The End Hate at ND movement lives
Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, November 20, 2019
To the Notre Dame community,
We write on behalf of the End Hate at ND movement, a coalition of students who oppose the institutionalized divisiveness evident in the culture of our University. In the early hours of Sunday morning, we held a peaceful protest in Stanford Hall, the location of a targeted hate speech incident the night before. Choosing Stanford Hall was not meant as an indictment of that community or to intimidate any of its residents. The issue does not reside at Stanford. Divisive, exclusionary and hateful incidents are far from unheard of in the experiences of marginalized and allied Domers, and they are exacerbated by practices such as parietals. In fact, parietals are emblematic of the way Notre Dame creates community by artificially imposed homogeneity and identity.
Hate speech in any and all forms finds inspiration in artificially imposed divisions. The institution of parietals, as a core part of the Notre Dame experience, divides our community along a binary of gender presentation. It sexualizes friendships and associations which naturally form across the lines of gender division. It has been instrumental to acts of sexual assault by allowing aggressors to trap victims in unsafe situations, and then criminalizes the victims. The fact that parietals are gender-based means that enforcing them often subjects students, especially women and gender-nonconforming students, to humiliating sexist remarks and dangerous circumstances. By restricting access to the already limited number of wheelchair-accessible spaces on campus, parietals further alienate students with disabilities in our community. Parietals can only be an institution policed if you live on campus, making them especially exclusionary for students whose living situations are dictated by their economic circumstances.
Parietals only segregate our community, creating echo-chambers of homogenous thought. History has shown us all too well the danger that homogenous thought bubbles can create. Thus, individual incidents of prejudice are validated by institutional structures.
If Notre Dame is to shift its culture to combat such incidents of racist, queerphobic, sexist, classist and ableist rhetoric, the first step is to end Notre Dame’s most salient form of division.
This is our first and primary demand for the administration: end parietals.
We envision that an end to parietals will build up our dorm communities rather than tear them down. We propose instituting quiet hours instead of a gender-based spatial exclusion. We are aware that some members of the community may be concerned with non-female presence in women’s dorms during sleeping hours. We believe the solution is GreeNDot and other inclusive, holistic anti-violence training rather than exclusionary policies that cause more harm than they resolve. We fully support positive dorm-bonding activities and dorm identities and believe that tearing down barriers will allow our dorm communities to thrive even more in the future.
Despite disbanding the protest in the early hours of Sunday morning at the threat of summary dismissal from the University and subsequent arrest for trespassing, the End Hate at ND movement lives. We are not done. On Thursday, we plan to hold another sit-in in a dorm to be determined. We will meet and enter a dorm with a member of that dorm community 30 minutes prior to parietals. We will, again, remain until the threat of dismissal or forcible removal is imminent, obvious and immediate. The event will be joyous, peaceful, educational, and in the parietals hours, a silent site meant for homework, prayer or meditation. Members of the dorm community will be invited to not only ask questions but also to participate in the sit-in.
If members of the community would like to be involved with our campaign against the divisiveness of Notre Dame’s campus, you can find us on Twitter (@EndHateND), Instagram (@EndHateAtND) and Facebook (End Hate at ND).
We ask the administration to seriously consider and meet the immediate demands we vocalized at the conclusion of Sunday morning’s event prior to Thursday night’s planned event:
A succinct list of rights that Notre Dame students have when dealing with Notre Dame Police. Participants deserve to know their rights as members of this community.
A list of all likely disciplinary actions as a result of demonstrations in the future. Participants deserve to know the consequences of any action before acting; the expectations need to be clear.
A clearer definition of ‘emergency procedures’ and under what circumstances the University is permitted to invoke them. The arbitrary invocation of ‘emergency procedures’ to dispel any dissent is egregious.
At 10 p.m. on Saturday night, we were offered a closed-door meeting with vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding, which we subsequently turned down. A closed-door meeting, in our perspective, would act as a muzzle on any activity or speech. We would, in the future, be open to transparent, respectful and constructive dialogue with the administration without the attached strings of non-disclosure which accompany a closed-door session. In the future, we welcome a meeting with the administration on the condition that it occurs at the protest site itself or in a public forum where members of the student body and press can hold the administration accountable and vice versa.
The focus of this movement is unity over division. Our primary concern at the moment lies with the abolition of parietals. That is not our only concern. We intend to engage in open and educational dialogue between all participants and non-participant observers to make Notre Dame a safer place for members of marginalized communities. Here is our invitation to the students of Notre Dame: come to oppose parietals and stay to discuss other ways we can make Notre Dame a more unified student body. As the movement grows, the contents of these discussions will be compiled into a list and presented to the university as secondary requests.
We are pro-unity, anti-division. We will be here for the foreseeable future. If your dorm is next, please do not take it personally. This movement is an invitation. Ask questions. Actively listen. Join us.
– End Hate at ND
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.