Lauren Weldon Notre Dame International (NDI) is implementing a new policy beginning in the fall 2016 semester, under which the University will no longer pay airfare for students studying abroad during a semester. This change allows more students to study abroad.Tom Guinan, associate vice president for administrative operations for Notre Dame International, said this change was made in an attempt to increase acceptance rates for students applying to study abroad.“86 percent of applicants got offered acceptances into the program this year, and we were down, you can see from just two years ago, it was closer to 70 percent, which is terrible,” Guinan said. “For kids who are qualified and able to go, we did not want to turn away 30 percent of the students … Our goal is to have 90 percent or more acceptance, with the limitations being just capacity in a program.”Junior Frank Wamsley, who, along with Guinan, gave a presentation about this change to the student senate in November, said the lower acceptance rates were due to NDI’s budget not being increased in the past several years while the cost of sending students abroad has risen.“The amount of money that Notre Dame International gets to send students abroad has stayed the same, however, the costs for sending students abroad … have gone up over the years, and as a result, they’ve had to decline more people in the application process,” Wansley said. “[Guinan] and his team at NDI decided that the one thing that they could foresee cutting out and having the least amount of impact was the cost of the overseas flights.”Cutting airfare not only made sense in comparison to other expenses covered by the University, Guinan said, but it also would fit more with the policies of other schools throughout the country.“We found that really there are no other schools that actually fund airfare the way we had in the past, and I think it was something that we had been interested in looking at,” he said. “When we were looking at ways to have more resources to send students abroad, there were three things that we considered … One was tuition that we pay to the school, one was lodging and one was airfare.”Guinan also said the possible ramifications of this policy for students who may not be able to afford overseas flights were carefully considered before making a final decision.“Just based on the fact that the summer programs are so popular and the students pay airfare for summer programs, we said let’s see if there’s a way that we can make sure the students who are on financial aid aren’t cut out of it because of the airfare component,” he said. “As long as we can assure that the financial aid’s available to the students, we think we should be able to kind of have a win-win situation where the cost of the plane ticket will actually be able to send 35 to 40 more students abroad a year.”While he understands and supports NDI’s decision now, Wamsley said he wishes the administration had been clearer with students about the decision-making process.“I think something that’s lacking in the administration’s decision-making is how they’re going to relay news and information that pertains to students to the students,” he said. “Whether it’s holding a town hall meeting to explain big changes that apply to students or using the student senate and Hall Presidents’ Council…I think that the administration ought to find more ways to convey the reasons for the things they do with the student body.”Sophomore Meghan Santella, who will be studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin during next fall said she would have appreciated more of an explanation for the change.“We got an email over the summer, I think, and then I didn’t really think too much about it, but I didn’t understand why they were doing it,” Santella said. “I feel like if [NDI] explained [the reasoning], that would’ve been more beneficial for them.”Santella said despite the change, having to pay for the airfare didn’t affect her decision to study abroad.“I wasn’t going to not do it because of [the airfare],” she said. “Notre Dame’s so good to me for financial aid, just in general, that honestly, if they won’t pay airfare, it’s not a big deal, they’re already doing so much for me.”Guinan emphasized his hope that acceptance levels won’t be affected by any extra costs and students will seek help, if necessary.“I’m excited that we were able to send out so many acceptances, and I hope that the students are excited, as well,” he said. “The acceptances or the decisions from the students are actually due on Monday, and [we] expect that we’ll see 800 plus acceptances or that most of the students will accept.”Tags: airfare, NDI, Notre Dame, Notre Dame International, study abroad
In this Daily Trojan file photo, Undergraduate Student Government President Debbie Lee speaks at the USG Senate meeting on Feb. 12. At the March 26 meeting, Lee delivered her State of the USG address. (Maansi Manchanda/Daily Trojan) Lee said that among the difficult questions USG has dealt with this academic year, matters of free speech and creating safe spaces on campus have been the most prominent. USG navigated backlash and protests from various student organizations and communities to conservative commentator Ben Shapiro, who spoke to students in Bovard Auditorium in October. Lee reflected on her campaign run with USG Vice President Blake Ackerman in 2018. Lee said after careful deliberation, their election team chose the slogan “Forward Together,” a phrase which has permeated much of her presidency. Lee, a junior majoring in political science, expressed her gratitude for the colleagues she has worked with during her time with USG. In her speech, Lee said USG comprises students dedicated to serving their community. Lee concluded her State of USG address by relaying the hope she has for the University to move forward with regard to transparency and accountability. “There are no words that can truly encompass my time in this organization and for what this year brought,” Lee said. “In three years, I have crossed paths with some of the most incredible people on campus who deeply imprinted my life … Their unwavering passion and dedication to their work and respective communities have been sources of inspiration for me daily.” “My hope is that we too as student leaders should work to overcome misunderstandings and conflicts with civility and grace, to remain steadfast in our purpose of serving others and to not point fingers … but instead uplift one another,” Lee said. Lee said though she was proud to be a part of USG because of the organization’s tangible impact on the University, she admitted her term has faced its fair share of challenges. She cited the recent announcement of USC president-elect Carol Folt and the recent college admissions scheme as some of the challenges. “As I reflect upon our accomplishment, hurdles and growth as an organization, I recognize that much of our progress manifested when student leaders and campus partners moved forward together,” Lee said. “This year brought forth many opportunities and victories, such as the establishment of the food pantry.” “While we still have many miles to go before eliminating food insecurity and homelessness entirely, I am hopeful in knowing there is a University-wide effort to ensure students who often go unseen are fully cared for and have the resources to meet their basic needs,” Lee said. “We have felt the breadth and intimate depth of each one of these challenges,” Lee said. “Even before the slew of national headlines, we have been grappling with some of the most difficult questions of our own that have always existed and perhaps still remain to be answered by future leaders of the University.” Debbie said, however, her most humbling and inspiring experiences have been speaking to students from various academic and personal backgrounds. “One year ago, I stood before you as the newly elected president, and time really does fly by,” Lee said. “So now I am grateful for this opportunity to share my reflections and thoughts as I prepare to transition out of this role.” Lee said she is proud of the Trojan Food Pantry, which was expanded from a virtual resource for students to a physical location on campus in February 2018 and has since grown to serve hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students in need. Undergraduate Student Government President Debbie Lee delivered her State of USG address during a meeting Tuesday. During her speech, she reflected on her time serving as president since her inauguration last April, USG policies and initiatives she oversaw and recent national news regarding the challenges the University faces. “While it is difficult to see on the front page, there are students both in and out of USG, faculty, staff and administrators who devote their time, efforts and even their lives to advocate for students and work toward a University that is values driven,” Lee said. “As the University embarks on a new journey of transition, students deserve a restoration of trust.” Lee thanked her parents, who were attendance during the meeting, Ackerman and her fellow USG members. “To everyone who has shown me kindness and grace, when I didn’t deserve it, supported me and encouraged me along the way, and challenged my way of thinking. It is because of you that I will look back at this crazy growth-filled year with the utmost appreciation and gratitude,” Lee said.