From the Archives: Badin, Walsh and the first female dorms at Notre Dame

In our edition celebrating 50 years of women at Notre Dame, we highlighted the often contentious nature of the coeducation process in the early 1970s. One aspect we couldn’t cover in detail was the decision over which of the men’s dorms would be converted to accommodate the new female students — a ruling arguably more controversial than the decision to go coed itself.

This week, From the Archives details the spirited saga that commenced when Badin and Walsh were selected as the first female dorms at Notre Dame. Residents of these halls were naturally displeased with the decision, conjuring up creative and even self deprecatory arguments for why the administration should reconsider. But eventually, the inevitable changes brought by co-education arrived at a reckoning, presenting enduring lessons for how to deal with change at a university steeped in history and tradition.

Badin and Walsh revealed as the first female dorms

Feb. 9 1972 | Maria Gallagher | Feb. 11 1972 | Ann McCarry | Researched by Thomas Dobbs

On Feb. 8, 1972, vice president of student affairs Rev. Thomas Blantz designated Badin and Walsh as the first residences for female undergraduates at Notre Dame for the 1972-1973 academic year.

According to Rev. Blantz, Badin and Walsh were selected as they offered “appropriate security for young women … adequate physical facilities … and room available for social and recreational activities.” 

This explanation did not suffice for many displaced Badin and Walsh residents who expressed “confusion” and “disappointment” with the decision. Badin Hall President Buz Imhoff ‘72 called the decision a “most illogical choice.” 

An Observer headline announces Badin and Walsh as the first female dorms at Notre Dame. Observer archives, Feb. 9, 1972.

In an attempt to persuade university leaders to reconsider their decision, Badin residents presented a two-sided defense of their hall. On one hand, Badin resident and Hall Life Commissioner Bob Higgins (‘73) argued that Badin’s spirit was “excellent” and was “the only thing that keeps guys wanting to live there.” 

Imhoff contributed some decidedly self-deprecatory arguments, claiming that Badin offered inadequate “lounge space” and overall “dismal” conditions that would forbid female inhabitance. The focus on Badin’s spacial shortcomings led to the crux of Higgins’s proposal: “Girls should be offered at least livable conditions” and that current Badin Hall residents could sacrifice by remaining in apparent “unlivable” conditions.

In a Feb. 10 address in the Howard Hall chapel to approximately 100 Walsh and Badin residents, University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh urged students that “if you want the value of girls on campus, you have to have static … no matter what halls you choose.”

Residents of Badin and Walsh Halls appear unhappy at a meeting with then University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh discussing the decision to convert their dorms into female residences. Observer archives, Feb. 11, 1972.

Although displacement was not a welcome move for Badin residents, Badin Hall Council appeared satisfied with Fr. Hesburgh’s argument, announcing that they “realize that some hall must be chosen for the purpose of female housing.”

Badin Hall Council, however, did offer some suggestions for the University, requesting that they be allowed to preserve their sections in moves to other halls and that they not be displaced again “in the spirit of fairness.” In his original announcement, Fr. Blantz had outlined the displacement procedure, in which approximately 330 students Badin and Walsh Student were to be distributed among the other 18 residence halls based on “its ability to absorb upperclass transfers.”

In apparent recognition of the concerns of Badin Hall about further displacement, Fr. Hesburgh reminded students that he expected to follow the same procedure in the coming years as female enrollment expanded and other dorms were converted for female use.

Thoughts on the Badin and Walsh transition

Feb. 14, 1972 | Marlene Zloza | Feb. 16, 1972 | Jerry Lutkus | Feb. 17, 1972 | Letter to Editor | May 4, 1972 | Observer Staff | Researched by Cade Czarnecki

While the Badin Hall Council accepted the University’s decision to turn their dorm into a female residence, the early months of 1972 saw significant pushback from many residents of Badin and Walsh and from other members of the tri-campus community.

The men that were being forced out of Badin and Walsh were told by the University and housing committee that, “since we wanted the women, we should be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to house them on campus.”

Badin and Walsh residents countered with the rationale that the burden should be shared across all dorms on campus, pointing out the fact that it was not exclusively Badin and Walsh men that wanted women at Notre Dame.

