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On hearing you might transfer

| Tuesday, January 20, 2015

To a student of color, on hearing you might transfer:

Dear Student,

Recently we learned you have become so disheartened by racism at Notre Dame that you are considering transferring to another school.

We were told you and other students received several racist messages on Yik Yak, the social media app that allows people to post anonymous messages for others to read. We don’t subscribe to Yik Yak, but one of our students shared one of the messages you saw.

We were sickened. The message was racist, and it was infuriating. As awful as it was, we understand this may not be the only instance of racism you have encountered on the Notre Dame campus. So we can understand why you might want to leave. And we support, categorically, your right to make decisions that will enable you to feel safe, to flourish and to be happy — whatever those decisions might be.

We write this letter to share our thoughts with you and other students of color as you consider the future. We want you to know:

  • Your faculty and staff care about you. We want to do everything we can to help you learn, grow and thrive at Notre Dame. We want to teach you, and we want to learn from you. And we will do all we can to help you feel that Notre Dame is truly your home.
  • You have allies among your fellow students. As tragic as it is that some Notre Dame students are so lost in personal webs of ignorance and fear, many more students believe in the Notre Dame mission of promoting learning in the service of justice.  The student who showed us the racist message was distraught at the thought you might leave. That student and others like her are your allies and your friends.
  • You make Notre Dame a better place. Diversity in all of its expressions, whether racial, ethnic, economic, linguistic, aesthetic or other forms, makes for a stronger, smarter, more wholly human community. While it is not your responsibility to make Notre Dame a better place, we want you to know that your presence in this university matters.
  • You belong here. When you received your letter from the admissions office telling you that you had been accepted to Notre Dame, this became your university.  The library, the dorms, the classrooms — these are your places. The quads, the lakes, the Grotto — they are here for you. No one has the right to take these from you, and no one can. Let the haters leave, if that’s what they choose. We will wish them better days and hope they someday learn to love others as God intended. Notre Dame belongs to you, not them. Why should you leave?

As you well know, a hallmark of the United States’ past is institutionalized racism; and the struggle for justice and equality continues. The racist message you received makes clear that that struggle is taking place, too, at Notre Dame.

We write as Notre Dame faculty members to say your struggle is our struggle. We will stand beside you, and we will denounce all forms of hate speech as intolerable and unacceptable.

We wish you everything good as you consider your bright future, and we offer you our support.


John Duffy, English

Francisco Aragon, Institute for Latino Studies

Doug Archer, Hesburgh Libraries

Zygmunt G. Barański, Romance Languages & Literatures

Katrina Barron, Mathematics

Ted Barron, Film, Television and Theatre

Kevin Barry, Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning

Laura Bayard, Hesburgh Libraries

Judy Benchaar, Romance Languages & Literatures

Ann Primus Berends, Education, Schooling and Society

Mark Berends, Sociology

Anne H. Berry, Art, Art History, and Design

Patricia Blanchette, Philosophy

Emily Block, Mendoza College of Business

Susan Blum, Anthropology

Catherine Bolten, Anthropology and Peace Studies

Melissa Marley Bonnichsen, Center for Social Concerns

John Borkowski, Psychology

Jay Brandenberger, Center for Social Concerns

Karen Buranskas, Music

Kevin Burke, Alliance for Catholic Education

Joseph A Buttigieg, English

Elizabeth Capdevielle, University Writing Program

Bill Carbonaro, Sociology

Kevin J. Christiano, Sociology

Patrick Clauss, University Writing Program

Aedín Clements, Hesburgh Libraries

Annie Gilbert Coleman, American Studies

Robert R. Coleman, Art, Art History, and Design

Jessica L. Collett, Sociology

Brian S Collier, Institute for Educational Initiatives

Philippe Collon, Physics

Fr. Joe Corpora, C.S.C.

Mary R. D’Angelo, Theology

Jetaun Davis, Recruitment and Communications

Antonio Delgado, Physics

Margaret Doody, English

Dennis Doordan, School of Architecture

Julia Douthwaite, Romance Languages & Literatures

Kevin Dreyer, Film, Television and Theatre

Liz Dube, Hesburgh Libraries

Kathy Eggleson, ESTEEM and Center for Nano Science and Technology

Russell Faeges, Sociology

Stephen M Fallon, Program of Liberal Studies and English

Larissa Fast, Kroc Institute and Sociology

Robert Fishman, Sociology

Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Philosophy and Biological Sciences

