Last night in the Jordan Hall of Science, Kevin Lannon, an assistant physics professor at Notre Dame, presented the fundamental principles of the research and technology behind the recent discovery of a Higgs boson particle. The breakthrough was announced in Geneva on July 4. Lannon said it was the most significant scientific achievement in decades, and several Notre Dame professors, graduate and undergraduate students, were on location at the time of the announcement. Lannon said the Higgs boson is the key to understanding the universe at its most fundamental level. “If you can understand the universe at its most basic level, and its most simple possible components, in principle, you can develop an understanding of everything,” he said. “But we are still trying to find the bottom of the rabbit hole … We have more particles than we need to understand [the universe], but can we arrange them in a way that’s easier to understand?” The Standard Model is the most successful theory in this respect to date, he said. “It’s exciting because it makes a prediction,” Lannon said, “We are trying to fill out the Standard Model’s table of particles to see if we can validate this theory of how all these particles work together.” Lannon said the Higgs boson is the last piece in the Standard Model puzzle. He used an analogy to describe the nature of the Higgs boson particle, whose main function is to give particles mass. “The Higgs boson is like the paparazzi,” he said. “There is a sea of them filling all of space, and their effects depend on the person trying to pass through them.” Photons, Lannon said, which are particles of light, can move through space at maximum speed, like an unknown bystander walking through a crowd of paparazzi photographers. “And because the photon doesn’t react strongly to the Higgs boson, it has little to no mass,” he said. “But if a person interacts strongly with the paparazzi, like [former Irish football coach] Lou Holtz, he will have a harder time moving through … they’re swarming around him, he’s impeded, he can’t change direction. This is how the Higgs boson gives mass to particles.” Lannon explained how the researchers in Geneva came to this discovery. “Basically, we smash two protons together and get a Higgs boson,” he said. “But it weighs a lot more than two protons. We take their energy of motion and convert it into mass to make a bigger particle.” The difficulty of finding proof for the particle is its short life span and speed, Lannon said. “It decays into two other particles, like photons, way too fast for us to capture,” he said. Lannon said the device capable of creating such a collision is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. The accelerator is so large it cuts into French territory, and shoots particles at just eight meters per second slower than the speed of light, Lannon said. “[I’s power is] the equivalent to an aircraft carrier moving at 3.8H [miles per hour],” he said. “Colliding protons is like shooting two needles at each other from six miles away and having them hit in the middle. This is something that’s done everyday at CERN.” In order to capture the particle during its brief existence, Lannon said Notre Dame graduates collaborated with the scientists working on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) to build a supersensitive camera. While the Higgs boson is only produced every three billion collisions, the accelerator is efficient enough to create nin9 Higgs boson particles per minute at its peak rate, Lannon said. “Even high speed computing can’t record all the collisions,” Lannon said. “We need to analyze them as it’s happening.” Both undergraduate and graduate students from Notre Dame helped develop the camera and the computers used to record the collisions, Lannon said. Once the researchers combined the data, science history had been made. “They saw an excess of collisions with the Higgs boson signature, and they had their discovery,” Lannon said. As for the future of particle research, Lannon said there was still more to understand about the particle. He said scientists had found two variations of the boson but were looking for three more. “It should decay to a number of different particles,” Lannon said. “We can’t say we discovered the Higgs boson until we find all these variations of decay.”
