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Committee to continue next year

Kaitlynn Riely | Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The ad hoc committee created by University President Father John Jenkins last April to discuss gender relations, roles and ways to prevent violence toward women will continue its work next year, Jenkins wrote in an e-mail to the student body last week.

The committee encouraged the presentation of three events this year – the student play “Loyal Daughters,” an Edith Stein Project conference and a “Sex and the City of God” panel discussion.

Executive Assistant to the President Frances Shavers, who sits on the committee, said in an e-mail that the chance to increase discussion of gender issues, gender relations and roles and ways to prevent violence against women was “an accomplishment.” But, she said, that work is not yet done.

“We must continue to inform the community about these matters and in particular, support survivors of sexual assault,” Shavers said.

Following last spring’s discussion about academic freedom, Jenkins formed this committee – which he chaired – with faculty members, administrators and students to continue discussion about issues affecting women, both at Notre Dame and in the world.

In his e-mail, Jenkins said he was proud of the work of the committee and the work members put into planning events with other groups around campus.

“I believe these initiatives were valuable in contributing to a deeper awareness of the tragic reality of sexual violence, a more serious engagement with questions of sexual morality, and a greater openness to addressing questions and issues with the resources of both reason and faith guided by the Catholic tradition,” he said.

Shavers said the three events this year were well attended.

“Each event considered the issues through a different lens, hopefully, in ways, representing the broad array of experiences and perspectives on campus,” she said. “Notably, each event considered the unique history, culture and mission of Notre Dame as a Catholic university within its framework in order to make the experience relevant and timely for students.”

“Loyal Daughters,” a student-produced play, debuted in November. The play, written and produced by senior Emily Weisbecker, revolved around actual student narratives about sex, sexuality and sexual violence at Notre Dame.

The committee discussed two more events that were held in February, Jenkins said. The Edith Stein Project hosted a two-day conference, titled “Toward Integral Healing for Women and Culture,” that, Jenkins wrote, looked at ways that victims of violence could experience healing.

Also in February, the “Sex and the City of God” panel discussion used an episode of HBO’s “Sex and the City” to illustrate sexuality and other issues.

Although no plans are finalized yet, Shavers said the committee members have discussed holding an event next year in response to the popularity of “Sex and the City of God,” “perhaps using another popular television show such as Entourage or Grey’s Anatomy.”

Other plans under consideration include an event that looks at gender roles and preventing sexual assault in a global context, possibly by looking at the experiences of African women or women in other cultures.