“A girl’s room next year?” asked a caption below a picture of an unspecified resident of Badin or Walsh Hall. Observer archives, Feb. 14, 1972.

Counter proposals were offered to the “ad hoc housing committee” that was formed to sort out the relocation of Badin and Walsh men. One proposal to the committee was to have each hall on campus allocate 10 to 15 beds in a section together for “blocks” of exiled Badin and Walsh residents to move to.

Pushback to the removal of men and implementation of women in Badin and Walsh did not exclusively come from males, though. Marlene Zloza, a Saint Mary’s freshman, toured both Badin and Walsh, and her report on the state of the dorms was mixed.

Zloza highlighted the amenities in Walsh and, in doing so, pointed out the various flaws in Badin. Complaints included minimal lounge space and the presence of metal closets in the hallways. She continued to say that there was no real space for a kitchen or laundry room in Badin either.

After highlighting the bats that called Walsh home and the friendly neighborhood mice in Badin, Zloza concluded that women would not want to live in Badin and would be better housed in Walsh.

Residents of Badin Hall hang a wreath outside their dorm, mourning the decision to turn their dorm into a women’s residence. Observer archives, Feb. 14, 1972.

Yet, these opinions had little sway over the whole situation. Men were to be forced out and women were to be forced in.

In a solemn display in their final days in the building they had called home, Badin men hung a black wreath outside their dorm, signifying the death of their beloved residence hall.

The ghosts of coed integration at Notre Dame

​​Sept. 2, 1972 | Jerry Lutkus | Sept. 8, 1972 | Jerry Lutkus | Researched by Avery Polking

When women were first admitted to Notre Dame in 1972, they were welcomed by most of the campus community. But some male students lamented the profound changes that coeducation entailed, changes perhaps embodied best in the conversion of Badin and Walsh to female dorms.

One of Notre Dame’s first female undergraduates moves into her new dorm room in the fall of 1972. Observer archives, Sept. 8, 1972.

A common refrain among Notre Dame men was feeling a loss of tradition over the introduction of women. Many felt like coeducation subverted an integral part of Notre Dame’s identity. But the author of “The Ghost of Badin” argued for a more progressive view of this monumental announcement.

Jerry Lutkus wrote that the nature of the real world must take precedent over tradition. Even though tradition is a “quantity around which legends are based,” tradition is notoriously bad at locating points of issue it creates because of its longevity and form. Neglecting to educate women, Lutkus wrote, is one of these points of issue.

Therefore, integrating women into Notre Dame, according to its proponents, was an act that brought Notre Dame into the real world. After all, “women and men are equals in society, why should they not be equal in education? At Notre Dame?”

A cartoon satirizes a former Walsh resident coming around to the idea of coeducation and its associated changes. Observer archives, Sept. 8, 1972.

Lutkus concluded by admitting that the “ghosts of tradition” left by men of Badin Hall no longer resided within its walls. This, however, was not a bad thing. The departure of old ghosts made way for new traditions created by the new female undergraduates who would call Badin home.

“So, that tradition that you think is destroyed at Notre Dame is actually not destroyed,” Lutkus wrote. “It is simply enhanced, expanded. It is added to and given a dimension it’s never seen before.”

Still seeping in tradition, Lutkus’ message to Notre Dame remains as salient as ever. While we can and should continue to honor the legacy of this historic University, many students and administrators today believe tradition should never preclude Notre Dame from evolving and improving to create a more inclusive campus environment.

As Lutkus put it fifty years ago, when we update our traditions, practices, and policies, “Notre Dame hasn’t become just any other college because it is still Notre Dame. But it is a new Notre Dame. A new Notre Dame with some new tradition added to the old and some openings for compatriots to keep company with the ghosts of ages past.”

Contact Spencer Kelly at

Thomas Dobbs at

Cade Czarnecki at

Avery Polking at


“Daughters of Our Lady” exhibit presents the evolution of coeducation at Notre Dame

“Daughters of Our Lady: Finding a Place at Notre Dame,” an exhibit that travels through the history of women at Notre Dame, is currently on display at the Hesburgh Libraries.