While yoga is commonly known as a relaxing type of exercise, one Saint Mary’s senior is bringing a more intense, cardio-based form of yoga to the College campus. Sophomore Grace Harvey brought her love of yoga sculpt to South Bend and now teaches two classes each week to other students. “Yoga sculpt is intended to tone and sculpt the major muscle groups,” Harvey said. “With the use of weights, it allows you to get deeper into poses and have an added challenge. There are also a couple of cardio series to get the heart rate up and burn more. It is an intense hour-long class, but very easy to follow.” Harvey first tried yoga sculpt during her sophomore year of high school and was instantly hooked on the workout. “I loved everything about it – the people, music, and an awesome workout,” she said. “I continued to do sculpt for the rest of high school and when I came to college I missed it so much. So, over this past summer I got certified through CorePower Yoga in Minnesota to be able to teach. I have insurance [for it] as well.” Yoga sculpt, which is typically practiced in a heated room of about 90 degrees, improves the flexibility and strength of those who train with it, Harvey said. “Instead of the stereotypical yoga practice, this is very upbeat and high energy,” she said. “With the use of weights and various Pilates moves, it makes sculpt attractive for the younger crowd. I always describe it to friends who haven’t done it as a Pilates [or] cardio class with yoga moves.” In addition to the great workout, Harvey said she enjoys being part of the yoga sculpt community. “It is truly a bonding experience as we all go through the hard workout together,” she said. “I think with all of the craziness in our college lives it is awesome when we can take an hour break to completely unwind, have fun together and get a good workout.” Harvey began teaching the workouts to her roommate in their dorm rooms last fall. “Well dorm rooms are small, so I decided to expand it and make a Facebook group of girls who I thought would be interested,” Harvey said. “I included friends I went to high school with and are familiar with sculpt. I am working on trying to make a yoga club at Saint Mary’s so we can be official and reserve space when I teach classes.” Harvey said she was initially surprised at the amount of feedback she received from students about yoga sculpt classes on campus. “I am in absolute shock over how fast sculpt has spread over both campuses,” Harvey said. “There is a clear demand for another good workout class. My first class, I had about 20 people or so. Now my classes are between 25 to 30 people. The more, the merrier.” The feedback was so immense that Harvey added an additional class per week to her original one. She teaches yoga sculpt at noon on Fridays in the Angela Athletic Facility, and sometimes on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday nights. For more information about Harvey’s yoga sculpt sessions, follow @SMCSculpt on Twitter.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg spoke to College Democrats on Sunday about his career, the relationship between the city and Notre Dame and his hopes for the future.Buttigieg said he is excited to be South Bend’s Mayor during such a monumental time in the history of the city.“When I got in the mayoral race in 2011, South Bend showed up on a Top 10 list in Newsweek of dying cities in America,” he said. “Part of that is a consequence of an economic readjustment that we’ve spent the last 50 years dealing with. The wider world knows about South Bend because of Notre Dame, but South Bend did not grow up around Notre Dame. It grew up around the car industry.”Although he acknowledges the hardships the community has faced in the past, Buttigieg said he believes his election as a 29 year-old was a message from the community to look toward the future.Michael Yu “When one of the biggest automakers here collapsed in 1963, we lost more than a quarter of our population. This is a city that really took it on the chin. It’s taken 50 years to turn the corner on a mindset of trying to get back the industrial structure that we had and advance to asking questions about our future.”Despite his age, Buttigieg said he ran for mayor because he believed he had experience, which prepared him to be a better agent of positive change for the city than those who were currently in municipal leadership.“I had a business background so I was a little more familiar with the nuts and bolts of that side, and I felt I could get something done,” he said. “I also focused on the relationship I had with the city. I had grown up here. I left, and I found myself with others that were from the city.“We would get together for beers and would look at the papers and worry about what has going on here and question some of the leadership decisions. That’s when I knew I really wanted to help.”The city is beginning to believe in itself again, Buttigieg said, and part of that is a function of an improved relationship with the University.