Grads’ debt below national averages

first_imgNotre Dame graduates’ student debt is comparable to or less than national averages released in recent reports, according to Joseph Russo, director of Student Financial Strategies. Comparing Notre Dame’s student debt to averages in national reports is difficult, but valuable, Russo said. “We always benchmark,” he said. “It’s good to compare.” The Project on Student Debt, a national organization, released a report about student debt on Oct. 21. The report, titled “Student Debt and the Class of 2009,” stated that 2009 college graduates had an average debt of $24,000. Russo said the median student debt for 2009 Notre Dame graduates who borrowed money for their education is $23,588. This number includes government and private loans. According to The College Board’s “Trends in Student Aid 2010” report released last week, the average student debt for 2009 graduates of four-year, private colleges was $26,100. Russo said this number is a more accurate comparison for Notre Dame because it compares the University to its peers. “We compare pretty favorably on that one,” Russo said. Russo said Notre Dame graduates’ default rate for student loans is well below the national average. According to The College Board, seven percent of college graduates default, or fail to pay, their student loans. For Notre Dame graduates, however, Russo said the default rate is less than one percent. “So yes, $23,588 is a lot of money, but even in tough times our default rate seems to be decent and students appear to be managing their monthly payments.” While national reports such as The Project on Student Debt use both government and private loans to determine total debt numbers, Russo said he prefers to exclude private loans when analyzing Notre Dame’s averages. Private loans are discretionary for each student or family, he said. The University only presents government loans, which include both Perkins and Stafford loans, as part of its student financial aid packages. “A University policy in awarding student aid in general to try as best we can meet the full financial need of students, and we do that often by incorporating underlying government student loans … not private,” Russo said. The median student debt for Notre Dame’s 2009 graduating class, excluding private loans, was $19,225, Russo said. That number rose to $20,625 for the class of 2010. While Russo said national reports can be valuable, he also said public and media attention tend to focus on extreme or individual cases of high debt. “Those are not representative,” he said. “Look at [Notre Dame’s] statistics. People who start here actually finish on time … and they’ve had a good experience and they pay their loans off.” Summarizing student debt through averages is also a challenge, Russo said, because each student’s financial situation is different. He said Notre Dame uses the median numbers when analyzing financial aid because it removes the “outliers.” “It’s always dangerous to quote statistics,” he said. “The biggest single challenge I’ve had in 46 years has been the need to provide good, simple, accurate … information.” However, Russo said he is confident when speaking about Notre Dame graduates’ ability able to handle college debt because a good education is an investment. “More and more, when we talk about affording education, we talk about seeing it as an investment,” Russo said. “Which, if you’re a typical Notre Dame grad, the return on your investment will be your lifetime and how you do, not just income-wise … but also your health, your longevity … your civic involvement. So many good things happen if you’re a Notre Dame graduate.”last_img read more

