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CLC discusses GSA proposal, Morris visits

Nicole Toczauer | Monday, January 30, 2012

Members of Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed various viewpoints and implications surrounding the proposed Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) during their meeting Monday afternoon.

Student body chief of staff and senior Claire Sokas said Student Senate decided to reassess how students feel about forming a GSA. In response, CLC met with a representative from the 4 to 5 Movement, a student initiative in support of creating a GSA, to gain further insight on student opinion.

Alex Coccia, sophomore and co-president of the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA), spoke for the movement.

“I would like to clarify that PSA is not a substitute for GSA,” he said. “We are inherently an activist group and LGBT is only one of the things we work on. With that said, the 4 to 5 Movement is our initiative to get allies involved and voicing their opinion.”

Coccia said the movement is based on the statistic that four out of five people are part of a supportive majority that remains silent. The movement works to encourage allies to voice their opinion and remain in contact with the unrecognized student LGBTQ group on campus, he said.

“The unofficial group is AllianceND. Because it’s not recognized, it’s not allowed to publicize or promote itself on campus,” he said. “It meets regularly, but you have to be in tune and know who to talk to in order to know when meetings are.”

He said members of the PSA meet often with AllianceND and remain informed on student opinion. He said students advocate the creation of a GSA for several reasons.

“First, people who want to take leadership roles without publicizing their sexuality, like being on the Core Council brochure, would benefit from a GSA. Second, because it’s membership oriented, it has growth potential,” Coccia said. “Having more students involved is extremely important in promoting the campus atmosphere we want.”

Coccia said beyond these points, a student-run organization would encourage the involvement of straight allies. A club devoted to the elimination of homophobia on campus with help from classmates and dormmates is essential, he said.

Sr. Sue Dunn, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, said the Core Council holds meetings in the Gold Room each month as an opportunity for people to come together.

“We have an educational topic to discuss and it’s confidential,” she said.

Coccia said while meetings in the Gold Room are helpful and welcome allies, they do not meet all of the needs of the community. A GSA would increase participation on a weekly basis, he said.

“My impression and what I’ve been told by people interested in GSA — the truly committed attend the Gold Room each month,” he said. “Whereas in a GSA with weekly meetings, you can come and go as you like.”

Coccia said the involvement of LGBTQ community members and allies is essential to ending homophobia on campus. The lack of a GSA makes this difficult, he said.

“In the Notre Dame family, this means including everyone,” he said.

Dunn said the strength behind this student push came from the increased organization among the LGBTQ community in the past three semesters.

“It was not clear before what direction to go in or what involvement they wanted to have with other groups,” she said. “There’s more of a presence and student energy is being put into what they want to do now.”

Student body president Pat McCormick said the discussion would continue in Senate on Wednesday in hope of deciding on a resolution.

“I think it’s a sign of hope in being creative for developing support for a community that has expressed a need. Thank you to Sr. Sue and Core Council for a transformative set of years,” he said. “Now, we need to figure out how we could get something off the ground either in Core Council or on its own.”

After closing the discussion on a GSA, McCormick added that the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend is interested in increasing student attendance at its shows. McCormick said he addressed the concern about transportation when meeting with representatives from the Center in downtown South Bend.

“The city, Morris Center and student government hope to work together on this project to get some exciting performances and spur economic growth in the city,” he said.