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We want a response

Roman Sanchez | Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On Feb. 20, a group of concerned Notre Dame students gathered outside the Joyce Center before a Junior Parents Weekend event to raise awareness about Notre Dame’s investment in HEI Hotels and Resorts, a company that has recently been issued charges by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for allegedly unfair labor practices surrounding their employees’ attempt to organize. HEI will have to defend itself in a trial on April 6. Students who have investigated the issue and spoken to HEI workers find Notre Dame’s continued support of and investment in this company alarming. They chose to flyer outside the event in order to alert students and parents, who are investors in this University, about where exactly their money is going.

Within minutes the students were stopped by NDSP. Their flyers were confiscated, and their names were recorded for processing. Concerned about the inability to publicize a controversial issue, they got in contact with UNITE HERE!, the union involved in organizing HEI hotels, and United Students Against Sweatshops. With their help a nation-wide call/e-mail/fax-in to University President Fr. John Jenkins and Chief Investment Officer Scott Malpass was organized. The request was that our administrators listen to the voices of their students, alumni and community supporters nationwide who are calling for them to live up to their professed Catholic values, and that they do so by divesting from HEI. The event was held on Feb. 26 and led to over 1,200 e-mails and faxes sent to Jenkins and Malpass, as well as approximately 100 calls and two hand-delivered letters to their respective offices.

And yet, weeks later, there has been no response from either Jenkins or Malpass. With the April 6 hearing looming closer, it is becoming ever more evident that the Notre Dame administration has lost touch with effective ways of communicating with and responding to the student body and its concerns. The lack of transparency in our investments must cease, and the investors, professors and the student body must be made privy to where our money comes from and where it goes.

Thus, I ask you, Fr. Jenkins and Mr. Malpass, to respond to our concerns, to open up dialogue about this and other issues of economic justice in the Notre Dame community, and to deeply consider not only what it means to set an example as a Catholic university at this moment in time, but, on a more basic level, what it actually means to be Catholic. What values are we upholding? Who are we supporting? Are we working to create the Kingdom of God here on earth or are we more concerned with our own continued survival, at the cost of others?


Roman Sanchez
Zahm Hall
March 15