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King’s legacy discussed

Matt Smedberg | Friday, January 16, 2004

Students, faculty and staff met in the Coleman-Morse Center lounge Thursday night for a “town hall meeting” as part of the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, discussing issues of campus diversity, respect and other topics related to King’s legacy. The event drew a large audience who did not hesitate to voice their ideas – and their frustration at the ways they see the Notre Dame environment stifling real diversity.The event’s moderators, professor Carolyn Nordstrom of the anthropology department, and J. Roberto Gutiérrez, University vice president for communication, asked the assembled students open-ended questions which had been put together by the event’s four student organizers. The questions were framed in terms of King’s life and legacy, but student answers dealt with the historical aspect only in passing, preferring to cut straight to their ideas on the state of the campus.Students voiced concerns that ethnic groups are sequestered into their own areas of campus life, rather than being seen as participating in all that Notre Dame has to offer. White students mentioned being apprehensive that they would be seen as patronizing if they tried to mingle with minorities.Elena Lacayo, a sophomore from Howard Hall, described her experiences coming from her homeland of Nicaragua to Notre Dame. “I found that there are rules, unspoken rules, that make it very difficult to deal with someone from another culture, someone who is different … I think I break the rules a lot without even knowing it, because I grew up in a different culture,” Lacayo said.