“I’m looking forward to being in the student section and doing all the cheers,” Moriarty said. Keelin is also looking forward to interhall athletics, specifically soccer, although worries about balancing everything are also growing stronger. “I wasn’t really nervous,” she said. “I’m slightly overwhelmed by the readings already on the first day. I wasn’t ready for it.” Hess said his schedule was finally organized with his adviser. Athletics seem to be the most anticipated social event. Both Moriarty and Keelin said they cannot wait for football season to begin, and Hess said he’s been attending games with his family for more than a decade, watching the student section. “It was a shock at first to walk into a 250-person general chemistry class,” he said. “But my seminar is nice.” Freshmen are feeling the pressure of juggling academics and a social life after their first few days on campus. Freshman Kaitlyn Keelin said the assignments have been stacking up. “I just feel stressed out about it already,” Moriarty said. “But I’ll be okay. I’ll just set my mind to it.” Hess was worried about making friends while keeping his grades up before he got to campus, but those fears subsided after learning he was living in Sorin College. While some freshmen stress about making friends, Keelin is not worried because of the campus atmosphere. “I always heard people were friendly — that they go out of their way to help,” she said. “It was pleasantly unexpected.” “It’s been busy, but it’s been really nice. Everybody’s really kind here,” Nutter said. “I’m from San Diego, and I couldn’t take that much. I had to find all I needed here. I also got into [Introduction to Anthropology] with [Professor James] McKenna, so I’m really excited.” Moriarty, whose mother attended Notre Dame, heard stories about friendships made on campus. Keelin, who is taking mostly general requirements, said she is still in the process of making friends and branching out on campus. Her roommate, Rebecca Moriarty, said she has made friends with mostly the other residents of her dorm. “From that, I thought I would’ve had great friends by now, but it’s more than that,” she said. “You have to find people you want to be with.” “It’s a lot different than what I expected,” Moriarty said. “Actually, I didn’t know what to expect.” Freshmen Bobby Hess and Taylor Nutter said the worst part of the first week didn’t come in the classroom, but rather in adding final touches to rooms and class schedules.
In light of President Obama’s recent announcement of a new national defense strategy, Notre Dame political science professors said Republicans will attack the president’s decision because it is an election year — even if some arguments lack validity. At the beginning of the month, Obama announced a new national defense strategy that will focus on the creation of agile military units in Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East. In a statement released by the White House, Obama said the reduction in the Pentagon budget stemmed from a combination of the end of a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American fiscal crisis and a growing threat from China and Iran. “Yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats,” Obama said. Political Science Professor Michael Desch said although Republican candidates will try to use the budget cuts as evidence that Obama is “soft” on defense, their case lacks substance. “This Democratic president hardly seems skittish about using force,” he said. Desch cited the way Obama waged the drone war against al-Qaeda with vigor, doubled-down the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan and backed NATO’s air support for the successful anti-Qaddafi uprising in Libya. “Most importantly, he put the big coon-skin on the side of the barn that Washington failed to do with the daring Navy SEAL strike against Osama bin Ladin in Pakistan,” he said. These security credentials made it difficult for Republican opponents to challenge Obama on these grounds, Desch said. Political Science Professor Peri Arnold said Republican candidates will vehemently oppose any action Obama takes because it is an election year, even if some decisions are the result of a Republican-majority Congress. “Keep in mind that the current level of cuts, just under five billion dollars, come from a congressional legislation. In other words, Congress voted on this. [There are] members who vote, but then during the campaign year, scream,” Arnold said. “[Obama] could stand in and double the defense budget. Republicans would attack that too.” If the Obama administration presented the defense strategy aggressively, it would win the symbolic tug of war. Still, while the military budget reduction raised an important argument, ultimately voters will choose based on improvement in the economy, Arnold said. “I’m not so sure how important defense will be in the election. In public opinion, based on polling, the thing on the mind of most Americans is the economy,” Arnold said. “If he can gain support on those grounds, the defense issue will fade into the background.” Although Obama has the incumbent advantage and an effective campaign team, Arnold said the focus of Obama’s platform would have to address the economy and unemployment rates. “It’s not that the economy is a dummy variable that is good or bad, but it’s improvement that helps the incumbent,” he said. “If over the next seven or eight months [the unemployment rate] goes below eight percent, that will help a lot.”