“I’ve been extremely excited about students deciding to get more involved in their community,” he said. “We have a relationship with the University now on every level, from economic development to the arts to public safety. That has really started to transform life in the city.”Buttigieg said he sees the city level as the most dynamic and fun level of government, and the state of the current national government makes it the level in which one is most likely to be able to improve things.“The city level is the level that touches the most people most immediately,” he said. “Things like trash pickup, roads without holes in them, safe drinking water, these are things that we take for granted. All of these things can impede how you want to live your life, and all of these things are dependent on how good your city is.”Buttigieg said his experience serving in Afghanistan from February to September of last year as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserves helped him in his career and gave him a new perspective on cities and those that work hard to support them.“There was a perspective shift that was a very healthy thing for sure,” he said. “Around here, I’m a little overexposed in the media. When I got in a uniform, I was cut down to size very quickly. When it was my turn to clean the toilets, no one cared if I had a day job.”The nature of his job as mayor has allowed him to bypass party lines and work for the good of everyone in the community, Buttigieg said.“If more people in the federal government had been mayors or at least had some experience with local government, I think we’d be a little more likely to get something done,” he said. “Just think about it, if the government shut down in South Bend, there would be no water and civilization would break down in 36 hours. You can’t shut down anything.”While city members may not agree on all of his perspectives, Buttigieg said cohesion is present on the local level.“I work with people that would never support me for national office, but they see things exactly the way I do when it comes to local problems and how we’re going to try and fix them,” he said.Tags: College Democrats, Pete Buttigieg, South Bend Mayor
Susan Zhu In celebration of the 26th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center will screen undergraduate films created this past year in courses conducted through the department of film, television and theatre (FTT).Professor Ted Mandell, who organized the inaugural film festival in 1990 and has coordinated all 26 screenings since, said the event is an entertaining experience.“I’m pretty certain the audience will be impressed with the quality of the films … and they’ll get a chance to voice their opinion by voting for the Audience Choice Award,” he said.Senior Eric O’Donnell and junior Maureen Gavin created a documentary for the festival, titled “Curry & Erin,” which follows the story of Nashville artist and ALS patient Erin Brady Worsham and her husband, Curry.“Eric and I traveled to Nashville for fall break and shot our documentary over four days,” Gavin said. “We edited it over the next month and a half, meeting almost everyday for hours at a time. It was very much a partner process.”Before traveling to Nashville, Gavin said she and O’Donnell anticipated their film would focus on Erin Worsham’s unique and intriguing artwork.“That changed when we spoke with Curry the first night and began to watch them interact with each other,” Gavin said. “Yes, it is about a woman with ALS, but it’s also about the extraordinary love and sacrifice that exists between a husband and wife.“It was honestly one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and I know Eric feels the same way. Two incredible people welcomed us into their home and we were allowed to capture a small piece of their lives.”Gavin said the project required cutting and editing six hours of footage down to a ten-minute film.“I don’t think I’ve ever put so much time and energy into something before, and I love that something tangible came out of it,” she said. “We both learned how important it is to stay open-minded when creating a film, particularly a documentary.”Other films, such as “Cold Open,” created by juniors Lesley Stevenson and Brian Lach, enrolled the assistance of other students in the filmmaking process. (Editor’s note: Stevenson is the The Observer’s News Editor. Lach is the Multimedia Editor.)Junior FTT major Jacob Schrimpf acted in the film, which he said tells the story of an ambitious actor who finds an unfinished script.“It’s all about this actor’s struggle with finding work, how to become a successful actor again and coming to terms with his own struggles,” he said.Although Schrimpf’s focus in FTT is acting, he said this was his first endeavor in film.“I didn’t realize before how time consuming making a film is,” he said. “I knew it was a difficult process, but just the intricacy that has to go into every single detail of a film is remarkable … I was just there for a fraction of the process.”Of the 11 films scheduled to run Thursday through Saturday, Schrimpf said the genres range from documentaries to dramas to comedies.