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Hate speech denounced in resolution

Claire Reising | Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Student Senate passed a resolution Wednesday denouncing hate speech and stating that it “stands in solidarity” with the Notre Dame gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) community. Shirts condemning homosexuality, which some students wore last semester, prompted the resolution.

“While the solidarity with the community is a focus of the resolution, the resolution, we hope, is proactive as well as reactive in that we’re addressing all forms of hate speech and any future occurrences,” Social Concerns Committee Chair Karen Koski said.

The resolution passed, with only one senator opposing and two abstaining from the vote. Although Fisher Senator Stephen Bant agreed with the Senate’s intentions, he did not believe that a Senate resolution would accomplish much for the issue. Instead, he argued that giving the shirts too much attention would be counterproductive.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that the student body supports the G and L community,” Bant said. “I think it does a larger disservice to the gay and lesbian community to keep bringing up this hate and keep mentioning this hate, as obviously it was a very immature act that was done for attention, and we’re giving them attention.”

However, other senators said that the Senate should pass the resolution to show that this act should not be condoned.

“It might have been just two shirts, but just the fact that no one has really said anything is extremely disturbing,” Howard Senator Erdina Francillon said. “I believe that it is important to pass this to finally get on the right path.”

A few senators compared the T-shirt incident to the racist letters sent to three residence halls last week. O’Neill Senator Matt Molloy said the T-shirt incident is worth specifically addressing in light of the recent mailings. While the University notified the entire campus about the racist letters through an e-mail, the offensive T-shirts received much less attention.

“The University sent an e-mail to every student denouncing the racist letters, and nothing happened with the [anti-gay] shirts,” Molloy said. “We need to stand up and address it because no one else has.”

Koski said that in addition to passing the resolution, the Senate should take action to support the GLBTQ community and to combat hate speech. Possible events could be a dialogue series and greater involvement with “Stand Against Hate Week” in April, she said.

Academic Affairs Committee Chair Carol Hendrickson also gave a presentation about the hiring and tenure of Catholic faculty. Hendrickson said that future Senate meetings will feature speakers about this topic, including a Faculty Senate member and a member of the administration – though the speakers have not been confirmed.

Hendrickson presented a graph showing a projection of Catholic faculty compared to non-Catholic factory, from 2006-2042, at the proposed 51 percent hiring rate.

“It’s pretty obvious that we will be losing our Catholic majority faculty pretty soon,” she said.

Although faculty, alumni and the administration have been involved in the debate over the hiring of Catholic faculty, Hendrickson said that students should become aware of the issue.

“What’s been missing all along is student involvement,” she said. “There hasn’t been a lot of organized student discussion.”

After student body president Liz Brown suggested a town hall meeting or dorm meetings to inform students and get their opinions, senators debated the effectiveness of both venues and whether or not students will become engaged in the issue.

“Most people are just concerned about going to class and their everyday routine and not thinking about when [they’ll] send [their] kids here or the history and the legacy of Notre Dame,” Francillon said.

In other Senate news:

u The Senate unanimously passed a resolution that proposed an amendment to the Student Body Constitution, adding the student business board general manager to the financial management board. Ian Secviar, the oversight committee chair, initiated this resolution.

u Parker Ladwig from University Libraries spoke about the state of electronic reserves. During the past few years, about 175-180 courses placed materials on e-reserves. During fall semester, however, 280 courses used e-reserves, Ladwig said.

u Residential Life Committee Chair Marianna Montes said that although the University Committee on Academic Technology positively received the iTunes U proposal that she and senior Patrick Finnigan gave January last Friday, legal issues delay the use of iTunes U at Notre Dame.

“The administration wants to make sure that all intellectual property of our professors is properly stored and protected,” she said.