Hundreds of Notre Dame students and staff members gathered for a night of athletic competition and philanthropy Saturday at the 25th annual Late Night Olympics. The RecSports-sponsored event, which raised funds for Special Olympics of St. Joseph County, offered students the opportunity to compete for their residence halls in a variety of athletic contests, including broomball, dodgeball, kayaking, water polo and volleyball. Students also competed in women’s and men’s basketball, racquetball and table tennis, and an inflatable obstacle course was a new addition to the event roster this year. “We try to plan an event that we think students would like to participate in to help Special Olympics,” RecSports coordinator of special events and family programs Tim Novak said. “Notre Dame students have a competitive nature, so sports are a good way for students to do something extracurricular on the weekend while supporting Special Olympics.” The main attraction of the event was the traditional basketball game between local Special Olympians and members of the Notre Dame staff — a rivalry in which the Special Olympians have prevailed for 25 consecutive years. This year, the Special Olympians beat the Notre Dame all-stars 46-20. “This is a big event that the Special Olympians look forward to every year,” Novak said. “The joy they have on their faces when they participate is indescribable.” Novak said Late Night Olympics provides an outlet for students and Special Olympians to interact. “It’s hard to describe why you help Special Olympics because you kind of have to experience it,” Novak said. “The students who have the opportunity to meet some of these athletes know how big of a difference it makes in the lives of the athletes.” Students who participated in the event agreed it was a fun way to spend time with friends while aiding a worthwhile cause. “It’s a really cool event with a good atmosphere,” Carroll Hall dodgeball team member Steve Zerfas, a freshman, said. “Even though we lost really fast, it’s okay because it’s for a good cause.” Freshman Neal Ravindra enjoyed competing in the obstacle course and volleyball for Stanford and Farley Halls in his first Late Night Olympics. “It’s a good way to relax and have fun with friends, and the music created a good mood,” Ravindra said. “Plus, it was fun to do something with girls’ dorms.” Defending their 2010 second-place title, Lewis Hall sophomores Taylor Sticha and Sydney Speltz competed to win the overall competition and to support Special Olympics. “Lewis loves events like this because we get to dress up and have fun,” Sticha said. “Lewis has an excellent history of athletics, and we enjoyed competing, watching the basketball game and doing the penny war last year.” “We’re trying to make a comeback to win this year, so we’re going hard,” Speltz said. “It’s also good that the dorms can come together to help Special Olympics.” In addition to making a personal difference in the lives of Special Olympians, Late Night Olympics also makes an impact on the financial well being of Special Olympics of St. Joseph County. A $1 donation was required for entry into the event, and T-shirts were sold for $5 each. “A lot of Special Olympics communities around the country have had to cut their programs due to rapidly decreasing donations,” Novak said. “Luckily, St. Joseph County has not had to cancel any events in the last two years, and they’re part of a small group of Special Olympics groups that haven’t made cutbacks.” Novak said RecSports was aiming to reach the $8,000 mark in donations, but the final fundraising and dorm competition results were unavailable at press time.
Saint Mary’s students will come together this week to shed light on issues students face and celebrate their strength as a community during “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” week. “Support a Belle, Love a Belle” week starts Monday and aims to bring awareness to the issues of anxiety, depression and suicide that may sometimes go unnoticed on campus. Student Government Association (SGA) sponsors the week. Senior Laura Glaub, SGA student services commissioner, said the week will be “full of engaging speakers, awareness campaigns and events with self-esteem groups on campus to help show the amazing resources we have at Saint Mary’s.” Events for the week will include a brown bag lunch with the Women’s Health and Wellness to meet the counselors on campus, a picnic on Library Green for on-campus and off-campus students, a candlelight remembrance ceremony, a student support group run by a student and free giveaways for those wearing yellow ribbons in recognition of teen suicide prevention. SGA co-chairs, seniors Emily Skirtich and Cat Cleary, first proposed the idea for the week and Glaub said she was “on board right away.” “I love Saint Mary’s and I love the people who go to school here because they inspire me every single day,” Glaub said. She said the events will educate students on important issues that might not receive enough information inside or outside the classroom. “We all take on [more than] we can handle, and we all feel stressed sometimes,” she said. “[At Saint Mary’s] we are a family, a community … we are full of compassionate and understanding faculty, professors and students, and I hope this week makes everyone remember or realize that.” The SGA committee said it hopes students will have a better understanding of these issues and be more aware of the resources Saint Mary’s offers for depression and anxiety after the week. “Our main goal is to make sure everyone knows that they are not alone,” Glaub said. “This week reminds me of a giant hug with everyone from Saint Mary’s in it.”