While many Notre Dame students spent winter break catching up on rest and relaxation, others traveled the world, performed service projects or furthered career ambitions. Senior Kiki Gelke spent a week in Poland on a grant from the Nanovic Institute of European Studies. While in Poland, Gelke said she conducted research for her capstone essay on Catholicism in modern Poland, a requirement for her European Studies minor. Gelke said she spent the first part of her trip staying at a convent outside Krakow, and then toured famous religious landmarks in Krakow and Lubin, where she saw Poland’s religious influences on display. “Poland is the frontier between the Catholicism of Western Europe and the Orthodox faith of Eastern Europe.” Gelke said. “These influences were very prevalent.” Gelke said her favorite part of the trip was celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany in Krakow. “In Poland, the Feast of the Epiphany is a huge religious day,” Gelke said. “The dinner was incredible and filled with traditional Polish Christmas carols, the breaking of the traditional opÅatek bread with good wishes and blessings to all present in the year to come, and of course, traditional Polish food.” Senior Adam Cowden went to Botswana for 10 days to do research for his senior thesis with funding from the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement and the Glynn Family Honors Program. Cowden said his thesis topic explores the role of Social Security and welfare institutions in family planning decisions. “I travelled there to conduct interviews with individuals about their attitudes toward social security and family planning and to collect data from various government departments,” Cowden said. Cowden said the data he collected in Botswana provided strong material for further developing his thesis. “Now I have a lot to write about,” he said. Sophomore Brendan Moran participated in Urban Plunge, a one-credit seminar sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns (CSC) in which students spend two days of their winter break exploring urban poverty in a major city, according to the CSC website. “While I was on my Urban Plunge, I was able to directly serve the impoverished community of south Boston, reflect on my experiences, and ask the important questions surrounding urban poverty,” Moran said. Moran said he and other Notre Dame students lived and volunteered at the non-profit organization My Brother’s Keeper, where they slept in a warehouse at night and delivered food and furniture directly to the needy during the day. “I had a great time on Urban Plunge,” Moran said. “I was able to get out of my comfort zone and participate in a cause that I truly believe in. I met some amazing people along the way, and I feel that my experience revitalized my morale and spirits, which in turn prepared me for another long semester.” Sophomore Caroline Ramsey did a one-day job shadow in New York City, sponsored by the Career Center, which pairs up Notre Dame students with alumni in appropriate fields. Through the program, an editor at a children’s book publishing company mentored Ramsey. “She answered the questions that I had and taught me a lot about the field of publishing,” Ramsey said. Ramsey said participating in the program made her feel confident she wants to pursue a career in publishing. “I hadn’t realized that working as an editor could integrate my interest in writing and design,” she said. “It combines creativity and business in an exciting way.” Ramsey also said experiencing office life firsthand was worthwhile. “Reading about a career or even talking to someone in that career is obviously very helpful,” she said. “Fully entering into an office and being able to participate in the daily activities of that office is invaluable.”
HANDS, a non-profit organization founded by three Notre Dame alumni from different Central American countries, seeks to reduce poverty levels in Central America by partnering with local organizations and coordinating volunteer programs there, co-founder Mariana Diaz said. Diaz, a 2008 Notre Dame alumna, said the organization’s diverse array of volunteer opportunities sets it apart from other non-profits. “HANDS is a unique approach to poverty and underdevelopment as our mantra is based on volunteerism,” Diaz said. “We believe that volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of realities operative in developing countries, a valuable experience to experience another culture and more important, the opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives.” According to the HANDS website, volunteers work in medical clinics, provide business consulting to agricultural entrepreneurs, teach English in local schools, mentor young children living in garbage dumps and more. Since its foundation in 2009, HANDS has mobilized over 200 local and international volunteers, formed partnerships with over 20 organizations and supported over 15 projects, according to the organization’s website. “We believe that we can make a difference and help the development of these countries through volunteerism,” Diaz said. HANDS has also opened offices in Guatemala, El Salvador and the United States to provide an efficient volunteer placement service and offer a wider variety of volunteer programs, Diaz said. “We hope to expand HANDS to other Central American countries and send over 25 international volunteers per year,” she said. HANDS is offering one- to 10-week service programs in Guatemala this summer from May 30th to August 5th, which are open to Notre Dame students, Diaz said. “Getting involved with HANDS presents the perfect opportunity for [students] to gain valuable experience in the non-profit industry and learn more about service,” she said. According to the HANDS website, some programs are education-based, such as Safe Passage and Esperanza Juvenil, a housing project called Constru Casa and a psychology program called FundaciÃ³n Margarita Tejada. Diaz said HANDS will hold two information sessions for students interested in participating in the summer programs. One will take place Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in 201 O’Shaughnessy Hall and the other will be held Monday, April 2 in 201 DeBartolo Hall. The application deadline is April 23.
