Heading into the 2010 midterm elections, health care is a front and center issue, said Kathy Saile, director of Domestic Policy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Saile said Wednesday that the USCCB believes the health care bill should be passed. She spoke during the fourth installment of the “Pizza, Pop and Politics” series. “There have been a lot of cries for repeal, but the Bishops’ believe we need to support this bill now more than ever,” she said. “However, there are some things that need to be fixed so that it becomes a more moral bill.” USCCB has focused on three moral criteria in their push for health care reform, which include respect for life and conscience, affordability for the poor and access to much-needed basic health care for immigrants, Saile said. “Politically, the USCCB was one of the only pro-life organizations that supported health care reform,” she said. “That really kept as the table when the bill was being debated and discussed.” She said the USCCB came to an agreement with pro-life Democrats that health care would not be used for the federal funding of abortions. “The bill had to be fixed so that we could honestly say it didn’t provide for federal funding of abortions,” she said. “In the very end, the Rules Committee voted to allow one amendment, the Stupak amendment, which made that statement true.” While the USCCB recognizes that the bill would provide quality and affordable access to health care, there still are some issues, Saile said. “Immigrants would still most significantly be left out of health care,” she said. “Even legal immigrants are somewhat cut out.” Saile said much of the health care bill has yet to be written. “A great deal of the bill uses the phrase, ‘the secretary shall,’ which means there isn’t a set policy in place,” she said. “It is important to continue to monitor what is going on with health care in the United States.” Bishops in the United States have been talking about the need for accessible and affordable health care throughout the 20th century, Saile said. “Health care is a moral issue and something that everyone, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to,” she said. “And that message has been constant in the USCCB’s teachings.”
Several Notre Dame students participated in a race through a giant obstacle course this weekend, an obstacle course that ends in a field of live wires that carry a 10,000-Volt shock. Sophomores Ryan Tixier, Dan Yerkes and Kevin Colvin tested their endurance in the Tough Mudder course Saturday and Sunday in Attica, Ind. They joined more than 6,500 other participants in the 12-mile obstacle course. “Tough Mudder has some crazy obstacles, but it’s worth it because it’s for a charity that helps returning vets readjust to life back home,” Tixier said. “Our roommate, Kevin, sent us a link on Facebook about it earlier in the semester, so we all grabbed onto it.” Tixier said British Special Forces designed the course to be a test of strength, mental grit and camaraderie. All proceeds from the weekend’s race support the Wounded Warriors Project, a charity that helps soldiers returning from overseas readjust to life in the United States. Some of these veterans participated in the race, Tixier said. “The most satisfying thing is that you’re actually helping people,” Tixier said. “There were some returning vets from Iraq there, one with prosthetic legs, who did it too. That just made it much more real. It was a really great event overall.” Icy water, swamps and blazing bales of kerosene-soaked straw greeted the participants at each turn of the course, according to the race website. Other obstacles included trails of cargo nets, 12-foot high walls and wire fields. “You’d run two miles, then scale a rope and drop 20 feet into an icy lake. You would swim under barriers and could barely move at some points,” Tixier said. “At another you crawled through a trench with dangling barbed wires filled with electricity hanging down. You’d feel jolts, but you kept going.” Yerkes, who ran the Chicago Marathon in October and qualified for the Boston Marathon, said the military-style obstacles were very different from other endurance races. They made teamwork necessary to complete the course. Tixier said he was surprised by the level of camaraderie displayed at the event. Though participants were physically exhausted, he said they were enthusiastic and helped one another finish the course. “You’d stay at one place for five minutes to pull people over an obstacle,” Tixier said. “My roommate Kevin helped a girl over a muddy log because she couldn’t move. She had said, ‘My legs don’t work.’ But she rested and ended up finishing the course later.” Teamwork, physical exhaustion and determination were on full display during the course’s final sprint, Tixier said. “The very last obstacle was the field of live wires. You’d see the finish line, but stood there for two minutes with 20 other people trying to get the will power to just do it,” he said. “But it was a good last obstacle because it brought the life back into you.” The contestants celebrated the end of the race with music and food, as well as free tattoos or a head-shave, Tixier said. “They had a big stage with music, but most people huddled around fires,” Tixier said. “We were just happy to have survived. I did get my head shaved with a Mohawk before the race started though. You could get that or a mullet.” While the race was tougher and colder than he expected, Tixier said he planned to participate in a Tough Mudder event again. “I’ll do it again, but not during November,” Tixier said. “There were too many ice water swims where your entire body just goes numb. If I did it again, it would be during the summer months and I’d get more guys from my dorm to do it.”
