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Mel Brooks, Ed Asner, others pay tribute to Cloris Leachman

first_imgMel Brooks, Ed Asner and others are paying tribute to Cloris Leachman, the Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress who died Wednesday at 94. Brooks, who directed Leachman in “Young Frankenstein,” tweeted that she was an “insanely talented” actress who “could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat.” Asner, Leachman’s co-star on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” tweeted a photo of his last meeting with Leachman, along with the words, “Nothing I could say would top the enormity of my love for you.” Dana Delany, Lynda Carter and others also tweeted praise and fond memories of Leachman.last_img

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US Rep. Jim Cooper’s wife dies after battle with Alzheimer’s

first_imgNASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper’s office says the Democrat’s wife has died years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. According to a news release, 66-year-old Martha Cooper passed away Thursday surrounded by her husband and children at their Nashville home. The longtime Nashville congressman had been married to Martha Cooper for nearly 36 years. The couple had three children together and one grandchild. More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more worldwide have Alzheimer’s.last_img

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Zuckerberg part of $100M ‘California Black Freedom Fund’

first_imgMore than two dozen philanthropic organizations and corporations on Thursday launched the California Black Freedom Fund. It’s five-year $100 million initiative the group says will provide resources to Black-led organizations in the state aiming to eradicate systemic racism. The 25 funders include the philanthropic groups of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, Philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs as well as JPMorgan Chase. The group says the fund aims to address the “history of underinvestment” in Black-led organizations. It currently has $32.4 million, with the rest of the money slated to be raised and given during the next five years.last_img

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Observer staff honored at ICPA conference

first_imgThe Observer took third place in the Division I “Newspaper of the Year” category, and former Managing Editor Sarah Mervosh won the Brook Baker Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award at the Indiana College Press Association (ICPA) awards ceremony, held Saturday at Ball State University in Muncie. The Observer staff won an additional 15 awards, including third place for “Advertising Publication of the Year.” Other University publications represented at ICPA were Scholastic, which tied with Ball State’s Ball Bearings for second place in “News Magazine of the Year,” Dome, which won second place in the Division I “Yearbook of the Year” category and The Juggler, which took third place in “Literary Magazine of the Year.” Mervosh is the third Notre Dame student to win the Brook Baker Award, which was first awarded in 1999 in honor of the late Vincennes University student. The Editorial Board of The Observer took first place in the “Best Staff Editorial” category for its Nov. 10 piece, “Professionalism and integrity above all.” Former Assistant Managing Editor Adriana Pratt won first place in “Best Entertainment Column” for her coverage of the New York premiere of the final Harry Potter film, titled “The Magic of a Potter Premiere.” Scene Editor Kevin Noonan took third place in the same category for his column titled “A ‘Dear John’ Letter for Netflix.” Former Scene Editor Maija Gustin won first place for “Best Entertainment Story” for her coverage of an on-campus presentation of a documentary on the Nuremberg Trials, titled “Schulberg presents ‘Nuremberg’ years after its creation.” In the same category, senior staff writer Mary Claire O’Donnell took second place for her article about a Notre Dame engineering alumnus who is also a published author, titled “ND grad explores storms and struggle in fiction work.” Former Editor-in-Chief Douglas Farmer and Graphics Editor Brandon Keelean won first place for “Best Rate Card” for the design of The Observer’s advertising rate card. Farmer and Keelean also took second place in the “Best House Ad” category for their ad titled “The Observer Remembers.” Mervosh won second place in the “Best Breaking News Story” for her coverage of graduate student Xavier Murphy’s October death, “Community remembers fifth-year student.” She also took third place for “Best News Feature” for her piece on the 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, titled “Malloy, graduates remember ‘somber’ 2001 environment.” The Observer staff won third place for “Best Stand-Alone/Pullout Section” for its special section on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, titled “9/11: Ten Years Later.” Keelean, Mervosh, former Photo Editor Pat Coveney and Managing Editor Megan Doyle also took third place in the “Best Informational Graphic” category for their accompanying 9/11 timeline. Multimedia Editor Sarah O’Connor won second place for “Best Feature Photo” for her photo from Girl Talk’s concert at the B1 Block Party concert in August. The sports department took third place in the “Best Special Issue” category for its Oct. 21 Irish Insider profiling the football team’s night game against USC, titled “The Wait is Over.” Editor-in-Chief Allan Joseph won third place for “Best Sports Column” for his piece “After all the hype, Irish weren’t even close” after the football team’s 31-17 loss to USC on Oct. 22. The Observer’s award-winning submissions are available on its website, www.ndsmcobserver.com.last_img read more

