Economics professor David Ruccio discussed the current economic crisis through commentary on his blog “Occasional Links and Commentary on Economics, Culture and Society” Thursday evening in Geddes Hall. Russio said his blog considers local and global inequality through the presentation of data. He started his blog while on sabbatical in the summer of 2009 and previously wrote commentary on a personal website with little public exposure. Since then, his blog has grown to average up to 1,000 views daily and has had more than 300,000 views since its creation. The blog has led to many media appearances and his posts are frequently featured in the “Real World Economic Review” blog. “Occasional Links and Commentaries” focuses on American macroeconomics. Ruccio said research for the blog was challenging since his specialties in Marxian economics and development economics, did not cover macroeconomics. Ruccio said he thoroughly researches issues prior to writing a commentary. These investigations result in four-to-eight blog entries a day. “I don’t write about it unless I think I have something to say,” he said. Ruccio said the most satisfying part of his blog is to hear people have found the information useful. “Clearly, with 300,000 views, I reach a lot more people with this blog than I have through any book or article I have written, or any lecture I have given,” Ruccio said. In the future, Ruccio said he hopes to apply for funding to pursue his research further. He said he would use the funding add long-term assistants. The lecture was a continuation of the ongoing series sponsored by the Higgins Labor Studies Program.
After testimonies at a March 5 town hall meeting called to address instances of racial discrimination revealed a widespread problem of racial discrimination on campus, community leaders are working to foster an environment that better embodies the ideal outlined in Notre Dame’s “Spirit of Inclusion” statement. The statement asserts the University welcomes “all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and nationality, for example, precisely because of Christ’s calling to treat others as we desire to be treated.” Senior Brittany Suggs, former chair of the Black Student Association, said everyone at Notre Dame needs to take responsibility for the well-being of the entire community. “These problems are not just one group’s problems … and as a member of the Notre Dame family, it is your duty to be informed and to take up this cause,” Suggs said. “We want a place that can feel like home for everyone … If we are a family, it is important to also be attentive to the needs of all of the other members of our family.” Suggs said “Call to Action” committees formed to address racial discrimination, and those groups synthesized the concerns voiced at the town hall meeting into a plan of action. “We are working on a response that aligns with many of the plans … that come from what the student body and greater Notre Dame community presented at the town hall meeting,” she said. Suggs said the committees considered stories of struggle voiced by the students at the town hall meeting to form an overarching plan of action meant to correct a campus culture in which discrimination can persist. “We shared the stories that were presented during the town hall meeting … Then we also shared the more general suggestions from the town hall meeting,” Suggs said. “What we did from there was discussed more in-depth how to create responses to these two sets of information and worked with these different departments.” Two preliminary results of the committees’ work have been heartening, Suggs said. “Immediately after the town hall meeting, there was an increase in reporting [instances of discrimination] and an increase in faculty members being available to assist students with reporting,” Suggs said. “Another reaction has been the [increased] vigor that people have for the issue … keeping the discussion very much alive.” Student government leaders have participated in the committees attempting to address discrimination at Notre Dame and have taken initiatives to complement the conclusions drawn in those committees, student body president Brett Rocheleau said. “Student government has been heavily involved with each of the committees, and Student Senate just passed a resolution the other day that basically said we are looking for a University task force to go through and review the systems of how training is done … looking back on what’s going on and taking a second look at how we can improve the processes that could be a part of this inclusion,” he said. Student body president emeritus Pat McCormick said he is working alongside Rocheleau to develop a presentation for the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting that will focus on ways to build an inclusive community. “Our hope is to offer a forward-looking view as to how we might build a more inclusive community on campus with a wide variety of campus stakeholders that is truly consistent with the mission of the University of Notre Dame,” McCormick said. Rocheleau said while acknowledging the long-term vision necessarily defines these efforts, student government hopes to begin to implement programs that will change the atmosphere before the next school year. “We are going to hit the ground running in the fall when everyone is back on campus, whether it is new faculty diversity training or new events during Freshman Orientation,” Rocheleau said. “We are trying to make everyone more informed on diversity issues on campus and trying to expand the resources already offered at Notre Dame … making sure when we get to campus this issue remains relevant until it gets solved and there is a culture of inclusion.” Vice President for Student Affairs Fr. Tom Doyle said his office has a similarly long-term vision for implementing programs to change the campus atmosphere, but it also seeks to create short-term progress. “We want to make sure that there’s a real awareness and sensitivity to things that might be part of our tradition that are unwittingly off-putting to parts of our community,” Doyle said. “We are taking a look [at programs in place] and saying, ‘Are there things that we can do better for our rectors, our assistant rectors, our RAs … our Freshman Orientation staff?’” Doyle