The timeline takes the viewer through Sr. Mary Lucretia’s experience as the first woman to receive a degree in 1917 to the religious women on campus in the 1950s. Then, it travels to the Saint Mary’s exchange program that began in 1965 to the first cohort of undergraduate women in 1972 — and culminates in 2022, which marks 50 years of coeducation. 

The exhibit was curated by Elizabeth Hogan, Senior Archivist for Photographs and Graphic Materials. It tells the story of the evolution of coeducation and features newspaper clippings, correspondences, articles and other documents from the Notre Dame Archives that record the journey toward coeducation. 

Hogan explained that there were women who came before 1972 who were influential in making way for coeducation.

“Many people don’t know about the origins of coeducation, or maybe they have a vague sense of what was going on before 1972,” Hogan said. “1972 was not the start, it was important but it was not the start.”

1972 marked the first time that women were admitted to Notre Dame as undergraduate students. Hogan said that the switch to coeducation was a result of pressures from the federal government, other institutions and the establishing of Title IX. 

In 1972, there were only 350 female students enrolled at Notre Dame. The year after, there were 735 female students. Notre Dame slowly began to add more female students in the years that followed, but they were limited by the resources available.

“Notre Dame didn’t have the facilities to accommodate all the women and didn’t have the capability to automatically double its size, because that would require more classrooms, more faculty and more administrators,” Hogan said.

Hogan also mentioned that Catholic education has historically been separate by gender.

“It’s not that Holy Cross as a congregation hadn’t educated women, they had just been educated in a different space separate from men,” she said. “Coeducation was a merging of the two.”

The exhibit features pioneering women who have helped shape Notre Dame over the years, including Sr. Suzanne Kelly and Josephine Massyngbaerde Ford, who were the first women on the faculty, and Graciela Olivares, the first female law school graduate. Hogan explained that determining who completed each “first” was difficult because it wasn’t always documented.

“A lot of the firsts actually happened before the first that was recorded,” she said. 

Hogan said the goal of the exhibit is to show how women’s experiences have changed and how women have influenced Notre Dame.

“I tried to not make the exhibit about too many people because there have been a lot of other publications celebrating coeducation and marketing communications talking about a lot of the firsts,” Hogan said. 

Hogan emphasized that the exhibit is only a piece of the history of coeducation and that there is more information and stories to be told about the history of women at Notre Dame.

“This is a very small space and there is a lot more about co-education, so if anyone wants to come and do research they are more than welcome,” Hogan said. 

The exhibit is on display in the Special Collections exhibit space in Hesburgh Library until Dec. 16. On Nov. 4 from 3-4 p.m., there will be a curator-led open house — all are welcome to attend. 

Contact Caroline Collins at


From the Archives: 50 years of women at Notre Dame

Spencer Kelly, Lilyann

Gardner and Maggie


Contact Spencer at Contact Lilyann at Contact Maggie at

Print Edition

Special Print Edition for Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022 — 50th Anniversary of Coeducation


Coeducation 50 years in the making

Fifty years ago I was a senior in high school beginning my college application process. One of the applications was to the University. Little did I know that I was going to be a “pioneer.” Campus was about half the size it is today. I wanted to go to the best university to give me the best future. The process was “snail” mail and computers were not part of our lives. The wait period seemed to take forever — no universal notification or class celebration. Four hundred new students joined the 375 women from the 1972-73 year. We made up about 10 percent of the student body — about 6600 total in the late ‘70s.

Given the task to write a “50 years of Women on Campus” reflection, I wonder what is it that I want new students to know about what was and what is now. Do I want you to know what campus looked like 50 years ago? What was here, what intentionality was given to have women here? Women were given a men’s hall — which definitely was built for men. The first year Badin and Walsh Halls were occupied by the first 350 women with Farley and Breen Phillips the next to go to women students and upping the total to 650.  The halls opened with urinals in the bathrooms, which were quickly filled with a flower pot.  The women’s halls received washers and dryers in our basement as the men had laundry service. Yes, that was only the beginning of the noticeable differences. The women’s halls had “detex” entry systems and evening guards at the doors. Male classmates had to be escorted by their host.

