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Saint Mary’s Alumnae Relations hosts ‘Path to Pride SMC’ webinar

| Thursday, November 11, 2021

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article misspelled secretary Cristina Bueno’s name. The Observer deeply regrets this error. 

The first Saint Mary’s College affinity group, Pride SMC, held a virtual talk sponsored by the Alumnae Relations Office that offered a space of reflection on both issues LGBTQ+ alumnae have faced in the past, what led to the creation of Pride SMC and the groups’ hopes for the coming years.

The panelists at the event included Pride SMC treasurer Adrienne Whisman ’17, secretary Cristina Bueno ’13, vice president Jacqueline Leskovec ’74 and president Mallory Price ’10.

Affinity groups like Pride SMC are a formalized structure of alumnae with a particular interest, major or ethnic group. The panelists said the affinity group was established to promote an inclusive culture at Saint Mary’s.

During her time at the College, Leskovec said she coped with feelings that she was not being true to herself.

“I learned that I needed to hide a part of myself, which was very painful,” she said.

When she came out as a student, she said she did not feel supported by the people around her.

“It was not a very welcoming community,” she said.

Bueno said when she was a student some of her peers experienced discrimination.

“I knew there were instances of student-on-student harassment,” she said.

The panelists considered whether Residence Life or the College administration could have done more to support students. Whisman said she believed Residence Life did not do as much as they could have.

“You’d submit a complaint and nothing would happen,” Whisman said.

Price noted there has been some progress in recent years, including the establishment of the College’s LGBTQ+ Center.

“There really has been so much change,” she said.

Before Pride SMC was established, Saint Mary’s offered LGBTQ+ alumnae support through the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (GALA). Eventually the idea was introduced that Saint Mary’s should consider their own group.

A Facebook group was started in 2018, which led to the consolidation of Pride SMC. The panelists emphasized the central role Saint Mary’s mathematics professor Mary Porter had in helping found the group.

The panelists then shared other goals Pride SMC hopes to accomplish.

For example, the group currently has 140 members, and the founders said they hope to see that number keep growing. They also expressed a hope to increase diversity within the group.

In the future, Pride SMC would also like to be able to provide financial support to students.

Ultimately, Price noted that Pride SMC wants to recognize the importance of individual identity.

“Everyone’s identity is valid,” she said.

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