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Group works to promote community

John Tierney | Wednesday, April 15, 2009

StaND Against Hate Week began Tuesday with the goal of raising awareness of words and deeds that are powerful, according to Sr. Sue Dunn, the administrative co-chair of Core Council.

“I think what we hope to do is to try to raise awareness of people’s language and actions, which have at times an adverse effect on other members of the community,” Dunn said.

Patrick Tighe, a student assistant at the Gender Relations Center, which is co-sponsoring StaND Against Hate Week, said he hopes it will help bring the University community together.

“The goal is to promote an inclusive spirit at Notre Dame, for all members of the community,” Tighe said.

Representatives from Core Council, which is the week’s primary sponsor, were stationed in LaFortune Student Center and both dining halls Tuesday soliciting signatures for an allied pledge banner opposing hate-speech, according to Dunn.

The banners can also be signed on Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the dining halls and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in LaFortune. The banners signed Tuesday and today will later be displayed in LaFortune and the dining halls.

When students sign the banner, they are “saying you’re going to live and uphold and promote the spirit of inclusion statement,” Tighe said.

A person who signs the banner is expected to “promote an inclusive spirit here on campus,” he said.

Wednesday evening, the film “Prayers for Bobby,” which was released in January as a Lifetime movie, will be screened at the Hesburgh Library Auditorium at 7 p.m.

The film chronicles the story of a young gay man who is disowned by his mother when he comes out. The man eventually commits suicide, and the film deals with the aftermath of his death for his family, including his mother, who eventually works as an advocate for gay rights.

“It’s a pretty powerful movie,” Dunn said.

StaND Against Hate Week t-shirts will be distributed from noon-2 p.m. on Fieldhouse Mall Thursday. These t-shirts are intended to be worn Friday during the National Day of Silence in support of those who are affected by hate-speech.

The Day of Silence is a “movement that started several years ago to encourage people to stand in solidarity with people who feel that they are harassed and discriminated against because of their orientation,” Dunn said.

The day coincides with the federal government’s release of statistics related to hate crimes in school settings, according to Dunn.

Dunn encourages people to wear the t-shirts distributed Thursday to honor the Day of Silence on Friday.

During the Day of Silence, a silent procession will walk with the banners signed Tuesday and today from the Main Building to the Log Chapel. The procession will conclude with a prayer service at the Log Chapel around 3:15 p.m., according to Dunn.

“We tried to tie StaND Against Hate Week to coincide it the Day of Silence,” Dunn said. “There’s a connection with persons throughout the nation who are victims of intolerance and hate-speech and, sometimes, tragic hateful actions.”

StaND Against Hate Week is in no way connected with the recent petition circulated to add sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination policy, Dunn said.

“That was generated through a group within a coalition of the Progressive Student Alliance and that is not our intent this week,” Dunn said. “This has more to do with the Day of Silence.”

The week is “geared towards creating an inclusive environment regardless of sexual orientation and ending hate-speech of any kind directed toward gay and lesbian members of the community,” Tighe said.