Irish football coach Brian Kelly said his program was “in a state of disbelief and incredible sadness” following the tragic death of top recruit Matt James, who fell from a fifth-floor hotel balcony and died while on Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Fla., on Friday.Police said James, 17, was “drunk” at the time of the fall, which occurred around 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Days Inn Motel in Panama City Beach. An autopsy showed James died of brain injuries. He was vacationing with six parents and 40 fellow students from St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, police said.“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Matt James in this most trying of times,” Kelly said in a statement Saturday. “On a personal level, I got to know Matt quite well over the past few years, and he was a wonderful young man from a great family. Matt was an extremely talented person who was very bright and possessed a great dry sense of humor. He could not wait to join the Notre Dame family.”Visitation will be held at St. Xavier High School on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., and a funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Xavier Church in downtown Cincinnati, according to a Tuesday press release from the high school.“We are united in our grief over Matt,” St. Xavier president Fr. Tim Howe said in the release. “Our community is strong, and I know that the strength we receive from our faith in Jesus’ resurrection will help us get through this difficult time. Our love and prayers are for Matt and his family as we accompany them in the coming days of shared mourning.”James, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive tackle, was set to enroll in the fall as Kelly’s first major recruit at Notre Dame. The All-American chose the Irish on National Signing Day over Ohio State and Cincinnati.“We would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support during this tragic time, particularly the family at St. X,” James’ parents, Jerry and Peggy, said in a statement Saturday. “Matt was a very special young man, and it is gratifying to us that you all could see that as well. We are touched by this outpouring of love.”James’ high school classmate and quarterback, Luke Massa, is an Irish commit and was also on the Spring Break trip, according to the Associated Press.“This is just such a tragedy because he was just a wonderful, wonderful kid,” Massa’s mother, Mary, told the AP. “It’s heartbreaking.”
When the leaders of Notre Dame’s 334 student clubs were notified about the nomination process for the Club of the Year award, the officers of the College Democrats of Notre Dame knew they had a legitimate chance at receiving the honor.“We listed all our accomplishments throughout the year, and we knew we would be competitive for the award given the consistency of club events and the number of students getting involved,” junior Chris Rhodenbaugh, co-president of College Democrats for 2009-10, said. Rhodenbaugh attributed the club’s recognition to the consistency of club activity, including the weekly efforts of students working on health care reform, energy issues and various foreign policy matters.Senior Henry Vasquez, co-president of College Democrats, said the club’s success has been a result of its strong ties to students and other campus organizations.“The success of the club is inextricably tied to the vision of the College Democrats — to become a nexus for the progressive community at Notre Dame,” Vasquez said. “I imagine that we benefited from the nomination process because of our strong relationships with so many students and organizations who were able to express their support for our club.”The club, which regularly attracts 25 to 40 members at weekly meetings, has achieved several substantial goals throughout the year, including helping secure 2nd district Rep. Joe Donnelly’s and Sen. Evan Bayh’s, both Indiana democrats, votes for the national health care reform bill.“We made over 6,000 calls for health care reform this year,” Rhodenbaugh said. “We also wrote a letter to Congressman Donnelly and issued a press release explaining our commitment to working for candidates who vote for health care reform.”Rhodenbaugh also said the press release emphasized that the club holds its leaders accountable for their actions and has expectations for the leaders it worked hard to elect in 2008. In addition, Rhodenbaugh said winning the award outside of an election year and on a limited budget speaks to the dedication of the club’s members.“It’s a real honor to win this award because it shows the commitment of our members to changing American politics and accomplishing the goals of the president we worked so hard to elect,” Rhodenbaugh said. “Political activism is an essential part of being an American citizen, and I’m proud that so many students were involved in the political process.”The high level of commitment of members of College Democrats has allowed the club to operate over 20 phone banks in cooperation with Organizing for America, co-sponsor a city-wide health care rally, maintain consistent weekly club programming and work extensively on issues such as clean energy, GLBT rights, foreign policy and labor, Rhodenbaugh said.“We see ourselves as a club that works hard for candidates and issues that has made a legitimate impact in South Bend and our country,” Rhodenbaugh said. “We also serve the purpose of getting students involved and developing the future leaders of our country, regardless of whether or not students end up in politics.”Vasquez echoed Rhodenbaugh’s thoughts on the club’s role in the local and national political realms and the dedication of its members.“Our members are an enthusiastic and cohesive family and they don’t stop being College Democrats when the meeting is over,” Vasquez said. “We are especially proud of our relationship with the South Bend community and the entire state of Indiana.”Rhodenbaugh also cited a commitment to social justice as the motivation for the club’s goals of reforming the political system. He said he believes that the club’s high level of activism has helped change perceptions of Notre Dame students as predominantly Republican while adhering to the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.“Much of our activism has been rooted in a holistic interpretation of Catholic Social Teachings,” Rhodenbaugh said. “We have worked hard to open minds and challenge traditional views about religion and politics on this campus, and we have had a lot of success.”