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Author discusses “golden worlds”

first_imgAuthor Daniel McInerny gave a talk titled “Children’s Literature and the Golden World” at the first installment of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s Fall 2013 Catholic Literature Series on Tuesday. McInerny, CEO of Trojan Tub Entertainment and author of the “Kingdom of Patria” series, said children’s literature takes place in a different world. “Children’s literature is about adventure into a ‘golden world,’ in which innocence is fought for and achieved,” McInerny said. McInerny said the idea of a “golden world” derives from the biblical idea of a Paradise, and an idealized or fantasy world is featured in many children’s books such as “The Secret Garden,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Bridge to Terabithia.” “Children’s literature has an essential connection to a Catholic understanding of moral formation,” he said. “Even if many, if not most of the practitioners aren’t Catholic at all, the very genre is a dream of Eden.” McInerny said the “golden worlds” featured in books are not necessarily perfect images of Eden, for they can be filled with conflict, danger and evil.   “I still call them ‘golden worlds’ because it is in those worlds that characters undertake the work of restoring innocence,” he said. McInerny said this idea of innocence is not about sheltering children from evil. “I mean innocence as … the opposite of being sheltered, of adventuring out into the world of death and finding one’s virtuous way through it,” he said. A common objection to the idea of “golden worlds” is that it only applies to “fantasy” literature, in which the narrator takes the reader into a secondary universe, he said. “The ‘golden world’ as I described it is also found in the revolutionary Boston of ‘Johnny Tremain,’ or the Connecticut colony of Elizabeth George Speare’s ‘The Witch of Blackbird Pond,’” he said. “These are historical places, but the adventures that the child protagonists undertake in those stories also can be described as ‘golden worlds.’ It doesn’t have to be a fantasy secondary world.” McInerny said the genre of children’s literature as it is known today did not emerge until the 19th century, and it flourished as a result of Romanticism and its reverence towards childhood. “This treasuring of childhood gave an increasingly secular culture a way of connecting to purity and innocence, to wonder and to other worlds,” McInerny said. “It encouraged it to favor the imagination, as opposed to reason and scientific mode. “I would argue that the Romantic sense of childhood, and the children’s literature that flowed from it, was one way of trying to re-create the ‘golden world’ of the terrestrial paradise.” Though children’s literature is largely secular in inspiration, McInerny said, its deepest inclinations of yearning for a terrestrial paradise can be uniquely appreciated by the Catholic literary mind. “The Catholic can deeply appreciate much of what good children’s literature is trying to do, even while it resists making idols out of childhood innocence and the child’s imagination.” Junior Frances Kelsey said she has been following the Center for Ethics and Culture’s Catholic Literature Series since her freshman year and came to McInerny’s talk becuase of her previous positive experiences. “I thought it was really interesting [McInerny’s idea] that a ‘golden world’ could be found in books that are not strictly fantasy,” she said. The Catholic Literature Series continues with Professor John O’Callaghan’s lecture titled “Harry Potter and King’s Cross,” on Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. in 155 DeBartolo Hall.last_img read more

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Accounting students help community

