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Silent majority

G. David Moss | Sunday, January 29, 2012

It’s difficult to believe we are already two weeks into a new semester. Thank you for taking the time to read this column and for your willingness to respond to my articles.

The goal has been to stimulate conversation and dialogue, and there is evidence this goal has been successfully achieved.

Whether discussing the hook-up culture, objectification of women, the bro code or the ways we allow the media to determine our method of relating, engaging these issues head on is the only way to foster an environment of change.

If we are intentional about this process, authentic dialogue is not far off. And once that happens, true and meaningful relationships will become common place at Notre Dame. We are not there yet, but I do believe we are on the way.

Navigating social norms can be a tricky undertaking. There is a unique internal conflict that takes place when doing what you know to be the right thing, and can potentially move you out of the “circle of coolness.”

Unfortunately, this fear of being ostracized has caused many to remain silent when the rationality of their voice is desperately needed.

Stepping in to protect an intoxicated student against the advances of another at the risk of being labeled a “blocker,” resisting the pressure to expose various body parts in spite of being labeled a prude, telling your dorm mates about your incredible “date” and admitting there was no physical activity, declaring you are saving yourself for marriage against the wave of physical permissiveness are just a few of the situations that, by society’s standards, can place your social status in jeopardy.

As a young and vibrant community, we have been afforded an excellent opportunity to expand our definition of coolness.

To arrive at the destination of authentic relationships, it will be important for us to focus on what many have termed the “silent majority.” We all know the extremes, the outliers and the individuals who have something to say about everything.

It would be wonderful to hear from those who have been relatively silent about these relationship issues on the Notre Dame campus. I know for a fact not everyone on this campus is hooking up, grinding or abusing alcohol to the point where sexual violence becomes inevitable.

This semester, we intend to fully engage all corners of the Notre Dame community, particularly those who have been successful in the relationship arena, yet have no desire to “shout it from the mountain tops” or take center stage. If we are to craft a welcoming and affirming community, we must draw from the wisdom and creativity of all its members.

We must call out the dysfunction, while also emphasizing the qualities of authentic relationship that give life and create incredible memories. Many of you are doing the latter, and we need your voice as our campus redefines the protocol of relationship development.

If you are a member of the “silent majority” in this area, I hope you will help us to critically examine the culture that many too readily accept as the only option. In my article, The Bro Code (Nov. 3, 2011), I spoke about the silence of our actions, and how that silence permits dysfunction to exist unchecked.

Shattering the mirage of intimacy and replacing it with true relationships takes time, effort and intentionality. It is true everyone is busy, especially in this competitive, academically intense environment. But please don’t fool yourself into thinking your 10,000 Facebook friends “have your back.”

In the end, the barrage of quick, easy, no-strings-attached interactions leave us empty and hungering for something that truly satisfies. Some of you know exactly what I am talking about, because you have visited my office to talk about my editorials, or I have read your opinions in these pages.

My hope is you care enough to help us redefine the contours of cool, to reestablish the mystery of sexy and to hold our relationships to a new standard of authenticity. I pray you will accept the call to rally others in stopping the madness.

To be honest, without your intentional investment in this undertaking, very little progress can be made. If healthy relating is to become common, it must begin with you. You have to own this and speak life into this effort. Of course, this requires a certain level of courage and vulnerability.

It will not be easy, but at Notre Dame, we don’t back away from difficult challenges. There are many of you who place great importance on honest dialogue, and this semester I intend to use this editorial to systematically give voice to your thoughts and ideas.

To do this, however, I need to hear from you. Let’s get the party started.

Dr. G. David Moss is the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and the Interim Director for the Gender

Relations Center. He can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not

necessarily those of The Observer.