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CLC formalizes prayer services after sexual assault reports

| Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Notre Dame Campus Life Council (CLC) passed a resolution Monday that will formalize the implementation of prayer services conducted after sexual assault campus alerts.
According to the chair of CLC, student body president Alex Coccia, the council has been working on the resolution for the entirety of the 2013-2014 school year.
After two email alerts were sent out during the first weekend of school in the fall, students talked about whether these assaults were a norm, Coccia said. CLC immediately initiated discussions about how it could actively support the student body in this struggle against sexual violence.
Coccia said Noel Terranova, rector of Keenan Hall, had the initial idea for the prayer services.
“Noel Terranova suggested that we have some sort of group that always goes to the grotto following a report,” Coccia said. “It seemed like a very good and feasible idea.”
Coccia said the first official prayer service was held after the third alert.

Members of the Campus Life Council (CLC) meet in the Notre Dame Room of the LaFortune Student  Center on Monday afternoon. The CLC moved to institute a prayer service after sexual assault reports.Amy Ackermann | The Observer

Members of the Campus Life Council (CLC) meet in the Notre Dame Room of the LaFortune Student Center on Monday afternoon. The CLC moved to institute a prayer service after sexual assault reports.


“We received an email alert during the Michigan State [football] game,” Coccia said. “That night [student body vice president] Nancy [Joyce] and I … put everything together for a prayer service, and, essentially in that moment, [we made] a commitment that we would hold a prayer service following an email alert within 48 hours after every one.”
Terranova said Taskforce 1 on Sexual Violence Prevention, the CLC taskforce of which he is a part, helped to drive the process of formalizing the prayer services in a resolution. He said the process was a long one.
“We were catching up to something that already existed in a very real and practical sense,” Terranova said. “Since what already existed was functioning so well, we wanted to make sure that the resolution that recognized it was correspondingly well-prepared and situated to endure once we put it out there.”
The long process came to a close yesterday, as the resolution passed unanimously.
Coccia said the prayer services show the student body that the University is in support of all victims of sexual assault.
“What this resolution does is it really shows the amount of institutional support for these prayer services,” Coccia said. “What’s great about Campus Life Council is that it is a formal body of rectors, faculty, staff and students.”
Coccia said the support of the resolution by the vice president of student affairs, Erin Hoffmann-Harding, was important and influential as well. At the CLC meeting, Coccia read aloud a letter, which Hoffman-Harding wrote to Coccia and Joyce.
In the letter, Hoffman-Harding wrote, “I write to share my support for an initiative [CLC1314-01] of your administration. … The safety and well-being of our students is our first priority at Notre Dame. … We must respond as a community to provide support to those impacted.”
Terranova said he sees a hopeful future for the prayer services.
“I hope to see it continue and I hope it continues to be student-led,” Terranova said. “[I hope] to see it make a difference in the culture on campus. I already see it doing that.”

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About Emma Borne

Emma Borne started as a news writer for the Observer in Fall 2013. She is a senior majoring in Sociology and Peace Studies. She loves writing for the Observer because it allows her to participate in campus life in a way that she otherwise wouldn't and because she gets to work with some super talented, awesome people!

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  • Thanks but no thanks

    I am amazed that they didn’t realize how offensive this would be to at least some (and I suspect many) victims of sexual assault – myself included. How much time was spent on this exactly? What concrete steps could have been taken to develop policy suggestions that would work to prevent sexual assault, enable reporting, or to provide victims with the support they actually need? Almost anything but an official resolution declaring that prayer services (which already happen in practice) are now called for by university policy would have been better.

  • Austin

    “The council has been working on the resolution for the entirety of the 2013-2014 school year.” What? It took a year to say “OK let’s pray about it”? I’m sure some of their hearts are in the right place, but what a complete waste and misapplication of time and resources.