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Student leadership at the GRC

| Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Do you have a lot to say about what’s going on around campus, but nowhere constructive to say it? Do you want to make a positive impact on issues like interpersonal relationships, gender identity, sexual identity, embodiment and sexual assault or relationship violence? These topics are important to the Notre Dame community, but often times, students don’t know where to go to get involved in the conversation. We wanted to change this, and that’s why we applied to be student leaders with the Gender Relations Center (GRC); most GRC student leaders echo these sentiments:

“I became a FIREStarter student leader for the GRC because it gave me the voice I needed to try to help change the gender relations issues that I had noticed at Notre Dame. I realized in my first year here that it is very important to have ongoing discussion about gender issues such as sexual violence, relationships, friendships, sexual identity, gender identity and body image. I learned that the GRC was the best route I could take to attack these issues head-on.” -Michael Nolan, senior

“I really wanted to learn more about gender issues on campus and the intersections with gender and race. I also wanted to become an advocate for better gender relations on campus.” -Chizo Ekechukwu, junior

“I decided to join the GRC as a student leader because I wanted to be directly involved in facilitating campus dialogue concerning gender relations, interpersonal relationships and other pertinent topics. Prior to my experience in the GRC, I had a shallow understanding of the important issues at hand, and I really wanted to have a better gauge of the campus climate.” -Michael McFadden, junior

If you’re thinking, “Having conversations with my friends, or even thinking about these topics myself, is hard enough. How am I supposed to feel comfortable talking about these things with the student body at large?” You’re not alone. Many of us were nervous going into the process of being GRC student leaders, but you really are in a position to make a difference.

“I realized as students, despite all our griping about gender relations at [Notre Dame], we tend to perpetuate these norms because we don’t want to risk rejection. Being a FIREStarter with the GRC is not about giving permission to break norms but about creating spaces where students feel safe to do so of their own volition.” -Jenn Cha, sophomore

“With issues of gender, sexuality and sexual assault, institutional policy is only part of the solution. It’s just as important to have a community that engages with these issues. I joined the FIREStarters because I wanted to help spark that kind of community. I am grateful for the training and professional development that I have been able to take part in but even more so for the opportunity to talk to students, especially first year students, about how we can make campus a better, safer Notre Dame family.” -Bryan Ricketts, junior

“Being a GRC student leader has definitely introduced me to people who I have come to call good friends through our efforts to spread awareness of certain issues on our campus. I have seen my peers gain a better understanding of these issues, even those who were not as quick to be open-minded. I think our campus is moving in the right direction for positive reform!” -Justin Jones, junior

We have valued being GRC student leaders during our time here at ND, and we need new leaders like you to join us in the future! Take a risk, spark some dialogue and apply for a leadership position with the Gender Relations Center for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Applications are available at grc.nd.edu and will be accepted through Friday, March 27 at 11:59pm. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to current student leaders and/or the GRC!


Rachel Wallace
Class of 2016

Deirdre Harrington
Class of 2015




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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