first_imgAccounting majors from Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame are helping members of the South Bend community this tax season—for free.In 1972, a new accountancy professor interested in helping people claim their earned income tax credit founded the Tax Assistance Program (TAP). That professor, Ken Milani, now mentors undergraduate students 42 years later as they continue assisting members of the South Bend community.John Cergnul, a former student of Milani’s and TAP volunteer in 1975 and 1976, is now an assistant professor of accounting at Saint Mary’s College. The Notre Dame alumnus said he advises his students to participate in the program for various reasons.Junior Taylor Etzell said the experience with real tax returns takes students far beyond the classroom.“The classroom can give you basic scenarios of what you may encounter when preparing someone’s tax return but the Tax Assistance Program is far superior,” Etzell said. “We are looking at real employees’ W-2s and 1099s and have to pull the correct numbers from the forms and place them where they belong on the federal and state tax returns. It’s all so real life and so exciting.”Cergnul said the earned income tax credit is comparable to a negative tax.“So when you file your tax return you’re getting a refund, you’re just getting your own money back, right? A negative tax is the government giving you money,” Cergnul said.Acquiring the credit is a difficult process, Cergnul said. This is where the student volunteers come in.“The problem is that it’s very complicated just to see who qualifies and then to make the calculations as to how much the credit is and how much you’re entitled to,” Cergnul said. “That was the genesis of the program and it remains so today.”The tax assistance the program offers is completely free for participants, Cergnul said.“We’re doing tax returns for people and we don’t charge them,” he said. “That’s the best part of the program. The second best part of the program is what the students learn.”STEPH WULZ | The Observer Cergnul said the practical application makes the lessons in accounting classrooms tangible and the weight of responsibility becomes more real.“The third big benefit from this is the students’ poise and confidence. They’re sitting across the table from real people with real dollars, real taxes,” Cergnul said. “In class it’s hypothetical. Take a look at Problem 35, oh heck I got it wrong.”Etzell said the professors running the program have given her both confidence and the necessary skills.“My professors — Cergnul, in particular — have instilled in me a confidence that must be used when preparing a return,” Etzell said. “Milani has taught me how to look at the correct information and extract meaning from simple interview questions we direct toward the taxpayers. Because of his direction, I know what exactly I’m looking for and how I am going to go about finding that information.”Cergnul said students are invariably anxious when they start out, but gain confidence over time.“By the end of the filing season, they’ve grown in poise and their ability to communicate with other people — professional communication — is enhanced,” Cergnul said.This poise ultimately helps students as they interview for jobs, he said.“I mean they’ve actually sat across the table with a real client and did a real transaction and people who don’t go through this program haven’t done that,” Cergnul said. “Those communication skills translate very well in interviews.”Etzell said the work can be difficult given the sheer number of clients students are required to assist.“Professor Milani, along with Professor Cergnul, have taught me how to be perform under pressure,” she said. “We have lines of people waiting for us to prepare their returns so it is of utmost importance that we move efficiently, yet effectively, through everyone’s paperwork and return forms.”Etzell said as challenging as the work is, it is rewarding to help out members of the local community.“I have been given the necessary tools to perform well in this program, and now my duty is to help the community,” Etzell said. “Detecting when people have earned certain deductions or credits is a task in and of itself, but again, the reward of helping others makes all the work so worth it.“My favorite part is seeing the people come in looking rather flustered and then them leaving a little while later with a sense of relief on their faces.”Junior Grace Harvey said TAP has helped hone her knowledge of tax practices and concepts.“Even though my internship this summer with Grant Thorton is more focused on corporate tax rather than personal income tax, [TAP is] an awesome opportunity,” Harvey said.The two credit hours contribute toward the 150 credit hours required to sit for the CPA exam, Harvey said.Harvey said that participating students will help file tax returns in various locations throughout South Bend  with tax filings due April 15.Tags: Ken Milani, TAP, Tax Assistance Program, taxeslast_img read more

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Students compete in Midnight Madness

