In addition to hearing student body president Grant Schmidt’s final State of the Student Union address, Student Senate discussed and unanimously passed a resolution during its Thursday night meeting.The resolution called for the addition of a student leader in the decision process of the Commencement speaker. University Affairs chair Jeff Lakusta proposed the resolution.Lakusta said the student would be present on the committee offer the student body’s opinion.“So there can be a form of input, but it’s not the hammer or anything,” Lakusta said. Student body vice president Cynthia Weber also said the resolution was important because Commencement is an integral part of the graduation ceremonies.“Especially for the seniors, it’s the center of Commencement,” Weber said. “It becomes something that represents the entire University.”
Saint Mary’s senior Emily Kieffer will spend next year teaching English as a second language in Spain, a country she fell in love with after studying there in her sophomore year. Kieffer said she decided to pursue a year of service abroad after realizing her passion for helping others, for which she recently received the Sr. Kathleen Anne Nelligan, C.S.C. Award for Spiritual Service. “I did not even know I had been nominated for the award,” Kieffer said. “Regina Wilson, the assistant director of Campus Ministry, had apparently nominated me for it. It was a complete surprise.” A native of Dublin, Ohio, Kieffer said she entered Saint Mary’s with an interest in developing her faith for the good of others. She said she received the spiritual service award for her involvement in Campus Ministry and was one of five recipients. “We were invited to a dinner a couple of week ago in honor of all of the recipients,” Kieffer said. “All the recipients, including myself, were chosen based on the service we had committed to the Saint Mary’s community.” Kieffer said she serves as a Eucharistic minister, leads weekly Bible studies and participates in a Women’s Spirituality Group. She said she has also been a peer minister for the last two years. “Being a member of the Women’s Spirituality Group has allowed me to get to know other students who have a strong sense of faith and are eager to learn more about being Catholic,” Kieffer said. “We talk through the struggles of being young, Catholic women and discuss how to stand firm in our faith and live it out daily.” Kieffer said she will teach through the Council on the International Education Exchange. “I came into Saint Mary’s thinking I’d be a bio major because I was good at science,” Kieffer said. “After studying abroad in Spain, I realized how much I loved Spanish as a language and I knew that would be my major when I returned to Saint Mary’s. I am also a secondary education minor, so teaching English to Spanish speaking students will be a perfect fit for me.” Kieffer will be in the AndalucÃa region but does not know what city she will be in or what grade she will teach. “When I was abroad, I really enjoyed teaching English to adults in Spain,” she said. “It was more of a conversation-based class rather than just learning the basics and grammar. I would love to be able to have that experience again.” Kieffer said she looks forward to re-immersing herself in Spanish culture and speaking Spanish fluently with people around her. “The program is for one year, but it can be renewed for a second year, so who knows if I will be in Spain longer,” Kieffer said. Satisfied with how she will leave Saint Mary’s in May, Kieffer encourages others to study abroad, recognize their passions and follow them, she said. “Being involved in Campus Ministry and with Women’s Spirituality really got me thinking about what I want to do with my life and how it can be useful to others in the world,” Kieffer said. “I definitely think my journey to Spain will make good use of my time, my knowledge and my faith.”
Stepan Center heated up Saturday night with Hawaii Club’s annual Lu’au celebration of Hawaiian culture. The event featured Hawaiian food, music and hula dancing amidst an extensively decorated arena, freshman club member and Hawaiian nativeMatt Matasci said. “Parents back home pick flowers and have them sent [for decorations],” he said. Parents of natives also sent Hawaiian shirts and necklaces for the Lu’au’s merchandise table, Matasci said. The efforts of the club members and their parents did not go unnoticed at the Lu’au. “It’s a great atmosphere,” junior attendee Tony Lefeld said. “Stepan Center is surprisingly well decorated.” Sophomore Camille Muth, secretary of the club, said the key function of Hawaii Club is to provide a supportive community for Hawaiian students making the tough transition from tropical sunshine to blustery permacloud. “This is one of those groups that really makes me feel at home here,” Muth said. The club forms its close bonds by recruiting members early, she said. The club holds meetings for incoming freshman the summer before they begin at Notre Dame to welcome them to the club and the University. These extensive efforts have translated into strong membership. “Most people from Hawaii tend to join the club,” Matasci said. “There are some things that you can’t understand unless you’re from Hawaii. It’s nice to have people from Hawaii to relate to.” Although the Lu’au is the club’s largest event, Muth said the Hawaii Club will continue to be a fun outlet for Hawaiian students on campus. “We all just get along really well, and have fun no matter what we’re doing,” she said.
