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Group advocates for inclusion

Nicole Toczauer | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

In their final meeting of the semester, members of Campus Life Council (CLC) discussed how to best advocate for the expansion of inclusion on the basis of sexual orientation, race and ethnicity in student government’s Year End Report to the Board of Trustees.

Student body president emeritus Pat McCormick said student government regularly reports student concerns to a Board of Trustees committee responsible for the Board of Student Affairs. These reports usually happen two to three times each year.

“In the fall, we presented students’ advocacy of sustainability, informing the building of a Notre Dame for the 21st century,” McCormick said. “We thought this time it would be especially valuable to talk about how we might expand inclusion in the Notre Dame family, particularly ethnicity and race, as well as sexual orientation, based on events in the past couple of months.”

Ed Mack, rector of O’Neill Hall, said although student government has tried to expand inclusion in the past, there might be better ways to work with the University administration.“

I’’m wondering if after the presentation we can ask, ‘‘What are we missing?’’ What’’s their advice to us?” he said. ““The best and brightest of student government have worked on this for several years and there hasn’’t been much progress.”

McCormick said Student Senate passed resolutions requesting the addition of sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination clause and the approval of a gay-straight alliance (GSA) or equivalent student group.

“The University ran a press release last week on their intent to expand inclusion. We don’t think it has been unsuccessful,” McCormick said. “I hope this year’s work speaks to a broad consensus on all sides on sexual orientation and race that we have made progress.”

Members of CLC also discussed concerns students have voiced in the past week.

Former Zahm Hall Senator Kevin Noonan said students thought the administration’s press release was ambiguous. (Editor’s Nnote: Noonan is the Scene editor for The Observer.)

“There’s been a lot of student support, specifically for a GSA and a sexual orientation clause,” he said. “I think for the very least, ask [in the Year End Report] for an explanation, a public explanation, of what’s holding it back when students have supported this for so long.”

The work of several campus stakeholders was essential to the progress made this year, McCormick said.

“We are committed to ensuring discrimination in every form is confronted,” he said. “Students have advocated in extraordinary ways and in ways that remain in line with the mission of the University. We hope to express our gratitude that engagement from other stakeholders has occurred and hope to progress in weeks to come.”