first_imgFor the fourth straight year, Student Activities Board (SAB) held Midnight Madness, an event featuring games and inter-class competition, in Angela Athletic Facility at Saint Mary’s on Thursday night.SAB president Erica Chiarello said Midnight Madness is an event focused on developing a sense of community with classmates through games and other fun activities. The four classes earn points toward their respective teams, and the winner is announced before SAB announces the year’s Tostal performer at the end of the night.Chiarello said Saint Mary’s brought back the event four years ago as a way to unite the four classes. Announcing the Tostal artist at the end of the night is important to get students excited about spring activities on campus, she said.Chiarello said Midnight Madness also included giveaways, including free parking passes for next year and Saint Mary’s gear. The giveaways have been key to increasing turnout, but the Tostal artist is also a big draw, she said.The artist for Tostal this year on April 24 will be singer-songwriter Bonnie McKee.Each year, students vote on an artist they want to bring to campus. That protocol continued this year, but, unfortunately, the budget did not allow SAB to bring the selected artist to campus, so SAB selected McKee, Chiarello said.“SAB’s decision to have Bonnie McKee as the Tostal artist was one that the SAB committee made with the whole student body in mind,” Chiarello said. “Even if you do not know who Bonnie McKee is, you will definitely leave Tostal remembering her name.“Bonnie McKee is an artist that has written music for very famous musicians many of whom students listen to [including] Katy Perry, Britney Spears and Rita Ora,“ Chiarello said.McKee wrote “California Gurls” and “Last Friday Night” for Katy Perry as well as “Hold it Against Me” for Britney Spears, Chiarello said.Chiarello said students from Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross should get excited for this year’s Tostal performance because it will be packed with energy and fun.“Tostal is SAB’s biggest and last event of the year, and we will go out with a bang, Chiarello said.Chiarello said SAB succeeded in bringing students together during Midnight Madness as part of the leadup to Tostal.“We had a really great turnout, especially from the first year [students],” Chiarello said. “We were hesitant, but all four classes showed up and participated.”SAB committee member Emily James said it is important for Saint Mary’s students to go to Midnight Madness and interact with their classmates.“[Midnight Madness] is a fun way to promote school spirit and have fun with your Saint Mary’s sisters,” James said.James said the games included a snack toss, during which a student from each class put a shower cap covered in shaving cream on her head, and another student threw cheese puffs at her head, trying to get the most cheese puffs in the shaving cream. There was also a dancing contest to see who could do “the worm” the best, James said.SAB vice president Allie Gerths said she was happy with the turnout from all the classes.“We’ve been planning for [Midnight Madness] for a few months,” Gerths said. “It gets bigger and bigger every year.”last_img read more

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App to assist medical research

first_imgSaint Mary’s communicative sciences and disorders department and Notre Dame’s engineering and computer science departments have teamed up with Contect, Inc. to create an app to help detect concussions on the sidelines of sports games.Contect Inc. came into existence through the ESTEEM program (Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters Program), president of Contect Inc. Shane McQuillan said.“Contect came into existence through my ESTEEM thesis, which was a required component of the program,” McQuillan said. “That being said, a lot of companies that were established did not continue after the program, so Contect is fairly unique in that sense. We won the McCloskey business competition last year, which provided the ground work to keep things going.”The app is in its early stages but hopes to go to market in early 2015, McQuillan said. The app will first be used in high schools and will then expand to other markets fairly quickly.