Every Tuesday, senior PJ Moran wears the blue uniform that marks him as a member of the Air Force ROTC program. The lapels are crisp, and colored pins line the front of his shirt to recognize the accomplishments he has tackled in nearly four years at Notre Dame. But the blue uniform really stands for what he has yet to do. “We’re standing here in uniform … but we really haven’t done anything yet,” Moran said. “I think it speaks to the character of individuals in ROTC who are willing to do this, that they soon will be people who will be going off and deploying, people who will be going off to war and unfortunately people will be going off and dying for their country.” Moran will also wear this uniform today during the 24-hour vigil that began Sunday night to honor Veteran’s Day. He will take his turn, along with other cadets and midshipmen from the program’s Army, Navy and Air Force branches, to stand in front of Clarke Memorial Fountain and remember those who have served in the country’s military. “It is a day to really think about people who have done this before you,” Moran said. “Veterans Day is more to me about the people like my grandparents, the people like the ones who are over there right now and who have come back, some without limbs, some losing their friends, some losing their lives. “Today is about them.” The ROTC program hosts more than 300 students, including a number of students from area schools such as Saint Mary’s and Trine University. For Moran and these other students, today is one more reminder of the unique path they will take after graduation. “I mean, [the ROTC program administrators] don’t pull punches,” Moran said. “We are in wartime. They’re upfront with you. They tell you we are in global conflict against terrorism, you will almost certainly deploy multiple times in your career, no matter what you do. And we prepare very seriously.” Junior Mike Falvey, a member of the Marine Corps option in the ROTC program, is no stranger to the idea of active duty. His father, a Marine Corps colonel, left for service in the Middle East two days after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. His brother and sister-in-law are both first lieutenants in the Marines as well, and they both deployed about a year ago for a tour in Afghanistan. His brother is set to deploy again in January. “You’ve always got to be thinking outside of yourself,” he said. “It’s never enough to just do what you want, you have to think about these greater virtues and greater purposes. … [In a military family,] you’re raised a certain way.” Junior David Murphy, a midshipman in the Naval ROTC program, also drew on a family experience with the armed forces, saying his grandfather’s stories from the Pacific as a World War II veteran piqued his interested in military service as a child. “I would hear about things in history class and go home and call him, and he would say, ‘Oh yeah, I was there,’” Murphy said. “He loved the military and the service and the values it instilled in him.” The bond across the entire military, Murphy said, is a strong connector. “In the same way as Notre Dame, having the culture, having the tradition, being able to talk to someone who graduated from the Class of 1980 or something, I think it’s similar to talking to someone in the military,” Murphy said. Murphy and Falvey are both political science students. Their classes hit a little harder, Falvey said, because they describe the places and forces that will directly shape their lives after they graduate. “Looking at current foreign policy issues like … Iranian turmoil or trouble with North Korea, studying those issues is kind of interesting because those are, in a very real sense, places we could be,” he said. “It’s not just this theory of political science dictates we might be at war with China in 20 years. It’s an interesting perspective to take that we might be there.” After completing his degree, Moran will work as a physicist for the Air Force when he graduates in May. “I feel almost all the time like a perfectly regular Notre Dame student, going to football games, still messing around, having a good time,” he said. “But there are ties where on Tuesday [for ROTC classes] or for PT [physical training] on Monday mornings where your buddies are still in bed or playing Xbox, and you’ve got to all of a sudden transition from a regular college student to an officer candidate. “We talked all the time in ROTC about a concept called ‘the switch,’ where you’re off, you’re switched off, you’re a regular guy, a regular gal, living your life, and at a moment’s notice you’ve got to be able to switch it on and take seriously the fact that you are preparing to be a U.S. armed forces officer, which is a humungous responsibility.” Moran said his ROTC commitment presented a unique lens through which to see the foreign policy debates and political conversations during this election season. “We are called very explicitly as military members to participate in the election process, to participate in democratic America, but to do so very much under the radar. … It doesn’t matter who wins, it doesn’t matter what party’s in control, we still have to go out there and do our jobs,” he said. Senior Theo Adams is months away from completing her undergraduate degree in art history and Italian. But as a member of the Naval ROTC branch, her graduation will send her back to school – flight school on a military base in Pensacola, Fla. “[Deployment] is never something that you look forward to,” she said. “But that is the reality of my situation and the other midshipmen on campus, that that will happen.” Adams’ father served in the Navy, and her brother is currently serving on a Navy boat in the Middle East. “I won’t get to see [my brother] for Thanksgiving and Christmas and the holidays, but it’s the type of thing that you know you’ll make those sacrifices and you have a bigger image in mind that you do it for the people back home. I know my family, while we hate not seeing him, we also understand.” As she waits for emails and phone calls from her brother overseas, Adams said Veteran’s Day is just a day to be “very proud.” “Just because of the fact that our military is totally volunteer, you’re not drafted into it, you’re not told you have to,” she said. “You are the one who goes to find the paperwork. … It makes me very proud to do this and to be American.” The students enrolled in the University’s ROTC program are regular students. But they are also future members of the military, future veterans of this country’s conflicts. Today they stand in uniform outside Clark Memorial Fountain as a remembrance of the past, but also a testimony to the service of the life that lies ahead for them. “Veteran’s Day is an incredibly important day because it points to those people we kind of strive to be,” Falvey said. “If we can become those men and women who served our country, especially those who gave that highest price, who gave their lives, what more can we ask for than to honor that memory? “Not many people out there are willing to give their lives for you on any given day, and that’s what the American veteran is.”
