomore Nicole Brooks said she enjoyed participating in the event. “This was a really fun idea to go and bring attention to what’s going on with Silent Disco,” she said. “Plus, it is fun to do something insane.” Brooks said she expects this weekend’s Silent Disco to be a unique experience because when people enter Legends, no music will actually be playing. Instead, people will pick one of two tracks to listen to with their headphones. Burgeson said it was fun to watch students’ reactions to MP3@ND. “It was interesting, and I enjoyed watching people who had no idea what was going on,” she said. She said members of NDTV filmed the event and will create a YouTube video to be posted on the Legends YouTube channel. While Burgeson enjoyed herself and said the event went smoothly, she said she is not sure if she would coordinate a similar event again. “This is the beauty of performance art — it happens once, and if you miss it, you miss it,” she said. “I just hope people can enjoy watching it again on the video.”
Unity, technology and empowerment are three of the central goals of Saint Mary’s juniors Maureen Parsons and Meghan Casey, who will be running for student body president and vice president, respectively, in today’s election. The ticket’s platform features four goals: to work with administration to launch 85 new technology initiatives, unify campus, empower each other as women and encourage more community service, Parsons and Casey said. “We wanted to focus on things that we really thought we really could accomplish, ” Parsons said. In order to make their goals feasible, Parsons and Casey said they have already started working with faculty to develop the 85 technology initiatives they hope to start this summer. “[Saint Mary’s] hired an IT company last semester to evaluate the technology situation on campus, and [the company] came up with a plan,” Parsons said. “Throughout the year … they’ve come up with 85 initiatives that will be launched to the student body before the end of the year. It’s a three-year plan, so next year, we really want to focus on keeping communication between the administration and the students on these initiatives [flowing] as they are implemented. That way, students are aware of the changes, and they see things happening and can appreciate them.” Parsons said these 85 initiatives feature a variety of improvements and additions, such as updating current software and establishing a student IT intern position. Regardless of the outcome of the election, Parsons said she will actively assist with the implementation of these initiatives next year. “The 85 initiatives will be completed,” she said. “It’s just a matter of when considering money, having a person who will be able to do it and having a person who will be able to take over the initiative once it is implemented.” Additionally, the ticket aims to empower women through a series of leadership talks by current students and alumnae. Parsons and Casey developed this idea based on the current SGA leadership series. “We want to carry [the leadership series] into next year because we thought it was a great idea, and they have been really successful focusing more on empowering women — for example, how women are represented in the media and how you can change that for your personal image or how women in the workforce are presented and treated and how you can get past certain barriers,” Parsons said. “[We also hope to] bring in alumnae to share their success stories to encourage each other as a student body and as women to be there for each other as a support system.” The team also hopes to unify campus clubs and organizations by creating a master calendar that will broadcast daily meetings and events. “We want to try to find the best and most efficient way for clubs, and boards, and organizations throughout campus to integrate their events and meetings so people are aware of where they’re meeting, what time they’re meeting, and try to integrate more clubs working together,” Casey said. The calendar would create an hourly newsfeed to update students. This project would help reduce the number of emails that bombard students daily, Parsons said. “Hopefully, fingers crossed, that would eliminate the amount of emails that we get each day so that students really are paying attention to important emails that we receive, and to centralize information to make their lives a little easier,” she said. Finally, the team plans to encourage students to give back to the community by bringing service opportunities to campus. “As a student myself, I’ve had difficulty doing volunteer opportunities off campus … so we thought it would be really cool to bring different organizations here to give the opportunity to other students who may not