Knott wins energy competition

first_imgAfter 30 days of commitment to dimmed lights, taking the stairs and unplugging cell phone chargers and game systems, Knott Hall won Notre Dame’s third annual Dorm Energy Competition Tuesday. The energy competition, hosted by the Office of Sustainability, began Nov. 1. This year focused on reducing “vampire energy,” the power that is sucked by most electronic devices even when they are turned off. Knott received the $500 grand prize for their 26 percent energy reduction. Zahm and Lewis tied for second place with 21 percent energy reduction each. “All the dorms together saved 13 percent, equivalent to $9,250 or 259,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions,” Rachel Novick, education and outreach programs manager at the Office of Sustainability, said. “This is more than we have saved in any previous Dorm Energy Competition, which shows that we are getting broader participation across the campus than ever before.” Knott Hall president Jared Stewart said the Energy Competition was an opportunity to bring the residents of Knott together for a common goal. Stewart said Knott Hall government, especially Energy Commissioner freshman Jack McLaren, worked to inform residents about different ways to save energy. “We put up a lot of signs on all the floors about taking the stairs, not using the elevators and we also put signs up throughout the stairs thanking people for taking the stairs and encouraging them to do so,” he said. Stewart said Knott also saved energy by unplugging all electronics other than the refrigerator over Thanksgiving, using cold water in the washing machines, and leaving lights off whenever possible. “[We encouraged] people to turn off their lights when they leave the room. I think that some of the key areas where we kept the lights off were the bathrooms, definitely,” he said. “The hallways we had dimmer. On the first floor, we kept the lights off completely unless they were needed.” He said he was impressed by the commitment and dedication his fellow Knott residents had to the competition. “Throughout this whole month I’ve only seen people using the elevator a few times, and pretty much everyone was on board with it,” he said. “Sometimes people would even be in the room with the lights off.” Despite the significant strides students have taken to conserve energy over the last month, Novick said it is important to continue the same energy-saving practices into the future. “Students can cut down energy consumption by sharing a refrigerator with a whole suite, and by keeping appliances unplugged when they’re not in use, like chargers, stereos, TVs and game systems,” she said. “Clothes dryers also take a lot of energy so hang-drying clothes is a great way to save energy.” Novick said the plastic water bottles found everywhere on campus are wasteful, and that students should switch to reusable bottles. “People have gotten so used to carrying around plastic water bottles,” she said. “The truth is that bottled water is not any healthier than tap water, typically. Mostly, it’s just filtered tap water and it’s tremendous amounts of plastic.” With Christmas lights and decorations covering campus during the holiday season, Novick said The Office of Sustainability has worked to inform students, faculty and staff about how to decorate using less energy. “We started last year working with offices on reducing the energy of Christmas lights,” she said. “We visited offices all across the campus and offered them free timers so that their tree lights would turn off automatically at night.” This year, she said the Office of Sustainability will focus on reducing energy use in dorms. She especially advised using LED Christmas lights. “If a dorm has a big communal display, that’s a great opportunity to use a timer … you have a big opportunity to save energy,” she said. “We’d like to visit the dorms during December and offer them timers.” She also said opportunities exist for “green” Christmas decorating — it just might take a bit of creativity. “One thing that I saw in Cavanaugh last year is that in order to encourage people to celebrate without energy, they had a green decorating contest, [and] encouraged people to decorate without electricity and to use recycled materials A lot of the dorms were really beautiful. There are opportunities to have alternative decorations,” she said. Novick said for widespread energy conservation to occur, a cultural change is needed. College campuses like Notre Dame, she said, could be a good place to start this type of change. “I think that campus communities are such a great living laboratory for creating cultural change,” she said. “When people do stuff together on a campus, they can see the results. It gets [them] a lot more excited.” Stewart said he sensed excitement about change even within the smaller Knott environment. “I think a huge thing in this whole energy competition was bringing everyone together,” he said. “I also think the [unity] this brought about will carry through. [We know] if we all come together as a dorm we can accomplish some pretty significant things.” Novick said sustainable living does not mean living with less, it simply means being more aware on a day-to-day basis. “Sustainability is not about living without things that make [you] happy, it’s about being more conscious about the choices [you] can make,” she said.last_img read more

Farley Hall hosts Taste of ND event

first_imgStudents were given the chance to sample a variety of residence hall fare Thursday night at Farley Hall’s second annual Taste of ND. A dozen campus halls brought offerings from their food sale shops for students to sample and to compete in a tasting contest, sophomore Erin Killymurray, a coordinator of the event, said. “Taste of ND is a great opportunity for every dorm food sale to show off their own unique food,” she said. “People should know that these places exist. Everyone has access to other dorms’ foods. A lot of people just don’t know about it.” Besides offering students the opportunity to get a taste of hall eateries, Farley took the opportunity to give back, Killmurray said. Free to students last year, the hall decided to charge $2 per person, with proceeds benefitting the Northern Indiana Food Bank. “There was a great turnout last year,” she said. “We completely ran out of food. With such a great turnout from last year’s event, we decided to charge $2 a person and donate the proceeds … It’s a great way to give back to the community.” Some of the participating dorms included Keough Kitchen, Zahm Pizza, McGlinn Snack Shack and St. Edward Hall’s shop, Ed’s. Senior Toph Stare of Zahm’s Pizza said he was happy to get the word out about his hall’s food sales. “Finding ways to market food for dorm sales is difficult since a lot of people just don’t even know these food sales exist,” Stare said. “This event is a great opportunity for us to market our products and let people know what’s out there.” Senior Dana McKane, representative for McGlinn’s Snack Shack, agreed that Taste of ND could be helpful for future food sales. “Every dorm has something different to offer,” she said. “Now that more people can see and taste other dorms’ products, hopefully sales in each dorm will increase. Last year was the first year for the Taste of ND and also the first year that McGlinn Snack Shack was in business, so it was great for us to get some attention right away.” Each attendee had the opportunity to vote on their favorite foods from the event, and guest judges also had input in the selection of the winning foods. Guest judges included Leprechaun Michael George, men’s basketball guard Joey Brooks and student body vice president Brett Rocheleau. The judges’ top selection was Ed’s, Killmurray said. Representatives from Ed’s brought paninis and, the local favorite, smoothies. “The St. Ed’s smoothies are great,” Brooks said. “I’m not going to lie, I might go to ‘Sted’s’ to get a smoothie once in a while.” George said tasting food from around campus might encourage hesitant students to venture to other dorms for late night snacks. “I think a lot of people don’t like to leave the comfort of their dorm when they are studying late at night,” George said. “Hopefully that will change with this event.” Other judges’ picks included Zahm Pizza and McGlinn Hall Snack Shack. “You can taste the love and care in every cupcake,” George said.last_img read more

