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Faculty Senate passes LGBTQ resolution

Sam Stryker | Wednesday, March 7, 2012

In a push for improved inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) members of the Notre Dame community, the Faculty Senate passed two resolutions Tuesday, one supporting a gay-straight alliance and the other proposing adding sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination clause.

Student Senate passed similar resolutions earlier this semester.

Faculty Senate chair Morten Eskildsen said the group decided to address the two resolutions due to outside support of the measures.

“We have received from a number of sides emails encouraging us to look into this issue and the Senate Executive Committee agreed this is something we would want to look at and discuss,” he said. “And we did.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Eskildsen said there was a “clear majority” in favor of passing the resolutions. He said there seems to be strong support among Notre Dame faculty for advancing LGBTQ rights on campus.

“The documents brought forward show really that this was the right thing to do. Overall, people felt that gays and lesbians who were feeling sort of left out or marginalized, there was a desire to try and improve their situation,” he said. “That was the main sentiment of those arguing in favor of the resolutions.”

Eskildsen said this was the first time the issues were formally discussed within Faculty Senate, but he speculated a GSA and the non-discrimination clause were the topic of “many conversations” amongst faculty.

“I’m sure a lot of people have discussed this across campus,” he said. “It’s just my impression.”

Eskildsen said a number of questions regarding the resolutions, including legal issues, arose during the debate of the resolutions. As such, he said he expects discussion to continue through the next academic school year.

“I think the Senate felt it would be nice to see some of those questions addressed by for instance legal counsel or offices of the University,” he said. “While we passed those resolutions, I would also say there is a sentiment to look further into this issue.”

Student body president Pat McCormick said he appreciates the efforts of the Faculty Senate to pass the resolutions at Tuesday’s meeting.

“We’re grateful to the faculty for their support of this effort to create a group for both gay and straight students to come together for mutual support and service to the broader community,” he said.

McCormick said members of student government anticipate working with Faculty Senate and others in the Notre Dame community to further the progress achieved this semester.

“We look forward to partnering in whatever way we can with faculty and members of the administration and of course student advocates to continue to explore ways we might be able to further expand inclusion in the Notre Dame community,” he said.

University spokesman Dennis Brown declined comment on the resolutions until the parties involved present such material to Notre Dame.

“We are aware of the Faculty and Student Senate resolutions, but we’ll refrain from any specific observations until we’ve had a chance to thoroughly review material forwarded to us by a group of concerned students,” he said.

Brown said Notre Dame continues to promote acceptance of LGBTQ students on campus.

“We want to make it clear that, as articulated in the Spirit of Inclusion, we welcome and value all members of our community, we condemn discriminatory harassment of any kind, and our policy explicitly precludes harassment based on sexual orientation,” he said.