While students ease back into a routine of classes, studying and meetings as the semester gets underway, the Student Government Association (SGA) is preparing for the busy weeks ahead. Senior student body vice president Meghan Casey said the upcoming weeks are full of various events and programs for the campus. She named Love Your Body Week, Heritage Week and Women Honoring Women Week as SGA’s larger events. “We are most looking forward to Heritage week because it gives us a chance to appreciate the opportunities we have at Saint Mary’s and learn about the heritage of the College and what past students have done while they were here,” she said. In addition to celebrating the rich tradition of the College, Heritage Week will also allow students, alumnae, parents and friends of Saint Mary’s to contribute to the Capital Campaign. “The Capital Campaign is a project to raise money for various things at the Saint Mary’s,” Casey said. “This year Heritage Week is coinciding with the [start of the] Capital Campaign. They are raising money to renovate Angela, for scholarships and to renovate the science building.” Casey said having the Capital Campaign and Heritage Week at the same time will be beneficial for both the students and the College. “We are having the Capital Campaign launch and Heritage Week the same week because the launch is raising money for the future,” she said. “During Heritage Week, we learn about people who have invested in Saint Mary’s in the past and the Capital Campaign is a way for us to invest for the future.” In addition to Heritage Week and raising funds for the College, SGA will also focus on anti-bullying initiatives throughout the semester to foster positive attitudes amongst students. Senior student body president Maureen Parsons said this initiative resulted from students who were harassed through letters. “(SGA) is going to start a Tumblr that encourages positive messages to students,” she said. “Also, we want to work with the Resident Advisors to do something in the dorms with random acts of kindness.” Parsons said SGA is currently scheduling a speaker to discuss the issues and discuss the effects of bullying on campus. Another important issue SGA hopes to address is the continual use of the Belle Tower, a new online network which includes the all-school events calendar and online club information. Students were encouraged to sign up and become active on the network last semester, but SGA is striving to gather more student participation and familiarity with the new technology. “We want to promote the Belle Tower and make sure students are going there for information about events and organizations at Saint Mary’s,” Casey said. “We are hoping with promotion of the Belle Tower and with other advertising, people will go to more events on campus.” Although student government elections are still months away, Casey said she and Parsons are already planning for new leaders and figuring out how to ensure a successful transition for new student leaders. “Our main goal would be making sure there is a smooth transition for turnover [when the new leaders assume their positions],” Casey said. “We want to make sure that the new members of SGA feel prepared for next year.” The elections for student body president and vice president will occur at the end of February. The Residence Hall Association, Student Activities Board, Student Diversity Board and the Class Boards will elect new leaders the first week of March. Turnover is scheduled for April 1.
The Gender and Women’s Studies program at Saint Mary’s College and the Gender Studies program at Notre Dame came together Monday to present “What Does Your Halloween Costume Say About You?,” an event featuring monologues and skits designed to spark conversations about the cultural insensitivity of many popular costumes. Payton Moore, a junior at Saint Mary’s, opened the night with a skit showing the prevalence of culturally offensive costumes and the lack of realization that some costumes are inappropriate. “It’s like if I accidentally punched Nikki in the face, and said ‘Oh sorry, but come on you’re just being too sensitive. It isn’t like I meant to punch you in the face.’ Fact of the matter is I still punched her in the face causing harm which is foul,” Moore said. She said she used this example to impress the point that just because there may be no malintent behind a costume, there can still be offense. Angela Bird, a Notre Dame sophomore, followed Moore’s skit with an anecdote in hopes of instilling a similar message. Bird recounted her experience with a “Native Americans and Hoes” themed party and the effect of her standing up against the politically incorrect theme. “I posted a picture of the ‘It’s not a costume, it’s a culture’ poster on the event wall. The picture was quickly taken down and I received a message from the hosts soon after,” Bird said. The hosts told Bird that no one was hurt by politically incorrect theme parties and she was wasting her time by interfering because the party was ironic. “Satire is supposed to move upwards and hit the powerful, not those who are already vulnerable,” Bird said. Jamie Wagman, associate professor of history and gender and women’s studies at Saint Mary’s, said she hopes this event would inspire more events centered around open discussion. “I see this as a starting point … we have many people committed to keeping the conversation alive, but we need students to get involved,” Wagman said. Abby Palko, director of undergraduate studies in the gender studies program at Notre Dame, expressed similar hopes. “I want students to realize they have a voice and can be heard,” Palko said. “We need to keep the dialogue going between Saint Mary’s and Notre
On April 1, lawyers representing Notre Dame and ESPN presented their oral arguments in front of St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler in a case to determine if Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) violated Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA). The unresolved issue at the crux of the case is whether or not the law considers NDSP a private agency.In September and November 2014, ESPN reporter Paula Lavigne requested incident reports from NDSP related to student athletes. On both instances, Notre Dame denied the request on the basis that NDSP is not a public law enforcement agency and is therefore not subject to APRA.Emily Danaher | The Observer According to documents filed in St. Joseph Superior Court, ESPN Inc. filed a complaint against the University on Jan. 15 after Notre Dame refused to release the incident reports for the second time, contrary to the opinions of Indiana Public Access Counselor (PAC) Luke Britt.Britt, an attorney appointed by the governor to provide advice and assistance on Indiana’s public access laws, issued an opinion on Oct. 31 notifying NDSP that his office considers it to be a public law enforcement agency subject to APRA. On Jan. 5, in his response to Lavigne’s second complaint, Britt wrote that he expects NDSP to comply with APRA and release its records, although his opinion does not have the force and effect of the law.ESPN submitted both of Britt’s opinions as evidence for their argument in court, according to a report in the South Bend Tribune last Thursday.On Feb. 12, Damon Leichty and Georgina Jenkins, representing Notre Dame as attorneys from Barnes and Thornburg, submitted a written defense outlining the University’s argument that NDSP is a private police department.Leichty argued that NDSP derives its power from the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, not the Indiana state government, according to the Tribune report.