Prof. studies brain trauma

first_imgResearch professor Mayland Chang is taking to heart the maxim “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” in two ways, as she uses her mind to the fullest by working to develop a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Chang, director of the Chemistry-Biochemistry-Biology Interface (CBBI) Program, said she and other researchers have been studying a group of 27 enzymes called Matrix metalloproteinases (MPPs) for more than a decade. She said the team has found a promising use for one of these enzymes, Matrix metallopeptidase nine (MPP-9), in treating TBI. “We thought that this group of enzymes would be important for many diseases. Not much was known, so we started making inhibitors,” Chang said. “It turns out MPP-9 plays a critical role in the pathology of TBI.” Chang said every case of TBI essentially can be divided into two injuries, each with different effects. “You have the primary injury, the blow to the head,” Chang said. “There is absolutely nothing you can do for the brain cells that die in the primary injury. This is followed by a cascade of events, starting with damage to the blood-brain barrier, that result in the secondary injury. The secondary injury is linked to long term problems, including coma and death.” MPP-9 contributes to the secondary injury by cleaving tau proteins, so inhibiting MPP-9 can prevent the cascade of events leading to the secondary injury, Chang said. Chang said she has personal reasons for seeking an effective TBI treatment. Her mother passed away as a result of a severe TBI in 1997 at the age of 70, having slipped and hit her head on her patio. Chang said she is also motivated by the threat of TBI her son faced as a competitive snowboarder. Chang said no therapeutics for TBI currently exist because of the nature of the condition and reluctance on the part of pharmaceutical companies. “There are no existing therapeutics for TBI because of the difficulty of getting compounds through the brain-blood barrier and because TBI is an acute condition and ‘big pharma’ is more interested in chronic conditions. … Big pharma is not really working on diseases like this,” she said. Chang said her research group has been fortunate that the compounds they use effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, something more than 98 percent of drugs are incapable of doing. “It’s very challenging for drugs to cross the barrier and reach therapeutic concentration,” she said. “We are lucky with the compounds we have, which are able to cross the barrier on their own.” Chang said one of the biggest challenges has been maintaining this quality while also making the compounds more water-soluble. Water solubility enables the compounds to be injected, which is important, given that many patients with TBI are unconscious or otherwise unable to swallow.  The most recent version of the treatment compound is working in animal models, specifically, mice, in terms of both water solubility and penetrating the blood-brain barrier, Chang said. Contact Christian Myers at [email protected],Research professor Mayland Chang is taking to heart the maxim “a mind is a terrible thing to waste” in two ways, as she uses her mind to the fullest by working to develop a treatment for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Chang, director of the Chemistry-Biochemistry-Biology Interface (CBBI) Program, said she and other researchers have been studying a group of 27 enzymes called Matrix metalloproteinases (MPPs) for more than a decade. She said the team has found a promising use for one of these enzymes, Matrix metallopeptidase nine (MPP-9), in treating TBI. “We thought that this group of enzymes would be important for many diseases. Not much was known, so we started making inhibitors,” Chang said. “It turns out MPP-9 plays a critical role in the pathology of TBI.” Chang said every case of TBI essentially can be divided into two injuries, each with different effects. “You have the primary injury, the blow to the head,” Chang said. “There is absolutely nothing you can do for the brain cells that die in the primary injury. This is followed by a cascade of events, starting with damage to the blood-brain barrier, that result in the secondary injury. The secondary injury is linked to long term problems, including coma and death.”  MPP-9 contributes to the secondary injury by cleaving tau proteins, so inhibiting MPP-9 can prevent the cascade of events leading to the secondary injury, Chang said. Chang said she has personal reasons for seeking an effective TBI treatment. Her mother passed away as a result of a severe TBI in 1997 at the age of 70, having slipped and hit her head on her patio. Chang said she is also motivated by the threat of TBI her son faced as a competitive snowboarder. Chang said no therapeutics for TBI currently exist because of the nature of the condition and reluctance on the part of pharmaceutical companies. “There are no existing therapeutics for TBI because of the difficulty of getting compounds through the brain-blood barrier and because TBI is an acute condition and ‘big pharma’ is more interested in chronic conditions. … Big pharma is not really working on diseases like this,” she said. Chang said her research group has been fortunate that the compounds they use effectively cross the blood-brain barrier, something more than 98 percent of drugs are incapable of doing. “It’s very challenging for drugs to cross the barrier and reach therapeutic concentration,” she said. “We are lucky with the compounds we have, which are able to cross the barrier on their own.” Chang said one of the biggest challenges has been maintaining this quality while also making the compounds more water-soluble. Water solubility enables the compounds to be injected, which is important, given that many patients with TBI are unconscious or otherwise unable to swallow.  The most recent version of the treatment compound is working in animal models, specifically, mice, in terms of both water solubility and penetrating the blood-brain barrier, Chang said. Contact Christian Myers at [email protected]last_img read more

