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Week challenges all forms of intolerance

MEG HANDELMAN | Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Through StaND Against Hate Week, members of the Notre Dame community are aiming to raise awareness about and initiate the eradication of hatred on campus and nationwide.

Sophomore Bryan Ricketts, co-president of PrismND, said the events are meant to foster an inclusive and loving environment on campus. He said the week is intended to raise awareness of the hatred faced by a wide variety of groups, including, but not limited to, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community.

“We want to acknowledge the unjust hate and discrimination that many people undergo because of their race, socioeconomic status, gender or gender identity, or sexual orientation – parts of personhood that are attacked all too often,” Ricketts said.

StaND Against Hate Week is sponsored by PrismND, the Gender Relations Center, and Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS). The Week included a “What It Means to Be an Ally Dinner” on Tuesday, as well as a forum about “The Power of Kindness” and a talk discussing bisexuals and transsexuals titled “What About the ‘B’ and the ‘T’?” on Wednesday. The series of events will conclude Thursday with a candlelight prayer service at the Grotto.

Ricketts said he is especially pleased with the Wednesday event that will address the concerns of bisexual and transgender students.

“I am most excited about Wednesday’s panel, ‘What About the ‘B’ and the ‘T’?’ Too often, bisexual and transgender students are left out of the conversation when their concerns are lumped with those of lesbians and gays,” Ricketts said.

The panel aims to create a space where these groups can share their experiences and answer questions about bisexual and transgender communities, Ricketts said.

“With our panels, we’re addressing two controversial but salient topics: the involvement of allies in helping end discrimination, and the lack of discussion about bisexual and transgender students in both straight and LGBTQ communities,” Ricketts said. “Especially in the case of transgender students, this is a topic that campus has been silent on.”

PrismND passed out T-shirts Monday to show support for all students. Ricketts said bringing people together to talk about issues of hatred will remind people that no one should be left out and that the University should continuously work to increase inclusion and respect.

Student body president Alex Coccia said student government wants to ensure students feel welcome and safe on campus and have a sense of ownership of their learning environment.

“We are very supportive of the efforts of PrismND, the Gender Relations Center and MSPS to host StaND Against Hate Week to promote an inclusive environment to all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression,” Coccia said. “This week is an opportunity for us to make clear that we are a student body who are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.”

PrismND is Notre Dame’s LGBTQ and Ally student organization, and this is its first year as a club, Ricketts said.

“We provide a safe space for LGBTQ students and their allies to develop community, engage in programming and service, such as StaND Against Hate Week, and discuss things relevant to them and their lives, both on campus and outside it,” he said.

Ricketts said he worked as part of the initial group of students who implemented PrismND on campus.

“StaND Against Hate Week, for me, has been a time to talk about topics that are frequently left unaddressed by the LGBTQ community and by those who interact with it,” Ricketts said. “It’s a way to be honest and open with ourselves and others about how our actions have real and lasting effects, and the responsibility each of us has to be understanding and respectful.”

Contact Meg Handelman at mhandelm@nd.edu