Is that a girl?
Stephen Hawn | Thursday, February 6, 2014
When I wrote this, the elections for student body government still loomed over campus, drawing closer and closer. One night, a girl stopped by my room tonight to campaign for my vote. I live on-campus in O’Neill Hall, and the first surprise of the night was actually hearing a girl’s voice in the hall when it’s not after 10 p.m. on a weekend night. I immediately assumed she was someone’s girlfriend, since the probability of someone casually hanging out with a friend who is a girl on a weekday night is frighteningly low at this school. My assumption was proved wrong yet disappointingly validated when she came into my room to give me a flyer for her campaign.
She told my friend and me to check out her website so we could see her platform. Rather than investigating the website, I immediately questioned her platform by asking her what her stances were on the controversial issues here at Notre Dame. She asked me what I considered to be controversial, so I named the obvious topics: single-sex dorms, parietals, lack of condom distribution on campus, the quota that 50 percent of our faculty must be Catholic. She replied by saying that the administration would never change and that the administration believes that since I agreed to come to this school, I had no right to complain. In other words, she said that she had no platform on these issues. The impact of the stances taken on these issues is simply a way of life here at Notre Dame. It is not subject to change. So why even bother talking about it?
You might have guessed I think Notre Dame is on the wrong side of every controversial issue I named above. I think it is exceedingly clear that the segregation of the sexes here at Notre Dame is the direct cause of its abysmal gender relations. Interactions with the opposite gender are largely restricted to classes and weekend nights, and the social consequences of it are immense. I think the majority of students here lack adequate gender relation skills. I think many of my male peers here fail to fully respect women because they’ve never had a girl friend whom they are as close with as a guy friend. I think many Notre Dame students lag behind in their social development because of these problems, and I think some students may never catch up. But per usual, a rigid interpretation of the antiquated social teachings of the Catholic Church is more important than the welfare of the student body.
Notre Dame needs change in so many ways. But she isn’t going to change. Far worse than that, we aren’t even going to have a conversation about it. We will not elect a student body president who criticizes university policy. There will not even be an option for such a candidate on the ballot. But I want there to be. I want to talk about these issues. It’s time for change at Notre Dame, and even if you disagree, I hope you can at least agree to talk about it.