After working with the women for the past eight years, I wonder about our similarities and what have we done to move women to a new place. Speaking with the women students I realize we all suffer from the “imposter syndrome.” We worked to climb to the top in high school. Studied to achieve the best grades, held leadership positions, volunteered, membership in interest clubs, vocational experience, etc.  There were no gaps in our experiences. We then decided to apply to the best of the best universities that would provide us with the best future options.  We were achieving the next “steps.” Not sure if we set the visions or if it was assumed from our influencers.  Somehow, we didn’t or haven’t learned that we are capable and talented women deserving of the gifts and earned accomplishments. THIS IS ONE WISH FOR ALL: YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!

Campus was significantly smaller — no mod quad, east quad, nor west quad.

Women wanted  the opportunity to participate in athletic competition.  During the first five years women had to initiate the sports; field hockey, fencing softball, volleyball, rowing. It is wonderful seeing women in Fencing, Swimming and Diving, Lacrosse, soccer, Basketball, softball, track and field, etc.  In addition, the representation with boxing, rugby, etc., have provided the much needed athletic outlets. The participation includes more reasonable times for practice and quality of equipment. We are also celebrating 50 years of Title IX-women or girls did not have the opportunity to participate in sanctioned sports.  How exciting! Domer women will have been given many opportunities.

The one thing that remains consistent is the transitional journey.  I still remember the uncertainty and feelings of being out of place. We all do what we need to do to make it comfortable, making friends, participating in sports, walking around the lakes, taking naps, crafting, etc. Home under the Dome takes time and work! The noticeable difference is that women are on campus and it is as common as seeing another male student!  This has not always been the case.  We can thank Fr. Hesburgh for his insight and desire to make campus more inclusive, in all ways. 

I had the privilege of returning to the University as a Rector, after 35 years in higher education having worked in private and public universities. The past eight years I have been able to serve the students and the university in this role. The experience has been so exciting to see the changes the University has made to assist women and all students. 

The overall growth (6000 to 10000) of the university has continued to bring the gender into balance.  To walk on campus and NOT have a clue that 51 years ago campus was all male is a great achievement.  To see the influences from women — academically, administratively, athletically and aesthetically has improved the overall beauty and comfort. I know Fr. Ted is smiling down, along with Our Mother, marveling at the women’s presence.

Carol A. Latronica

class of ’77

Aug. 23


‘Objects in the Rearview Mirror’: The story behind the first women at the University

When Deborah Dell, known to her loved ones as Debi, arrived at the University of Notre Dame in 1972 with the first cohort of women, she entered with a sharp mind and a lot of determination. 

Now, almost exactly 50 years later, Dell is publishing a book, “Objects in the Rearview Mirror: A Social History of Coeducation under the Dome.” The story took shape over the span of 20 years and with the help of more than 150 contributors who were impacted by the decision to implement coeducation. 

The first years – inspiration and roadblocks

Sitting at the desk of her Morris Inn hotel room, Dell looked at a blank page. 

“Was I the right person to be doing this?” she wondered. 

Dell lived in Breen-Phillips Hall, Walsh Hall and Lyons Hall during her time on campus. She admitted that her circle of friends was small and stuck to themselves most of the time. 

“Books like this should be written by somebody who was important,” she explained her hesitation. 

She was in the midst of a lull in motivation. Dell said she came back to Notre Dame to get inspired. 

“I’m in the hotel room, and I’ve just been to the library to get some stuff out of the archives and I’m struggling,” she said. “It’s like I hear Father Hesburgh, saying ‘Debi, put your faith in the Holy Spirit and His mother, and stop thinking so hard and just trust.’”

Dell said she started brainstorming and researching for this book in 2000 and wrote a couple drafts with a few of her friends contributing in 2001, 2006 and 2011. Her trip to the Morris Inn was during the second draft in 2006. 

“[This book] was a long time coming. That’s an understatement,” she quipped. “I think the only book that took longer was the Bible.”

Debi and Darlene — missed connections and missing pieces

Darlene Connelly, class of 1977, was Dell’s right-hand woman during the second half of the project. She was also Dell’s neighbor on the first floor of Breen-Phillips Hall in 1977 — unbeknownst to either of them until a classmate introduced them a few years ago. 

