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StaND Against Hate Week promotes inclusivity, allyship

| Monday, November 11, 2019

This week, campus organizations will come together with members of the Notre Dame community for StaND Against Hate Week to discuss hatred on and off campus, and how to oppose it.

Hosted by the Gender Relations Center (GRC), and co-sponsored by Student Government, Campus Ministry, PrismND and other campus groups, the week aims to promote discussion and foster a spirit of inclusion on campus, Sara Agostinelli, assistant director of LGBTQ initiatives and administration, said.

“StaND Against Hate Week is a week that we host within the Gender Relations Center annually that really focuses on human dignity, as well as the intersectionality of identities and how are we fully, authentically ourselves and looking at these different intersections, whether it’s race, faith, gender identity or sexual identity,” she said. “It’s really founded in the spirit of inclusion as well as founded in Catholic social teaching on human dignity.”

The various groups and individuals contributing to StaND Against Hate Week have planned events for every day this week, including a workshop on restorative justice on Tuesday, a pledge signing on Wednesday and a lecture by a Navajo code-talker on Thursday.

While the mission of the week has remained the same as in past years, Agostinelli said that this year’s organizers have tried to expand the range of topics covered by the week’s programming.

“While it’s always looked at human dignity, as we bring in more work around the intersections with race and bring in some more work in those other areas, I think it’s allowed us to not be stagnant in the same thing every year, but really take on different opportunities,” she said. “This year we’re doing an event around restorative justice, and that’s not something we’ve ever done before as part of this week, but it’s a great way for students of all identities to really think about their own communities and how they can learn practical skills such as restorative justice and bring that into their groups, and really think about restorative justice as an opportunity to discuss and dialogue.”

Agostinelli said that, although the event is hosted by the GRC, students play a critical role in designing, planning and running the week’s programming.

“I think a lot of these ideas are things that came about from students, and what students are wanting to see and are passionate about and ‘How do we as an office help support the vision they have for their Notre Dame?’” she said. “Even [regarding] the design, we have student graphic designers, so the logo, the ‘Spread love not hate,’ was developed by students. I think what’s really special is that the GRC provides a home and a base go start this but by no means is our sole conversation. It’s rather us cultivating relationships with students and expanding on how do we talk about human dignity as a group and how are we supporting our students in the conversations they’re wanting to see on this campus.”

Senior Kenzie Isaac is the Student Government director of diversity and inclusion, and is co-leading the ‘Let’s Talk About Race’ event planned for Thursday. The event, part of a four-part dialogue, will explore the intersection between race and gender, Isaac said.

“Compatible with the greater StaND Against Hate Week mission in the GRC, we’re going to be looking at race and gender and sexuality and how race informs gender and sexual expression, and then conversely, how your gender and your sexual orientation and identity can inform your experiences with race or if it can compound with some of the experiences with race that other people have,” she said. “So that’s kind of my main undertaking for StaND Against Hate Week.”

Isaac said this year’s StaND Against Hate Week is timely, given the recent announcement that Notre Dame will host the 2020 United States Presidential Debates.

“I think it’s especially important that we move towards a radical hope and radical healing and reconciliation, because we’re going to need it,” she said. “When the presidential debate happens on our campus next year, we need to have a fundamental comfort with ourselves before we try to engage in the high-level dialogue that those debates are going to thrust us into. I think that this is a really timely week, and I’m just grateful to be a small part of the operation.”

Isaac said she encourages students to attend the events planned for StaND Against Hate Week, and hopes that the week can inspire students to become active allies for marginalized students on campus.

“I think that that the operative term in [‘StaND Against Hate Week’] is ‘stand.’ I think that it could be widely agreed upon that hatred in all of its manifestations is unacceptable,” she said. “We kind of navigate a campus, especially such a campus rooted in values as this, with that being an unspoken rule of interacting and engaging with one another, but there’s not a lot of active advocacy and allyship that’s directed towards our marginalized students.”

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About Andrew Cameron

Andrew is a senior from Orange County, California. He is an associate news editor at the Observer, and is majoring in Biological Sciences and English. While he has greatly enjoyed his time at Notre Dame, during the winter months he often wonders why he ever left the perennial warmth of Southern California.

Contact Andrew