Alison Singer, founder and president of the Autism Science Foundation, will give a lecture at the third annual Autism Conference tonight on current scientific research regarding autism. Junior Brooke Conti, president of the Special Friends Club, which co-sponsors the event, said she hopes this event will help dispel common myths about autism. “It is not a very well characterized disorder,” she said. “Hearing a professional would be helpful to clarify any misconceptions.” Conti said Singer will present current developments within the scientific research community, as well as the importance of autism awareness. She said Singer will also discuss the relationship between autism advocacy and science. The Autism Science Foundation, which Singer founded in 2009, provides funding to scientists conducting research to discover the causes of autism and develop better treatments, according to the organization’s website. Singer, a mother of an autistic child, has appeared on Oprah, NBC Nightly News, CNN and Good Morning America to advocate for research of the disorder, according to the Autism Science Foundation website. Conti said part of the Special Friends Club’s mission is to educate campus about autism research and support. Students involved in the Special Friends club work with people with autism from the South Bend and surrounding communities and form close bonds with them, Conti said. Throughout the year, Conti said students spend time socializing, doing homework or assisting with therapy with the people they are paired with once a week. Conti said the time students put into helping their “special friends” makes a big difference in their lives. “[Autism is] a social disorder,” she said. “The more that you interact with a person really helps them. Even if they’re different, they’re not that different.” The conference will take place Thursday in Jordan Hall of Science room 105 at 7 p.m. Contact Leila Green at [email protected]
Registration will soon begin for students interested in the downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and curling courses offered next semester through the Physical Education Department. The downhill skiing and snowboarding programs take place at Swiss Valley in Jones, Mich., and is offered Tuesday evenings starting Jan. 22. While the courses require an additional fee, physical education instructor Diana Scherzer said students will get a lot for their money. “For $225, students receive four lift tickets, bus rides, rentals and lessons,” Scherzer said. “Lessons are taught by certified ski and snowboard instructors from Swiss Valley. The lessons are about an hour long and then the students get to try out their newly acquired skills.” Scherzer recommended these classes not only for fitness-related benefits but also for the opportunity to find an interest in a new sport. “Remember, lifetime sports such as skiing, boarding, skating and curling are good for the body, heart and soul,” Scherzer said. “Learn now and it will last you a lifetime.” Freshmen have first access to the 35 available seats in the course, but Scherzer said she expects there to be open seats for upperclassmen. Sophomore Meaghan Hannon, an experienced snowboarder and skier, participated in the Swiss Valley program last spring and said the course was worthwhile. “It was a great way to improve your snowboarding [and skiing] skills as well as to meet new people,” Hannon said. “Our Tuesday nights were something to look forward to, and it was a perfect homework break and stress reliever. My friends and I all had a lot of fun and would definitely consider signing up again this year.” The class is also open to novice snowboarders or skiers. Sophomore Nikki Reyes had never seen snow in person before coming to South Bend, but was able to take part in the course last spring. “They placed us in groups based on skills, so I was in the beginner’s group,” Reyes said. “It was tough to learn and we were sore afterwards, but I had a great time. The instructors were very helpful, and I learned a lot.” For those interested in learning cross-country skiing, a free on-campus class will take place during Unit 4 on Mondays and Wednesdays. Scherzer will teach the class, which will run from 3 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. “Ski equipment is provided, and there is no cost involved,” Scherzer said. “We learn the basics of cross-country skiing as well as skiing safety and dressing appropriately in the outdoors. We meet four times during the unit and ski on Burke Golf Course and around the lakes.” Although both skiing programs were offered last year, the curling program starting in spring is new to the University, she said. “Curling is a new class for us,” Scherzer said. “Because it takes two to three hours for ice preparation, curling is coupled with beginning ice skating.” Scherzer will teach the course on curling, a sport she considers to be about more than just coordination on ice. “Curling is known as ‘chess on ice,’” Scherzer said. “It’s about strategy, thinking ahead. Curling will be taught on Monday mornings starting January 21 at 8:30 [a.m.] and 9:35 [a.m.]. Wednesdays will be dedicated to beginning ice skating.” Freshmen can register after Dec. 7 when the classes will be displayed on the schedule for second semester, and upperclassmen can contact the instructor to see if there is room to join.