A man in an electric wheelchair rolls up to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in silence, lights a candle and leaves.An elderly woman rests on a bench, engaged in conversation with a middle-aged companion.A couple prays side by side on the kneeler as two young kids fidget next to them. On one of the first sunny afternoons after a long winter, Notre Dame’s shrine to the Virgin Mary has come alive.For some students, such as freshman Laura Bobich, the Grotto is a place to reflect on their days, gain a sense of perspective and seek peace. Allison D’Ambrosia | The Observer “Last week, I was very stressed out. I came out of my class right before and was very overwhelmed, couldn’t even think straight about all the stuff I felt like I had to do,” Bobich said. “And I stayed here for probably 10 minutes, and by the time I was leaving, I was so calm, so cool and collected. … I could go through my day more systematically, and I was no longer overwhelmed.” Each trip to the Grotto has a slightly different purpose for senior Mara Stolee. What remains constant, she said, is the site’s ability to minimize distractions and to facilitate wholehearted prayer.“I didn’t really know how often I was going to come [to the Grotto] when I first came [to Notre Dame],” Stolee said. “But when I was a freshman, a senior in my dorm told me that I should just go to the Grotto whenever, because the whole world makes more sense there. And I think that’s probably true.” Solitude and solidarityAs a place for students to visit both on their own and with others, the Grotto means something different to each person, junior Anthony Barrett said. “I’ve been here for a bunch of different reasons. I’ve been here after a friend’s dad died, I’ve been here with people who are suicidal, I’ve been here with a group of 100 band kids who are getting together to celebrate our faith,” Barrett said. “And in each one of those circumstances, it takes on a different role, but it’s always a very special place where people can go by themselves or come together as a group.”The Grotto is a personal reflection spot for senior Vincent Burns, who said he visits almost exclusively by himself to offer up individual prayer. “I would be very flattered if someone asked me to go to the Grotto with them because I think that’s a testament to the degree of openness with that person,” he said. “I, personally, would only invite my very closest friends to join me at the Grotto if I were going on my own initiative and not part of a group. I do think generally people treat the Grotto as … a place where personal prayer is of the utmost.” In the solitude, though, many students find a sense of community. Saint Mary’s first-year student Casey Kochniarczyk said the candles that other people have lit create a sense of solidarity.“You see all the prayers that other people are praying for, so you kind of know that you’re not alone and you’re not the only person facing things,” she said. “I usually pray for all the other people who’ve lit a candle or come here to pray that are facing their own problems.” Barrett said at the end of his freshman year, he invited fellow members of the Band of the Fighting Irish to join him at the Grotto at the onset of finals week. “I expected 10 or 12 people to come, but I think the first time there were 85 people that all came,” he said. “And we all met at midnight the night before the first day of finals and stood around in a group, prayed together, hugged each other and did finals week. “And it was just such a powerful thing, realizing this is Notre Dame and this is the Grotto.” A place of refugeAt night, the Grotto becomes quiet.The candles shimmer softly, illuminating the darkness.People perch shoulder-to-shoulder on the kneeler, lost in their hopes, their anxieties, their prayers.Some nights, many visitors come at once. Other evenings, they trickle in slowly, converging from all corners of campus to spend time in silence.On a warm Saturday night in April, junior Kat Stultz visited the Grotto to strengthen her sense of perspective. “Right now, I’m wrestling with this crush that I have on somebody. It sounds silly,” she said. “But … when you walk into the area where all the candles are lit, it completely takes me out of myself and helps me to remember that there are so many people out there that have so many more struggles than I do — not in a comparative way, but just remembering to pray for them and to recognize that you don’t have to worry so much about what’s going on in your life.”For Stultz, the Grotto is a place to escape the noise of daily realities. She said it enables her to step back and to remember what she believes is truly important. “It’s often a place where I can go when I’m either confused about something or just need to look to Our Lady for a little bit of help,” Stultz said. “I think it can be a great place of refuge for students, whether it’s stress about a test or confusion about a relationship, or really anything that college students go through.” One time, Stultz said, she was praying the Rosary on a bench at the Grotto when she felt a connection between her reflection and her life at Notre Dame.“I happened to be on the Visitation, where Mary meets Elizabeth and there’s that beautiful moment between them,” she said. “As I’m praying and I look up, my friend Colleen, … one of her friends came at her from the side and just gave her a big hug. And I felt in that moment that that mystery of the Rosary just came to life at the Grotto.”While stopping by the Grotto on the night before taking an exam, freshman James Sigman thought back to when he visited the site with upperclassmen from his residence hall during First Year Orientation. The older students were joking around as they led the freshmen on a run around campus, Sigman said, but they took on a more sincere tone when they reached the Grotto. “It’s just so cool to see how seriously the student body takes the Grotto, and I think it’s what sets Notre Dame apart completely,” Sigman said. “It means a lot to me that they have a place like this.” Tags: Grotto, Notre Dame, peace, prayer