have transportation,” Casey said. Volunteer activities could include anything from babysitting to joining an on-campus club with a non-profit organization, Parsons said. “For example, we could work with the Autism Speaks club and bring in representatives from the Logan Center or Hannah and Friends, or maybe there is a service project we can do here that we can deliver to an outside organization,” Parsons said. Above all, Parsons and Casey said their top priority is unifying campus. “I think that unifying campus would encompass all [our other goals] — working together and supporting each other and opening that line of communication so everyone knows what’s going on,” Parsons said. “And supporting each other on campus is one way to empower and encourage each other.”,When the polls close on today’s student government elections this evening, juniors Taylor Hans and Betsy Hudson hope to be the new faces of the Saint Mary’s student body. Hans, the current vice president of the class of 2013, and Hudson, a community committee member, are running for student body president and vice president, respectively. Their campaign is based on a platform of “bringing back tradition but making our own history,” Hans said. If elected, Hans and Hudson plan to bring back dorm dances and the “Big Sister” mentor program, in which upperclassmen help first years and sophomores become more acclimated to the Saint Mary’s community. The mentor program would follow the example of an existing niche mentoring program within the College’s nursing program, Hudson said. “Actually, the nursing program has developed a type of mentoring program this year and it has been working really well,” Hudson said. “I really think that it is something that would be great to build for our campus.” Hans said the recent events of “Love Your Body Week” inspired her and Hudson to include the promotion of body image awareness in their platform. “We would like to work with Women’s Health on body issues around campus,” Hudson said. “They have a ton of resources that just are not really known. Also, hearing another Saint Mary’s student talk about these issues would give other girls confidence and let them know they can open up about body issues and talk about it.” Hans and Hudson said they want to promote school spirit by increasing student attendance at Saint Mary’s athletic events through the distribution of free giveaways to fans. “Incentives for attending sporting, whether it be giving out sunglasses or t-shirts, would be the way we would have more student attendance at sporting events,” Hudson said. “I feel like those giveaways are a big push for people to come out and support their peers.” “Posting flyers and hanging posters around campus about the events for that week and incorporating the cheerleaders to make banners for the team would draw awareness to the athletes,” Hans said. “This will bring more unity to our campus, [which is] something we really want to get across to the student body.” The ticket also values the voice of the student body, Hans said. “We also thought of having a type of hall meeting where students can come once a month and voice what they want to see on campus,” Hans said. “We think it’s really important that the students get involved and let us know what we are and are not doing.” Hans and Hudson said they want to promote a greater sense of sisterhood and community among College students by helping girls foster relationships with their peers during their first year at Saint Mary’s. “Incorporating a day every semester during syllabus week where people get together and not just introduce themselves, but really talk together, would bring a greater sense of sisterhood to our campus,” Hudson said. Hudson said she and Hans hope to create a master calendar in which students can find out about upcoming campus events. Since the Senate has recently been restructured, the student body must become familiar with the new duties and responsibilities of the organization. Hans said she hopes to express the role of the new Senate to the College community and promote student involvement. “Next year when we get back, we will really need to have information sessions on what the Senate entails,” Hans said. “The student body needs to know what the Senate can do for them since they are unsure of what the Senate actually does. It will be a great change for the whole student body, so we want everyone to know how they can get involved.” Hans said her affinity for her school drives her ambition to improve the College through student government. “I love Saint Mary’s and I really want to make the necessary changes to our community,” Hans said. “I just hope that we are elected so that we have that opportunity to make the changes we need.”
