In response to student suggestions, the University of Notre Dame has taken several new steps to better support gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning members of its community.
The result of meetings between student leaders and members of the University’s administration, the initiatives include improving awareness of existing non-discrimination practices and protections as articulated in Notre Dame’s discriminatory harassment policies and “Spirit of Inclusion” statement, and enhancing the structure and functions of the Core Council for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Students.
“In all of our efforts, we seek within the context of Church teaching to better realize the ideals expressed in the University’s ‘Spirit of Inclusion’ statement – to create an environment of mutual respect, hospitality and warmth in which none are strangers and all may flourish,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president.
Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, C.S.C., vice president for student affairs, added: “The University has made significant progress over the past 15 years in its support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and questioning students, but we’ve always emphasized the desire to continuously improve and to be responsive to student concerns. The conversations between students and the administration both recently and over the past several years have been very important.”
The dialogue between students and University leaders has led to the following:
• Notre Dame continues to be committed to non-discrimination and inclusion, as articulated in the “Spirit of Inclusion” statement and the University’s discriminatory harassment policy. While the wording of the University’s non-discrimination clause will remain in its current form, Notre Dame will strive to enhance awareness of existing practices and protections among students, faculty and staff. The avenues for reporting harassment and discrimination will be clarified, strengthened, and better publicized.
• The University will seek further opportunities for ongoing dialogue between the Office of the President, the University’s chief diversity officer, the Office of Student Affairs, and student leaders.
• The University, working through Student Affairs, is committed to supporting and improving the structure and functioning of the University’s Core Council. More information on Core Council is available at http://corecouncil.nd.edu/.
• The University has acted upon several recommendations made by students to improve support for gay, lesbian and bisexual students and will explore others. These will include making ally training more widely available, offering education to First-Year Orientation commissioners, expanding the Safe Space initiative, and improving hall staff training.
• Notre Dame will consider ways of making the “Spirit of Inclusion” statement more explicit and effective. The statement is available on line at: http://dulac.nd.edu/spirit-of-inclusion/.