Parietals are not the problem
Letter to the Editor | Monday, November 25, 2019
With the recent sit-ins and letters such as “Parietals criminalize gender itself, but we already knew that,” I have struggled to understand conclusions drawn by the End Hate at ND movement. Despite being part of an ostracized group they set out to defend, I feel as if my experiences and views directly contradict their demands. As a freshman, I was placed in Sorin College, and I came out as transgender during my years as an undergraduate. While ND is certainly not a remarkably progressive campus for trans inclusivity, I have never felt discriminated against in all my time as an undergrad or graduate student based on parietals. For me, parietals enabled further bonding with my Sorin BrOtters who make up a significant portion of my closest friends to this day. In fact, post-party parietal hours offered some of the most comforting environments for me to help friends expand their understanding of gender non-conformity and sexuality.
I understand I still came from a more privileged background as a white middle-class student, but the fact remains that the issues of concern for the End Hate at ND are not rooted in parietals. Many of these issues are legitimate cause for concern, but their solutions are more dependent on the other institutional structures than the community building impact of parietals.
As I can attest from personal experience, parietals are NOT discriminatory towards transgender or gender non-conforming students. Regardless of how I was accepted or not as a trans student in my dorm, it was not parietals that left me unrecognized — it was the fact that I couldn’t permanently transfer to a women’s dorm. Even with parietals abolished, I would have felt ostracized by the fact that the women’s dorm I would be allowed to stay the night in remained a community I could not officially be part of.
Another issue brought up by End Hate at ND is the rate of sexual assault among ND students. It is completely unacceptable that this University that we all love and cherish can be the source of pain for so many of its members. The supporters of End Hate at ND point out that there is often a power dynamic that “traps victims” for fear of getting in trouble with parietals. This power dynamic certainly exists but would not dissolve in the absence of parietals. It in fact thrives from the double standards between women and men’s dorms in relation to alcohol use and partying. To further relieve concerns, a better approach could be to adopt a policy similar to Notre Dame’s Expectation of Responsibility to take away the fear of reprimands for escaping dangerous situations.
While I appreciate the effort to promote inclusivity on campus by those with End Hate at ND, I think the stated concerns of the group do not present solutions capable of resolution through the abandonment of parietals.
third-year graduate student
class of ‘17
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.