The University named Keri Kei Shibata the first woman chief of campus police Wednesday, according to a press release.Shibata will replace current police chief Phil Johnson on July 1, according to the release. Johnson was promoted to senior director of campus safety and emergency management and will assume his new role July 1 as well. Currently serving as deputy chief for safety services, Shibata is both a 12-year veteran of NDSP and a 2016 Notre Dame Executive MBA program graduate, according to the release. Additionally, Shibata has been responsible for the University’s 911 dispatch center, crime prevention and outreach, security and guest services and Clery Act reporting, focusing much of her work on preventing sexual assault and domestic violence on campus, according to the release. University executive vice president John Affleck-Graves said in the release he looks forward to working with Shibata and Johnson in their new roles. “Keri Kei is a talented law enforcement officer who has demonstrated excellence in every role she has filled with NDSP,” he said.Johnson, who has served as chief since 2007, has also been responsible for coordinating emergency management efforts for the past two years, according to the release. In his new role, Johnson will partner with Mike Seamon, vice president for campus safety and event management, to help implement various safety procedures on campus during major University events.University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the release that nothing is more important than the safety of those on campus.“We are exceptionally blessed to have a person with Phil’s experience and knowledge leading these critically important efforts,” he said. Tags: Campus Safety, Keri Kei Shibata, NDSP, Phil Johnson
The principles of Catholic Social Tradition (CST) are broad, encompassing such ideas as solidarity, care for creation and rights of workers.Implementing those principles can be difficult, visiting professor of Catholic Social Tradition and community engagement Clemens Sedmack said.Sedmack and Bill Purcell, an associate director in the Center for Social Concerns, began to develop the idea of a “CST research lab,” to investigate how CST can play out in the real world. A model was MIT’s Poverty Action Lab, which experiments with different ways to alleviate poverty.“I thought that since poverty labs are a neat thing, and since one of the weaknesses of Catholic Social Tradition is abstractness, why don’t we think about establishing a CST research lab, experimenting with CST on the ground, exploring the question of what difference does CST make if you really implement in a particular context, be this an institution such as a hospital, be this a context like a parish, be this a structural question such as the structure of a diocese, things like that,” Sedmack said.Using funds from a Global Collaboration Initiative grant from Notre Dame International, Sedmack and Purcell organized a conference at the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway to set up the lab and create a network of academics and practitioners of CST from schools in Europe and North and South America.Purcell said each of the 26 participants wrote and presented a paper on an aspect of CST, ranging from Pope Francis’ impact on Catholic social thought to Brazilian universities’ efforts to decrease inequality. What emerged, according to a summary, was the goal to create an organization that provided resources to people trying to enact Catholic Social Teaching, a community of people for whom CST is an important part of faith and a way for people working on disparate issues around the world to talk to each other.“So for instance, can we have better hospitals?” Purcell said. “Because we can use CST principles in Catholic hospitals, and that would be a way of making hospitals better, and maybe they’re doing that already in a place like Germany — can that work in a place like Chile? Or what can we learn from Brazil? What can they teach us in North America about CST?” Sedmack said one principle on which the lab will operate is dialogue, both between Catholics and non-Catholics and among Catholics themselves.“You have to be open to non-Catholics, non-Christians, non-religious people, because many employees of agencies are not religious but they do wonderful work, and they live solidarity, and they live ‘option for the poor’ even though they may not have any religious dimension to their lives, so it’s important to have this kind of dialogue,” he said. “Dialogue also among Catholics because it’s no secret that Catholics are to be found in a wide spectrum of theological opinions.” Another principle is experimentation, like the kind Sedmack does in his own courses. Last year, he said he had a student group change one aspect of their lives according to Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.In the next several weeks, Purcell and Sedmack will recruit a steering committee for the organization and find funding for pilot projects, such as a tool to help businesses and archdioceses ethically manage their finances. In the future, they may also develop a website with resources for implementing CST and recruit participants from Africa and Asia.The issues a CST research lab could address are many, Purcell said. They range from homelessness around the world to just wages to the quality hospital care to the purpose of holy people in teaching others how to live.“Catholic Social Tradition is how we are we living this out, how do we be a guide by providing those resources as a network to help evangelize the world?” Purcell said. Tags: catholic social tradition, CST research lab, Rome