“While campus police officers enjoy ‘general police powers’ and ‘statutory powers, privileges and immunities as sheriffs and constables,’ the Trustees may restrict their ability to serve civil process,” Notre Dame’s brief stated. “By statute, campus law enforcement serves at Notre Dame’s pleasure and in accordance with an oath that the Trustees describe — not the government.”Leichty’s defense brief also emphasized past cases involving the ARAP and private universities, stressing PAC opinions in Notre Dame’s favor from 2003, 2009 and 2011.“For more than 30 years, and certainly well-settled for more than a decade, private university police departments have not been subject to APRA,” Leichty wrote. “There has been no intervening change in the law that justifies an abrupt shift on this issue.”Leichty argued that changing the status of NDSP to a public agency could lead to the public disclosure of private institutional records, according to the Tribune.“In a society where an open government is considered essential to a properly functioning democracy, not every iota of information is subject to public scrutiny,” Leichty wrote. “That principle resounds with even more force when ESPN (advancing a sports media purpose) seeks to subject private institutions, such as Notre Dame or its campus police department, to a law intended for government scrutiny.”According to the Tribune, James Dimos, a Frost Brown Todd attorney representing ESPN in the case, argued Notre Dame should be subject to government scrutiny because it possesses the police powers of arrest.“The University of Notre Dame Security Police Department desires to operate in the shadows as a secretive force with all of the police powers under Indiana law but none of the public scrutiny,” Dimos wrote in the plaintiff’s brief, which was filed March 9.Dimos also wrote the privacy records of Notre Dame students would not be affected if NDSP was declared a public agency because of protection under the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).Notre Dame is asking for the case to be dismissed, while ESPN is asking the court to order Notre Dame to release the papers and pay legal fees.Assistant Vice President for University Communications Dennis Brown said Notre Dame is confident in its position after presenting its argument in court.According to the Tribune report, Hostetler plans to issue a ruling by April 20.Tags: ESPN, ESPN lawsuit, NDSP
Kendra Osinski Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore at the Eck Center and on Eddy Street is stocked with gear advertising the undefeated football season.Stecz said the team started to work on the order for the shirts — as well as other merchandise such as a hoodie, gift items and children’s and women’s shirts — at the beginning of November.“Once we got Florida State, we talked about the shirt, and the vendors put together the product lines and [it went] through licensing and approvals, so it’s all sort of been set into place,” he said.After the Syracuse game, which Stecz said was “sort of the last big test,” the orders went in for the products. The only product to be produced, though, was the shirt that was offered in the bookstore on Sunday.While the other products were not offered in the store on Sunday, Stecz said they were posted online Saturday night and then went into backorder until the product was actually delivered. He said the products likely started the printing process Sunday and were shipped Monday to arrive in the store Tuesday.“The term is ‘hot-market product,’ so all the vendors like Under Armour and Champion and RFSJ and WinCraft all have a separate program built in their manufacturing capacity for these one-time things,” Stecz said. “ … They’re ready to go and can print that stuff super quick and get it turned around within a day and out to the retailer within the day. It’s a very fast process they have in place.”Stecz said the shirt that was originally sold on Sunday is called a “kill shirt” since the shirts get donated somewhere else if the team loses. They can either be sent back to the vendor or go to another company that will recycle them.The process to offer the products can be complicated with multiple decisions and multiple parties.“There’s a lot of decisions to be made on how much you purchase, whether you repurchase, the time frames you have to sell the product before people want the next thing, are people going to wait,” Stecz said. “There are a lot of fans who don’t want to jinx it and want to wait [to buy products] … and then there are other fans who want to celebrate every step along the way.”Since Follett operates the Notre Dame bookstore on the University’s behalf, Stecz said the people involved in the decisions range from employees at the store level, to licensing people on campus, to management at Follett.“Because of the magnitude of the store and the brand of Notre Dame, there’s a lot more at stake as opposed to maybe a smaller school that Follett operates,” he said. “ … Notre Dame is a big deal nationally, so there’s a lot of excitement and potential for people to purchase product.”A previous edition of this story incorrectly stated that Follett owns the Notre Dame bookstore. Follett is a third party that operates the bookstore on behalf of the University. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: Bookstore, Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, shirts, undefeated Notre Dame fans celebrated Saturday night when the football team beat USC, earning the team an undefeated season. The next day, a T-shirt was available for purchase in the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstores on campus and Eddy Street, commemorating the season.“We buy it ahead of time, so if we win, we can offer it to fans the next day,” Justin Stecz, the Eck Center store manager, said. “We had it available Sunday morning for anyone who wanted to come in and shop after the game.”While the shirt has not yet sold out, Stecz said over 450 shirts were sold in the two bookstores on Sunday and the shirts have continued to sell.