The Notre Dame student who attempted to stab another student in a dorm room earlier this week was charged Wednesday by the county prosecutor. Sophomore Vanessa Cabello was charged with attempted battery, according to the affidavit posted on WNDU’s website. The offense is a class C felony, which is punishable by a maximum sentence of six to eight years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Cabello attempted to stab a male student acquaintance in a Siegfried Hall dorm room Sunday. After a short struggle, the male student was able to take control of the knife and locked Cabello in the room until Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) arrived, the affidavit stated. Cabello told police the male student had sexually assaulted her in her dorm room on Nov. 20, but she had not reported the incident to authorities or sought medical treatment. She also declined medical treatment following the incident on Sunday. The male student said the sex was consensual. The Observer is not naming the male student because he is the alleged victim of a crime, and has not been charged with a crime related to Cabello’s allegations of sexual assault. University Spokesman Dennis Brown released a statement on behalf of the University on Wednesday evening. “Notre Dame is deeply troubled by these events and continues to take all appropriate action to ensure the safety of everyone involved and hold accountable those who have violated the law and/or University policy,” the statement said. “Whenever the University is made aware of a sexual assault allegation, we take the report seriously and conduct a prompt and thorough investigation.” Cabello told police she went to the male’s room Sunday to discuss frustration she had felt toward him since the alleged sexual assault. She said she brought the knife as “self-defense,” according to the affidavit. Police saw “superficial cuts” on Cabello’s wrists when they entered the room Sunday, but Cabello said the male student had not threatened or struck her in the past or during the incident in his room. University Spokesman Dennis Brown declined to comment on the status of Cabello’s enrollment at Notre Dame, but said the University reserves the right “to temporarily dismiss any student who is charged with a felony.” Brown said the University did not issue an email alert to the student body, as is customary in incidents of crime against students, because NDSP mitigated the threat in a prompt manner. “A timely warning was not issued because the alleged assailant was immediately detained by NDSP and therefore was not a threat to the community,” he said. The University statement said the circumstances leading to the charges against Cabello were “immediately and thoroughly” investigated by NDSP and turned over to local law enforcement. “The University has and will continue to work with the authorities as this matter proceeds through the criminal justice system,” the statement said.
