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‘Diversity and Inclusion Conference’ to explore social issue

| Friday, September 6, 2019

Members of the tri-campus community will join together Friday in conversation at the “2019 Diversity and Inclusion Conference” at the Morris Inn from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The conference is open to students, staff and faculty, and will explore ideas about race, gender, sexual orientation and identity.

Eric Love, director of staff diversity and inclusion, said the event offers a unique opportunity to participants.

“I think this will be an excellent opportunity for students, faculty [and] staff to come together [and] engage in those conversations in a way that doesn’t usually happen on campus,” Love said.

The event’s keynote speaker Robin DiAngelo is the author of the New York Times bestseller “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.” According to the conference agenda, DiAngelo’s speech “Seeing the Racial Water” will examine how white people can “develop white racial literacy” to push for “greater racial equity.”

Love, who is organizing the event, said DiAngelo’s speech has attracted interest from many faculty and staff who have held book clubs over the summer discussing her ideas. DiAngelo raises important critiques without pointing fingers, Love said.

“I don’t think she attacks or blames white people,” Love said. “I think that she points out some patterns that oftentimes white people get uncomfortable when we talk about race or racism.”

In the four years Love has worked at Notre Dame, the University became a far more inclusive environment, he said.

“I think that every institution has work to do, and Notre Dame is no different,” Love said. “I do think we’ve come a long way in a very short period of time.”

When it comes to diversity and inclusion, Love said Notre Dame needs to continue shifting its campus culture and becoming more open to differences across the board. 

The conference will devote a workshop specifically towards improving LGBTQ allyship. Love said LGBTQ inclusion aligns with Notre Dame’s Catholic values, despite the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex relationships and transgender identities.

“We are a Catholic institution,” Love said. “We follow Catholic doctrine [and] Biblical teachings, but one of the major premises of Catholic doctrine is to treat each individual with human dignity and respect. You might not agree with everyone, you might not understand, and you may not endorse someone’s lifestyle or every choice that people make or who they are. But we have to treat each other with dignity and respect.”

Love said Notre Dame administrators and student government officials have recently been pushing diversity and inclusion initiatives on many fronts, and he is hopeful this conference will be a step in the right direction.

“I think that this conference helps really illustrate how seamless social Catholic teachings, the mission of Notre Dame and diversity and inclusion work really go together,” Love said. “It’s a natural fit.”

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