On one of the few occasions when a mayor outranks a president, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and student body president Alex Coccia discussed the evolving Notre Dame, South Bend relationship last night. The conversation, which was part of the Siegfried Symposium, brought Buttigieg and Coccia together with students and South Bend residents at the “Town and Gown” event in the Carey Auditorium of Hesburgh Library. American Studies professor Robert Schmuhl moderated the discussion, which addressed topics ranging from resident-student conflict to the town’s best restaurants. Buttigieg, who grew up in South Bend before attending Harvard, said although South Bend is not necessarily a strict college town, it presents many unique advantages for students. “[Notre Dame students] are at one of the most important moments in the life of the city,” Buttigieg said. “With that comes great opportunity.” Buttigieg said these opportunities include not only service through events like CommUniversity Day, but careers as well. “More and more students are starting businesses while still in college,” Buttigieg said. “South Bend is a good environment to do that.” Buttigieg said as South Bend has grown from its strictly industrial roots, its connection with Notre Dame has evolved. “The [Notre Dame, South Bend] relationship is at an all-time high. … It’s a set of overlapping relationships … economic, social, and cultural,” he said. Buttigieg said there are as many challenging problems and engaging environments in South Bend as anywhere else students might seek them. “If you can commit a summer to South Bend, … I can probably help you find environments and areas and communities that you would find no less challenging and interesting and eye-opening than one that is 1,000 miles away,” he said. Coccia, who has volunteered in the community since his freshman year, said he recognizes the advantages of Notre Dame’s close relationship with its surrounding city. “There’s a lot of opportunities in South Bend, and where I see student government fitting in is really providing and facilitating that relationship for students to have access to those opportunities,” Coccia said. Coccia said students need not wait until they move off campus to become engaged in the community. He said he hopes more freshmen will take advantage of the city and in that way be ready if and when they make the move off campus. “My specific goal would be to get freshmen out there [in the South Bend community] early on,” Coccia said. “I think that [community engagement] helps later relationships once you move off campus if you develop those relationships early on.” Buttigieg said despite some tension in the relationship, sentiments between South Bend and Notre Dame are much more amiable than feelings between some other colleges and cities. He said South Bend residents consider Notre Dame a piece of the larger community. “There are always areas where there can be friction, … but I also think it’s important to be conscious of how much less tension there is here than in most college towns,” he said. “I also sense sometimes a self-consciousness about how people at the University think they’re perceived [by residents], which overstates any tension which may be there.” Buttigieg and Coccia said they look forward to continuing to improve the relationship between South Bend and Notre Dame. Coccia said communication will be especially important to this goal going forward. “There definitely seems to be an open line of communication with the mayor’s office [from student government],” Coccia said. Buttigieg said he and Coccia have already met a few times since Coccia’s election.
This Sunday, the 28th annual Lessons and Carols event will take place at the Church of Loretto at 7:30 p.m., sponsored by Campus Ministry, the Department of Music, the Department of Communication, Dance and Theater and the Church of Loretto. Regina Wilson, assistant director of Campus Ministry, said Lessons and Carols is a gathering of prayer that was started by the Church of England. Readers recite scripture, and Saint Mary’s and the Church of Loretto’s choirs sing sacred songs of the season, she said. “The readings and lessons are readings that we carefully select based on theme,” Wilson said. “This year we picked readings that convey or represent images of Mary. And they aren’t all scripture. For instance there’s a lovely poem by Hildegard Von Bingen that we’ve used several times and that we are going to read again this year,” she said. The event begins with a procession of the choirs singing a congregational song. Readings and lessons with either choral or congregational signing alternate, Wilson said. The choirs include women’s choir, liturgical choir, collegiate choir, Loretto choir and Hand Belle Choir. A candlelight ceremony featuring “Silent Night” closes the event, she said. “We invite different people from the College to do the readings. We have seven different lessons and readings,” she said. “… Of the seven readers there are two faculty members, one student, two sisters, a couple of ministers so it is a representation of the College.” The readings often relate back to the mission of Saint Mary’s and to the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Wilson said. “It is very connected with the mission of the sisters of the Holy Cross so the readings often have something to do with justice,” she said. “And this year in particular to Mary and justice to Saint Mary’s to some of the thematic elements.” After participating in Lessons and Carols in 2012, sophomore Maria Wesler said she chose to participate for a second year as part of women’s choir because the event was a lovely experience. “[The Church of Loretto} is just so beautiful,” Wesler said. “The way you can hear everyone sing in there and [the way it] echoes is gorgeous,” she said. Saint Mary’s students also recognize the importance of keeping tradition and the value it has for the College, Wesler said. “It’s a part of maintaining the culture and also maintaining the values of Saint Mary’s,” she said. “I would say Lessons and Carols would probably be a good part of the Saint Mary’s tradition because it does keep alive the certain values that our school holds sacred like religion. Wilson said she believes the event is a celebratory occasion for the community to be in prayer together. “I find it to be an experience of prayer,” she said “… There are a lot of people that have been coming for years. This is their advent thing to participate in.” Contact Alex Winegar at [email protected]