said his office will emphasize training residence halls’ Freshman Orientation staffs in racial sensitivity. “We are trying to make sure that each dorm understands how important it is to extend hospitality and welcome not just students of color, but also to international students, students who might be gay, lesbian or questioning and students who might be disabled,” he said. The University will also focus on ensuring that hiring practices build this sense of community, Doyle said. “In our own hiring, [we will be] making sure that we have much more diverse pools of applicants, and for all of our applicants trying to ask better questions about their cultural competency, preparedness to work in a diverse setting, and readiness to … teach and lead,” Doyle said. Doyle said although this process will not yield quick results, the unique climate currently at Notre Dame enables the community to become one that is truly catholic, not just Catholic. “There’s no one thing that will fix the culture or will fix operations,” he said. “It’s going to take trust, mutual good will, and some risks on everyone’s part – but I think what we have realized is that the risks are well worth the reward. We want to be Catholic and catholic, meaning that we are a Roman Catholic university and a catholic community … an environment on campus that is welcoming and hospitable to everyone in a deep and abiding way.”
Almost as soon as news of the by now infamous Lennay Kekua hoax broke last week, it was clear the media would have some answering to do. Rather than uncovering the truth, we all unknowingly perpetuated the false narrative. This is my turn to answer, and my turn to apologize. We at The Observer were one of the many organizations taken in by the hoax, and we published stories mentioning Kekua’s death. Since Wednesday, I’ve taken the time to review our coverage mentioning the Kekua story, and while the results are encouraging, we did make mistakes. All told, we mentioned the story in six separate articles this fall, all of which are attached to this article on our website in their original form. Only one, a Senior Day feature published in the Nov. 16 Irish Insider focusing on Manti Te’o’s relationship with the student body, identified Kekua’s name, or identified her as a student at Stanford. Three gave a passing mention to Te’o losing his grandmother and girlfriend in the same week, while one described her death as Te’o’s motivation to reach out to the family of a young and terminally ill Irish fan. We should have checked if Kekua in fact attended Stanford. However, the story had been so widely reported in the months prior to that article that we mistakenly took her attendance at Stanford to be common knowledge. We should have cited reports of Kekua’s death, rather than again citing it as common knowledge. As we all know now, we got those facts wrong. For that, I take responsibility and sincerely apologize. We always strive to live up to the mission statement listed on the front page of every paper and bring the truth to our readers. But after reading through every word of our coverage mentioning Kekua, I feel safe standing by all of it. We never made that story a focal point of our coverage. We covered the community’s response to the Te’o’s pain in the form of the leis against Michigan. We covered how Te’o responded to his difficult days by playing some of his best football. And we covered how the football program and larger community supported Te’o in those days – and how that strengthened the bond between the linebacker and his classmates. None of those things changed when the hoax was revealed, which is why I’m still proud of the exceptional coverage we produced. As a student newspaper, we always felt the story should be about Te’o and the support he received from fellow students, and thus Kekua was only a minor detail. That mindset helped us cover the story that mattered to our readers, and helped us maintain accuracy too. However, the lessons we learned from re-examining the Te’o story can help us as we move forward in covering the many incredible stories of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities. Every article we publish goes through at least two rounds of copy editing, and our copy editors fact check on an ad hoc basis. We will be more vigilant in checking verifiable facts, and will be more comfortable sacrificing compelling but unverifiable details in order to maintain our accuracy. We won’t stop covering the great stories that take place every day, from the triumphant to the heartbreaking. But we won’t stop striving for the truth, either. As always, if you see something in The Observer that you think might be inaccurate, please contact me. And if you have more questions about our our coverage of this story, please let me know. I firmly believe our coverage since the hoax was revealed has been impeccable, and I’m still incredibly proud of the work we did to cover Te’o’s season, among many other big stories, last semester. But we have learned our lessons from our mistakes – and hopefully, we’ll never have to answer for similar mistakes again. Contact Allan Joseph at [email protected]
Don Steinke, a former assistant registrar at Notre Dame, was sentenced to four years in prison after violating his probation for a voyeurism conviction in March 2011, according to the South Bend Tribune. He was arrested and charged in 2011 after a woman found a camera pointed towards a toilet in a campus bathroom. St. Joseph County Superior Court Judge Jerome Frese ruled yesterday Steinke violated his probation by failing to seek mental health counseling after the March 2011 arrest, the report said. The initial incident was a Class D felony. The Tribune report said St. Joseph County prosecutors added three more charges of voyeurism in March 2012 after more cameras were found. Steinke pleaded guilty to the four charges, which Frese decided to treat as misdemeanors. The original punishment consisted of four years of probation and 20 hours of community service, according to the report. Frese ordered Steinke to seek counseling, but prosecutors filed a petition in February to revoke probation when Steinke failed to do so, the report said. An evidentiary hearing took place earlier this month, and the sentence for prison time came down yesterday.
