As one of the five organizers of last Wednesday’s demonstration, I would like to first thank everyone who came out and supported us, whether in person or in prayer. The turnout was beyond what we had expected and was encouraging for us who are working hard for equality.
The next item is to clear up a few things: the security officer who didn’t let us deliver the letter ourselves was doing his job. Students are not allowed to enter the building as demonstrators so his actions are in accord with du Lac. Second, we did not inform the Office of the President that we would be delivering a letter, or else they would have sent down a representative to receive it. After the teachers went to door to deliver the letter, University president Fr. John Jenkins’ head Administrative Assistant came down to receive the letter. Clearly, we were not ignored.
Within a few hours, the organizers of the demonstration received an e-mail that Jenkins wanted to sit down with us to discuss our concerns. Friday afternoon, the five of us had a meeting with Jenkins where he listened to us and we discussed some solutions. Jenkins expressed sincere desire to open up dialog conducive to addressing this. To say that his response shows “unwillingness” is counter to the actions he has demonstrated thus far. Further, mud-smearing and accusatory language is the exact opposite of what is needed to engage in thoughtful conversations surrounding such a tough issue on campus.
This brings me to another point. Both sides of the response to current events on campus have been far from Christian or being in line with Catholic teachings. To certain people outraged by the current treatment of LGBTQ students: please stop calling others “ignorant bigots” or claiming that Notre Dame is an intolerant place that cowards behind Catholic teaching. You are turning others off to the cause of equality and dignity on campus with such language. Making exaggerated and unfounded statements fails to bring people to the discussion table. Outlandish claims do nothing to advance justice, but rather, hinder it.
To those who may disagree with the “No Home Under the Dome” cause: please READ Catholic social teaching. While the Church does not condone homo-genital acts, the Catechism of the Catholic Church does command “They [gay persons] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). We are not asking for the University to accept gay marriage not will we start having mass orgies. We are merely asking for respect and tolerance from our classmates.
In reading some of the responses on The Observer Web site, it is rather obvious that people, on both sides, are not actually reading the articles or the letter written to Jenkins at Wednesday’s demonstration. We are asking that everyone at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame come to the middle and find some common ground. This conversation will get no where if all we do is name-call and spew out ambiguous statements irrelevant to the conversation at hand. [We need] Christ-like treatment of marginalized students and an academic and mature discussion of the issues facing LGBTQ students and allies.