“[The film festival] is a cool way to see what do people in FTT do and also to see that students here can produce very professional work that’s interesting and engaging,” he said. “I think the work of the filmmaker is often underappreciated, but it really is a detail-oriented, time-consuming process.”Through his role in “Cold Open,” Schrimpf said his respect for the filming process has increased immensely. He added that the film festival is also a unique opportunity to bring student work to the big screen.Mandell said, “I’m hopeful, as in past years, that some of these films will be selected to be screened at other film festivals around the country.”Tags: 26th annual festival, 26th annual film festival, debartolo performing arts center, film television and theater, film television and theatre, FTT, FTT Film festival, undergraduate films
Tags: Arianna Thelen, Colleen Michael, Dr. Jim Ward, hypnotism, hypnotist, Hypnotist at SMC, Kaylee Titsworth, Makena Henell, saint mary’s Monica Villagomez Mendez| The Observer Dr. Jim Wand hypnotizes Saint Mary’s students. Wand has also worked with celebrities like Jay Leno and Conan O’ Brian.The Saint Mary’s Student Activities Board (SAB) brought hypnotist Dr. Jim Wand to campus on Thursday. The free event was open to all students, including Notre Dame and Holy Cross students.SAB president and senior Arianna Thelen said the group decided to book Wand because it wanted to host a different kind of performance.“We decided to bring in Dr. Jim Wand because we were looking to bring something unique to SMC,” Thelen said. “We have not had a hypnotist come in years and thought it would be a great experience for SMC students.”SAB vice president and junior Colleen Michael said Wand, who hypnotized about 30 students during the performance, is “highly qualified.”Thelen said Wand has performed for over 30 years and does over 200 performances each year. Wand has worked with celebrities such as Jay Leno, Conan O’Brian, Rascal Flatts, and Jeff Probst and has appeared on programs on Comedy Central, she said.Thelen said once participants are hypnotized, the performance became a comedy show.“Dr. Jim Wand does anything from having the students dance and sing to having them think they are supermodels,” Thelen said. “No matter how the students participate, the show will be very entertaining for everyone who comes.”Junior Kaylee Titsworth said she did not remember most of the experience. She said being hypnotized felt like falling asleep, and the show, which ran about an hour an a half, felt like it was only five minutes long.“I remember him telling people to go to sleep … but I don’t remember him doing it to me,” she said.Once she was told about things she had done onstage, Titsworth said she started to remember more.Wand said anyone being hypnotized would wake up feeling re-energized, as if they had slept for up to eight hours.“I was tired at the beginning of it,” Titsworth said. “… I feel more [energized], but I’m not hyper.”Freshman Makena Henell, who was also hypnotized, said the show felt like it lasted over an hour, but her memories of what she did during that hour are spotty.“I felt fuzzy in the head,” she said. “…. I felt like I had to make him really happy, and I felt like I had to give the audience a show.”The purpose of the event was to foster community, Michael said.“It is an opportunity to have fun, laugh and create memories together,” she said.Thelen said SAB has hosted and will host several similar events throughout the year.“We hope to accomplish many things by running these events such as offering relaxing breaks from academics, encouraging campus community and providing opportunities that students could only get from a college,” she said.
Zachary Llorens | The Observer Who they are: Presidential candidate Louis Bertolotti is a junior from Tenafly, New Jersey. A transfer to the University from Holy Cross College, Bertolotti currently lives in Alumni Hall and serves as the executive director of the Student Union Board (SUB), which oversees and plans programming on campus, including concerts, weekly movies and An Tostal. He also served as director of the First Undergraduate Experience in Leadership (FUEL) under the Vidal-Devine administration in his sophomore year.Vice presidential candidate Elizabeth Fenton hails from Boca Raton, Florida, and lives in Ryan Hall on campus. A junior majoring in marketing, Fenton previously served on the Vidal-Devine executive cabinet as the director of National Engagement and Outreach. She works as a football ambassador in the recruiting office and as a tour guide for Admissions and the Eck Center.Top priority: Reforming senate and taxi standardizationBertolotti said his top priority for the next year was the reforming student senate. Citing senate’s C+ grade from The Observer in December, Bertolotti said the group has stopped functioning as an independent body and should be holding the executive cabinet accountable. His plan to repurpose senate would include giving more power to senators as well as having each cabinet member speak at the weekly meetings to give updates on what progress their department has made.Fenton said her top priority would be the campaign’s