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Group passes resolution to amend clause

Marisa Iati | Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Student Senate passed a resolution Wednesday requesting the University add “sexual orientation” to the nondiscrimination clause and publicly address why the phrase is not currently included.

The group also discussed restaurant contacts in the LaFortune Student Center.

The resolution to amend the nondiscrimination clause passed with 18 votes in favor and one opposed. Six members of Senate abstained from voting.

Third-year law student Steven Baugh told Senate that Notre Dame’s exclusion of “sexual orientation” from its nondiscrimination clause makes it an anomaly among universities and businesses.

“Now we’re behind the times, basically, among peer institutions, regardless of whether they’re universities or whatever,” Baugh said. “Remember that this applies not just to students, but to faculty and staff.”

Student body vice president and president-elect Brett Rocheleau said the Board of Trustees ultimately decides what is included in the nondiscrimination clause. He said he will share Senate’s opinion when the Board meets in May.

Rocheleau also said if Campus Life Council passes a similar resolution, the Vice President for Student Affairs is required to respond to it.

Baugh said there is currently no legal action a student could take against the University to address perceived discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

“The second [the addition of ‘sexual orientation’ to the nondiscrimination clause] gets approved, if someone were to be subjected to some kind of action that would qualify for legal recourse under the nondiscrimination clause … that person could use that against the school,” Baugh said. “Whoever it is would have to prove that they were fired or whatever because of their sexual orientation.”

The addition of “sexual orientation” would apply mainly to situations involving employment, expulsion or removal from a residence hall, Baugh said.

Katie Rose, gender issues director for Student Government and vice president-elect, said although there is concern about alumni support, an unofficial GLBTQ alumni association has been disappointed with some of the University’s positions on same-sex issues.

“This is a civil rights issue and not so much something we should be concerned about what the alumni have to say, because we would hope that they have some of the same values,” Rose said.

Baugh said the legalization of same-sex marriage in Indiana would complicate the effects of the addition of “sexual orientation” to the nondiscrimination clause in ways not completely foreseeable at this time.

Senate also discussed adding a new food establishment to LaFortune when Sbarro’s contract expires at the end of the academic year.

Rocheleau said the business must be franchised or leased and must not interfere with existing non-compete clauses. The options currently in discussion include Panda Express, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut Express, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Taco Bell.

Rocheleau said Pizza Hut Express and Taco Bell could both be added to the basement of LaFortune.

Administrators are also considering adding a food establishment to the Hesburgh Library, Rocheleau said.

“The room in the library where there are all those vending machines, they’re looking at making a new café or new healthier option that would take that place there,” he said.

Senate approved junior Hannah Burke, current president of the Club Coordination Council, for the same position for the 2012-2013 term. The group approved junior Ashley Markowski as the next Board Manager for the Student Union Board.

Senate also passed two resolutions regulating the technical aspects of Student Government’s operations. One resolution, effective April 1, made constituent services a permanent department and changed the multicultural affairs department chair into a multicultural affairs liaison from Diversity Council.