Student senate met Wednesday night to discuss the University’s Honor Code, last week’s “A Time to Heal” dinner and vote on a resolution regarding senate members also being directors in the executive cabinet. First Year of Studies Dean Hugh Page and senior Abby Davis, co-chairs of the University Code of Honor Committee, gave a brief presentation on the University’s Honor Code, which is currently under review. “We’ve actually been working on this for a little over a year and thinking about what our post-productive next steps would be,” Hugh said. Page said the Code is verbose, which can lead to confusion for students. “It’s dense and it does not necessarily promote the kind of close and sustained reading that one would hope,” he said. “There are codes that are much shorter — codes, for example, like for the United states military academies that are about a sentence or two long. Our’s is rather at the extreme opposite end of that spectrum.” Ideally, the recommendations and changes will be available for the next school year, Page said. “The best of all possible goals would be for us to recommend our changes before the end of the academic year,” he said. “It may prove to be way too ambitious, but at the very least we’d like to collect all of the community sentiment by the middle of next semester.” The senators then discussed the Oct. 28 “A Time to Heal” dinner, sponsored by the Gender Relations Center and the University Counseling Center. Senators who attended described their experience at the dinner and guided a discussion about the event. St. Edward’s Hall senator John Kill said the dinner highlighted a facet of sexual assault that is often neglected in discussion. “I think healing is one of the aspects of sexual violence that we never think about, because we always get caught up in the who or when of the act and then the procedures and prevention,” he said. “But the thing is, it still happens, so it’s important to continue that aspect of healing. There are always people who are going to be victims of sexual violence and dating violence, and let people know this is something people are always struggling with.” Rebecca Blais, director of internal affairs, along with other members of the internal affairs committee, presented a resolution to amend the senate constitution. The issue in question was whether senators could also serve as directors to the executive cabinet. Two senators, John Kill of St. Edward’s Hall and Michael Finan of Dillon Hall, currently serve as directors. Directors are nonvoting members of senate, unless they’re also senators, and Blais said holding both positions is a potential conflict of interest.“By having someone serve as both a director in the executive cabinet and as a senator, that has the potential to give cabinet undue influence in senate,” she said. “Jack [Kill] and Michael [Finan] have remained unbiased in their votes and they’ve been polite in their voting and abstaining, but nothing required them to do that. In the future, if we were to get people who weren’t quite as ethical as them, it could give the cabinet influence that they shouldn’t necessarily have in senate.”The resolution passed. Tags: A time to heal dinner, Honor Code, Student government, student senate
The Saint Mary’s campus left a lasting impression on the SUSI women, according to Opra. “They love the idea of becoming a Belle, and they really adopt the whole ‘once a Belle, always a Belle’ mindset,” she said. “They’re constantly posting pictures of Saint Mary’s and talking about how they miss their South Bend home.”The College benefits from the program too, Opra said.“[SUSI] really fosters an international community and takes the Saint Mary’s name abroad,” she said. Opra said she will never forget the summer that enhanced her perspective and changed her approach to life. “As we were saying goodbye, one woman who always wore a particular pair of earrings every single day … said ‘These are my favorite earrings. I wear them every day, and I want you to have them because you were one of the biggest parts of this summer that changed my life, and I want you to always remember me,’” Opra said. “And then, one of my Tunisian friends gave me a beautiful red dress that she had and also wanted me to have it so that I could remember the experience and the exchange that we had. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that selflessness.”Tags: always a Belle, center for women’s intercultural leadership, Once a Belle, Study of the United States Institute, SUSI The program succeeds at initiating an effective cultural exchange, according to Opra.