A record-breaking 692 students from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross traveled to Washington D.C. last week for the annual March for Life. Senior Rachel Drumm, president of Notre Dame’s Right to Life club, said this year’s march was an “incredible opportunity” for members of the Notre Dame community “to celebrate life and to remind the country that life is valuable and important.”Last Thursday marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion in the United States. “The Right to Life March is a peaceful protest that happens every year on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling,” Drumm said. “Hundreds of thousands of people from around the country gather together to march for this cause.”Photo courtesy of the University of Notre Dame Junior Noreen Fischer, 2015 March For Life trip coordinator, said the march is an important demonstration given that the topic of anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights is controversial nationwide.“The march represents hope for a future in which all human life, from conception to natural death, is valued as sacred and not disposable,” Fischer said.Junior Will Harris, one of this year’s trip coordinators, said the March for Life began on the National Mall with an hour-long Rally for Life and concluded in front of the Supreme Court building.“[There was] a crowd of over 650,000 marches from the rally site up to the Supreme Court Building behind the Capitol,” Harris said. “During the March, you are usually able to interact with groups from around the nation through chanting, dancing, singing and discussing the cause for life. In addition to the main march, there are many conferences and Masses that can supplement the experience.”Drumm said the March for Life is a symbol of hope and perseverance for the pro-life movement.“I think that a lot of people may see the march as only a protest of this one law,” she said. “And in that case, they may argue that the march isn’t very effective because that law is still in place. To me, the march is much more than that. It gives a lot of hope to people in the pro-life movement and promotes a sense of cultural change.“It helps people to slowly realize that life is valuable, and it’s something worth fighting for. And that’s how change happens.”Harris said one of the key goals of the march is to re-energize the cause by inspiring people to foster a greater respect for life.“I decided to go on the march with my brothers and sisters from Notre Dame because it’s a wonderful opportunity to get together with other pro-lifers and discuss ways in which we can create a culture that fosters all life from conception to natural death,” Harris said.Saint Mary’s senior Brooke Fowler said she marches for “love for life.”“I was born and raised into a big family, and I have been able to see life in such beautiful ways,” Fowler said. “I want to give a voice to the voiceless.”Beyond the march itself, students had the chance to explore the city of Washington over the weekend. On Friday, many members of the Right to Life club attended Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.“For $35, you are able to partake in an unforgettable experience that includes the March for Life, having the ability to see Washington D.C. and receiving two University-approved excused absences,” Fischer said.Drumm said this year marked her eighth March for Life in Washington.“We have been sending students to the march for a very long time,” she said. “It started with a couple students who drove themselves out there, and it’s grown bigger and bigger every year since.”Fowler, who has attended the March for Life three times, said her favorite aspect of the experience is the people she meets along the way.“I have been impacted being surround by so many people who support life, experiencing profound moments of listening to stories and seeing witnesses and meeting people who are really inspiring,” Fowler said.Harris said it was inspiring to see University President Fr. John Jenkins march alongside Notre Dame students.“I love seeing Fr. Jenkins at the March for Life each year,” Harris said. “He is a man with so many responsibilities, so it really shows how important this issue is for our nation. He took time out of his schedule to come join us, not in some special vehicle or place but right in the midst of all of us students.”Drumm said the March for Life fits very well with Notre Dame’s mission as a University.“Notre Dame is very big on the phrase ‘what are we fighting for?’” Drumm said. “What better thing is there to fight for than life — specifically the lives of the most vulnerable, who can’t stand up for themselves?”Tags: March for Life, ND Right to Life, Roe v. Wade, Washington D.C.