Over Spring Break, 10 Notre Dame graduate students enrolled in a classics seminar taught by Professor Martin Bloomer gained hands-on experience with ancient texts and manuscripts at the Ambrosian Library in Milan, Italy. The class, composed of students from the classics, literature and history departments as well as the Medieval Institute, joined students from Loyola University Chicago and the University of Wisconsin to tour the world-renowned library and examine the texts. Bloomer said the seminar examines how ancient texts are transmitted. “When we study classical texts in introductory classes, we study them as if they had been printed once by someone in, say, the 4th century,” Bloomer said. “The fact is, however, that we are actually reading copies of copies of copies of the original texts.” By focusing on the editorial process, Bloomer said scholars can gain insight into interpreting the manuscripts. “Any editor of these texts is making decisions about what to include, which is shown in the text’s physical properties, like commentary notes in the margin,” he said. “In my seminar, we were looking at all these processes by which a text is reprocessed and interpreted.” The students spent most of the week-long trip researching how to interpret the texts using their physical properties, Bloomer said. He said students usually spent half the day in the library, while they spent the other half touring museums and historical sights in Milan. “We went to an art gallery which housed fantastic works of art, including Da Vinci’s notebooks, as well as the old Christian churches founded by St. Ambrose, the place where Ambrose baptized St. Augustine, and Augustine’s nearby birthplace,” Bloomer said. “The library curators, known as the Doctors of the Ambrosiana, took us on wonderful tours.” Literature graduate student Bobby McFadden, a member of Bloomer’s seminar, said the trip made him appreciate the importance of examining ancient texts in person. He said it also provided an opportunity to explore the resources of a prominent European library. “The trip wasn’t just about our own study of how these texts are received and the questions we could ask of them, but also on a larger scale, seeing what kinds of texts are preserved in European library and the necessity of going over there and researching them ourselves,” McFadden said. McFadden said his research concerns the relationship between classical literature and the Catholic Church fathers. “I’m interested in the reception of classical literature by the Church fathers, particularly Ambrose and Augustine,” he said. “This particular class provided a great opportunity to focus on texts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods in a Christian context.” Bloomer said decades ago, a relationship between Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, University president emeritus, and Ambrosia’s Giovanni Battista Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI, resulted in the University’s acquisition of digital copies of many ancient texts. As a result, Bloomer said his students were familiar with the texts before examining them in person. “A microfilm photograph preserves certain aspects, but as historians, we want to examine the actual article and read signs of use into it, the kind of thing you can know only by holding it in your hands,” Bloomer said. Bloomer said the trip to Milan marked the culmination of the class and allowed the students to apply the work they did during the semester in an exciting setting. “Milan is a great city, and part of my idea was to demystify the whole process of using ancient and medieval materials,” Bloomer said. “By going to a major collection such as Ambrosia, I wanted to provide students with the know-how and practical experience, and then give them context by meeting many of the fine scholars and curators at the Ambrosiana.” McFadden agreed the research opportunities available at the Ambrosian Library were unparalleled. “Exploring the collections of the library, and particularly the tour of Milan that the Ambrosiana hosts gave us, was especially beneficial for me because of my research with saints Augustine and Ambrose,” he said. “Seeing the city that Ambrose helped to build brought me to a new understanding of what he was trying to do there during his time as bishop, so I really appreciated the graciousness and help of our professor and guides.”
Many students take years to pay off their loans after earning degrees, but Notre Dame offers families a way to preemptively finance their children’s higher education by pre-paying future tuition bills through the Private College 529 Plan. Notre Dame is one of 271 institutions that participate in the plan, which sets up a risk-free method for families to anticipate college costs and finance tuition payments, according to executive director of student financial strategies Thomas Bear. Families can purchase tuition certificates at current prices that are redeemable at any of the participating institutions after three years. “This plan is great for a family because you assume no risk. Once you lock into that price and pay tuition for future years, it’s guaranteed,” Bear said. “As a family who is going to invest, when you buy tuition [through the plan] you’re buying it at all 271 schools.” Bear said OppenheimerFunds, Inc., manages money put into the plan and the anticipation is that Oppenheimer’s investments will make up the dollar difference in tuition between the time of the original payment and the point where the family is ready to redeem their tuition certificates. “If they don’t make up the difference [with the investments], here’s where it’s really good for families: The institution assumes the risk, so we, the University of Notre Dame, would pay that difference,” Bear