Photo courtesy of James Sweet A mural painted on a house in the Pilsen neighborhood in the lower west side of Chicago acts as a tie to the culture of many residents.Ruiz first came in contact with the murals while teaching a class on Latinos in Chicago and Northern Indiana at Notre Dame. He then took a trip to the Pilsen neighborhood to look at the murals.“I developed a walking tour, and people started asking me to give it for their classes,” Ruiz said. “Then the American Studies Association asked me to give it at a conference. I developed a little bit of expertise in the murals, and then my friend and colleague Jennifer Parker, who is the co-director of the HUE project, contacted me.”Parker then proposed applying some of the tools her team at HUE had already developed to further Ruiz’s mural project.“The Pilsen project, I thought, was a natural connection for us,” Parker said.Parker said HUE takes traditional library resources and archives them to build websites and related mobile applications.“Public artwork is temporary, and so creating a lasting connection and record of the public artwork is crucial to understand the development of the neighborhood and the city,” Parker said. “We continue to look at ways to take these particular areas of interest and build them into tools that will allow people to study them further.”While the website will store the large amount of information Ruiz and his partners on the project are collecting, the app will serve as a discovery tool, offering customizable walking or driving tours of the murals.Ruiz said he and his team are conducting interviews with artists and searching for pictures of buildings and murals in Pilsen from the past.Intern Irma Rodenhuis, who is assisting Ruiz in the project, said she spends a lot of her time conducting archival research online.“It’s a lot of hunting in archives and just hoping you’ll find something,” Rodenhuis said.The topics of the murals are very diverse, but Ruiz said Catholicism — especially images of the Virgin of Guadalupe — and immigration are two popular themes.“Pilsen has always been a home to immigrants, and the murals are a reflection of that,” Ruiz said.Pilsen has historically been home to new immigrant communities, Ruiz said. Long before it became home to a predominantly Mexican community, it was settled by Eastern Europeans.Ruiz said he believes the preservation of the Pilsen murals is important to document how artists have made their mark on the area. Nowadays, due to rising costs of living, many Mexicans are moving out of Pilsen, causing a cultural shift in the neighborhood. Ruiz seeks to protect and preserve the murals and empower the locals of Pilsen to celebrate muralism.“I think that murals are especially provocative politically and I think that they do a lot of work in terms of making a statement about what it means to be Latino in Chicago or Latino in general through art,” he said.Ruiz and Rodenhuis both emphasized the uniqueness of murals as an art form in that they are free to view and incredibly accessible to the public.“Sometimes I think that the public might think that real art is in a museum, real art is expensive to look at or access,” Ruiz said. “If you can get to Pilsen, you can look at a hundred pieces of art in one afternoon. They’re extremely accessible, and sometimes people mistake accessibility with a lack of value.”All of the resources Ruiz and HUE are developing will be free and open to the public, including the app, he said.Parker said HUE’s mission is grounded in providing their applications to the public for free.“Hesburgh Library’s mission is connecting people with knowledge,” Parker said. “And it’s very important to me that that knowledge be free.”Tags: Art, grant, Jason Ruiz, muralism Hundreds of murals cover the walls of homes businesses, schools, public buildings and train stops in the Pilsen neighborhood in the lower west side of Chicago. The murals depict the culture of the large Mexican population that blossomed in Pilsen in the 1960s and continues to live there today.However, visitors to the National Museum of Mexican Art located in Pilsen may find that information on the murals is lacking.Associate professor of American Studies Jason Ruiz recently received a $50,000 grant from the Whiting Foundation, an organization that provides support to cultural heritage writers and researchers, to address this issue. Ruiz said he plans to create a digital archive and the first-ever mobile app devoted to the murals of Pilsen in partnership with the Historic Urban Environments Lab (HUE) at Notre Dame. The project aims to preserve the murals and share them with the public, he said.“A lot of people go to the National Museum of Mexican Art because of its location asking for information about murals and muralism, and they don’t have many resources to offer people,” Ruiz said. “One of the things I’m really excited about in building this project is equipping a cultural institution that’s already there with the types of tools that I can develop through my own archival research and the tools built by HUE.”