Brian Hartnett, Isaac Lorton, Kevin Song and Samantha Zuba have been hired to help oversee The Observer’s editorial operations in 2014-15, incoming Editor-in-Chief Ann Marie Jakubowski announced Wednesday.Hartnett will serve as Managing Editor, the no. 2 spot at the paper, while Lorton, Song and Zuba will serve as Assistant Managing Editors. They begin their new roles March 17.As Managing Editor, Hartnett will be responsible for assisting Jakubowski in supervising The Observer’s editorial departments. A junior majoring in marketing with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, Hartnett is a resident of Carroll Hall currently studying abroad in London.The Clark, N.J., native served as The Observer’s interhall editor in Fall 2012 and covered Notre Dame women’s basketball on its run to the Final Four in 2013. He also served as a beat writer for Notre Dame women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, among other sports.“The Observer has been a major part of my Notre Dame experience, and I want to give back to all those who help make the paper a daily reality by helping to steer it to an even more promising future,” Hartnett said.Lorton is a junior majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Lorton is a Keenan Hall resident currently studying abroad in London. A native of Prescott Valley, Ariz., he serves as an assistant sports editor and covered men’s soccer’s road to winning the national championship, as well as hockey and baseball.“I am extremely excited to help The Observer in any way I can with passion and dedication,” Lorton said.Song is a junior majoring in finance and computer applications and living off campus. Hailing from Green Brook, N.J., he currently serves as the Online Editor and Associate Photo Editor and led the project to launch the new website for The Observer.“There’s been a lot of push to improving the online presence for newspapers worldwide, and I’m excited to be able to help The Observer enhance the web experience,” Song said.Zuba is a junior majoring in English with minors in German and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. The Wheeling, Ill., native lives in Breen-Phillips Hall and sings in Notre Dame’s Women’s Liturgical Choir. Zuba has covered women’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s tennis beats while also serving as Baraka Bouts editor this fall. This summer, she will intern with the L.A. Times sports department.“I am really looking forward to working closely with our individual staff members to create the best possible product for our readers,” Zuba said.