Saint Mary’s senior Megan Uekert traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska, to attend a Define American Immigration Conference this past weekend. [Editor’s Note: Uekert is a former News Writer for The Observer.]Define American is a new organization on campus designed to engage the College community about pertinent issues in America today. In an email, Uekert said her decision to attend this conference was because she wanted a way to connect with leaders from other campuses. “I decided to attend in order to connect with other chapter leaders from across the nation to share ideas and learn about strategies that have worked well on other campuses,” she said.Uekert said this weekend impacted her greatly and she was able to learn more and engage in discussions about what it really means to be American. “It was also open to anyone who wanted to learn more about the organization and even just the questions ‘What does it mean to be American?’ and ‘How do you define it?’” she said. “The conference had a big emphasis on understanding immigration as an intersectional issue as well as American identity.”Throughout the conference, Uekert also helped collaborate on a mission pledge for the organization. She said it was inspiring to be a part of, and the pledge statement highlights that being American is about togetherness, not separateness. “The mission reads, ‘Together, we stand united against bigotry, hatred and exploitation. Together, we are building a nation guided by equity, compassion and justice. Together, we all Define American,’” she said.Uekert stressed the importance of why this issue is applicable to everyone in this community. “We are all American. Papers or no papers, we are Belles, we are students and we are all American,” she said. “Immigration has not affected me personally as I was born in the United States, as were my parents and even their grandparents, but just because an issue doesn’t affect you directly doesn’t mean it’s not important,” Uekert said. She said in order to understand others and the facts of immigration, it is essential to listen and be open to hearing the stories of others. “It is also so important to listen and share stories because we all have different ones. Sharing stories creates empathy,” she said. “Stories turn the facts and statistics into real people that you can relate to. The issues then become less robotic and more serious and human.”Uekert said it is important to make your voice heard and creating a supportive community on campus. “At the end of the day, we cannot be Saint Mary’s if we do not support and respect each other,” Uekert said. “If we exclude our undocumented Belles and make them feel unwelcome, then we are not Saint Mary’s.”Tags: conference, immigrants, Immigration
A sustainable farm is in its preparation stages for the Saint Mary’s community by a campus group known as the Going Green Committee, which has been working on the project with numerous opportunities for the community to get involved.“The Going Green Committee … engage[s] in consciousness-raising on sustainability initiatives, assist[s] in implementing green initiatives and identifying sustainability needs for strategic planning,” Judith Fean, the College’s vice president for mission and chair of the Going Green Committee, said in an email. ”We also address matters of environmental concerns.”The two acres of land set aside for the farm were acquired through a land purchase of 40 acres from the Sisters of the Holy Cross three years ago with approval and designation for the farm use over that period of time. The land is now in the final stages of preparation to begin growing crops.“We started remediating the soil, but it had all been in field crops for decades … so that tends to lead to the soil deteriorating in certain respects … there’s a loss of organic matter, and there’s a loss of certain micronutrients, especially calcium tends to get leached out of the soil,” Chris Cobb, an English and environmental studies professor and member of the committee, said.The ‘farm group’ of the Going Green Committee, which includes Cobb, has been working to take the soil to a more fruitful state.