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Monologue demonstrators asked to shut down table in LaFortune

Andrew Thagard | Monday, February 16, 2004

A group of Notre Dame students promoting Saturday’s performance of “The Vagina Monologues” were told to leave the LaFortune Student Center on Friday.The group had reserved a table across from the Huddle on the first floor of LaFortune for Friday afternoon in order to promote “The Monologues,” but the event turned into a demonstration that offended guests of the student center, said Brian Coughlin, director of Student Activities.”They said they were going to be promoting the … event this weekend and it was really much more of a demonstration,” he said. “They reserved [the table] under one purpose and did something different.”Coughlin said that his office received several complaints, both by phone and in person, from individuals shopping at the Huddle who said they were upset with what they considered aggressive behavior on the part of the group. Witnesses in LaFortune at the time of the incident characterized the group’s actions as “intimidating.”Some members, including Notre Dame junior Carole Kennelly, came dressed in bikinis wrapped in police-style tape with the words “rape free zone.””There were a couple of people who weren’t exactly thrilled with us being there,” she said.Kennelly said that one woman in particular approached her and asked if she had ever been raped. She also called the group’s actions inappropriate.”I was wearing a bikini and I had the “rape free zone” tape wrapped around me,” she said. “She thought that was lewd and inappropriate.”Shortly after this encounter, Kennelly said, representatives from Student Activities approached the table and told the group to close it. The group then relocated to a booth not far from the original table where they continued to hand out literature.”That really made them mad and they came down an hour later and told us [that] we needed to leave,” Kennelly said.Coughlin said that Friday’s dismissal resulted from the group’s decision to deviate from the agreement they made in reserving the table through Student Activities, not the students’ choice of clothing. He said, however, that there is an expectation that visitors will take care in how they dress while in the building.”We would just ask any guest of LaFortune to dress in a manner appropriate,” he said.Controversy continued to surround the production of “The Monologues” on Saturday. Members of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s Right to Life and area churches converged outside of Stephen Center before the performance to protest against it, waving signs and distributing miraculous medals.WNDU contributed to this story.