This year, LimeBike — a bike-sharing program introduced to campus by the administration and student government — will sweeten the ride at Notre Dame. The program, which operates in several different places across the country, aims to give students an affordable and sustainable mode of transport.The bikes are currently available in South Bend and on Notre Dame’s campus, and are coming soon to Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. Patrons gain access to a bike by scanning a QR code on the bike with an app available to download to a smartphone. After doing so, students may ride the bikes anywhere in the given area — either South Bend or Notre Dame’s campus. Once they have reached their destination, a student would simply lock the bike and leave it wherever he or she is. After that, the bike is available for anyone to use.This easy accessibility and convenience is perfect for Notre Dame students, junior Caitlin Murphy, co-director of student life, said.“Student government is so excited to bring the LimeBikes to Notre Dame’s campus this year,” she said in an email. “I think they are perfect for our students as they are easily accessible, affordable and useful. I have been thrilled every time I’ve seen them being used around campus over the past week.”Junior Prathm Juneja, the student government chief of staff, said South Bend contacted the University as the city worked to implement LimeBikes.“I stayed in South Bend this summer working for the mayor’s office,” he said. “They were implementing LimeBike. I contacted the University, they said LimeBikes had contacted them and they handled it. They asked me about price and I negotiated a student discount.”The timing was fortuitous, as a student government committee had been crafting a bike-sharing proposal when LimeBike contacted the school, Juneja said. He noted that “a lot of credit” goes to administrative offices in the Main Building for the work they did to bring the program to campus. Juneja said the program has been off to a positive start.“In general, it has been a great start,” he said. “Students can take them wherever, and LimeBike handles maintenance, as well as picking up and dropping off bikes to even them out. All we had to do [was] give them the land.”However, Juneja also discussed several problems that are being looked at. He noted that some students don’t have smartphones, which makes it impossible for them to use the bikes. Given the expensiveness of smartphones, the requirement to own one to use the bikes defeats the affordability appeal. Proposed solutions include an alternative payment method or a voucher system. There are also security and abuse concerns, as there have been some reports that bikes have been thrown into the St. Joseph River and at least one was put into a tree on campus, Juneja said. However, stealing them is difficult because a security alert and alarm goes off on the bike if someone tries riding it without scanning it, and if unlocked bikes go missing, the company can see who the last user was. Regarding this issue, Juneja said Student Government hopes students “will do the right thing and treat the bikes well.”But, Juneja said, the future looks bright.“LimeBike seems to like us,” he said. “We’re really happy with the amount of people that are using it. We hope it continues and expands.”Tags: LimeBike, Student government, transportation
As harsh weather continues to torment South Bend, the longing for warmer days reminds students of a second-semester Notre Dame tradition: ring by spring. For those students who do get engaged before or near graduation, their next step toward marriage is participating in Campus Ministry’s marriage preparation course.Kelly Klee serves as the marriage preparation coordinator at Notre Dame. Klee is responsible for teaching the marriage preparation course taken both by current Notre Dame students and other couples planning to wed in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Lady Chapel or the Log Chapel. Klee said this course has been running for about six years.“Campus Ministry decided to change course about six years ago to our current model because [of] the concern that we were offering marriage preparation to people out of town rather than encouraging them to get involved in their local parish,” Klee said.At least one of the pair has to be a student or a member of the parish to take the course. Campus Ministry asks the couple to contact the organization to partake in marriage preparation at least six months before the wedding date. After an introductory meeting with Klee, the couple takes a 150-question online inventory where the pair is asked about all aspects of a shared life together.“For the next three to four meetings, I go through these reports with the couple,” Klee said. “We discuss areas of remedy and areas where they are still kind of working things out and identify some areas of growth.”The couple receives several homework assignments related to the sacramental and spiritual aspects of marriage. The assignments are important, Klee said, because not only do they want to help couples with communication, parenting and marriage roles, but they also want them to discuss the theological aspects of matrimony.Next, the couple meets with a married sponsor couple.“All the sponsors are connected to Notre Dame as alumni or as staff,” Klee said. “The married sponsors invite the engaged couple into their home. This gives the couple the opportunity to hear about the joys and challenges of marriage.”The couples also participate in a one-day marriage preparation course with the Diocese and attend family planning instruction, either in person or online.Klee believes this program is extremely important for couples to experience before they say their vows.“Marriage is a vocation and a lifelong commitment, and people deserve as much preparation as possible,” Klee said. “There is such great opportunity for spiritual growth prior to giving yourself to someone, and we owe that help to couples who are making this commitment.”Tags: Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Campus Ministry, marriage, marriage preparation, Ring by Spring, Weddings
