Conboy, Hanson condemn derogatory social media posts against Saint Mary’s students ahead of Shamrock Series
Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, September 21, 2021
College President Katie Conboy addressed reports of anonymous social media posts against Saint Mary’s students in an email to the College community Tuesday. Starting over the weekend, derogatory comments against students have circulated on the social media platform Yik Yak.
The comments have largely been in the context of the availability of student tickets for the football game between Notre Dame and Wisconsin at Solider Fields in Chicago this Saturday, for which students from the tri-campus were eligible.
Conboy noted that the College has seen the posts and expressed frustration at their content.
“Over the past 24 hours, we have heard from several of you about bullying and harassing anonymous posts on social media regarding Saint Mary’s students,” she said. “We have seen the screen shots of these posts, and we share your anger and frustration that anyone would think these derogatory, degrading and untrue comments are acceptable.”
Promising to support students, Conboy acknowledged that it is difficult to hold anyone accountable for the Yik Yak posts due to the anonymity of the authors.
“We stand in solidarity with you, and we want you to know that leaders across the tri-campus community are united in the commitment to prevent, confront, and oppose bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment and other hurtful speech and behavior on our campuses,” she said. “As you know, the anonymity allowed by platforms like Yik Yak creates a breeding ground for the kind of messaging you saw on Sunday, and this makes it particularly difficult to hold people responsible for hateful speech.”
Conboy reminded students of the common history between the institutions on the tri-campus and urged them to contribute to a better culture across campuses.
“The majority of students across all campuses will be shocked and dismayed by this exchange,” she said. “Let’s work with those who want to build a stronger tri-campus culture and who can recognize and embrace the 177-year-old relationship of ND and SMC and the 55-year-old relationship these campuses share with HCC. These are deep ties that should never be forgotten or broken.”
In addition, Conboy offered students the support of on-campus resources, including the College’s 24 hour telehealth services through Timely Care.
Conboy closed the email by encouraging students to step away from uncomfortable social media exchanges and expressing her pride in the strength of Saint Mary’s students.
“We encourage you to stay away from any interaction, activity, or social media platform that makes you feel uncomfortable or marginalized,” she said. “We are here to support you, and we hope you can support each other and show the world how proud you are to be Saint Mary’s students. We are incredibly proud of you.”
Saint Mary’s senior and Student Government Association (SGA) president Eleanor Hanson responded to the comments with an Instagram post Sunday.
“I want every Saint Mary’s student to know that it’s not your fault you paid, entered and won a lottery ticket to the upcoming Wisconsin v. Notre Dame football game,” Hanson wrote in her post. “Regardless of what has been said, you deserve to go to that game just as much as any other student in our tri-campus community.”
Hanson also noted the many programs in which Saint Mary’s student actively participate on the Notre Dame campus.
“Day in and day out Saint Mary’s students are subjected to derogatory comments for choosing this school to call home,” she said. “Smicks, I know you are frustrated with the narrative that we are ‘here for our Mrs. degree,’ or that we ‘settled for SMC because we couldn’t get into Notre Dame’ — I know it hurts. With this being said, it is unacceptable to put down other women within our tri-campus community.”