In their final meeting of the semester, members of Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed how to best advocate for the expansion of inclusion on the basis of sexual orientation, race and ethnicity in student government’s Year End Report to the Board of Trustees. Student body president emeritus Pat McCormick said student government regularly reports student concerns to a Board of Trustees committee responsible for the Board of Student Affairs. These reports usually happen two to three times each year. “In the fall, we presented students’ advocacy of sustainability, informing the building of a Notre Dame for the 21st century,” McCormick said. “We thought this time it would be especially valuable to talk about how we might expand inclusion in the Notre Dame family, particularly ethnicity and race, as well as sexual orientation, based on events in the past couple of months.” Ed Mack, rector of O’Neill Hall, said although student government has tried to expand inclusion in the past, there might be better ways to work with the University administration. “I’m wondering if after the presentation we can ask, ‘What are we missing?’ What’s their advice to us? he said. “The best and brightest of student government have worked on this for several years and there hasn’t been much progress.“ McCormick said Student Senate passed resolutions requesting the addition of sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination clause and the approval of a gay-straight alliance (GSA) or equivalent student group. “The University ran a press release last week on their intent to expand inclusion. We don’t think it has been unsuccessful,” McCormick said. “I hope this year’s work speaks to a broad consensus on all sides on sexual orientation and race that we have made progress.” Members of CLC also discussed concerns students have voiced in the past week. Former Zahm Hall Senator Kevin Noonan said students thought the administration’s press release was ambiguous. (Editor’s Nnote: Noonan is the Scene editor for The Observer.) “There’s been a lot of student support, specifically for a GSA and a sexual orientation clause,” he said. “I think for the very least, ask [in the Year End Report] for an explanation, a public explanation, of what’s holding it back when students have supported this for so long.” The work of several campus stakeholders was essential to the progress made this year, McCormick said. “We are committed to ensuring discrimination in every form is confronted,” he said. “Students have advocated in extraordinary ways and in ways that remain in line with the mission of the University. We hope to express our gratitude that engagement from other stakeholders has occurred and hope to progress in weeks to come.”
The Notre Dame Wall Street Club is planning trips to New York, Boston and Chicago to allow current members to visit firms, connect with alumni and increase the University’s presence on Wall Street. Although the club is in the early stages of planning, the trips will be daily trips for small groups, and include visits to four or five financial firms in each city to form a network for Notre Dame students. Senior club co-president Lauren Baldwin said the club wants to keep the group small in order to facilitate personal communication between group members and Notre Dame alumni working on Wall Street. Senior Shawn Cappello, another one of the club’s three co-presidents, said these trips will “take the club to the next level.” “These trips are part of a larger plan to legitimize the club and increase Notre Dame’s presence on Wall Street,” Cappello said. The club, which was founded in 2010, currently has an estimated 300 active members and 880 students on the email list, making it the largest undergraduate business-oriented club. Three co-presidents and 9 vice presidents make up the club structure. These members communicate with the Investment Office, Career Center, Notre Dame alumni and senior mentors in order to form a network for group members. Sixty percent of members are freshman and sophomore, which Baldwin said is an emphasis of the club. “We’re connecting freshmen and sophomores with firms they will potentially be interviewing with,” Baldwin said. Cappello said the club’s rapid growth is proof of its necessary role it serves for so many students. “The club is a long overdue resource for students,” Cappello said. “This allows for students to get internships and receive great support from Notre Dame alumni.” Baldwin said weekly club meetings are divided into two halves. The first half is devoted to teaching financial skills and the second half focuses on interview skills. “This club helped me so much in the past two years,” Baldwin said. “This is the reason I have become so involved.” Cappello said senior members of the club conduct mock interviews to help improve underclassmen’s interviewing skills. The club also plans to introduce workshops to teach members financial modeling skills, like comparable companies analysis, discounted cash flow, and LGO modeling skills, that are not taught until senior year. “These are skills I had to teach myself like other finance majors,” Baldwin said. “This will give freshmen and sophomores important skills they need.” The club has also introduced new initiatives in order to attract non-business major members, a group that makes up 8.3% of the group. “Executives want a wide array of experiences,” Cappello said. “We’ve gone to non-business related classes and let students know about the resources we have.” Cappelllo said the club will begin its speaker series in the second semester, which will include information on topics like real-estate, private equity, and hedge funds. Contact Ben Horvath at email@example.com