Design for America hosts food waste workshop

first_imgMonday night marked a major milestone for the Design for America (DFA) candidate chapter at Notre Dame, as it entered round two of the four-step application process to become an official studio by hosting a creative workshop. The two-hour event at West Lake Hall focused on ways to reduce food waste in the dining halls, which the co-organizers say amounts to about 1.2 tons per day.According to its website, DFA is a “nationwide network of interdisciplinary student teams and community members using design to create local and social impact.” The 2,000 student-strong organization, which was founded in 2009 at Northwestern University, focuses on tackling “over 100 local and social challenges annually” in the areas of economy, education, environment and health.Seniors Brian Donlin and John Wetzel and junior William Picoli lead Notre Dame’s DFA candidate chapter. DFA fellow and mentor Julian Bongiorno led Monday’s workshop with the assistance of the three co-organizers.Wetzel said DFA differs from the seemingly similar Student International Business Council (SIBC) in that the “purely business” SIBC faced criticism in the past for accepting only business students, a policy that the SIBC leadership has since reversed.“If you look at all the different organizations on this campus, there are very few that are truly interdisciplinary,” Wetzel said. “You bring all that together and use that to your advantage as a strength. That’s something our University as a whole has kind of struggled with in finding how that all fits in.”“We’re hoping to be part of something that can bridge that gap and unite students from all those groups to work together.”During the workshop, the co-organizers asked for a show of hands to indicate students’ areas of study. These varied from industrial design to English.Initially, each group was assigned a persona and tasked to argue from that perspective, with stakeholders ranging from a fictional Notre Dame Food Services administrator to a “filler upper” student, to rationalize their behaviors described and how this relates back to serving, preparation, consumption, cleaning and disposal. Participants then attempted to brainstorm as many solutions as possible to the problems that arose.“Maybe if we make Grab and Go bags that are interesting or funny, they’ll become a commodity for people to get food with,” freshman Kevin Ramos said, expanding on the proposition to extend the life of the existing disposable paper bags and cut down on waste.“It would be cool if we could give students more accessibility to feedback, whether giving ratings on food or offering recipes,” senior Julia Bontempo said. “Students could suggest what they wanted to eat. Maybe one day a week.”Commenting on another suggestion to increase the use of reusables, junior Hannah Chiarella said, “I always feel stupid taking the same plate going back.” She added she does reuse cups for refilling drinks.Other students suggested mandating feedback similar to Course Instructor Feedback, the current system used to rate academic teaching quality, in addition to being able to rate the food itself through the My Notre Dame application for all students to see. Another popular suggestion was to compartmentalize the dishes or trays to reduce the amount of clutter, food taken and need for washing dishes.“The whole idea is not so much about what to eat and how much to eat, but the main point is the waste. It’s more about being a responsible consumer,” sophomore Daara Jalili said.Following this workshop, the local candidate chapter will have one month to work on an idea to compete against eight other schools, including University of Southern California, to be judged by DFA on which “creates the most impact.” About half of these hopefuls will be selected to become official DFA studios.Tags: design, dining hall, food waste, NDFS, Notre Dame Food Serviceslast_img read more