Zixu Wang | The Observer Members of the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate change initiative, call for more ambitious climate policy in South Bend.After the protest in Howard Park, protesters marched to the County-City Building and went to Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s office to hand over petitions requesting the government to accept the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal would require the city to achieve zero carbon emissions in 2030.Many of the protesters belonged to an environmental movement called the Sunrise Movement. Founded in 2017 and led by youth nationwide, the Sunrise Movement advocates for government action on the climate crisis including adopting the Green New Deal, which contains net-zero carbon emission, investing in infrastructure and creating jobs. The movement boasts over 300 community-led hubs, including one in South Bend.South Bend launched a Climate Action Plan in November, which aims to have the city emitting no carbon by 2050 — however, activists said this was not enough.“It doesn’t follow the requirement of the UN report,” Blad said. “It doesn’t follow what scientists say.”In an email, Mark Bode, spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said Buttigieg has been been a leader in the climate change crisis for the community.“The City’s Climate Action Plan, which is supported by the Common Council, sets aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in South Bend,” Bode said. “The plan will be a living document responsive to changing circumstances, but includes near-term benchmarks to drive early action by local stakeholders.”However, becoming carbon neutral in 2030 is not unpractical, Blad said. “If Ann Arbor Can Do It, Why Not South Bend?”“Right now Mayor Pete is not treating this like an emergency,” Blad said. “It’s unbelievable that it takes young students skipping school [to bring politicians] to understand it’s urgent and it’s necessary to pass the Green New Deal.”South Bend’s Climate Action Plan was passed in November, and aims to reduce green house gas emission over three time horizons — reducing by 26% by 2025, reducing by 45% by 2035 and reducing by 100% by 2050.“This plan is not adequate. It’s irresponsible and dangerous. It doesn’t follow what the scientists say,” Blad said. “When standing on the national stage, Mayor Pete himself even said that the time for carbon neutrality should be decades ago. Why did he still set the timeline on 2050 for South Bend?” The Sunrise Movement South Bend wants the 2030 timeline.Cities like Ann Arbor in Michigan have already passed the plan of zero carbon emission with the time of 2030, Blad said.“If Ann Arbor can do it, why not South Bend?” he said.Money for investing in green energy is not impossible to find, Blad said, and pointed to Ann Arbor an example.“If the city prioritizes environment, they can always find the money and make it [carbon neutrality] happen,” Blad said. “As a part of the climate plan, Ann Arbor passed a $1 billion bond through the school system to invest [in] sustainable energy projects. These are smart investments because not only do they stop climate change, but [they] also save the money and even make profits. For instance, in Chicago, they bought two electronic buses — and it saves hundreds of thousands of dollars each year since the pollution is decreased [in the city] and fewer people go to hospital, which saves the health cost for the government. Besides, the bus makes money, too. All of these side effects make it financially reasonable for the government to make the decision.” A similar thing can happen in South Bend, Blad said. “The University of Notre Dame is an incredible institution with $13 billion funds,” Blad said. “Why [doesn’t] the city partner with organizations we have right here and make co-investments?” In his statement to The Observer, Bode listed several of the mayor’s sustainability initiatives.“Under Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s leadership, the City of South Bend has prioritized sustainability and action to address the climate change crisis,” Bode said. “From constructing the first LEED-certified South Bend city government buildings, to implementing green infrastructure in neighborhoods throughout the area, to responding to historic flooding caused by climate change, the Mayor has led from the front on climate.”Campion said besides the late timeline, the city of South Bend doesn’t put enough resources into its climate plan.“The city hasn’t approved any more funds for the Department of Sustainability, which currently has one single employee,” he said. “She has been doing a great job, but you can’t expect one person to lead the effort to make the city carbon neutral. It’s a massive project that the city needs to commit more resources [to], because that’s the only way.” Campion listed several initiatives protestors hoped to see South Bend implement.“Based on the Green New Deal, our position is that the city should invest resources to help make buildings more energy efficient, to increase the use of public transit, to reduce vehicle emissions and to provide opportunities and incentives for industries to shift to less carbon production,” Campion said.The Green New Deal is like an umbrella, and it applies to every sector of the economy which directly or indirectly contributes to carbon emission or is affected by the climate crisis, Donahue said.“Take green housing construction as an example,” he said. “Housing is the place where people consume the majority of energy in their life, such as heating, electricity for appliances, lights and air conditioning. That’s why the building you live in doesn’t emit carbon but its related system contributes a lot [of] carbon. Thus, when we invest [in] green housing projects, it also involves other infrastructures like wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable energy systems.” Around 50 students at Notre Dame headed to Howard Park in South Bend to participate in a climate strike Friday. The freezing wind did not extinguish the enthusiasm, and they waved banners and streamers that said, “This is an emergency” and “Pete & Council: South Bend Needs A Green New Deal.”“We’ve already felt consequences,” Garrett Blad, the National Press Coordinator of the Sunrise Movement, said. “There has been increasing floods and storms here in South Bend. If we don’t start to [treat] it as an emergency, everything would crumble within our lifetimes.”Blad, who graduated from Notre Dame in 2015, said the movement gives ordinary people the chance to exercise their power.