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Recalling the inclusive campus survey

| Thursday, September 5, 2019

Notre Dame faces the issue of forgetfulness. We forget about the outrage over some new administrative action we read about a few weeks ago. We forget about ‘let’s get a meal sometime’ from three weeks ago. We forget about the impactful seminar we attended last week.  We forgot about the results of the Inclusive Campus Student Survey.

It’s easy to get caught up in emotions in the spur of the moment, then have that same passion fizzle out just a few short days or weeks later. Entering my fourth year, I have witnessed it happen with many movements and ideas on campus. It is easy to be forgetful when the issue at hand is not directly impacting you, when you are part of the experience of the majority. In case you forgot (which I am almost certain you did), here are some shocking statistics again. Eighty-five percent of 6,274 respondents is the number of students who either agree or strongly agree with the statement that they feel a sense of belonging on campus. If we flip that number around, that means 15% sit outside that range, or 941 students do not feel a sense of belonging on campus. This is not a small number by any means, especially not when Notre Dame touts the identity of being a “home under the dome.”

I remember when the survey results first came out. Many were upset. Conversations about the topic arose in short bursts for a few days at a time, and suddenly, almost instantaneously, it all fizzled out. It was brought up again in a mass email last week, but soon to be forgotten again. That 85% of the student population must be overwhelmingly comprised of the majority of campus in regards to socioeconomic class, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and health condition, because you begin to see a shift in the data in regards to inclusivity as you browse through survey demographics. Changing this statistic requires more than just the 15% to be uncomfortable — the 15% should not feel required to speak for an entire demographic when placed in a room where they are not in the majority. It requires a commitment from the entire student population to create a truly inclusive campus, particularly taking into consideration the fact that the most negatively impactful statements come from students.

Perhaps we forgot because we perceive that creating a true inclusive campus is a difficult task. Forgetting is easier than creating a change but forgetting means that the same pain will be felt over and over again. Forgetting means that we do not believe in a “home under the dome” for everyone, and that we do not consider every student a member of the Notre Dame family.

As we enter this new academic year, it’s time to stop forgetting. It’s time to stop putting the pressure of the 85% on the 15%. Notre Dame has a history of complacency, and it is up to everyone to put in their part and stop the cycle and ensure each student finds their home under the dome.

Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are.

Tiffany Rojas is a senior majoring in economics and chinese and can be reached at [email protected]

The Diversity Council of Notre Dame advocates for awareness, understanding and acceptance on issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and other intersectional identities in the Notre Dame community. The viewpoints expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Diversity Council, but are the individual opinions of the author. You can contact Diversity Council at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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