“We had the soil limed to restore the calcium levels, and then we’ve been planting cover crops in the fall and the spring, and then … mowing them and plowing them as a way of increasing the organic matter in the soil to make it suitable for growing high-quality food crops,” Cobb said.Students and faculty have also been aiding the process with the composting program in the College dining hall, as it has been built up and ready for use as the crops will be planted. As of right now, there is a working plan in place for how the farm will be organized and tended.“The farm will be operated by a local sustainable grower who is going to be leasing the land from the College,” Cobb said. ”What the grower is going to do with the food that is grown on the farm is going to be up to her or him in terms of what makes sense … to earn their living.”There will also be a term of their lease that will promote educational resources for students to interact with the farm.“The sustainable farm, not only will it be caring for the earth, but also provide a wonderful learning opportunity for the students and professors,” Fean said.The Going Green Committee already has ideas of how students might be able to interact with the food grown on the sustainable farm.“That may well involve … a farm stand on campus, it may involve some food going into the dining hall,” Cobb said. ”But we hope that things will develop in a way that will lead to the farm being brought entirely inside the educational mission down the road.”Along with the benefits for students, the environment will remain the core of the project, as the College can partake in an environmentally conscious process of obtaining and consuming food.“We want Saint Mary’s students to be able to see … a closed and coherently managed food cycle, seeing the food grown, going from field to table, from table to compost, from compost back into the soil … this site could … develop and strengthen and promote agricultural practices that that sequester carbon that are carbon negative,” Cobb said.The farm is set to begin in the 2020 growing season, and next month leasing negotiations will begin. Options for how the farm will be put to use might evolve as students are encouraged to get involved and share their ideas. The ability for students to combine their interests with sustainable activities on campus will be easily accessible, Cobb said.Fean said the farm offers an opportunity for a variety of students to get involved.“I hope that students continue to learn more about what sustainability is in its various forms and how, regardless of their major, [they] can be partners in making Saint Mary’s a more green community,” Fean said.Tags: going green committee, SMC sustainable farm, sustainability
Photo: NFLNEW YORK — ESPN and NFL Network will join forces for this year’s NFL draft. They will produce a broadcast that will air on both networks over all three days.The April 23-25 draft was originally scheduled to be in Las Vegas but has been moved due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will now originate from ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.Draft hosts and a limited number of commentators will be in-studio but will adhere to social distancing guidelines. Other reporters and analysts will report remotely from home. Commissioner Roger Goodell will introduce first-round picks from his home in Bronxville, New York.ABC will air a separate draft broadcast on Thursday and Friday before simulcasting the ESPN/NFL Network feed on Saturday. The league previously announced that the draft will serve as a “Draft-A-Thon,” which will pay tribute to health care workers and first responders. Funds raised will help support six national nonprofits and their relief efforts.ESPN has broadcast the draft since 1980. NFL Network launched in the fall of 2003. Their first two drafts were done remotely from Los Angeles before they started reporting on site in 2006. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
COVID-19 virusJAMESTOWN – No new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Chautauqua County on Tuesday, officials say thanks to in part by social distancing efforts.Currently, there are 24 confirmed cases of the virus, with three cases active and 18 patients fully recovered. Three people have died from complications of the virus.“The threat of this virus is still very severe for Chautauqua County,” said Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel. “It is necessary that Chautauqua County remain proactive and fully prepared to deal with its effects, and I ask all County citizens and visitors to venture out only for essential business. I also ask that we all “DO THE FIVE” to help stop the spread of the coronavirus: (1) HANDS – wash them often; (2) ELBOW – cough into it; (3) FACE – don’t touch it; (4) FEET – stay more than six feet apart; and (5) FEEL SICK? – stay home.”As of 4:30 p.m. the Cattaraugus County online case tracker map lists a total of 26 confirmed cases, 21 of them active with five fully recovered. Related: Chautauqua County Executive Wendel Extends State Of Emergency Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)