“It really fosters diplomacy and not only changes their conceptions of the United States, but it changes our perceptions of their home countries,” she said. “For me, I’ve learned so much about these places that … there are so many misconceptions about. In reality, it’s programs like this that empower [women] and help them to make a change in their country.”The change SUSI inspires participants to make, Opra said, is to establish initiatives in their countries that benefit women and the community. “Part of the program is that they have to design an action plan,” she said. “They see a problem in their country, and they think about a creative solution to it. They do seminars on how to implement the program, how they would find funding, who would they contact, what sources of support they have. They get to present those at the end, and the SUSI staff picks the best, and if the women want to, they can apply for a grant from the State Department to actually really implement them.” Barthel said she emerged from the summer as a more informed citizen of the world, and this enhanced mindset was made possible by the classes she took at Saint Mary’s.“Having the perspective of wanting to know more about the world around me has given me this curiosity and helped me get to know their cultures more,” she said.The program is renewed every three years, according to Opra, but funding for SUSI might not be granted under the current presidential administration.“It would be a really unfortunate missed opportunity if we weren’t able to do it again,” Opra said. “There’s concern that the new administration will cut the program altogether, so Saint Mary’s might not even get to apply for the grant at all.”Opra said she feels lucky to have learned more about Islam through interacting with the SUSI participants.“I’ve gotten to go to different mosque services, and I’ve discovered that I really enjoy them and think that they’re really beautiful,” Opra said. “Especially here in Michiana, the Islamic Center is so warm and welcoming, and they do so much for the community that I didn’t even realize.” Thousands of miles separate Saint Mary’s from the Middle East and North African, but the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) once again aimed to bridge that gap by inviting 20 women from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan and the Kurdistan to campus over the summer.According to student program coordinator and senior Marilla Opra, the College’s Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) instills values of confidence and hope in participants, granting everyone the distinct opportunity to grow in understanding.“There are a bunch of different chapters of SUSI, from agriculture to technology,” Opra said. “The one Saint Mary’s does explores women’s leadership, and only four universities are chosen to host this branch.”While in the United States, the participants took classes at Saint Mary’s, journeyed around Washington D.C. and formed close bonds with the SUSI staff, according to student program coordinator and junior Angeline Barthel. The participants learned about the realities of life in America, she said.“Generally, these women have really great experiences meeting other people,” Barthel said. “They normally have positive experiences relating to being Muslim in America, so hearing about racism and Islamophobia gave them a new perspective.”
Nuts, bolts and some interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is all that’s needed to join the Bellebots, Saint Mary’s College’s robotics club.Bellebots was founded last September, and the group has new goals they’d like to achieve in its second year, club president and sophomore Michelle Lester said.“Our goals this year are to actually compete,” Lester said. “We’ve been a club for a year at this point, … and we actually want to sign up for the VEX U competition and compete as a team.” Additionally, the group hopes to continue its outreach into the South Bend community and inspire children interested not only in robotics but also STEM fields more generally. Lester said the club’s vice president, junior Noreen Maloney, will support and assist her in this endeavor.“Last year, what we focused on was helping in the community with our community sponsored FIRST Tech Challenge team,” Maloney said. “We would like to continue helping support them with mentorship and guidance as young kids in the community who are interested in STEM. That’ll be another component we’ll be refining this year: bringing in more volunteers hopefully.”Because of the variety of goals the club has, there is no prior robotics experience needed to join the group, Lester said. She said the club unites like-minded individuals and can spark friendships.“There’s no robotics experience needed, and it’s a great way to meet people from across the street,” Lester said. “We have people that come over to Saint Mary’s from Notre Dame … to come to meetings and to be in the club, and they’re some of the most passionate people I’ve ever met about robotics.She said she hopes membership encourages more women to engage in STEM-related activities.“Also, if you’ve ever been interested in science, math, technology or engineering, it’s such a great way to get involved in that,” Lester said. “I think women are super underrepresented in that industry, so we need to get more women into STEM, and this is led by women and done by women.”Maloney said Bellebots teaches valuable lessons that can be useful to anyone, so she encourages students of all disciplines to join.“These are life skills that you learn in the club,” she said. “Not only do you have to have communication and teamwork, but also being able to know what certain tools are. You could end up being able to fix your own car and change your own brake pads in the future. If your fuse box goes out, you don’t have to necessarily call a professional.”Maloney said everyone has something to gain from learning more about robotics. “We’re teaching competent skills that are going to be applicable to all life skills, not just if you’re an engineering major,” she said. “It might be more applicable that way, but there’s still things that you’re going to learn that you’re going to use for the rest of your life if you join Bellebots.”The prospect of learning new skills that can be applicable in the future is what drew freshman Mary Lou Schwitzer to think about joining the club, she said.“I don’t think that I want to be doing robotics for my entire life,” she said. “I don’t know for sure what I’m going to be doing, but it is definitely my knowing about. Worse case scenario, I learn stuff that I can use later.”Tags: belle bots, Robotics, STEM