In 2005, Majak Anyieth left his family behind in South Sudan to go to Kenya in pursuit of an education. When he returned eight years later, he found that little had improved in his home country in terms of educational opportunities. Traditional conflicts between neighboring communities were still in full play — but Anyieth, having spent eight years in a different country, had realized that conflict wasn’t always unavoidable.“I learn(ed) from my experience in Kenya that I could live harmoniously with people from other communities … I had been taught otherwise growing up,” Anyieth, now a junior at Notre Dame, said in an email.Motivated by his experiences, Anyieth started Education Bridge, a non-profit aimed at creating educational opportunities and lessening violence in South Sudan.“Education Bridge is a non-profit organization that is striving to promote peace and education in South Sudan,” Anyieth said. “We organize week-long seminars for teaching high school students nonviolent conflict resolution skills, teamwork, negotiation and other entrepreneurial skills. In so doing, we also invite students to learn about other communities and challenge many stereotypes that fuel inter-communal conflict in the country.”According to Anyieth, in the past Education Bridge has run conflict resolution seminars as well as a campaign titled “I Need Peace.” The campaign aimed to “help voice the will of ordinary people who are suffering the consequences of a recent conflict that left 2.5 million people displaced and many thousands dead.”Anyieth noted that illiteracy and “traditional hostilities” have led to many young South Sudanese citizens becoming involved in intertribal conflict and other forms of violence. Subsequently, Education Bridge works to confront two major issues within the country: education and violence.“South Sudan has one of the lowest literacy levels in the world, merely at 27 percent,” Anyieth said, “That of girls is even worse at 16 percent. The lack of education means lack of human capital in the country. No health systems. 51 percent of the country lives below poverty line. Because of illiteracy and economic struggles, there is a lot of violence involving cattle raiding and other disputes. We believe education can open a door for a more peaceful and prosperous country … It is for this reason that we are doing everything we can to provide educational opportunities for young South Sudanese. We hope in so doing, we will not lose another generation to illiteracy, poverty and violence.”Education Bridge is currently working on constructing a secondary school in Bor, South Sudan. Once completed in January 2017, the school will provide much-needed educational opportunities to 200 students and, Anyieth hopes, “inter-communal dialogues … providing them with educational opportunities but also with a chance to learn about other communities; deconstructing stereotypes and highlighting our oneness.” The school will employ the nonviolent conflict-resolution seminars previously developed by Education Bridge.“I was awarded the Dalai Lama fellowship last year, which provided us with some funding to help start the project,” Anyieth said, “Right now, we are fundraising the remaining funds to help finish our school construction this summer and to help organize teacher training in preparation for opening in January 2017. We need $15,000 to finish everything.”“We have also started partnering with different organizations like Mercy Beyond Borders, which will be providing scholarships to some of our students from poor families. Though it causes only $300 to attend school for one year, not many families can afford [it]. These scholarships will also be critical to promoting girls’ education, as many families are hesitant to invest in girls’ education for cultural reasons.”Students who wish to help can donate unwanted books to Education Bridge’s book drive, or donate to school-building efforts.“I [hope] that through Education Bridge, I can mobilize a group of like-minded people, to put our time and energy into changing the fate of our community by creating educational opportunities and rethinking how we tell our stories to foster a created of a more united country,” Anyieth said. Tags: education, Education Bridge, Non-profit, south sudan
The second student senate meeting of the school year convened via Zoom on Thursday to discuss the current state of Notre Dame affairs.The session began with a call to action from senior student body president Rachel Ingal. “We really just need to be intentional with all of our actions and be very accountable and understanding,” Ingal said. “Keep kindly having those educational conversations with our friends. I would urge you to not resort to shameful tactics but just be informative, talking about the science.”Co-directors of the First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL), seniors Kevin Gallagher and Fritz Schemel then updated the senate on the First Year Leadership Showcase, an event that will be held virtually Sunday at 7 p.m. The showcase is meant to encourage budding leaders of the freshman class to apply for positions within student government.Student body vice president and senior Sarah Galbenski then took the floor and led newly elected first year Daniel Schermerhorn in his oath of office. Schermerhorn is filling the vacant senate seat of Baumer Hall that was last held by senior Thomas McCoy.Next, seniors Michael Dugan, Dillion Hall senator, and Ricardo Pozas Garza, Club Coordination Council president, introduced Resolution SS2021-13 to the floor. The resolution called on the University to regularly publish COVID-19 modeling. The text of the document recognizes that University President Fr. John Jenkins has explicitly mentioned the University’s risk analysis in his July 29 message to campus and states that students have a right to know what the quantified risk of being on campus is.