taxi standardization plan. The ticket plans to work with local taxi companies to establish criteria for cabs to be endorsed by student government as safe and fair. Approved cabs would promise to take students home regardless of what campus they live on and not wait for full or past-capacity cabs before taking students where they want to go.Best Idea: A clear, direct platform outlining their goalsThe strongest part of the Bertolotti-Fenton platform is its directness; each department in the executive cabinet has at least three concrete programming or initiative-based goals, and a deadline by which they have to complete them. This lends legitimacy to the promise of transparency and accountability by offering a checklist to the student body of things they intend to accomplish.Worst Idea: Gender Relations improvementsThe only exception to the directness and clearness of the platform comes in the Gender Relations department section. Whereas other sections lay out clear goals with defined deadlines, the three tenets of this section all have a deadline of “year-round” or “2016-2017 school year” and are much less well defined. The campaign promises to continue existing sexual assault prevention campaigns including It’s On Us and GreeNDot and to “re-vamp the brother-sister dorm relationship.” Additionally, the decision to include “an awareness to the importance of mental health” in the Gender Relations section seems out of place. While all of these ideas are good, in comparison to the rest of the platform, they seem somewhat haphazardly thrown together.Most feasible: The implementation of a bimonthly student government newsletterMost students are not aware of what student government actually does; the introduction of a twice-monthly newsletter sent to the student body could go a long way in combatting that problem. Because the newsletter would be sent out over email, putting it together and circulating it amongst students would require little effort beyond actually writing it.Least feasible: Changing the student football ticket exchange and improving Wi-Fi on the quadsBertolotti and Fenton did not have a concrete plan in place to implement the proposed changes to student ticketing — including allowing prospective students the opportunity to use available student tickets — and it seems unlikely the Ticket Office would approve of a plan that could potentially cause more game day headaches than benefits. In terms of improving Wi-Fi coverage outside, OIT has already struggled to address previous wireless connectivity issues inside.Bottom Line: Bertolotti and Fenton have the most combined experience of the three tickets, which has given them insight into how student government currently operates. However, their top priorities, while commendable, do not seem to align with those of the student body as a whole.Tags: Elizabeth Fenton, Louis Bertolotti, student body elections
Saint Mary’s will present the musical “CHICAGO” this weekend, with performances Friday, Saturday and Sunday.“It’s a very strong cast that we have in this show, and the sense of energy that fills the auditorium when they are performing these numbers is electrifying,” director Mark Abram-Copenhaver said. “It’s a fun evening of theater.”“CHICAGO” tells the story of the women in Cook County Jail for murdering their husbands. However, beyond the surface of the story, the play explores history and demonstrates the innate need to feel important, Abram-Copenhaver said.“What we see is characters that are desperately trying to be acknowledged as being important in some way,” Abram-Copenhaver said. “They each go about doing that in different ways, but, in spite of the fact that they have this really human need that people can relate to, the way we see them go about it is really dark.”Abram-Copenhaver said the need to be acknowledged and feel important is precisely what makes the play relatable to so many. “They violate the law, they manipulate the press, they manipulate the court system — they are just really cynical about rules and ethics,” he said. “None of those things are really important to them in their quest for attention. This might sound like some people we all know.”Not only does “CHICAGO” explore the human desire for recognition, but it also is an empowering story for women, Abram-Copenhaver said.“It is irreverent and it is sexy,” he said. “Especially this being a story about women, it is about female empowerment and females claiming power where they normally have none. The opening number is clearly that — these women in situations where they are all murderesses, they are all on trial for their lives — but they are in this number claiming that what they did was the right thing to do.”The sexiness of the play is something that sets it apart from other musicals, first year Jennie Liu said. “The costumes are professionally made, personalized and more revealing, and the script contains some words that would normally be replaced in a high school play,” Liu said.Liu wanted to participate in the production to experience a new type of theater, she said. “I decided to participate in “CHICAGO” because I loved the movie and the musical, and I wanted to see how a college production is different from a high school production,” Liu said.Due to its unique nature, “CHICAGO” differs from even other college productions, Abram-Copenhaver said. “This is going to be unlike other shows that you see at the schools, either Saint Mary’s or Notre Dame,” he said. “This is edgy, it is jazzy, and it is sexy in a way that many of our shows don’t have the opportunity to be.”Tags: Chicago, Musical, SMC fine arts departments, Theater