“At a very high level, here’s how it works: we take a baseline speech recording from an athlete at the start of a season,” McQuillan said. “During this they read a serious of words and sentences that are presented to them by our application, we then analyze these recordings and extract a number of acoustic metrics.“After a suspected concussion the athlete repeats the same test, and again we extract the acoustic features. We can compare the sets of features to establish if there is a likelihood of concussion.”The team of creators for Contect Inc. is composed of software developers and entrepreneurs who are capable of building a robust application, McQuillan said.Saint Mary’s communicative sciences and disorders professor Sandra Schneider designs tests and trials and examines recordings to see what changes she can detect in athlete’s voices.“We are at a point in time in society, in our world, where we can’t do research just in our own field alone and understand it,” Schneider said. “I think we really have to cross boundaries. … Between computer science and engineering, those people have different skillset than we have, and it’s kind of nice to be working in conjunction of all of us together because I think we all learn something from each other as we go through this.”The earlier a concussion is detected, the sooner it can be treated, McQuillan said.“Contect is trying to fill a gap where there is no good solution — sideline concussion detection,” McQuillan said. “If you want to detect them straight away, you’re going to need to do it on the sidelines, and Contect wants to offer a product that can do so.”The brain is such a finely-tuned instrument that it does not like any kind of change, Schneider said. Over 1,000 athletes have been baseline tested as part of the Spring season trial. Schneider predicts close to 40 will receive a concussion at some point during the season.“With sports injury related concussions, it’s a fact that usually one concussion isn’t the problem, its multiple concussions,” Schneider said. “Every time they get hit, in practice on the field, the more hits that you have the more in danger you are. This brain can only take so much. And then it begins to show cumulative effects.”Speech is a sensitive tool that is a good indicator for anything that happens to the brain, Schneider said.“It’s an emotional indicator and it’s a neurological indicator,” Schneider said. “That’s why they thought that speech would be a good indicator on the sidelines. You can have a baseline of somebody and then you have them read these words and we have the words and what they need to do and if there is any change it would be an indicator.”Schneider said the app is groundbreaking because currently, there is no literature that says there can be changes in speech due to a mild concussion.“The app right away was developed to look at speech and see if there were any changes in speech due to a mild concussion, which, believe it or not, there is nothing in literature about that at all so this is like breaking ground,” Schneider said. “We know there’s changes in speech and people with moderate and severe traumatic brain injury but do we know that speech is a detector for mild concussions.”Schneider said coaches have been accommodating at the high school level so far but believes that this app will become a political issue as well.“You also have to realize that it’s a very political issue because you start into Division One, which is like the Notre Dame football team, and as you know there’s a lot riding on the line when you pull one of your star quarterbacks out because of concussion,” Schneider said. “And some of them I don’t think want to know that information. So it’s a political decision in a lot of ways. And they know they’re going to run into that.”The app is meant to be used in conjunction with other concussion screeners, Schneider said. The app alone cannot be used to make a decision.“Right now we seem to be primarily in the high schools but later it will be in the college level and then when we have something that is really strong and seems to be pretty accurate at detecting something, then I think they’ll push it to the next level,” Schneider said. “So we’re talking a few years.”Tags: app to detect concussions on sidelines, contect inc., ESTEEM, ESTEEM thesis, notre dame computer science, notre dame engineering, saint mary’s communicative sciences and disorders department, shane mcquillanlast_img read more

