Committee for gay and lesbian students reorganized

by Dennis Brown

The Standing Committee on Gay and Lesbian Student Needs at the University of Notre Dame has been restructured, including the addition of a student co-chair and the adoption of a new name, according to Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., vice president for student affairs.

The changes follow a series of discussions in recent months between Father Poorman and student members and administrators on the newly named Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students.

Since the creation of the standing committee in 1996 and the adoption of our ‘Spirit of Inclusiona year later, Notre Dame has sought to better address the needs of our gay, lesbian and bisexual students within the parameters of Catholic teaching,said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the Universitys president.I am grateful for the dedicated work of committee members the past 10 years, and, with the evolution of this new council, I am excited about this important step forward.

The Core Council will consist of eight student members, of whom a majority will be gay, lesbian or bisexual, and four administrators. The other co-chair will come from the Office of Student Affairs. Administrators from Campus Ministry, theCounselingCenterand theGenderRelationsCenterwill serve in the remaining three positions. The Core Council will continue to advise the vice president for student affairs and serve as a resource in identifying the needs of gay, lesbian and bisexual students.

The standing committee has been an invaluable resource to me,Father Poorman said.I want to express my deepest gratitude to the student members of the committee, as well as to its current chair, Sister Mary Louise Gude, C.S.C., who have worked so hardfor so long on this issue. The idea for this new structure was generated by the students, and they have labored to bring it into being. The standing committee has evolved, just as the needs of this campus have evolved. I am confident that the core council will be even more effective in its new form, and better able to take on its many important projects.

The council will receive regularly reserved space in theLaFortuneStudentCenter, in recognition of its increasingly large responsibilities with regard to educational programming. It also will work on an ad hoc basis with a new coalition of students drawn from Student Government and other groups. The expansion will allow the council to capitalize on the interest and support of various groups on campus, and will provide additional students to assist with its various initiatives.

Senior Tiffany Thompson, who has been involved with the standing committee for the last four years, said:I think the biggest strength of the new council and coalition is the fact that there are many motivated students – both gay and straight – on campus right now who want to get involved and who have fantastic ideas; the new structure will bring all these people together.

This fall marks the 10th anniversary of what has been the Standing Committee. Since 1996, the group has initiated and implemented educational programs on issues affecting gay, lesbian and bisexual students. It has offered annual assistance in training resident assistants during Hall Staff Orientation, directed CommUnity sessions for first-year students, and presented theNetworkprogram. The group hosts monthly coffee hours, sponsors topical speakers, and organizesSolidarity Sundayand events to mark National Coming Out Day.

TopicID: 16065