said. To illustrate this point, Bear said if a family bought tuition at $10,000 and the school increased it to $15,000 over time while the investments only grew to $11,000, the University would assume the $4,000 difference. “Hopefully, as Notre Dame, we want to see that investment grow to $15,000 as well so it’s a win-win-win for everybody,” Bear said. “There are years when we’ve had growth and we’ve come out even, but there are some years where we had to absorb that risk.” Bear said Notre Dame participates in the plan despite the financial risks to encourage families to be proactive in their efforts to pay for college. “Saving for college gives you a resource as a family so when your son or daughter is accepted, you already have options available for that child,” Bear said. “It’s not just where your child is admitted but also where you can afford to send him or her. “We’d rather see you save preemptively, upfront, instead of trying to manage loans on the back end,” he said. Notre Dame was one of the original schools that signed on to the plan when it began in 2006, and it has more redemptions to date than any other institution, Bear said. This means more families use their prepaid tuition certificates at Notre Dame than at any other institution included in the plan. “Among the private colleges [in the plan], we’ve had about 99 students who have turned in their certificates,” Bear said. “Over these seven years [since 2006], that’s about 14 or 15 families per year who have taken advantage of this benefit.” Bear attributes this success partially to the financial aid office’s work to publicize the opportunity to alumni and other affiliated families, but also to the strong sense of community around Notre Dame. “There’s that affinity to Notre Dame from generation to generation in many families, and within that context there’s the sense that this is a great plan, so let’s go ahead and invest in it so our sons and daughters can also have that opportunity,” Bear said. The real value of the plan comes from the fact that the investment is completely guaranteed, Bear said. “If our tuition goes up two, three, four, five percent every year, and you have a guaranteed investment like this, you can look at that and say ‘Well, my investment is going up two, three, four, five percent every year,’” he said. “There’s no other guarantee like that out there, so it’s a very safe investment.” Bear said the guarantee makes this investment a wise move for any family in a position to prepay tuition in this way. “Tuition here is about $42,000 a year, and most families don’t have that to just shell out,” Bear said. “What you can do here is put down say, $5,000 this year, so you would be buying 12 percent of tuition, redeemable in the future. “Even if you’re just putting in $200 now, maybe you’re giving up that brand new color TV, but it’s better to do that than to pay the loans off in the future,” he said.
Department of Community EngagementThis department has been working to highlight South Bend’s attractions for students, publicizing local events, deals and restaurants on social media and through posters, and adding find.nd.edu — a resource to find such attractions — onto the ND Mobile App. The department is also seeking to increase participation in local internships, meeting with local organizations and companies regarding student opportunities over school breaks and prompting several organizations to add new positions. The department is planning a panel on local business and a networking event in the Duncan Student Center for next semester. The department’s main national engagement effort is a podcast on relevant political issues, which the it is currently working on making a more regular series.Grade: B+ Department of Academic AffairsOne of sophomore department director John Henry Hobgood’s main goals this semester was to continue to improve Majors Night. Partnering with the First Year of Studies, the department changed the date of the event from January to November, allowing students to explore majors and minors before registration for the spring semester so they could take classes in those disciplines. The department is working on several other initiatives, including publicizing the availability of online courses that fulfill most University requirements over the summer; requiring mental health resources on course syllabi, for which they have submitted a resolution to the faculty senate; and increasing transparency regarding acceptance rates, average GPAs and costs of study abroad programs. Finally, the department is relaunching its Last Lecture series, an event where a faculty member gives a lecture as if it were his or her last.Grade: ATags: 2017 Student Government Insider, campus technology, Department of Academic Affairs, Department of Communications, Department of Community Engagement, Department of Diversity and Inclusion, Department of Health and Wellness, department of social concerns, Department of Student Life, Department reviews, Director of Gender Relations, First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership, Student government Department of Campus TechnologyUnder the leadership of junior Sean McMahon, the Campus Technology department has transformed from an isolated sector of student government to an integrated component of all of its departments. The department collected data from 2,000 undergrads about their opinions surrounding technology on campus for campus groups to utilize in their decision-making processes. Campus Technology has also regularly attended and presented at various administrative panels to inform University decision-making, including the University Committee on Academic Technologies, Learning Management Guidance Council, ND Mobile Advisory Committee and the Irish1Card Development Team. McMahon