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Notre Dame law experts compare Hobby Lobby, Notre Dame cases

first_imgThe June 30 Supreme Court ruling in favor of  Hobby Lobby’s decision not to provide certain types of birth control in its health insurance plan has been the subject of much national attention, but extrapolating predictions from that decision onto Notre Dame’s pending lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services is a complicated process.O. Carter Snead, director of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture and a professor in the University’s law school, wrote an essay for SCOTUS blog exploring what Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. might mean for religious nonprofits (such as Catholic universities, hospitals and social service agencies) seeking relief from the HHS contraceptive mandate, concluding that the outlook was for Notre Dame’s ongoing lawsuit.“Hobby Lobby offers a great deal of hope to religious nonprofits that soon they will be free once again to care for the poor, feed the hungry, minister to the sick, visit the prisoner, welcome the immigrant and educate the young without being forced by the government to violate their deeply held principles,” he wrote in the essay, which was published Thursday.The Court’s ruling “simply means that the mandate cannot be applied to require Hobby Lobby to provide coverage to the drugs to which they object,” said Rick Garnett, a professor at the law school who specializes in freedom of religion and constitutional law.Notre Dame is eligible for an accommodation that provides contraception through a third party insurer, but the University and several other religious non-profits argue that this violates its Catholic beliefs as well.Hobby Lobby, unlike Notre Dame, objected to only four kinds of birth control that act as abortifacients, but was willing to continue providing the other 16 contraceptives approved by the FDA.“Hobby Lobby is not (yet) technically ‘eligible’ for the revised mandate that applies to Notre Dame,” Garnett said in an email last week. “Instead, that revised mandate was used by the Court as an illustration of the fact that ‘less restrictive means’ are available to the government.“Hobby Lobby and Notre Dame both have equal status with respect to the Act — that is, they are both entitled to invoke its protections. But again, the revised mandate has not (yet) been technically applied to Hobby Lobby, and it is still an open question whether the revised mandate violates the Act as applied to Notre Dame and other religious employers.”Notre Dame currently provides contraceptive coverage through its third party insurer, Meritain Health. It first filed suit in May 2012, re-filed in December 2013, requested emergency appeal before the mandate took effect Jan. 1 of this year and has since had repeated appeals denied in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.Paul Browne, Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications, said in a statement last week that “while our attorneys are still assessing it, the decision is an important and encouraging victory for religious liberty, which is at the heart of our lawsuit.”Snead echoed this sentiment in his essay, writing that the Supreme Court decision “follows from the most natural and straightforward reading of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act], given both its text and the jurisprudence in which it is situated.”The Court explicitly did not rule on the question posed by Notre Dame and other religious institutions, of how RFRA should apply to the revised mandate accommodation, but rather determined simply that there was “a less restrictive means of accomplishing the government’s goals than a simple mandate to provide an insurance policy that directly covers the four objectionable drugs and devices,” he wrote.The non-profit accommodation was cited as a less restrictive means than the “blunt mandate,” Snead said, and once that single alternative was identified, “the government’s case was doomed under RFRA.”“But this finding does not resolve the challenges made by religious non-profits,” he wrote. “Less restrictive is not the same as least restrictive. Even more encouraging for religious non-profits is the Court’s discussion of the strong deference owed to the faithful’s judgments about what their religion forbids in terms of complicity in wrongdoing and requires by way of integrity of witness.”Garnett said that it is not an intrusion for Courts to inquire about the sincerity of a claimed religious belief as long as they do not “confuse sincerity with correctness or reasonability or orthodoxy.” He said he was not surprised by the ruling because the RFRA questions of whether Hobby Lobby counted as a person under the Act were “relatively straightforward.”“RFRA is a statute that goes beyond (that is, provides more protection than) what the Constitution itself requires,” he said. “Congress could repeal the law if it wanted to, though President Obama has said he opposes repeal. Because it is a statute, Congress can amend it by passing a new law. It could, for example, say ‘For the purposes of this Act, a for-profit business is not a ‘person.’’”In his essay, Snead noted that several federal courts temporarily enjoined the HHS mandate — with accommodation — for multiple religious nonprofits shortly following the decision in Hobby Lobby. He mentioned Judge William Pryor’s opinion on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit’s decision to enjoin the accommodation as applied to Eternal Word Television Network as an especially important argument for the religious nonprofit question.“Judge William Pryor cited the Supreme Court’s warning that neither the government nor the court shall substitute its own judgment for EWTN’s regarding the ‘substantial burden’ of the HHS mandate in light of Catholic teaching on cooperation and scandal,” Snead wrote. “. . . The accommodation in this context forces the religious employer to say ‘no’ in a manner that functions as a legally operative ‘yes.’ Judge Pryor is the first court of appeals judge to explain this mechanism so clearly and forcefully.”last_img read more

