Will Haley | Monday, February 1, 2010
As an ally of the LGBT community at Notre Dame, I was extremely enthused to see and experience the participation by students, faculty and community members during Wednesday’s “No Home Under the Dome” silent protest and march. The amount of support that was shown by the Notre Dame community was inspiring and those who participated should be commended for their courage, respect and convictions. This positivity, however, was clouded by the unwillingness of the administration to hear the voice of their students.
The five students who wished to deliver a letter expressing the discontent of their community were denied access to the Main Building. Furthermore, eight times as many faculty and staff members were also denied access. It was not until much later that a representative showed up to take the letter without much more than a single word to the group awaiting a response. Fr. Jenkins should be ashamed. Outside of his administration building, he had well over 200 people who cared enough to bring him a letter. He has students who are willing to engage in a conversation and open a dialogue regarding an issue that is often too taboo to discuss on this campus. Rather than accepting the letter and agreeing to open this dialogue, the administration set obstacles in the way of a group that was offering nothing more than a peaceful, silent protest.
If Jenkins wants us to believe that the “Spirit of Inclusion” encompasses all that the LGBT community and its allies need at this school, his unwillingness to hear from them acts as a slap in the face and in direct opposition to what the “Spirit of Inclusion” is supposed to mean. Don’t get me wrong; Wednesday’s events were a huge step, and I do not mean to diminish the work done by anyone. It is embarrassing to me, as a student at this university and as an ally to the LGBT community, that no stronger effort was made to hear from the students. This university exists because of its student body and a blatant blind eye to their intentions and needs is going to perpetuate the homophobia, bigotry and “other-ness” that has been seen over the past decade, and more recently in letters from Sean Mullen and the cartoon from The Observer.
I didn’t expect to hear a decision on the spot. I didn’t expect an immediate rewriting of the non-discrimination clause. I expected a level of decency and respect from the administration regarding the quality of life of the student body. I am inspired by the steps taken by the students and faculty on Jan. 27, and extraordinarily disheartened by the sluggish and non-responsive administration. Regardless of the issue, the administration should never actively seek to silence the voices of their students, especially when they have already had to silence themselves.