GlassND builds community
Catherine Owers | Monday, April 28, 2014
The Graduate LGBTQ and Ally Student Society at Notre Dame (GlassND) has been working to foster a greater sense of community and inclusion in the University’s graduate school, Tony Cunningham, Quality of Life Chairperson for the Graduate Student Union (GSU), said.
GlassND was formed through the efforts of the Graduate Student Union as they aimed to fully address the graduate student community’s needs, Cunningham said.
“Part of this position [Quality of Life Chairperson] is to work with some groups that were not receiving as much attention as other groups, one of them being the LGBTQ community within the graduate school,” he said. “In the 2012-2013 school year, we held the first two events explicitly for graduate LGBTQ community members and ally members.”
Cunningham said that GlassND works closely with the University’s Gender Relations Center (GRC) for events and programming.
“The GRC does a lot of programming, like ally training, and they do an excellent job with that,” Cunningham said.
GlassND has transitioned this year from educational activities to community-building and social activities, Cunningham said. They held a Happy Hour & Trivia Night at Legends on Monday.
“That [was] our big marquee event for the semester, but we’ve also been doing smaller stuff, like getting together to watch movies or going out and just establishing the social network, so that people don’t feel ostracized or alone when they’re here,” he said. “One of the hardest parts, people tell me, is that they just feel alone, that they don’t have someone to confide in or talk to, so we’re trying to build a community that they can feel open and safe with.”
Cunningham said GlassND is currently subgroup of the GSU, not an official club. He said GlassND is looking to increase its membership and involvement before it begins the process to become a group recognized by the University.
GlassND hopes to serve as a welcoming entity for prospective graduate students at the University, Cunningham said.
“At the moment, especially for LGBTQ students that are investigating [the University], they hear the long-standing rumors about how Notre Dame is with LGBTQ members,” he said. “What we’d like to do is provide the structure so that they have a group to come and join. Another pro of being an official, recognized group would be a structured community that people could reach out to and look to for support, not just when they’re looking to apply here, but also once they are here.”
Cunningham said that the graduate school and administration has been very supportive of the group’s efforts.
“I work really closely with the administration and the people in the graduate school, and they’ve been absolutely fantastic as we’ve gotten things off the ground,” he said.