CAITLYN JORDAN | The Observer CAITLYN JORDAN | The Observer After 18 years in the LaFortune Student Center, Burger King was replaced this summer by Smashburger, a national fast-food chain specializing in burgers and shakes.Jim LaBella, general manager of The Huddle, said sales so far have far exceeded their expectations. “We were expecting to sell maybe 50 shakes a day, but we’ve already sold 300 today, so we’re ordering like crazy,” La Bella said. LaBella is already placing the next food order, and he said the restaurant has been busy around the clock. In addition to the classic burgers, the restaurant serves chicken, salads and sides. “It’s been crazy; we already need more of almost everything,” LaBella said. “Fortunately, you know, the supplier can come every day. They’re just in Grand Rapids, and they carry everything we need for Smashburger, so that’s great. There’s no guesswork involved.”Feedback from customers so far has been positive as well, LaBella said, and lines have been long at nearly all hours. “It’s going really well so far, so that’s been awesome,” he said. LaBella has been with the University dining services for 23 years, and he said he thinks this was a good change for the student center. “It was a long process to change from Burger King. We worked on it for about three years,” LaBella said. “There was student involvement, as far as the satisfaction with Burger King, and all that. Again, it was a really long process, we were talking about it for a really long time, and we took in a lot of input.”Fortunately, LaBella said, the transition has been smooth. “It’s been hectic because it’s been so busy,” he said. “The one thing I do want to say is that last week, we were in training with the Smashburger corporate people and it was great, just really phenomenal training. It was basically a week of training. They just locked us in here and we went on full blast.” The Starbucks in the student center also underwent a major renovation over the summer, which added seating and expanded the work space. Additionally, the west entrance and steps into the building were remodeled over the summer. LaBella said the construction is only just now finishing up.“We only got fully moved in here [Wednesday],” LaBella said. “We were still screwing in some things, so [Wednesday] was the first day we were really open for business.”Tags: Campus DIning, la fortune student center, Smashburger, Starbucks
Nichole Ornelas, currently an Associate Program Director at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Indianapolis, spoke Wednesday at Saint Mary’s about her career path and the lessons she’s learned since her time at Saint Mary’s. Ornelas graduated from the college in 2005 with a major in communication studies and a minor in business administration.As a college senior, Ornelas worked an internship at a local TV station. Even though the internship was difficult and time-consuming, Ornelas said it helped give her the work ethic she needed for career success.“It was a great experience, and I learned a lot,” she said “Most importantly, I learned that no matter what, I should always give 110% whether I want to be doing the task or not.”After the internship, Ornelas received a full-time offer with the station, but ultimately decided to decline, despite not having other offers. She said while was a risky move, she believed she made the right decision. Ornelas instead decided to move back home to Youngstown, Ohio, and worked for her family business to help pay off loans.“I was really stressed out because I had no clue what I wanted to do,” she said.In Ohio, Ornelas was approached by a friend working at local radio station about working in sales, even though she had no experience in the field.“I was absolutely terrified, but I took the job anyway,” she said.After a few months, Ornelas decided to switch from sales to the promotions department even though it involved a huge pay cut and demotion. She believed the pay cut was worth because she could work in the department which best matched her skill set.Eventually, Ornelas decided the for-profit world was not for her. She said in for-profit businesses, everything is cutthroat and your performance is entirely based on sales. Orneals then interviewed for a job at a nonprofit radio station in Georgia, and after receiving the offer she reached out to her dad about what she should do.“He said, ‘what good can come if you do take the job?’ And I realized, everything can happen,” she said.“It’ll increase my salary, change my life and be a whole new experience, so I took the job and moved to Savannah, Georgia.”The experience of moving to a whole new city taught Ornelas how to be humble.