University President Fr. John Jenkins offered his condolences for the over 200 people killed and 450 injured in church and hotel bombings in Sri Lanka in a statement Sunday. “On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims in the Sri Lanka attacks,” Jenkins said in the statement. “As we, along with Christians around the world, gathered to celebrate the joyful Easter message of victory over sin and death, we were shocked and saddened to hear news of such cruel killings in Sri Lanka, some at Easter Masses.”Jenkins asked all Christians to join him in praying for the victims of the attacks and called for justice for those responsible.“We commend to God those killed, pray for those wounded and call for an impartial inquiry that will bring perpetrators to justice,” he said.Tags: Easter, Fr. John Jenkins, Sri Lanka, sri lankan bombings
Following the death of former U.S. senator and 2003 University commencement speaker Richard Lugar, University President Fr. John Jenkins offered his sympathy to Lugar’s family and friends in a statement Sunday.“On behalf of the University of Notre Dame, I convey condolences to the family and friends of Sen. Richard G. Lugar, a giant of the Senate, recognized by Americans and leaders throughout the world for his keen insight into and understanding of foreign affairs,” Jenkins said in the statement.Lugar was also the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree, awarded to him by the University. In 2008, Lugar personally awarded the student-led organization GreeND with the “Energy Patriot Award,” according to the statement.“Lugar was a friend to Notre Dame and a dedicated public servant for all of Indiana,” Jenkins said in the statement.Tags: ‘Energy Patriot Award’, 2003 commencement speaker, GreenND, Richard Lugar
The announcement that the University would be transitioning to two weeks of online learning was met with mixed reactions; some claimed students should have never come in the first place, some suggested students should be allowed to continue instruction virtually if they wished and some wanted to continue to do whatever they could to remain on campus.Notre Dame seniors and roommates Emily Meara and Madison Kuehl decided to write a letter expressing gratitude to the administration for all of its efforts to make campus a safe place for students to live — and it has received 3,090 co-signatures.“That must’ve been a really difficult decision and not one that anyone wanted to necessarily make. Even in light of having to go virtual, there were so many amazing resources that they did provide for us,” Meara said. “[The letter is] a call to action that, at least during these two weeks, let’s work together, let’s try to commit to following the rules and see if we can continue to stay here and learn and live together as a Notre Dame community.”Daniel Philpott, a political science professor, said in-person instruction has far greater value than the Zoom-based learning the University is currently mandating.“It’s much better than online Zoom instruction. Being together in person, inquiring together, learning together, speaking together, having that personal presence is absolutely invaluable for learning,” Philpott said. “It’s a blessing that we have [Zoom], but teaching in person is infinitely better. It is at the very heart of our purpose as a university.”Kuehl said one of the goals in writing the letter was a call to action; she and Meara said they hoped to promote solidarity and commitment to protecting the community at large.“Notre Dame has obviously been in the news a lot recently. The administration has been seeing a wide variety of responses and criticisms and support, just all across the spectrum there, so we just really wanted them to know that we’re appreciative of what they have done because I think promoting positivity during this time can’t hurt anything,” Kuehl said.Philpott said although the letter is by no means a scientific poll of the opinions of the student body and doesn’t explicitly say the students want to stay in person, the gratitude expressed takes a stance against the negativity of other feedback.“The impression was that there was a kind of harsh anger and despair among the students, but I think what this petition shows is that, in fact, there are many students, maybe even a silent majority, who are much in favor of staying and going back to teaching in person,” Philpott said. “Now, you know if you read the petition closely, it doesn’t actually say, ‘We want to stay in person,’ but by expressing gratitude to the administration and encouragement, I think it’s trying very deliberately to take a different stance than the one that expressed all the anger.”Meara said she believes commitment and selflessness will be essential in the coming weeks.“We recognized that as a community if we work together and put the needs of the Notre Dame community at large above our own, that we could get through this,” Meara said. “That would involve committing to following the regulations and guidelines set forth by [University President] Fr. [John] Jenkins and the administration, whether that be wearing a mask at all times or staying 6 ft. apart.”Most of the cases from the recent spike, Philpott said, came from students not following guidelines laid out in the HERE campaign rather than in the classrooms themselves.“Almost no cases have been arising from the classroom or the dining hall or professors’ offices or the locker room. The fact is that the HERE campaign was largely successful,” Philpott said. “What the University tried to do and the way they tried to protect the students largely succeeded. It just was because some very small number of students were not following it. That’s where the problem arose.”Meara said she and Kuehl have already delivered the letter to Provost Marie Lynn Miranda and hope to do the same for Jenkins later this week.“Because this is such an unprecedented time, there’s no one plan to get through this or one timeline that’s going to be perfect,” Meara said. “Recognizing that they have our best interests and safety in mind and taking them for that and for the commitment and work that they did over the summer and in the past many months, we recognize that regardless of whether we stay or stay at home that [their effort] is something that we understand and we’re unwilling to let go unnoticed.”Tags: COVID-19, Here, in-person classes, Letter, University President Fr. John Jenkins, zoom