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Group discusses diversity, inclusion

Margaret Hynds | Wednesday, November 6, 2013


In Wednesday night’s Student Senate meeting, senior Luis Llanos, chair of the diversity council, and junior Carolina Ramirez, student government liaison to the diversity council, presented the council’s resolution in support of recent changes to community life and its recommendations to the University for moving forward.

Ramirez said the resolution praises the University’s many useful resources for combating discrimination and harassment on campus, including

“We’ve also received a lot of great feedback for the new training that rectors and hall staff went through,” she said. “Our goal is to make sure everyone feels welcome in the dorms regardless of their backgrounds.”

However, Llanos said the resolution proposes suggestions for improvement in these areas.

“We’re requesting that a visible statement of inclusion be placed in each classroom,” Llanos said. “This is about making sure everyone – students, faculty and staff – feels ‘at home under the dome.'”

The resolution also recommends Halal and Kosher foods be made accessible to students with dietary restrictions, that it be made mandatory for faculty and staff to attend diversity in-services, that the University add a “cultural enrichment” course requirement, and that Notre Dame increase efforts to recruit and retain ethnically and culturally diverse faculty members.

Senior Daniel Colston, director of internal affairs, said the crucifix that already hangs in each room on campus is already an effective symbol of inclusion. 

“If I were to say a racially insensitive slur, seeing a piece of paper up on the wall wouldn’t prevent me from doing that more than Jesus would,” he said.

The resolution also suggested rectors be “required to collaborate in the process of choosing a Freshman Orientation staff.” 

“We want to get the word out to students – especially students from diverse backgrounds – that it’s important to be a part of their dorms. … What we hope to do is to push them to be a part of the Frosh-O staff so that the freshmen have a better time,” Llanos said. “… Frosh-O can really play a huge role in how your freshman year goes, and we really want everyone to have someone not only they can trust, but who can empathize with them.”

Alumni Hall senator Juan Jose Daboub said the suggested changes to Frosh-O are too extreme.

“I feel like we’re trying to put people in a bubble and protect them from all of this. And it’s great that we’re trying to help them, but what if in the end we’re actually hindering them?” Daboub said. “What if they get into the real world and they realize they’re not going to be babied?”

Llanos said he does not think these measures “baby” students. 

“The only thing we’re looking for is for people to feel at home. It’s not babying, it’s just saying, ‘Hey, don’t transfer. Why are you miserable?’ I think that’s the Catholic thing to do,” Llanos said.

Contact Margaret Hynds at mhynds@nd.edu