“I had a chip on my shoulder and thought I knew more than I did, and I had a tough boss,” she said. “It was the first time I ever received negative feedback. I questioned everything. I really thought about going home.” Ultimately, Ornelas said her experiences taught her how to overcome adversity and said when she’s hiring people to her team, the most important thing she wants to know about a candidate is how they’ve overcome challenges.Ornelas is currently responsible for fundraising events for St. Jude. No child that receives treatment at St. Jude receives a bill, so fundraising is very important to the non-profit she said. She and her three-person team cover fundraising for the entire state of Indiana. They work with radio stations, colleges, high schools and corporations to receive donations and plan events such as walks and marathons.Ornelas took the job in Indianapolis because she wanted to move closer to her family and begin planting roots — while she once valued independence and adventure, she now values stability.“My priorities over my career changed drastically, and that’s okay. It’s about your happiness, and you need to make sure you’re in the right place,” she said.Ornelas said she wouldn’t have a successful career without female mentorship. She thinks it’s important for women to share their stories with each other about how they can improve their work. She said enjoys the nonprofit world because it is predominantly women, and wants to see more women taking on upper leadership roles in the corporate world.“I’ve surrounded myself with women who are my mentors,” she said. “They build me up and support me through life. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing.”Ornelas encourages women to be their own leaders and not let tough or undermining bosses stop them from striving for success.“You are your own future — you can do whatever you want as long as you’re pushing yourself,” she said.For Ornelas, taking big risks brought back big success and believes that with hard work and courage, anything can happen.“If I could go back and tell myself anything, it’d be that nothing goes the way you think it will, and that’s okay,” she said.“The most important thing is how you handle what life throws at you.”Tags: Career Discernment, Nichole Ornelas, St. Jude
Starting with the Notre Dame class of 2022, students will be required to live on campus for six semesters. Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president of student affairs, said the changes came after gathering student feedback as to why there was a trend for upperclassmen to move off campus. “Student feedback was crucial to several things, I would say,” Hoffmann Harding said. “One is why students choose to move off campus, which would apply to anything in terms of the new strategies moving forward. And secondly, certainly and specifically, in terms of the incentives. We looked, as well, at external benchmarking in peer institutions.”Andrea Savage | The Observer Brown, Duke and Georgetown all have three-year requirements, and Vanderbilt has four, Heather Rakoczy Russell, associate vice president for residential life, said. These institutions have seen high rates of student retainment as far as on-campus living, which Notre Dame hopes to replicate with establishing a six-semester requirement, Hoffmann Harding said. The requirement is not a major adjustment to the current status quo, as only 2 to 3 percent of sophomores and 15 percent of juniors live off campus, Hoffmann Harding said. Rakoczy Russell said she believes in carrying out this change because of “the formation that happens in [Notre Dame’s] residence halls.”“I would say that so much of what I was taught about my values and who I felt I was called to become and who I was to become happened as a result of living in community,” she said. “It’s not always pretty — it happens by difference and challenge and conflict resolution, and some of that happened as a result of what you may describe as ‘the bubble,’ the spirit and the traditions that grow up. … If people think of it as the bubble, I would say this: Cherish the bubble, because it’s very fleeting.”By adding this requirement, one of the priorities of the department is to alleviate overcrowding in dorms, and as such, the University will seek funding for two new residence halls.