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Group considers GSA

Maddie Daly | Thursday, September 13, 2012

Student Body Vice President Katie Rose led a debate about the possibility of Notre Dame establishing a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in addition to the preexisting Core Council during Wednesday’s Senate meeting.  

Before delving into these issues, Chief of Staff Katie Baker praised the student body for the small amount of arrests over the first home football weekend.  

“There were only five students arrested and three non-students,” Baker said. “We are so happy that was the number, considering all the things that happened at Indiana University and Purdue in previous weekends.”

Introduced by Off-Campus President Katie Kehl, Senate elected six new off-campus ambassadors, one from each popular off-campus living site: Caitlin Desmond for Legacy Village, Brittany Dunn-Pirio for Irish Row, Kaitlyn Marks for Irish Crossings, Conor Hegedus for Northeast Neighborhood, Andrea Suarez for The Foundry and Camille Sharrow for Stadium Club.  

“Their responsibility is to be the liaison between students living off campus and the on-campus student government,” Kehl said.

Department of Gender Issues Director Matt Devine introduced the possibility of creating a GSA focus group to supplement Core Council.  

“Core Council exists as a discussion entity but is the equivalent to ‘outing yourself.’ Over half the students have to be out, with no questioning,” Devine said. “GSA would function as a support group between LGBQT students and those who support them … It’s a more holistic approach and a more closed environment.”

Farley Hall Senator Monica Daegele, as well as several other senators, expressed her hall’s overwhelming support for the creation of a GSA.

“The formation of a GSA would foster a community of support, as long as the University lets the students know what’s going on, maybe through some sort of forum,” Daegele said. Opposition from Keenan Hall Senator John Vernon sparked a debate.

“I just hope [the administration] is getting the other side of this debate,” Vernon said. “I feel that our Catholic values should be upheld. Given the Catholic Church’s stance on these kinds of issues, having a Core Council is great … but the addition of a GSA might take it too far if they supported life choices relating to marriage specifically.”

Welsh Family Hall Senator Felicia Byrd said she thinks a GSA is compatible with Catholic doctrine.

“We want to make people feel included and have a safe haven,” Byrd said. “I don’t think GSA would take it too far.”

Vernon then qualified his previous remarks and suggested the possibility of expanding the Core Council instead of adding GSA.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am supportive of a welcome environmen ,” Vernon said.

Switching gears, Rose introduced concerns about student-faculty relationships.

“Faculty has noticed in the past five years or so a decline in ‘good’ student behavior, ranging from texting in class to coming in late or leaving for long periods of time,” Rose said.  

Class of 2014 President Lizzie Helping suggested funding professors to host students at their homes for class dinners.

Baker also said student government is interested in exploring more flexible academic opportunities.

“I know many schools have a create-your-own major or minor progra…,” Baker said. “Brett, Katie and I are very interested in talking more about this.”

Rose ended the meeting on a positive note.

“We are looking to collaborate to make sure we are in the best learning environment possible for all involved,” she said.