Stephen Fredman, English

Agustin Fuentes, Anthropology

Dan Graff, History

Karen Graubart, History

Stuart Greene, English and Africana Studies

David Hachen, Sociology

Darlene Hampton, Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement

Susan Cannon Harris, English

Ricky Herbst, Law School

Charlice Hurst, Mendoza College of Business

Peter Holland, Film, Television and Theatre

Lionel M. Jensen, East Asian Languages and Cultures

Jennifer A. Jones, Sociology

Hye-jin Juhn, Hesburgh Libraries

Michael Kackman, Film, Television and Theatre

Asher Kaufman, Kroc Institute and History

Mary Celeste Kearney, Film, Television and Theatre

Annie Cahill Kelly, Center for Social Concerns

Beth G. Klein, Law Library

Janet Kourany, Philosophy and Gender Studies

Greg Kucich, English

Amy Langenkamp, Sociology

Kyle Lantz, Center for Social Concerns

Daniel Lapsley, Psychology

Fr. Don LaSalle, s.m.m., First Year of Studies

Anne Leone, Romance Languages & Literatures

Omar Lizardo, Sociology

Neil Lobo, Biological Sciences

Cecilia Lucero, First Year of Studies

Maria Lynch, Alliance for Catholic Education

Joanne Mack, Anthropology

Nicole MacLaughlin, University Writing Program

Judy Madden, Alliance for Catholic Education

Collette Mak, Hesburgh Libraries

Julia Marvin, Program of Liberal Studies and Medieval Institute

David Mayernik, Architecture

Laura Miller, Psychology and Peace Studies

Marisel Moreno, Romance Languages and Literatures

Sara L. Maurer, English

Erin McDonnell, Sociology

Terry McDonnell, Sociology

Mary Ann McDowell, Biological Sciences

Maria McKenna, Africana Studies

Mark McKenna, Law School

Gerald McKenny, Theology

Sarah McKibben, Irish Language and Literature

Joyelle McSweeney, English

Rory McVeigh, Sociology

Ann Mische, Sociology and Peace Studies

Monica Moore, Hesburgh Libraries

Leslie L. Morgan, Hesburgh Libraries

Sarah Mustillo, Sociology

Darcia Narvaez, Psychology

Rachel Novick, Biological Sciences

Felicia Johnson O’Brien, Center for Social Concerns

Sean O’Brien, Center for Civil and Human Rights

Atalia Omer, Sociology and Kroc Institute

Kathleen Opel, Notre Dame International

Iris Outlaw, Multicultural Student Services and Programs

Abigail L. Palko, Gender Studies

Rachel Parroquin, Romance Languages & Literatures

Jessica Payne, Psychology

Catherine Perry, Romance Languages & Literatures

Richard Pierce, History and Africana Studies

Dianne Pinderhughes, Africana Studies and Political Science

Pierpaolo Polzonetti, Program of Liberal Studies

Adriana Popescu, Hesburgh Libraries

AnnMarie R. Power, Sociology

Clark Power, Program of Liberal Studies

Ava Preacher, Undergraduate Studies, Arts & Letters

Steve Reifenberg, Kellogg Institute

Gretchen Reydams-Schils, Program of Liberal Studies

Charles Rosenberg, Art, Art History, and Design

Joseph Rosenberg, Program of Liberal Studies

Deb Rotman, Anthropology and Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement

David F. Ruccio, Arts and Letters

Abby Salazar, Campus Ministry

Valerie Sayers, English

Sharon Schierling, Kellogg Institute

Andrea Smith Shappell, Center for Social Concerns

John Sitter, English

Susan Sharpe, Center for Social Concerns

Amy Shirk, Law Library

Cheri Smith, Hesburgh Libraries

Lyn Spillman, Sociology

Jason Springs, Kroc Institute and Sociology

Nancy K. Stanton, Mathematics

Lucien Steil, Architecture

James Sterba, Philosophy

Marsha Stevenson, Hesburgh Libraries

Mim Thomas, Sociology

Maria Tomasula, Art, Art History, and Design

Steve Tomasula, English

Alec Torigian, Alliance for Catholic Education

Julianne Turner, Psychology

Chris Vanden Bossche, English

Ernesto Verdeja, Political Science and Peace Studies

Christine Venter, Law School

Laura D. Walls, English

Robert Walls, American Studies

Andy Weigert, Sociology

Todd Whitmore, Theology

Richard Williams, Sociology

Gayle Carter-Wilson, Africana Studies

Ben Wilson, Center for Social Concerns

Suzanne Wilson, Center for Social Concerns

Michelle Wirth, Psychology

Danielle Wood, Center for Social Concerns

Nicole Woods, Art, Art History, and Design

Maryam Meechka Zomorodian, First Year of Studies

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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