The two tickets still in the running for student body president and vice president squared off in a runoff debate Sunday night in LaFortune, reiterating the pillars of their platforms before the final round of voting today. Juniors Alex Coccia and Nancy Joyce form one ticket, competing against fellow juniors Dominic Romeo and Philip Hootsmans. Coccia and Romeo are the candidates for president, while Joyce and Hootsmans are running for vice president. The debate focused largely on diversity and inclusion on campus, and each ticket’s plans to create more unity and cohesion among members of the student body. Both tickets emphasized their commitment to actively seeking out suggestions and input from the student body, using the position of student body president and vice-president to better serve the Notre Dame community and respond to their immediate concerns. Coccia discussed his involvement with the 4 to 5 movement on campus and said he hopes to continue to advocate the interests of all students on campus, beyond the “mainstream” concerns. “What I’ve been able to do with the 4 to 5 movement is really build a team of people to make what was a marginal conversation a mainstream conversation,” Coccia said. “Through that, we were able to make a real, concrete policy change as well as … a more welcoming environment for [all] members of the community.” Joyce echoed this approach, citing her involvement with smaller, “niche-focused” groups like Arabic Club and a diabetes support club on campus and expressing her appreciation for the work these smaller organizations do. “We have such a diversity of passions and interests here on campus, so we want to make sure that these smaller groups are really able to use student government,” Joyce said. “You shouldn’t have to be a group that attracts a huge number of people to be able to get the resources you need from student government.” Romeo said he believes the key to fostering a sense of inclusion campus-wide will be increased awareness of the groups and activities on the margin of campus life, making their concerns and events more publicized. “We think these issues of diversity and inclusion deal with the issue of equality – how do we get every student at Notre Dame to feel equal?” Romeo said. “In talking to a lot of students … the answer we’ve heard overwhelmingly is awareness. We’ve got to make the student body aware of the issues.” Romeo hopes to continue the conversation about instances of injustice or inequality across campus, setting a precedent for how the student government will respond and offering an alternative to unproductive, immediate emotional responses.
The latest event in Saint Mary’s “Justice Fridays” series featured junior nursing student Annie McGarrigle, who offered her perspective on healthcare in United States prisons.“I wanted to talk about this topic because I am a big believer in human dignity in the hospital setting as well as outside the hospital,” she said. “The ideas of healthcare regarding inmates really interest me, but more importantly, they really concern me.”Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer On an international scale, McGarrigle said prisons in the United States host more inmates than any other nation.“The prison population in the United States is the greatest in the world with about 750 people for 100,000,” she said. “Whereas in places like India, it’s 30 people for 100,000 and China 119, and then in Russia it’s 628.“In total there are more than 1.5 million people incarcerated each year, and 650,000 inmates are released each year as well.”During the discussion, McGarrigle said the nation’s infrastructure is not meant to contain this many inmates, and therefore, they are not getting the correct amount and type of care.“In the United States, the Department of Correction estimates that it’s holding 50 percent more people than it’s designed to, and that’s really dangerous because the people that are receiving care in this facility are more likely to have substance abuse issues, mental health problems, are more likely to have STDs and to be at risk for unplanned pregnancies,” she said. “So it’s really important that they’re receiving the care they deserve.”Along with the recent budget cuts, jails in the U.S. are acting as more than just correction facilities, McGarrigle said.“Our jails actually act more like hospitals, asylums, drug treatment facilities and retirement homes,” she said. “A lot of the people who can’t afford to do rehab treatment centers actually tend to commit crimes just to go to jails so they can receive the medication that they wouldn’t get on the outside.”McGarrigle said one in seven inmates also takes prescription drugs prior to incarceration.