Engaging hearts to affect change
Laurel Javors | Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Progressive Student Alliance has put every effort into getting sexual orientation added to Notre Dame’s non discrimination clause (NDC), and every year it has failed. Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results; the petition has not worked in the past, and it will not work this time. In a time where there are countless other things that need to be fixed, including at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, it is time for the Progressive Student Alliance to move on to something that actually has a chance of success at Notre Dame and thus make a difference. Don’t get me wrong — as a lesbian, I am forever grateful for the unwavering support and courage that allies here show in their everyday interactions.
After helping organize last January’s demonstration at Notre Dame, my colleagues and I got to sit down with University President Fr. John Jenkins on several occasions and discuss with him some of the pros and cons of an NDC. He made an excellent point; an NDC is words on a page; the way to truly spark change is to do it at a grassroots level and to try to engage the hearts of students. The efforts of administrators who have implemented programs such as Notre Dame’s CommUNITY Program and Saint Mary’s Friend to Friend Program do just that. These programs ask students to regard their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered peers not as outsiders or sinners, but as humans who are struggling with many of the same things with which their straight peers struggle.
At the end of the day, Fr. Jenkins has to consider the fact that to pass this NDC would mean that many donors who generously give to Notre Dame’s scholarship funds could potentially pull their future donations. The primary tenet of Christian social teaching is a regard for the greater good; to pass this would jeopardize that. I do not like that some people donate with unspoken conditions, however, it is the reality with which we must contend. Perhaps it is time to put aside the petition and try to speak to the humanity and engage the hearts of some of Notre Dame’s major donors.