(Editor’s Note: Dugan is a former news writer and systems administrator at The Observer.)“There’re two, one of which is transparency, one of which is substantially that I think we all deserve to know the risks associated with whatever the University’s plan is,” Dugan said. “If the University is saying internally, [that they] believe that this course of action will result in x hospitalizations [and] y student cases, I think students have a right to know that.”Following the resolution’s proposal, sophomore Keough Hall senator Benjamin Erhardt put forth an amendment that calls on the University to provide additional statistics to the COVID-19 HERE Dashboard. Several senators supported this amendment and advocated for specific statistics they believed should be published. The final list of proposed statistics to be included on the dashboard included: active and recovered case counts, current number of students quarantined or isolated, number of occupied quarantine and isolation units, dorm-by-dorm case distributions and surveillance testing statistics.Erhardt said the amendment was meant to support the purpose of the original resolution by calling for more transparency from the University regarding where it stands right now in addition to where the University thinks it will go from here. Dugan, with the support of his cosponsor Garza, agreed to add this amendment to the final text of the resolution.Through the debate, several comparisons were made to the public information provided by both the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill and Cornell University. UNC has regularly published many statistics on their dashboard including percentage capacity of quarantine and isolation units, inventory of protective equipment and testing positivity rates. Cornell University published an extensive report of its model’s predictions for infection and hospitalization percentages during the fall semester. Many senators made clear that they have heard of a swell of dissatisfaction with regards to the transparency of the University and hope this resolution will compel Notre Dame to address those concerns.In what was a brief questioning and debate period, the resolution passed with a large majority. Thus the student senate has formally called upon the University to regularly publish internal predictive modeling for the spread of COVID-19 as well as add additional statistics to the HERE dashboard.This is a non-binding resolution and will only be presented as the recommendation of the student body.Tags: covid risk analysis, Rachel Ingal, student senate, zoom meeting
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) App users, tap here to watch video.WASHINGTON – COVID-19 might give new meaning to the phrase: “home for the holidays.”Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tells the Washington Post, a second wave of the Coronavirus, later this year, could be “more difficult” than the current strand.Last week President Trump unveiled suggested benchmarks for states to start easing social distancing measures, but Redfield called for state officials to continue promoting social distancing and to increase contact tracing and testing. More than 45,000 people in the United States have died from the Coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) MGN Stock Image.LITTLE VALLEY – Cattaraugus County reported its 23rd COVID-19 related death on Tuesday.The County Health Department says a 77-year-old man developed respiratory failure and was unable to overcome his illness despite aggressive medical treatment.The county also reported 52 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the highest single-day record since the pandemic started. There are now 167 active cases, with 685 total and 494 total.Of the new cases, 38 are in the southeast part of the county, nine in the northwest, three in the northeast and two in the southwest. There are now 14 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county.Cattaraugus County currently has a seven-day infection rate of 2.9%.
Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Image by New York State Police.PORTLAND – The driver of a luxury SUV who was spotted allegedly driving erratically in Chautauqua County on Monday afternoon is in the hospital after he was ejected from his vehicle during a crash.New York State Police tell WNY News Now 21-year-old Eric Jarrett, an Erie County resident, allegedly traveled at “extremely high rates of speed” in a 2021 Audi Q3 on Route 5 in the Town of Portland.Police say law enforcement observed the vehicle driving within the speed limit in Dunkirk prior to the crash, only later receiving 911 calls about the Audi traveling at high rates of speed.A resident, later flagging down a State Trooper, reported the crash on North Swede Road. Jarrett was found outside of the vehicle when first responders arrived on scene. He was taken to Brooks Hospital and then transferred to ECMC.Police say charges are pending against Jarrett and the exact cause of the crash remains under investigation, however, speed could be a factor.Officers do not yet know why the man was traveling at extreme speeds.