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Leaders appeal for green shirt display

Kate Antonacci | Thursday, February 3, 2005

In an effort to show support for the report on diversity being presented to the Board of Trustees (BOT) this afternoon, the Notre Dame student government declared today to be “WE ARE ND” T-shirt day. Members of student government hope that students wearing the past season’s football shirt, or any other green shirt, today will make a bold statement about student support for the report.

“The initiative is a way to bring together the student body, to prove to the Board of Trustees that the issue of equality on campus is important to many students,” said student body vice president, Karla Bell.

This year’s football shirt supports the idea of campus unity, which is exactly what the student government was looking for when presenting this report.

“The theme of this year’s ‘The Shirt’ was ‘We are ND;’ this is affirming that we, every student across lines of race, gender and sexual orientation, ARE all ND,” said chief executive assistant, Dave Baron.

Many members of the student government believe that students gathering around the cause of diversity will have a large impact. Success in such a campaign would prove that students are capable of responding to campus and community needs and promoting change if necessary.

“As students, we should all have concern for the welfare of one another, especially our peers constantly confronted with the challenges of racism, sexism, and heterosexism on campus,” said Steve Cartwright, Keough Hall Senator. “Now is the time to stand up for members of our community who have been marginalized.”

The idea initially came out of a discussion between Baron, Cartwright and Jelani McEwen-Torrence, a co-founder of the Sustained Dialogue program at Notre Dame, which encourages discussion about controversial campus issues like diversity, religion and gender.

“At first, we considered creating a new shirt to represent the uniqueness of this report, but it was actually Dave Baron, our chief executive assistant, who suggested that we gather our peers around a familiar theme: We are ND,” said Cartwright.

The idea of having T-shirts came from the Be About Change Movement, a group of African American students on campus who had wanted to perform a similar demonstration during finals week. Wearing the same T-shirt will tie all students together, and will unify groups who feel displaced at the University in a visible way, McEwen-Torrence said.

Such forms of non-verbal protests or campaigns are not new on campus. “Gay? Fine by Me” shirts, Tyrone Willingham shirts and Martin Luther King wristbands have all been very visible on campus. The Be About Change Movement had close to 500 students wearing their T-shirts on campus, McEwen-Torrence said.

Though student participation is always a question, the student government is confident that the student body will rally behind the cause.

“I most certainly feel students will participate,” said McEwen-Torrence. “I think this effort has potential to bring a lot of disgruntled groups together under one concept – change. It will be seen as a call to administration and the board of trustees to finish completely on what they set out to do by making Notre Dame a more diverse university.”

The BOT report focuses on diversity of gender, race and sexuality on campus, and the student body truly believes that student support will make a difference and will alter the history of Notre Dame.

“In many ways, we are bringing forward issues of social justice and equality in this report; to that end, we are attempting not to disrespect the traditions of Notre Dame, but instead to write our own history with regard to themes central to Catholic Social Teaching,” said Cartwright.

The T-shirt campaign is all part of the larger plan to have the University address diversity on campus, and the student government is hoping for success.

“If we succeed, we will show University administration, trustees, faculty and staff that there are serious issues to be addressed and that we have made a priority of caring for one another,” said Cartwright.