“Darlene — we lived in the same hall, and I didn’t know her!” Dell said. “It was just the perfect timing and the perfect marriage as far as her approach to things and my approach. We just complemented each other so well.”

Connelly said she was introduced to Dell because she was also thinking of writing a book about her experiences. Connelly’s inspiration came in the form of a mentor, Fr. Tom Tallarida. 

Connelly explained that she had a long friendship with Tallarida throughout her time as an undergraduate and that she maintained contact with him as an adult. 

“We stayed in touch over the years. One year, I think it was 1992, he sent me a letter. He pleaded with me to write the real story about coeducation in those early years at Notre Dame,” she said. 

Connelly said she forgot about that plea until one Christmas when she decided to pay Tallarida a visit. A few days before her plans, Connelly said she got a letter from Tallarida’s niece that he had passed away. 

“I carried Catholic guilt,” she said. “I never got to it. I never got around to it, and I am so sorry, so sorry that I don’t know what the story was that he wanted to tell.”

Dell said Connelly not only brought her expertise to the project, but also the contributions of the women of the class of 1977. 

As Dell hosted mixers for her classmates in South Bend before home football games, word about the project got out, and men started chiming in. The men of the classes of 1976 and 1977 were soon added to the list of the writing process contributors.

Around that time, Dell said she started gathering information about the second generation of women at the University — what had changed and what had not. This was done with the help of Emily Weisbacker. 

Dell also mentioned she believed it was important to include what was going on at Notre Dame’s peer institutions and in the nation at the same time. 

“It was very important to me to also make sure that it wasn’t just the Notre Dame story. We looked at Yale and Princeton, and we looked at what was happening in the culture of the United States during the 70s,” she said. 

Dell said she finally felt ready to write the book once she had collected the experiences of the women and men of the first five years of coeducation, the second generation of women at the University and the historical context for the story.

“So now we had the women who went through it, the men who went through it and then the second generation that was benefiting. [They] were able to tell me about the things that hadn’t changed in 30 or 40 years,” she explained. “[The book] really became so much bigger than the original concept because of the delay that took place.”

Those who went without mention — early women’s athletics 

When the girls first arrived on campus, nothing was set up for them, Dell explained. Other than two hastily renovated dorms, the first few classes of women at Notre Dame had to fashion everything themselves. This included clubs, policy groups, information sharing networks and sports. 

Ron Skrabacz, class of 1976, oversaw the research and writing of the chapters on early women’s athletics. 

Skrabacz, who was only participated in interhall sports during his time on campus, was recruited to write the section because of his work as a sports writer. He wrote for the Daily Herald — a newspaper covering the Chicago suburbs — as a sports columnist for 20 years. 

Skrabacz got involved with the project when he was at Dell’s South Bend house on one Friday night before a football game. 

“Debi is a very brilliant woman, but you can put in a thimble what she knew about sports,” he joked. “She knew it was critical that sports be covered.”

Skrabacz explained that he wrote about the general atmosphere of sports during his time at the University and specifically what the women went through to start their varsity sports. 

Luckily, Skrabacz said his work would not have been possible without the research of Anne Dilenschneider and Jane Lammers. 

The two women were at a 30-year reunion of coeducation when they were shown a video about women’s athletics. Skrabacz explained that Dilenschneider and Lammers were upset that the video did not show the early years or how the women made the programs that today yield national championships.

Lammers and Dilenschneider then started researching. They made posters and sought out connections. The women complied “a boatload” of material, which they turned over to Skrabacz.

“All I did was the easy part. I took all their information, summarized it and turned it into a story,” he said. 

Other than their inclusion in the book, over 250 women who participated in the early building stages of each varsity sport will be memorialized with honorary monograms during a home football game the weekend of Oct. 21 to 23. 

Looking back and looking forward

“Objects” came out Sept. 1 and is now available for order at Barnes & Noble. There are two versions: a paperback and a special edition hardcover.

“We’re limiting the hardcover edition to 365 copies to commemorate and honor the 365 first female undergraduates,” Dell said. “The first 365 hardcover books will have a special cover that commemorates that number.”