“Twenty-one percent of the federal inmates, 24 percent of the state inmates and 37 percent of the local inmates stopped taking those medications when they were incarcerated, which is also really dangerous because medications work by providing a steady amount of chemicals in the blood stream,” she said. “And so if you stop that, you’re going to get withdrawals, causing more problems than you started with, and may end up back in the system shortly after.”McGarrigle said it is also possible to help women in prison by using their sentence as a window of opportunity to provide them with the healthcare they need and may not be able to receive otherwise.“They could be getting the required reproductive screenings they need,” she said. “Cervical cancer, breast cancer screenings, STI tests, HIV testing, all of that provided by a federal or state prison would make such a difference to the women who are either staying there in the prison or going home.”Education is power, McGarrigle said, and it is especially important in prisons.“One of the really great things the United States has going for it is called DTAP, which is the Drug Treatment Center in New York City,” she said. “It offers residential, long-term treatment for non-violent, repeat offenders, and it’s actually shown to be really cost effective.”McGarrigle said she is considering bringing her own nursing talents to help in jails after graduation.“I think that everyone’s capable of love,” she said. “I think everybody’s deserving of love, and so regardless of someone’s past, I think that they should receive the best care possible. And I also think they should receive the care that I would.“The moral of the story is that no one is exactly right, and no one knows exactly how to treat this situation, but all I know is that there’s definitely room for improvement, and I think that we can all agree upon that no matter your political standpoint on it all.”Tags: Annie McGarrigle, Healthcare, Justice Fridays, prisons
Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer Members of the bipartisan debate discuss the recent influx of undocumented child immigrants in the United States and the impact of immigration on the nation.In her opening statement, junior Angge Roncal Bazan, a representative from College Democrats, said most children are migrating from areas in Latin America fraught with economic and social turmoil.“They are crossing into the United States in search of refuge,” Roncal said. “The reason they come is because the living conditions in their home countries have become increasingly unstable for reasons like trauma, stress, violence and abuse.”A large issue in the debate was the question of whether to send children back to the situations they had left when they crossed the border.O’Toole said there is a need to reform both border control and immigration.“To a certain extent, it gets out of our hands. If every child in the world said, ‘Take me in or I’m going to be killed,’ it would become too much,” O’Toole said.Junior Bri O’Brien, a representative of College Democrats, responded by saying there are 60,000 unaccompanied minors in the U.S. This is a small number compared to the nearly 420,000 deportations President Barack Obama has authorized, she said.Roncal said the Democrat party believes this system has to change.“The Democrats believe in a more permanent solution that keeps families together,” Roncal said.Shannon Golden, junior and representative of College Republicans, responded by saying it was important to prioritize the needs of legal citizens.“There is injustice going on throughout the world and [we can’t take] everyone that’s being victimized — as much as you would love to do that, we have [many] American citizens without food, without a roof over their head that we need to worry about first, before we can think about people that are trying to come into this country,” Golden said. Saint Mary’s “Week of Action” hosted a bipartisan debate between representatives of the College Republicans and College Democrats clubs Thursday at the College. The issue of the debate was the immigration of unaccompanied minors into the United Sates.The event began with an opening statement from College Republicans representatives. Senior and College Republicans president Nicole O’Toole said she thinks it is important to debunk the stereotype that Republicans are anti-immigration.“We are all immigrants, we are all American,” O’Toole said. “This is not to say that our immigration policies are not in need of dire changes.” Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer SMC College Republicans and Democrats convene to debate immigration policy as part of La Fuerza’s “Week of Action.”In response to a question from the audience on the relationship between Catholic social responsibility and immigration, Roncal said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) believe it is the Church’s duty to respect all who come the U.S. for safety.She said the USCCB believes we have a “responsibility to help those in need.”A closing statement by the College Republicans emphasized the importance of immigration reform.“The goal is not to send children back, but to make sure no more [children] come in,” Golden said.She said although there is no clear solution yet, the U.S. must reform how illegal children are treated.Roncal delivered the College Democrats’ closing statement, highlighting the importance of keeping families together.Tags: College Democrats, College Republicans, immigration debate, Week of Action
