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Group petitions Office of the President

Madeline Buckley | Thursday, March 19, 2009

Members of the Campaign for Human Dignity presented the Office of the President a petition asking that sexual orientation be added to the University’s nondiscrimination clause Wednesday.

Currently, the clause states the University does not discriminate based on “race/ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status or age.”

Group members and students gathered outside the Main Building to present a unified front, according to sophomore Mary Dewey, chair of the campaign.

Dewey said the group garnered over 2,300 student signatures supporting the aims of the petition.

“We wanted to show solidarity,” said sophomore Bridget Flores, president of the Progressive Student Alliance. “We wanted to show that this is something a lot of students care about.”

The group took similar action last spring and received about the same amount of signatures, but did not get a response from the administration. However this time, Flores said Jenkins has agreed to a meeting on March 30.

Dewey said she believes the group submitted the petition too close to the end of the year, which contributed to the lack of a response from the administration. She said this year, the group sought to present the petition early enough that the administration has ample time to respond.

The group’s next step depends on Jenkins’ response.

“We want to work with the administration in this matter,” Dewey said. “But if we get a negative response, we want to demonstrate that there is student support with actions like rallies, but that is really a last resort.”

Flores asked group members to be silent when presenting the petition in the Office of the President in order to show respect for the University. When the group arrived in the office, Jenkins was not present, but the petition was taken by a representative of the Office.

In addition to asking for sexual orientation to be a part of the non-discrimination clause, the group outlined two other goals in a letter presented with the petition: official club status for OUTreach ND and Alliance ND, groups which provide support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning (GLBTQ) students on campus and increased attention to hate crimes directed against GLBTQ members of the Notre Dame community.

“I think these issues are basic common sense,” Dewey said.

Flores said the group generally received positive feedback from students who were asked to sign the petition, but were also met with a few dissenters. Most did not give a reason, but declined to sign the petition, she said.

The petition also includes a small number of faculty signatures, Flores said.

“We asked a few faculty members who we already knew were interested,” she said.

Flores said many students they approached about signing the petition did not realize how the absence of sexual orientation in the clause affects members of the Notre Dame community.