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College administration responds to sexual assault with task force to encourage conversation

first_imgEric Richelsen | The Observer Editor’s Note: This is the first installment of a five-part series on sexual assault at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. Today’s stories focus on the University and College actions and initiatives in response to sexual assault.The Saint Mary’s administration and the Student Government Association (SGA) have responded to the nationwide movement of college students pushing schools to take more action against sexual assault on campus by creating a more open dialogue among Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross, as well as implementing a Task Force to focus on the issue.In a letter to the students Apr. 29, College President Carol Ann Mooney announced the creation of the Presidential Task Force. She said the task force would be comprised of students, faculty and staff and would promote the conversation about sexual violence.“This task force will recommend ways to further improve our efforts to prevent sexual assault and sexual misconduct and to assist and support student survivors of sexual assault,” Mooney said in the letter. “It will also examine procedures for handling cases of sexual assault when they occur.”The task force held its first meeting Sept. 18, according to an email dated Sept. 22 in which Mooney announced she would send a campus-wide email summarizing each meeting. She said the task force will address three issues: steps to reduce and eliminate sexual assault, ways to improve the College’s procedures for handling claims of sexual violence and ways to better support students who have survived sexual violence. The email also announced the formation of three subcommittees — education, procedures and support — to address each of these issues.Building a task forceRegina Wilson, director of Campus Ministry and chair of the support committee on the task force, said the task force meets once a month.“The three committees are working independently, and at the larger task force meeting we share our minutes and the work we’ve done, and then there’s interaction,” she said.Wilson said the future of the task force after this school year is unknown; Mooney, who commissioned the group, will retire at the end of this school year.Junior Caylin McCallick, a member of the procedures committee, said specific details about the group’s meetings cannot be made public until the task force releases its official minutes. Though it was originally announced that the task force would release the previous meeting’s minutes after the following meeting, McCallick said the task force currently plans to wait for the College’s new website to launch before doing so.The procedures committee in particular has been tasked with updating the Title IX process at the College, McCallick said.“There’s a set [way] to handle Title IX,” she said. “Just because you’re complying with the rules doesn’t mean it’s on time or doesn’t mean it’s going as smoothly as possible for all the parties involved.“We really want a system of accountability for all parties involved in the claim,” she said. “We’re working to make sure everyone is held responsible for their individual parts of the Title IX process.”“My goal is to make [the task force] a voice for students,” McCallick said. “I’m open to people telling me what they’ve experienced and seeing if I can bring that to the discussion and seeing what we can do about it. I’m also hoping that it brushes off the cobwebs of things we didn’t used to talk about.“I know that this is a hot topic on campus, and I think it should be because it’s something that affects all of us,” she said. “I hope that it accomplishes the goals that Mooney set out to accomplish.”Mooney sent an email Monday with the most recent update on the task force. The email included names of all current members on the task force, as well as specifications for the intended end result of the task force.“The taskforce will write a report that will be delivered to the community no later than May 1, 2015,” the email said. “The report will contain: a list of what measures we currently take to educate our students; what is currently available for our students; suggestions and recommendations for improvements to what we are currently doing and recommended next steps and suggestions for change.”Finding support in ministryWilson said Campus Ministry’s role in the issue of sexual assault is for the most part one of support.“We are all trained,” Wilson said. “We have professional ministry degrees so we are all trained to spend time with students and to provide pastoral care to them.”She said the College recently defined Campus Ministry’s role in the sexual assault process for students.Wilson said. “All the campus ministers are a confidential resource for students who have experienced sexual violence.”Wilson said her role in the process is meeting with students and listening to anything they have to say. She said she will encourage the students to seek other resources if the student wishes.“Because we’re pastoral care, we’re here if they want to pray,” Wilson said. “If they have questions related to their faith or spirituality that have been affected by their experience…we’re here to be with them and to in a sense be a presence of God offering them care and attention and assurance that they’re supported and loved.”Working within SGAStudent body president Kaitlyn Baker said although SGA’s role in dealing with sexual violence has largely been turned over to the task force, they still have done some work in terms of addressing the issue.“[Vice President] Maddie [Kohler] and I meet once a month with the presidents and vice presidents of Holy Cross College and Notre Dame,” Baker said. “The sexual assault topic is something we touch on every time. … We’ve been giving them feedback on our students’ experiences and changes we’re making over here as well as things they can do over there to help and vise versa.”Baker said Notre Dame’s student council consulted SGA in regards to their proposal to the University’s Board of Trustees, which outlined four categories on the issue of sexual assault for the Board to address.“We worked together to help them get in contact with different students who have had experiences over at Notre Dame dealing with sexual assault,” she said. “They reached out to Saint Mary’s students to get that feedback. … They did a good job in getting a lot of different student perspectives from Saint Mary’s as well as Notre Dame, and pointing out some of the changes that need to be made over there, especially when it comes to how their process works.”SGA does not plan on delivering a similar proposal to Saint Mary’s Board of Trustees; however, the College’s Board interacts with students on a regular basis, and discusses issues including sexual assault, Baker said.She said SGA also partners with the College’s Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), and there are plans to have an SGA representative work closely with BAVO and sit on BAVO’s Green Dot Campus Committee, which consists of 20 faculty, staff and students and whose goal is to promote campus culture change.Although Baker said she does not work closely with the administration on sexual assault, she said she does bring issues to their attention when students express concern.“I meet with administration multiple times a week … If students come up to me with concerns or things they want to see changed, I’m always bringing it up,” she said.Baker said the biggest concerns students raised were about the investigators involved in the Title IX process and the fact that the College’s legal counsel is also the Title IX coordinator.“The three investigators were hired out,” Baker said. “The task force is deciding on if the legal counsel and the Title IX coordinator need to be two separate positions or not.”In addition to acting as an intermediary between students and administration, Baker said she wants to encourage more students to attend the Title IX trainings that occur each semester.“The Title IX training actually brings representatives from Notre Dame who are familiar with their system and talk to our students about what that process would look like if you were to go over there,” she said.“ … I don’t think anyone realizes how much that training encompasses,” she said. “It’s not just going over what Title IX is. It’s really going over what it is, how that looks on our campus, what that looks like if it’s violated, and it also goes over what that looks like for a Saint Mary’s student over on Notre Dame’s campus.”Tags: BAVO, Green Dot, Green Dot Program, presidential task force, sexual assault, sexual assault series 2015last_img read more

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