Editor’s note: This is the second story in a three-part series featuring the completed Campus Crossroads project. Today’s story focuses on the enhancements to student life resulting from the creation of the Duncan Student Center.In addition to upgrades to Notre Dame Stadium, the Campus Crossroads project will affect day-to-day student life — particularly with the complete opening of the Duncan Student Center, a new center of student recreational activity on campus, in January 2018.This aspect of the project, which vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding said was 20 years in the making for the University, will house several services that are being relocated to the new building, such as the career center and office of residential life. Chris Collins | The Observer Duncan Student Center, set to open in January 2018, features new restaurants, a new recreation center and a ballroom to be used for student events, but also available to the public for booking.Among the hospitality space located within Duncan Student Center is the Dahnke Ballroom on the seventh floor of the building, which will serve to improve student life outside of football season, vice president for facilities design and operations Doug Marsh said.“ … Above the rim [of Notre Dame Stadium] are hospitality spaces activated for not just the six or seven home games, but also for many other special events we’ll host here on campus — principally for student life,” Marsh said on a press tour Aug. 11. “ … [There is] the Dahnke Family Ballroom on the seventh level that will host up to 600 people at a banquet function — but more importantly for student life, our residence halls’ great traditions and their twice-a-year semi-formals that they host in and around campus throughout every academic year.”The overall intention of the facility, Hoffmann Harding said, is to promote student growth in a communal environment. “I’m delighted, I’m thrilled and I’m so hopeful about how this new facility will allow us to support, engage and develop our students over generations to come,” she said on the press tour.The Duncan Student CenterThe Duncan Student Center is located on the west side of Notre Dame Stadium and will contain student lounges, career centers, restaurants and a new recreational facility.Hoffmann Harding said the design of the building and the components within the building is intended to bring the Notre Dame community closer together.“We open this building to our students in January 2018, and we hope that it is going to reflect what’s always been true about Notre Dame: we build community,” Hoffmann Harding said. “We hope that our students are going to have and build and lead integrated lives. Thanks to Fr. [Basil] Moreau, this is a University that cares about an education of the mind and the heart. And so we really want this new facility to reflect those aspirations in terms of the functions that it’s going to play and the energy and excitement that it’s going to offer to our students, first and foremost, but also to our faculty and staff to come together and to interact with one another.”Students took a large role in designing aspects of the Duncan Student Center that will particularly affect student life, Hoffmann Harding said.“Students have been engaged — I hate to say it, but this has actually been a 20-year dream for the University,” she said. “So we have long known that LaFortune Student Center, which is designed to complement this building, is about undersized compared to our peers by about half in terms of total square footage. So students were engaged, actually, as part of that process in terms of saying, ‘What’s missing at Lafortune? What’s missing overall?’ … So we hope that it’s going to reflect their desires and their aspirations when we move forward.”Student input was particularly crucial, Hoffmann Harding said, in creating the new student innovation lounge.“The first floor, which is a traditional student center, [contains] an innovation lounge down on the south end, which is student-designed,” she said. “Their input in terms of creative opportunities, in terms of technology and different ways that they want to interact — that, they helped us put together.”The various dining options in the Duncan Student Center — which will include a coffee house, a noodle bar and a vegan- and gluten free-friendly restaurant founded by two Notre Dame graduates — will also serve as gathering spaces, Hoffman Harding said. “On the north side [there is] a lot of activity in the evenings in our cafe, which is a coffee shop but will also be host to student performing groups — acoustic acts that come and are able to entertain our students,” Hoffmann Harding said. “ … In the middle [there are] eateries. Students can come over from their classrooms throughout the day, and really interact and talk with one another.”The second floor “loft,” Hoffmann Harding said, will house most student media groups on campus and provide state-of-the-art facilities.