Lawsuit alleges sexual harassment, racial discrimination against University employee

first_imgTags: racial discrimination, Sexual harassment, University Lawsuit A student filed a lawsuit against the University on Friday seeking damages for alleged sexual harassment and racial discrimination by an employee of Notre Dame, according to court documents acquired and posted by WSBT.The suit alleges a white University employee — “Jane Roe”  — coerced the plaintiff — “John Doe,” an African-American student at the University — into a sexual relationship with her daughter, who attends a “nearby school” but is also an employee of the University.The suit also alleges University administrators knew  about the misconduct and, citing Title VI and Title IX, had a responsibility to intervene for the student’s wellbeing, which was compromised by a racially and sexually hostile environment.According to court documents, “Jane Roe” allegedly engaged in the following behaviors in the spring of 2015:“commanding, directing, encouraging, and convincing Plaintiff John Doe to engage in sexual relations with Defendant Jane Roe’s own daughter; arranging for sexual liaisons for Plaintiff John Doe; interrogating Plaintiff John about the nature, frequency, and quality of the sexual activities he had with Defendant Jane Roe’s daughter; harassing and demeaning Plaintiff John Doe with racially-charged comments;“pressuring Plaintiff John Doe to remain in the sexual relationship against his will; providing lodging, transportation, hotel rooms, and condoms for sexual excursions across state lines; and engaging in threatening behavior towards Plaintiff John Doe as he attempted to end the sexual relationship with her daughter.”The defendant, who served in “a role designed to provide academic support and counseling to students and student-athletes,” allegedly targeted other African-American males at the University including members of the football and basketball teams, according to court documents.When the student sought to end the relationship with the woman’s daughter, the defendant allegedly “utilized her position at the University to convince the Plaintiff John Doe of his need for mental counseling, arranging for Plaintiff John Doe to be seen by psychiatric support employed by the [University],” according to court documents.The defendant also allegedly sought to pressure the student into converting to Catholicism, according to the suit.The suit goes on to say that the plaintiff was then seen by an employee who was “a friend and confidant” of the defendant, and who “sought to medicate Plaintiff John Doe to keep him passive, cooperative, and under control to forestall any exposure of this exploitative and perverse conduct and hostile environment.”University vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne said the University is aware of the suit, but denies all allegations of misconduct.“The allegations against the University of Notre Dame in the complaintare unfounded, as are gratuitous and unfounded references to ‘studentathletes’ — an allegation that is nothing more than a cynical attemptto attract publicity,” Browne said in a statement.last_img read more

Saint Mary’s to host run, walk in support of autism

first_imgThe Saint Mary’s Students Supporting Autism club will host the second annual Autism Awareness 5K Run and Walk on Saturday April 23 at 8 a.m. Students can register through OrgSync or at check-in the day of. The event will begin at the Welcome Center and ends at Lake Marian. Senior Allyson Strasen, president of Students Supporting Autism, said the club raises money throughout each school year and donates all funds to three organizations — Lighthouse Autism Center, the Behavior Analysis Center for Autism (BACA) and Hannah and Friends. “We wanted to continue that this year because we were so successful last year,” Strasen said.“Last year we raised upwards of $700. We ended up having $1,200 total to donate at the end of the year.”Strasen said these organizations do help adults with autism, but focus mainly on children.According to Strasen, Lighthouse Autism Center is “basically like a little school for [children] with autism. They come in and do applied behavioral analysis therapy and all this fun stuff.” She said BACA is in Elkhart and is similar to Lighthouse Autism Center. She said the therapists work one-on-one with children, providing therapy specialized for behavior and social skills. “My cousin was born at 23 or 24 weeks old, and he is a little miracle baby,”  Strasen said.“He is 12 now, and he has cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and severe autism, so that’s where it all stemmed from. I do Best Buddies at Notre Dame, and we work with people with disabilities, so I felt like this was another thing to add on.” Strasen said students should get involved with the 5K because of the prevalence of autism.“Everyone knows someone or knows of someone else who is affected by this, whether it’s a family member or a friend,” she said.According to Strasen, it is important to keep in mind that people in the Saint Mary’s community may have autism. “Everyone at Saint Mary’s is so open minded for the most part and accepting of other people,” she said. “We probably have students here with autism and we don’t know it because there’s a huge spectrum of it. ”Tags: 5K, Autism, Students Supporting Autismlast_img read more