also prompted NDSP to update their online Crime Log to become more user-friendly.Grade: A- Department of Student LifeDespite being a new department this year, the Department of Student Life has worked in a wide variety of areas including campus dining, student transport and programming. This fall, Student Life worked with several other departments to lead “Flick on the Field,” where juniors and department co-directors Caitlin Murphy and Tim O’Connell served as emcees. Student Life also received dining hall feedback from students, and the department is planning to relaunch a grab ‘n go system in North Dining Hall. Other dining hall improvements include working with campus dining marketing to make dining hall menus more accessible on social media. The most important upcoming event for the department will be the TEDxUND series this spring, during which 16 speakers will present.Grade: A Department of Health and Wellness Junior health and wellness commissioner Jade Martinez has been working to restructure the department to work more efficiently. This strategic change has resulted in the addition of commissioner positions, including two mental health commissioners, one physical health commissioner, one McWell commissioner and one sexual health commissioner. The addition of these positions has made the challenging task of organizing events easier, and it has given members the opportunity to be involved with a more specific aspect of health and wellness. The commissioners also act as liaisons to other organizations on campus. This semester, the department led projects such as reorganization of University Health Services, stress relief events and the restructuring of student health insurance.Grade: A Director of Gender RelationsSophomore Isabel Rooper, director of Gender Relations, decided to separate the goals of the department this year into four sections: consent education, sexual assault prevention and awareness, sexual health education and resources and LGBT awareness and resources. To improve consent education, Gender Relations has partnered with the Gender Relations Center (GRC) to release consent posters and update the BCND videos, which all freshman are required to watch. Rooper, alongside the director of Health and Wellness, also worked to add more sexual health information to the University Health Services website. She also aims to partner with the GRC on ally week programming and to work with Residential Life on Resident Assistant training with regard to LGBT awareness.Grade: A- Department of Social ConcernsThe Department of Social Concerns, led by senior director Austin Matheny, is currently working to utilize the televisions in North Dining Hall to to publish sustainability messages, especially about how students can take food out of the dining hall in sustainable ways. The department has partnered with the Department of Community Engagement and Outreach to publish bus routes and schedules in the bars in downtown South Bend, giving students a more sustainable option than taxis, ride apps and designated drivers. Social Concerns recently partnered with Deloitte to host an event that delivered care packages to veterans. Additionally, the department, alongside FossilFreeND, has submitted a proposal to implement a committee on ethical investments, the primary purpose being to propose changes to the University’s investment in fossil fuel companies.Grade: B+ First Undergraduate Experience in LeadershipDepartment directors junior Trever Carter and sophomore Molly Walsh have been working to redesign FUEL to better accomplish its mission of developing effective and dedicated leaders, using hands-on experience and leadership development materials in the hopes of maintaining participation from all members in their sophomore year. The team devised a curriculum of TED Talks, speeches and articles focused on necessary leadership qualities and planned meetings to alternate between discussion of those materials and updates on FUEL members’ departments. FUEL also expedited the process for member selection, completing the process in mid-September rather than mid-October and integrating their 20 members into their respective departments.Grade: A Department of CommunicationsThe department has been working to revamp the student government website since April, and those site changes are to be published over Christmas break. The department is redesigning the Transpo route maps in partnership with the Department of Community Engagement, and partnered with the Department of Technology to rebrand Onward, a resource allowing students to voice their opinions and questions to student government more directly. Finally, the department is working to revamp the University’s social media presence, developing a more streamlined process for scheduling social media posts and incorporating video content, and it is currently editing the “Shakedown” series of interviews with University administrators.Grade: A- Department of Diversity and InclusionUnder sophomore representative Kaleem Minor’s leadership, the Diversity and Inclusion Council focused on three main initiatives this fall: assessing diversity education for students, promoting allyship amongst students and solving the academic gap in the College of Science. The council was able to shape the cultural competency modules for the Moreau First Year Experience course, adding Show Some Skin and GreeNDot as capstone experiences for the class. To promote allyship among the Notre Dame community, the council once again hosted events and campaigns to support undocumented students and their families, including Stand Against Hate week and Cost of Silence week. Lastly, the Council worked with the College of Science to conduct a study of the academic gap between achievement for students.Grade: B+