“Right now we have the biggest opportunity that we’ve ever had to remake the economy and society, to make politicians work for us and not just the wealthy people,” he said. “If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?”Some activists linked personal experiences to their decision to protest in the climate strike.“The climate change has not left my life untouched,” Duncan Donahue, a sophomore and Notre Dame trainings leader of Sunrise Movement South Bend, said. “I went a church trip when I was a kid. One day I was woken up by my brother saying ‘Duncan, your room is underwater.’ I ran back home and saw the creek near my house was six feet higher than before because of the extreme weather that year. It burst down the door and our house was soaked in five-feet high water.”Tianle Zhang, a freshman, talked about his childhood memory of environment pollution.“I lived in Tianjin, China in the first three years of my life,” Zhang said. “My grandparents always coughed when walking outside. Not only them, but many people there had this problem, because they breathed in the fog caused by air pollution.” The activists said their personal experiences prompted concerns about environment protection.“The sense of powerlessness when seeing your home was taken away is so frustrating,” Donahue said. “If we don’t take the action on climate change now, there will be more people losing their homes. This is an emergency and it’s time for our leader to do something now.” Climate action is not for one person or one nation, but the whole world, Zhang said.“The U.S. has the debt to pay,” he said. “During the history we emitted the most air pollution on the earth. We have the duty to fight for people in other countries against this worldwide crisis.”Zhang said that climate movements face more difficulties in China due to limited free speech and free assembly.“Not everyone in the world has the political privilege as we do,” he said. “We should fight for people who can’t fight.” He said he remembers the first time he joined the Sunrise Movement in September.“I was holding the banner and being with other young people,” Zhang said. “I was inspired that there are so many young people who [are also concerned with] this issue. I felt we can do something huge together.” Being with people who have common goals makes them feel empowered, Greg Campion, a senior and hub coordinator of Sunrise Movement South Bend, said.“As a young student, I used to feel powerless that there is nothing I can do about the climate crisis, and when I’m 30 or 40, it’s already too late for everything,” Campion said. “But being a part of the Sunrise, our voice can be heard and we together can push the government to make a difference.” Not all of the activists were students.Anne Thacker, a retired teacher, stood in the crowd. Born in 1950s, she was influenced by the spirit of the peace movement against the Vietnam War.“I know the importance of fighting against the government when they are doing wrong things,” she said. She said she has been environmentally conscious since she was 12 years old. “I’m sorry that my generation couldn’t stop this insane capitalism,” Thacker said. “I have 50 years in my life seeing people not listen and it’s hard for me to have hope. Honestly speaking, sometimes I just think we are not going to stop the climate crisis because some people are just so stubborn and we still need more people to vote.” According to the Sunrise Movement, besides becoming carbon neutral, the Green New Deal also advocates for the creation of sufficient high-wage jobs, security of clean environment and healthy food and promotion of equality and justice. “The Green New Deal is a systematic plan. We need to make sure that the people who are most vulnerable to climate change are getting the help that they need,” Donahue said. “People who are economically disadvantaged are going to directly feel the effects of climate change first, and some green policy like higher tax on carbon will hurt them most.”Love Lee, a freshman whose family is half African and half Japanese, said living in a community of people of color gives her the chance to see different types of equality.“Many of us [are] faced with problems of jobs, housing and food and these problems become more serious during climate crisis,” she said. “So Sunrise Movement is the opportunity to lift the community up and fight for a better life.” Lee stood on a stage during the protest, and called for unity.“The Green New Deal concerns everyone of different colors and economic statuses,” she said. “We need to unite together to make the government listen.”She paused.“If not us, who? If not now, when?” she asked.The crowd screamed back: “Now.”“So I ask all of you to come hand in hand, using this movement for the future and for all of us,” she said and smiled. “When The People Rise Up, The Powers Come Down”The Green New Deal inevitably confronts the interest of fossil companies. According to the Sunrise Movement, it’s active in getting politicians to sign the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” to reject contributions from the oil, gas and coal industry. It also endorses candidates who take the pledge. “We are working to elect representatives that understand the crisis and we will fight against the fossil fuel industry,” Donahue said. It is the masses that can confront the power of those above, Zhang said.“In the end, it doesn’t matter how much money you have or how high the governmental position you are,” he said. “If you don’t have the people on your side, your system willcollapse.”Uniting people became more urgent after the election of President Donald Trump, Donahue said.“When Trump was elected and pulled out of the Paris Agreement — whoa, it dashed my hopes,” Donahue said. “But at the same time, it pushed the climate movement to change.”Donahue said the movement cannot just be an abstract slogan or a weak agreement in this new political context.“We need to build a movement across the country that advocates restructuring of the economy in a way that works for everyone. And I think that’s what Sunrise and Green New Deal are about,” he said. “It’s about the structural change where fossil fuel billionaires don’t dominate the economy. It’s about having people representing us in the government. It’s about less compromise and patience because the emergency is approaching.”Donahue said community is at the heart of the movement. “We are building a sense of community which makes people feel invited into the climate movement,” Donahue said. “Many students join the strike because they feel there is an emergency and they no longer want to be powerless. When you’re calling upon your leaders to do something, it’s a very powerful feeling.”Donahue said that right now they are building up this political power at Notre Dame by having conversations with friends or classmates about the climate crisis, holding lectures and activities and organizing protests and strikes. Blad said the Sunrise Movement Hub in South Bend was just started in February and now there are about 30 active members. In the strike in September, there were around 300 people who participated.