Kick-It for Kevin raises money for cancer

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Joe Pinto The off-campus senior team poses after winning Kick-It for Kevin, the annual charity kickball tournament hosted by Sorin College. Eighteen student teams competed Saturday in the tournament in its seventh year.Holland, a resident assistant in Sorin, was part of the Hall Staff team, competing against 18 other teams for bragging rights and the coveted kickball champion title. He and his team advanced to the quarterfinals, where they faced off against a team of Sorin juniors.After five extra innings, the Hall Staff team lost a heartbreaker by a single run.“The one missing piece from my resume is a Kick-It for Kevin title,” Holland, who is set to graduate this spring, said.This year marked the seventh annual charity kickball tournament, the dorm’s signature event started to honor Kevin Healey, a former resident and member of the class of 2011 who died from brain cancer in 2009.Each year, Sorin partners with Kick-It, a national organization that raises money for pediatric cancer research. The Ohio-based nonprofit helps sponsor charity kickball tournaments across the country.“Kick-It for Kevin is one of the pillars of what makes Sorin great,” Holland said. “It’s great because we’re raising money for a great cause, but we’re also having a great time with everyone in the dorm.”Sophomore Joe Pinto, the Kick-It for Kevin commissioner, said this year’s event raised about $7,000, a new record.“It’s the perfect fundraiser,” he said. “Because you need to do something that’s fun and will be able to get people out, but also something that all people can and want to play.”This year, Pinto said he tried to make the tournament — which moved back to its former location on Bond Quad — a campus-wide event. It had a number of local corporate sponsors that donated gift cards and food, including Einstein Bros, Meijer, BarBici, Five Guys and Chipotle.Kick-It merchandise was offered as fundraising incentives, Pinto added. Some of the seniors have collected quite a lot of gear over the year.For Pinto, the event is a way to honor a special member of the Sorin community.“It’s pretty cool to be able to see a dorm that has so much history and so much tradition remember one person like this,” he said. “I think this is our way of giving back to him and giving back to his memory.”In a dorm that has housed students since 1888, not many students can boast a legacy that rivals Healey’s.“When you hear stories about Kevin and hear people that did know him talk about him, he just really stood for a lot of great qualities that we want in Sorin and in Notre Dame,” Holland said.Healey didn’t let his illness get the best of him, Holland said. Instead, he tried to make the most of the time he had at Notre Dame.“It’s always great to take a few hours to go out and play kickball and have some burgers and hot dogs,” he said. “It’s about enjoying our time here as college students all together.”Fr. Bob Loughery said this is his seventh year as the rector of Sorin College; he’s never seen a year at Notre Dame without a kickball tournament.Loughery also played on the Hall Staff team. Though he didn’t get the victory he wanted, he said the overall event was a big success.“I think the guys show, year after year, when they come together to do something, it gets done,” he said. “It’s always a highlight.”Tags: Kick-It for Kevin, kickball, Sorin College Senior Ethan Holland walked out the back door of Sorin College on Saturday morning in pursuit of a single goal: a victory in the dorm’s annual Kick-It For Kevin kickball tournament.last_img read more