“Opening Dunne and Flaherty last fall was such a huge step for us, realizing and taking care of that challenge on campus for our students,” Hoffmann Harding said. “And then the second one was really thinking about hall renewals and how we could make that cycle faster and do more work to some of our historic halls, because we knew they needed it and students would desire that. So once we had those two problems and challenges really addressed, we could turn our attention to something that had long worried us. But we weren’t able to be proactive because we didn’t have space available in the residence halls.”One of the prospective new dorms will be located west of Ryan Hall, and the other will likely be located on the quad near Dunne and Flaherty, Hoffmann Harding said. “We’re planning and hoping for 250 beds for the one west of Ryan and 225 for the one on the north side of campus,” Hoffmann Harding said. Pangborn will remain a swing dorm as the University continues to do renovations on some of the more “historic” dorms on campus, Hoffmann Harding said. While Morrissey will be the next dorm to undergo major renovations, Hoffmann Harding said they hope to announce the dorm set to follow Morrissey this school year. Rakoczy Russell said the University will be focusing on one major year-long dorm renovation and one minor summer-long dorm renovation per year for a 10-year cycle. “We intentionally haven’t announced what the order [of dorms] is because each year we’re doing assessment of the conditions, which could change. So we don’t want to give wrong expectations for a hall,” Rakoczy Russell said. In addition to the six semester requirement, Hoffmann Harding said they are hoping to incentivize seniors to stay on campus.“Some seniors were choosing to move off campus because they were perceiving that they wouldn’t be able to be near their friends,” Hoffmann Harding said. “So, if that is true, that’s actually something we can fix, and to say in room picks, typically, rectors will often freeze certain rooms for first-year students so that they’ll be integrated into the section. If that makes the difference between them going off and staying on, we want to change that process. It’s not full autonomy for room picks, it’s what specifically can we change in room picks to retain upperclass students, but specifically targeting seniors.”Some financial incentives may also be given to seniors staying in their dorm. “For instance, we’re kicking around the idea that if you were to express a preference for living on campus as a senior, as a sophomore, might the University have an ability to be able to guarantee a room cost for you or, recognizing the value of having seniors on campus, have a reduced room cost for students who express that preference early,” Hoffmann Harding said. “It’s something we want to consider and offer and, again, gather feedback to see would that be helpful to students as they’re navigating this conversation with peers or developers in the local market, appropriately weighing on-campus and off-campus offers for seniors.”Additionally, Hoffmann Harding said they have heard an overwhelming response from seniors for a flexibility in meal plans. “We’ve had great collaboration with food services throughout this process in terms of exploring more flexible dining options, perhaps akin to what’s available to off-campus students now,” Hoffmann Harding said. “So only purchasing a certain number of meals, or perhaps having more Flex Points or Domer Dollars as they think about that, but also having more facilities available to students.”Rakoczy Russell said they also hope to mitigate some of the stress of signing leases to live off campus early. “Last year to my horror, I heard this story happening with first-year students, first-year students who were being targeted and being told that fall break was really the latest possible time they could sign for their senior year, which is absurd, right?” Rakoczy Russell said. “But if that’s the story they’re hearing, it’s being told in a convincing way. It’s part of what we’re trying to get people to pause long enough and to ask good questions and become educated and realize that’s actually not true. But that will only happen if we start to change the story, and maybe financial incentives will get people to pause long enough to really be very thoughtful about that decision.”Students studying abroad in a Notre Dame program will be able to count their semester abroad as one “on campus,” Hoffmann Harding said. “We want to talk to students, we want to talk to Notre Dame International to better understand the other experiences that students have,” Hoffmann Harding said. “There are occasions, for example, where students might enroll in another university other than Notre Dame to take advantage of study abroad, so we have to think about that in context of transfer students who want to live on campus, as well as other readmitted students returning and work that through in the details. It’s not solidified, but a point of further conversation.”Rakoczy Russell said the University also hopes to develop more consistency in policy across the dorm system, and decisions as to what will fall under the discretion of rectors will be informed by student feedback. “I wouldn’t say it’s as simple as rectors have no discretion and everything should come centrally. I think that would be ruining part of what is so special about our model, and that is the role of the rector,” Rakoczy Russell said. “But should there be some things that are universally done that students have expectations and know what they can count on, then yes. … The dance or the delicate balance of it will be informed by students, so we need to listen well to students to say where should rectors have discretion, what are those things that should be more regulated.”Tags: dorms, Housing, Office of Student Affairs