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Proud of strides made by gender-relations committee

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community:

In April 2006, I formed an ad hoc committee to foster a wide-ranging discussion on our campus of gender relations, roles and ways to prevent violence against women. The committee discussed, and various members of the committee helped plan and produce, three events. In November, the student-produced play Loyal Daughters addressed issues of sexual assault and other forms of sexual coercion that affect members of the Notre Dame community. In February, two events were presented. The Edith Stein Project hosted a two-day conference, Toward Integral Healing for Women and Culture, focused on ways in which victims of violence may be healed, extending its discussion to the healing of all who are negatively impacted by a social context which promotes eating disorders, pornography and sexual violence. Later in that month, a panel discussion, entitled Sex and the City of God, used an episode of the popular television series Sex and the City, to bring Catholic teaching into conversation with contemporary issues of sexual morality, feminism and relationships between women and men.

Taken together and in conjunction with offerings of various departments such as the Gender Relations Center, I believe these initiatives were valuable in contributing to a deeper awareness of the tragic reality of sexual violence, a more serious engagement with questions of sexual morality, and a greater openness to addressing questions and issues with the resources of both reason and faith guided by the Catholic tradition. I am proud of the efforts of the committee as it worked together, sharing perspectives and plans. My sincere thanks go to the members of this committee for their commitment and service. I chaired the committee, and its members are the following:

Gail Bederman, associate professor, History

Eileen Botting, assistant professor, Political Science

John Cavadini, department chair and associate professor, Theology

Ann Firth, associate vice president, Student Affairs

M. Cathleen Kaveny, John P. Murphy Foundation professor, Law School; professor, Theology

Jean Ann Linney, vice president and associate provost; professor, Psychology

Carolyn Nordstrom, professor, Anthropology

Ava Preacher, assistant dean, College of Arts and Letters

Kathleen Pyne, professor, Art, Art History and Design

Heather Rakoczy, director of Gender Relations Center, Student Affairs

Dayle Seidenspinner-Nuñez, associate dean, College of Arts and Letters; professor, Romance Languages and Literatures

Frances L. Shavers, chief of staff and special assistant to the President

Gregory Floyd, student

Madison Liddy, student

Madeleine Ryland, student

Anamaria Scaperlanda-Ruiz, student

Danielle Thomson, student

Emily Weisbecker, student

As we approach the end of this academic year, committee members believe there is still work to do. At our last meeting, the consensus of the committee was that the group should continue its work for another year, building on the successes of this year. I concur. We will continue the work of the committee for another year, replacing some members who are graduating or, for other reasons, can no longer serve.

My thanks as well to everyone in the community who contributed to these discussions.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

University President