“On the second floor [is] the loft, which is home to our student media groups, which will be combined for the very first time in this building,” she said. “So we will have our print publications, our radio stations and our student TV station all interacting with one another. And we’re really particularly excited about the open-air TV studio that will be present for our students.”The increased meeting space, Hoffmann Harding said, provided the University with the opportunity to create designated areas for graduate students at Notre Dame to gather.“There are a variety of meeting rooms, which students will use for speakers or for their leadership events within their clubs,” she said. “And, again for the first time, on the south end we will have a graduate student lounge — the first time that that growing student population has had a dedicated facility on our campus. And the graduate student union and our graduate student life program director will be located there, as well as our office of residential life.”This designated area for residential life is a vital component of the Duncan Student Center, Hoffmann Harding said.“Certainly a critical and core component of the University of Notre Dame is the formation that occurs in our residence halls. That leadership team will be housed here,” she said.Above the traditional student center, Hoffmann Harding said, is the Smith Center for Recreational Sports, which will replace the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center.“Floors three and four [are] the Smith recreational center, which will triple the amount of space available not only to students, but also to our faculty and staff on campus,” she said. “It will also have extraordinary views of our campus while our students are nurturing their own well-being, which is one of our primary objectives for their lives here.”The fifth floor will be home to three different career services, something Hoffmann Harding said will be beneficial for employers as well as students.“Again, for the first time — so many firsts in this new Duncan Student Center — we will have our graduate business career services, our graduate career services and our undergraduate career center, co-located for the very first time,” Hoffmann Harding said. “[This is] not only modeling to our students we hope that they’re thinking about discerning their calling and their placement beyond Notre Dame, but really for our employers to understand that when you come to recruit at the University at Notre Dame, you’re recruiting all of our students, we want to offer you a common experience and, again, it’s going to be an extraordinary facility with shared 40 interview rooms for employers and students to interact and engage in that facility.”Throughout the entire facility, Hoffmann Harding said, is a rock climbing wall for community members to try out.“We hope it’s going to add both a vertical connection for the building, but also a sense of well-being and excitement for students there,” she said. “So we’re thrilled and delighted by that addition to the rec center.”The Dahnke BallroomThe Dahnke Family Ballroom, Marsh said, introduces additional options for student events given the size of the space.“It is principally the University’s new living room,” Marsh said. “It’s the largest ballroom on campus and will be first reserved for student functions, particularly semi-formals that happen at least twice a year per hall. The room is [divisible] … so you’ve got two different dances going on at the same time, or you keep it open [with] about 10,000 feet and have a flat-floor concert of 1,000 students enjoying the space.”Due to the versatility of the space, Hoffmann Harding said students will be able to be creative when deciding upon events to host in the Dahnke Ballroom.“ … Really, it’s open to their own sense and creativity in terms of the programming that we offer there,” she said.In the spirit of serving student life, Marsh said, each residence hall on campus is recognized in the Dahnke Ballroom.“ … We’re really celebrating undergraduate residence hall tradition by noting and labeling the banner around the transition between [the] seventh and eighth floor of our undergraduate residence halls,” Marsh said. “They’re listed in chronological order, beginning with the centerpiece we call the hearth and then alternating in chronological fashion.”The advanced technology in the ballroom also increases its usefulness, Marsh said.“We have embedded technology to support all kinds of presentations and shows, including theatrical lighting in the ceiling grid,” he said. “Also six laser projectors present content — video or slides, etc. — and, of course, a myriad of large-format televisions.”Outside of football season and student use — which Marsh said will receive priority — Marsh said the Dahnke Family Ballroom will be available for those outside the Notre Dame community to rent.“This is a place that is also open to the public,” he said. “We welcome people to reserve its use through Venue ND. It will seat, for instance, 600 people at a banquet at maximum.”The ballroom is equipped to serve this purpose, Marsh said, due to kitchen facilities located in the basement of the building.“This is a building — actually the entire complex — supported by a new series of commercial kitchens that are in the basement of the Duncan Student Center,” he said. “There are elevators that push that food up — and other materials and supplies — to this building and to others through the concourses, and then there are pantry kitchens on every level to support the hospitality events that will occur frequently in these spaces.”Tags: Campus Crossroads Project, Dahnke Ballroom, duncan student center, Notre Dame Career Center, Smith Center for Recreational Sports, Student Life