The Hammes Bookstore is hosting two book signing events for the new release Friday, Sept. 9 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 14 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

A labor of love of over 20 years, Dell said she hopes the book is a tribute to the strength of the Notre Dame family through good times and bad. 

“It was a time when men and women came together and there were struggles, but we found each other. We had the ability to get through some pretty weird tough times, and that’s the value of the Notre Dame family,” she said. “[The book is] a balanced picture: the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Bella Laufenberg

Contact Bella at


Women’s clubs share their experiences

This semester marks 50 years since women first stepped foot on Notre Dame’s campus as students.

To honor this milestone, The Observer reached out to leaders from five student clubs that are either geared toward women or focus on advocating for women’s rights.

Baraka Bouts Notre Dame Women’s Boxing club

When Rachel Salamone was a first-year, she knew she wanted to try a new sport.

Walking the stadium concourse at the Student Activities Fair three years ago, Baraka Bouts, the Notre Dame Women’s Boxing club, caught her attention.

“I had heard a bit about the boxing club, but when I saw people throwing mitts at the Activities Fair, I thought it was the coolest thing I had seen all night and I was sold,” she recalled.

Now in its twentieth year, the boxing club is the largest women’s club on campus, Salamone, now the club president, said. With over 300 members, it is also the largest all-female boxing club in the world.

Salamone said the club “works to instill confidence, skill and community” in its members through daily training. At least 100 club members train each year for the club’s best-known event, the annual Baraka Bouts boxing tournament – three nights of club members going head-to-head for one minute and 15 seconds in the Duncan Student Center’s Dahnke Ballroom.

“The dual nature of Notre Dame Women’s Boxing that blends female empowerment with boxing and makes quality education more accessible in Uganda makes the program especially unique and inspiring,” Salamone said.

Feminist ND

Chess Blacklock, a senior with plans to go into public health after graduation, is the president of FeministND.

She said FeministND was one of the first student organizations she got involved in as a freshman and joined its executive board as service chair her sophomore year before becoming president as a junior.

Blacklock said the club’s mission is to “shed a positive light on feminism and the value of the ideology and movement as well as to bring a greater awareness of women’s role in history and women’s contributions to our current society.”

“We bring strong women’s voices to campus, celebrate powerful women and encourage women to seek out positions of power,” she continued. “Additionally, we seek to provide a space free of political or religious bias [for] students to share their opinions and ideas concerning gender issues and feminism while also acting as a general support group for women.”

One of the club’s biggest events is its annual menstrual product drive, which collects pads and tampons for local shelters for people experiencing homelessness. Blacklock said the success of last year’s menstrual product drive is one of the club’s proudest accomplishments.

“This past year, we collected over 900 products to donate,” she said. “Additionally, we collaborated with Campus Cup to allow students to sign up and receive a free menstrual cup. We had over 300 sign-ups for this programming, and while many students picked theirs up for personal use, many also chose for us to donate them.”

FeministND currently has about 200 members. The club has existed since 2016, but Blacklock said feminist clubs have had a presence at Notre Dame since women were admitted to the University half a century ago.

“Though we know these previous clubs existed because of the active role alumni have in our club, we don’t know too much about how these clubs operated due to the lack of consistent and thorough record keeping,” Blacklock explained.

Magnificat Choir

Hannah Schmitz, a junior theology major living in Welsh Family Hall, is the alumni relations and social media manager for the Magnificat Choir, a liturgical choir that welcomes all tri-campus students who sing in the treble range.

The choir sings each week at the 5 p.m. Saturday Vigil Mass at the Basilica and rehearses three times a week.

Schmitz said she decided to join the choir last fall when she was looking for community and a way to continue doing music ministry.

“I had grown up singing in a church choir, and it was something that I had missed doing my freshman year of college,” she said.

After realizing how much joy the choir had given her in just a year, she said she desired to pursue a leadership position.

The choir currently has about 45 members and Schmitz said they’ve built a great community centered around a passion for music and enjoyment of one another’s company.

In addition to rehearsal, choir members participate in group outings about once a month, including ice skating, volleyball and volunteering in the community.

“But honestly, sometimes we have the most fun just going to dinner together after a rehearsal or Mass and enjoying each other’s company,” Schmitz said. “During the fall semester, we love singing at the football Masses and seeing everyone decked out in Notre Dame gear.”

