Jenkins shares updates on diversity and inclusion, Columbus murals to be covered
Observer Staff Report | Monday, August 24, 2020
In a Monday email sent to the Notre Dame community, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced the creation of a task force on diversity, equity and inclusion and said the Columbus murals featured in Main building will finally be covered after the initial decision came over a year ago.
In light of the months of protests fighting for racial equality in the U.S. and requests from the student body, Jenkins said the University has been reviewing its efforts towards diversity, equality and exclusion on campus.
“Important conversations and concrete initiatives are underway in various areas of the University,” Jenkins said.
These initiatives include conversations between student leaders and senior administrators about improving campus policing, mental health resources and cultural competency in first year Moreau class modules, in addition to the creation of a student diversity center, funding for student clubs and diversity training for upperclassmen, graduate students and faculty.
The student and administrative leaders are also discussing the possibility of creating additional curricular offerings related to diversity and inclusion.
“Our provost, Marie Lynn Miranda, has met with faculty from underrepresented minority groups and is formulating plans for recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and deepening conversations about race and diversity,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins also said the University is working on making antiracism a part of the core curriculum education while looking to improve the experience of minority students on campus.
He and several other administrators in admissions and elsewhere are working to enhance the diversity of the University through its student body and management positions.
In addition to these efforts and in request by the chairman of the board of trustees Jack Brennan, the University will establish the Trustee Task Force on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The task force will, “examine the campus climate, hear from various constituencies, review University initiatives and offer recommendations,” Jenkins said.
National Basketball Association President of League Operations Byron O. Spruell will chair the task force.
“I hope the task force will help us identify initiatives that have been successful and those that have not achieved their goals, point out blind spots or gaps in our efforts and indicate how we might improve,” Jenkins said. “Their report will, I believe, inform our plans for the next decade for making Notre Dame more fully the diverse, equitable and inclusive community our Catholic mission calls us to be.”
Jenkins also announced the installation of removable coverings over the Columbus murals, featured in the Main Building and subject to much controversy, will occur in September. A temporary display about the murals will be installed soon after.
“We are planning a larger exhibition about the early history of the University to include the story of the murals, which will be assembled once undergraduate admissions moves to McKenna Hall from the Main Building next year,” Jenkins said.
Reproductions of the images will be part of this exhibit to be viewed in historical context.
Jenkins initially announced in January 2019 the murals would be covered. The original murals will be displayed on special occasion, and faculty may request access to them for course work and research purposes.
With the upcoming election season, Jenkins urged the Notre Dame community to remain civil in political debates.
“Here is a rule of thumb: If a statement is designed not to persuade an opponent but to demean or intimidate him or her, don’t say it,” Jenkins said. “Its effect will not advance the debate but create toxic divisions that in the end will be most toxic to us.”