Give women more balanced treatment
| Tuesday, September 14, 2004
I will never get used to the imbalanced treatment of women at Notre Dame. The experiences had by male and female undergrads at Notre Dame are dissimilar, to say the least, and if Notre Dame is to be truly excellent, some things will have to change. Allow me to give a few examples.
Last weekend was a football weekend, and I had two friends come to visit me in Farley. My male friend had to sign in and sign out every time he left the building. My female friend didn’t have to do a thing. The University has decided that it is in my best interest for them to monitor the comings and goings of my male visitors, even in the middle of the day.
At the football games themselves, male and female students must listen as their fellow students (usually male) yell slurs at the opposing team that are offensive to females.
And then there’s the issue of health care. I was speaking this summer to a friend from another university who was recently raped. As she described her campus’ health center and resources, I realized once again that here at Notre Dame we offer neither a rape crisis hotline nor a women’s health center. The University Health Center doesn’t even have rape kits available or nurses trained in rape counseling. If you go in for a pregnancy test, they do not ask if you were raped, and most students don’t go in at all since they fear punishment under Du Lac.
The attitude towards women at Notre Dame manifests itself in more subtle ways as well. Here at Notre Dame we have “men’s dorms” and “girls’ dorms.” Both are subject to autocratic rules, but only men’s dorms are lax about enforcing them.
We have graduate programs in the traditionally-male schools of business, law and architecture, but no professional programs in education, nursing or social work.
And finally, even though women have been students at Notre Dame for over thirty years, people still sing the old fight song, “While her loyal sons are marching onward to victory.” I love this place, but I look forward to the day when the student body sings the version that includes all of the students, “While her loyal sons and daughters march on to victory.”
This week marks the grand opening of the much touted Gender Relations Center in LaFortune. It’s a step in the right direction on the part of the administration, and the University is to be applauded for recognizing and attempting to address the problem of gender relations at Notre Dame. Yet, it remains to be seen whether the center will actually work towards changing Notre Dame, or will just be a safe place for respectful dialogue about the problems of gender relations on campus.