SBPD removes officer

first_imgThe South Bend Police Department removed an officer involved in the arrest of Notre Dame football player Devin Butler from patrol duties last Friday, according to the South Bend Tribune.According to the Tribune, Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski said officer Aaron Knepper will be kept off patrol until internal investigations into the arrest of Butler and another high-profile arrest in March 2014 are conducted.At a panel discussion on the relationship between the South Bend police and minorities Thursday night, groups of protesters caused a disruption and called for the removal of Knepper, according to the Tribune. The following day, Ruszkowski announced that he had removed Knepper from patrol the previous week. He would not disclose whether Knepper will be placed on leave or transferred to office duties, citing legal discretion to withhold personnel records.Knepper has been involved in at least four controversial police confrontations since 2012, according to the Tribune.South Bend police officers arrested Butler outside the Linebacker Lounge early on the morning of Aug. 20 on felony charges of resisting law enforcement and battery against a public safety official. According to court documents, officers were dispatched after receiving reports of a fight in the Lounge.Police said officers Luke Pickard and Aaron Knepper saw one woman kick another in the head outside the bar. Before they could intercede, Butler approached and lunged at the woman who had kicked the other one, according to court documents.As Pickard pulled Butler away, the football player allegedly started cursing and punching both officers. Other officers eventually detained Butler using a Taser. He was brought to a holding cell at the St. Joseph County Jail.Butler is set to appear in St. Joseph Superior Court again on Oct. 17.Tags: Aaron Knepper, Devin Butler, Notre Dame footballlast_img read more

MFA students win Notre Dame App Challenge with South Bend City Connect

first_imgTwo Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) design students, Miriam Moore and Robbin Forsyth, won first place in the Notre Dame App Challenge Wednesday night for their mobile app South Bend City Connect. The app seeks to serve South Bend city residents who need financial assistance, want to help build up the South Bend community or are looking to better understand their finances.Moore, a visual communications design major, and Forsyth, an industrial design major, started the project in the fall of 2016.“We always hear about people talk about collaborating, and we don’t see a lot of it, so we thought we would try and do this,” Forsyth said.After meeting with South Bend city leaders, Moore and Forsyth realized the city faced a problem with their 311 phone center — 80 percent of the calls came from 20 percent of the customers.Forsyth said these customers are typically calling when they are in a panic, in situations such as when their utilities are about to be shut off.“Once you get into shut off, you basically have to show up with cash at the city office to pay your bill. We wanted to learn more about these customers,” he said.The two worked as volunteers at the local nonprofit Stone Soup Community to further understand these customers, who are classified as the working poor by United Way’s ALICE threshold.“We [volunteered there] because Stone Soup is the only agency left in St. Joseph County that offers emergency aid on a walk-in basis,” Forsyth said. “It’s the only place you can go to and say, ‘Today I have a problem. I need help.’”Through their research and volunteer work, Moore and Forsyth identified 40 percent of St. Joseph county residents belonged to the working poor — members of the working poor are subject to what Moore and Forsyth call the “additional costs of poverty.” These costs typically result due to a lack of a bank account and include fees to cash paychecks or short-term, high-interest loans.“The less money you have, the more expensive it is to live sometimes,” Forsyth said. “If you don’t have the convenience of enough cash flow to have some money in the bank to be able to wait for your paycheck to clear, you’re spending money to access your money.”Moore and Forsyth also found these low-income residents typically do not have access to a desktop computer and instead use a smartphone for internet access.While Moore and Forsyth said South Bend is planning to revamp its website to help reduce the strain on its 311 call center, they identified a mobile application as a better option. This realization led to birth of South Bend City Connect.“South Bend City Connects integrates financial education, low cost banking resources and electronic utility payments in a powerful tool to aid in the transition to self-sufficiency,” Moore said. “We see South Bend City Connect as a powerful tool that aligns with the Notre Dame vision to heal, unify and enlighten the world.”The app offers services such as bill pay, budgeting and paying it forward to help a neighbor and reporting a city maintenance problem such as a pothole. In addition, the app alerts users as to overdraft fees when they pay their bills and will offer to connect them to Stone Soup Community, the financial education partner of the app.Other partners for the app include Notre Dame Federal Credit Union, which is looking to offer some accounts to the working poor that will integrate with South Bend City Connect, and the City of South Bend’s Innovation Department, which will house and operate the app.Currently, Forsyth and Moore are working with Notre Dame’s innovation department to determine the app’s future. While the two want to stay involved with the project after graduation, they would not manage the app on a day-to-day basis.“The goal is to get the innovation department … to set something up and get a running entity,” Forsyth said.Two other banks and a national initiative are interested in serving as partners with the app, which would allow the program to expand to a regional or national level.“People are really excited about the idea; it’s just a matter of getting the infrastructure to scale it,” Forsyth said.Tags: App Challenge, South Bend City Connect, working poorlast_img read more