As the eyes of the world turn to the U.S. for Pope Francis’s first trip to the country, Notre Dame faculty will also be in the spotlight. During the papal visit, several faculty members will offer commentary and analysis for NBC, MSNBC and CBS television networks.According to a University press release, University President Fr. John Jenkins will appear on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” to offer commentary and analysis about the pope’s visit, tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday. Jenkins will also attend the pope’s welcoming ceremony at the White House, concelebrate with Francis the canonization mass of Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and attend the pope’s address to Congress, the press release stated.Professor Kathleen Sprows Cummings will provide coverage for NBC and MSNBC. Cummings is an associate professor of American studies and the William W. and Anna Jean Cushwa Director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism.“This [papal visit] is a chance to think about what the pope means to American Catholics and what the pope meant to American Catholics over the course of history,” Cummings said.Cummings will first broadcast from NBC studios in New York, offering commentary while the pope is in Cuba and travels to America. Then she will broadcast live from the rooftop over Saint Paul’s Cathedral in New York City before traveling to Philadelphia to offer live coverage during the pope’s visit there.Cummings said she will offer historical perspectives on the different places Francis is visiting, along with comparisons between Pope Francis’ visit and prior papal visits. She is also currently writing a book on the canonizations of American saints and will offer analysis on the canonization Mass of Junipero Serra.Cummings said she began to offer national commentary two-and-a-half years ago, when Anne Thompson, Notre Dame graduate and NBC News Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent, wanted a woman to comment on Pope Benedict’s resignation. Cummings said she was contacted by Thompson, a University trustee, to offer commentary on that issue and thus began her career as a television commentator.Cummings said her current coverage, which will have her away from campus for a week, is the longest consecutive time she has offered commentary for a major news network.“Notre Dame is the most prominent Catholic university in the United States. We, as a university, grapple with the questions that most interest the pope, like what it means to be a Catholic today. Notre Dame is a place where we’ve been asking those questions since we were founded in 1842,” Cummings said. “Fr. Ted Hesburgh used to say that Notre Dame is ‘the place where the church does it’s thinking,’ so it would make sense that two of the three major television networks are featuring Notre Dame faculty during the papal visit.”Cummings is not the only member of Notre Dame’s teaching faculty slated to appear on television during the papal visit. Professor Candida Moss, professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the theology department, is CBS’s Papal News Commentator, offering commentary across the network. Moss is scheduled to appear on several CBS News shows, including “CBS This Morning” and “CBS Evening News,” as well as CBS Radio and CBSN, the 24-hour live streaming news service, she said in an email.“I tend to approach Francis’ words from the perspective of a Biblical scholar and a historian. I try to understand how he grounds his ideas biblically and doctrinally and also how to think about him in comparison to his predecessors and contemporaries,” Moss said.Moss said her commentary will include a mix of theology, history, politics and public affairs.“Generally, we spend our time analyzing about the significance and meaning of what Pope Francis has said so far. But the schedule is only a guide, and we don’t know exactly what he will say or do,” she said. “On Sunday night, he started going off-script in the cathedral in Havana. It was pretty exciting, and we had to scramble to translate what he was saying and decide what to say about it.”Moss said she began doing news coverage for CBS when Pope Benedict resigned, after a booker for “CBS This Morning” saw one of her documentaries and asked her to come on the show. Since then, she has made regular appearances on CNN, Fox and NBC but spends most of her time at CBS.“When they called and asked me to be their Papal News Commentator, it was a natural fit and something I was very excited about,” Moss wrote. “I think teaching at a Catholic university makes me aware of the expectations and excitement surrounding the Pope’s visit and conscious of the responsibility I have as a representative of Notre Dame.” Tags: candida moss, kathleen cummings, papal visit, Pope Francis
Michael O’Connell, deputy coroner for St. Joseph’s County, ruled junior Jake Scanlan’s death as due to natural causes Tuesday, according to a South Bend Tribune report. Scanlan, who was found unresponsive in his dorm room the morning of Nov. 11, “died as a result of an enlarged and weakened heart,” the report stated.The 20-year-old resident of Siegfried Hall was a mechanical engineering major from North Potomac, Maryland.Tags: Jake Scanlan