“In the strike today, we have kids from different high schools, students from the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, Indiana University of South Bend, working people. … We are excited to keep building,” Blad said.Still, Blad said it has been difficult at times to bring the groups together.“We try to bridge the cross-community, and sometimes it’s challenging. Notre Dame seems to be isolated sometimes,” Blad said. “But it also provides [an] opportunity because there are more and more Notre Dame students engaging, and I’m optimistic with the potential that Notre Dame will bring to us.”Blad said with the 2020 election new opportunities for change will be available.“The 2020 election is coming and the window is open,” he said. “We have a growing youth army across the country that is forcing, for the first time, our politicians to look at the climate changes in the eyes, and actually have a plan to stop it.”Tags: climate strike, green new deal, South Bend, Sunrise Movement
Last weekend, senior Gretchen Hopkirk won the Audience Choice Award at the Student Film Festival for her documentary, “Don’t Be Afraid to F*** Up.”(Editor’s Note: Hopkirk is a video producer for The Observer.)Hopkirk’s victory was shared with the subjects of her film — the Humor Artists of Notre Dame. The Humor Artists are the only improv comedy team on campus. Each show is unique, but the performers said they develop close personal relationships with one another during practices in order to build trust on stage.Inspired by the members of the group, Hopkirk — a Humor Artist herself — said she created the film mainly to portray what the group means to her. Her work would be recognized as one of the standout pieces at the festival. Courtesy of Isabella Garcia The Humor Artists team with Hopkirk at center holding the award for her documentary, “Don’t Be Afraid to F*** Up.”“My primary concern was making myself and my friends happy,” Hopkirk said. “I didn’t really think or expect that as many people would like it as they did.”She said the documentary’s title lets on to its message in more ways than one.“It’s supposed to be a reference to one of the main rules of improv,” Hopkirk said. “The two main rules are ‘Don’t be afraid to f— up’ and ‘Yes, and.’ It’s all about accepting what your partner gives you in a scene and building upon it.”In her eyes, the documentary is also supposed to about what it means to be the “perfect Notre Dame student.”“No matter what you see from the outside, pretty much no one at this school actually feels like the supposed ‘Notre Dame student’ that we all assume everyone else to be,” she said.Junior Jacob Neisewander said the club teaches its members to accept whatever challenge comes their way without letting the fear of failure hinder them. (Editor’s Note: Neisewander is a Scene Writer for The Observer)“We just kind of roll with whatever the crowd wants to throw at us,” Neisewander said. “The audience will give us a prompt to start the scene. So if I asked, ‘What’s something I can fit in the palm of my hand?’ and you say, ‘a marble,’ then a marble somehow has to factor into the scene that we do.”Teamwork is essential to make the scene work, Hopkirk said.“It’s all about accepting what your partner says and building upon it, and realizing that there are no bad choices you can make, you just need to make a choice,” she said. Neisewander said appearing confident on stage relies on the improvisers working together.“Every single scene is done with the help of other improvisers,” he said. “They can help catch you when you slip up, and you can help them when they trip up as well.”Freshman Isabella Garcia said she has grown close to her teammates since joining Humor Artists.“I have loved every second of being on the team,” she said. “The improv is great, but spending time with that group of weird obnoxious people is really awesome.”The club also serves as a stress reliever for many of the members, senior and co-president Ryan O’Callaghan said.“I love practice, especially because everyone here [at Notre Dame] is stressed,” he said. “It’s nice to know you have four hours a week that is set aside where you walk in and you’re pretty much not going to be thinking about homework.”He also said in addition to making friends through Humor Artists, the group is devoted to honing their craft. “Officers and senior members have really made an effort to kind of grow in the form,” O’Callaghan said. “We’ve been reading books on it and whatnot, because although improv is thinking on your feet and creating a show out of nothing, there are still certain principles and rules that govern scenes and should govern your actions and motivations that we have been trying to instill in all the members.”Garcia said she found the team’s leadership a major source of encouragement.“The upperclassmen have become really big mentors to everyone on the team,” Garcia said. “And I think that they’re not only great friends and great people — they really let you grow in your skill, grow your jokes and they support you through the process in a way that is so holistic.”These close-knit relationships and are what Hopkirk said she tried to capture in her documentary. “I basically interviewed a bunch of people in the club and I talked to them about why they like improv and why they like the Humor Artists,” she said. “Pretty much everyone said something along the lines of the fact that they felt that this club was their place on campus where they felt like they could be their true self.”Hopkirk said after interviewing her peers, she decided she needed to turn the camera back on herself.“I decided that I wasn’t really going to be getting anywhere if I just put a camera in other people’s faces and asked them questions, because that’s kind of asking them to do all the work,” she said. “I kind of interviewed myself in a way, in front of the dome, and I talked about everything that I was insecure about publicly at the most iconic spot on our campus.”Hopkirk’s documentary can be viewed on Youtube, and the Humor Artists can be found on Instagram at @thehumorartists or Facebook at @TheHumorArtistsofND. The group performs once a month at Legends.Tags: Humor Artists, Improv, Student Film Festival