Schmitz said her proudest moment with the choir was last spring when they recorded the first half of their upcoming album.

“We worked for months to prepare these pieces before diving headfirst into a five-hour long recording session in the Lady Chapel of the Basilica,” she said. “We are very proud of what we accomplished so far and we are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to finish the album this upcoming spring. We are all very excited to hear the final product.”

Network of Enlightened Women

Gavriella Aviva Lund, a senior neuroscience major with a minor in theology, said one of her many passions is “bringing people of diverse backgrounds together to learn more about each other and to find common ground to build stronger communities locally and beyond.”

In fall 2020, Lund and Theresa Olohan ’21 began the process of founding a chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW) on Notre Dame’s campus.

NeW is a national organization, originally founded at the University of Virginia in 2004, that connects conservative college women and creates a space for them to talk about public policy and conservative values, Lund explained.

Lund said she and Olohan wanted to establish a chapter at Notre Dame to “provide an open community where women on campus could discuss and learn about social and policy issues they cared about while developing a network of women across the country who pursue the same mission as leaders in their professions.”

NeW at ND was established in the spring of 2021, and, now, the club has about 125 members. They meet at least twice a month, and members have enjoyed fun activities such as roller rink trips and ice skating, as well as lectures and professional development opportunities.

Lund currently serves as president of NeW at ND and said, though the club is branded as a space for women with “conservative values,” it does not endorse specific political parties or candidates.

“The university setting was originally meant to be a space where ideas are exchanged, which requires a difference of opinions,” Lund said.

She said NeW at ND plans to highlight this with the theme of the club this year: “Embrace and Engage.”

Instead of being afraid of those with different opinions on social issues or policies, she continued, she encourages people to, first, embrace the dignity and goodwill of every person and then “engage in an open dialogue to understand where our peers are coming from.”

“Coming together as one united community, we can learn so much from each other and make prominent social change,” Lund said.

Shades of Ebony

Thaddea Ampadu, a senior accounting major, is the co-president of Shades of Ebony, a club geared toward Black women at Notre Dame focusing on service and sisterhood.

Shades was founded 21 years ago by Arienne Thompson ’04 and Terri Baxter ’05 to create a space where Black women could come together and share their experiences.

Its mission is to “unify, empower and inspire women of all shades” through engaging in dialogue and service in the South Bend community, Ampadu said.

The club’s general meetings – which take place weekly or biweekly depending on what leadership has planned – often include discussions on topics like mental health, mentorship, career development, social life and equitable access to resources at Notre Dame and beyond.

“There are very few women of color on campus, and because of this, there are rarely opportunities to meet and have dialogue,” Ampadu said. “Attending our meetings is always the highlight of my week because I don’t have to explain certain parts of my identity because most, if not all, of us share those same identities and experiences.”

She said Shades has about 30 active members and about 50 who attend events more occasionally.

The club cohosts events and holiday parties with other student clubs including Wabruda, the Black Student Association and the Gender Relations Center.

Last year, Shades was named the “Club of the Year” by the Club Coordination Council. Ampadu and other club leaders are proud of the events Shades has organized and their successful efforts to revive the club after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The community is absolutely beautiful,” Ampadu said. “When we meet, I can visibly see how relaxed and comfortable our members become surrounded by women that look like them.”


Ladies, bring your folding chairs. We’re getting a seat at this table.

Duncan Student Center replaced the legislative chamber of the United States Capitol for Senator Mallory McMorrow this past March. Returning to her Alma Mater, the 2008 graduate joined a panel of eight Notre Dame alumnae to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of the admission of undergraduate women at the University of Notre Dame.

Part of the celebration dubbed “Golden is Thy Fame,” Career Conversations with Trailblazing Women invited Sen. McMorrow to share her experience building a career in the contentious domain of American politics. More specifically, building a successful career as a woman. The aforementioned title of the event deserves commendation for its accuracy. The female panelists boldly blazed trails in their respective fields — trails that others now have the option to follow.

Sen. McMorrow in particular is a critical figure for young women aspiring to work in politics and government. She represents what is possible for women given enough strength and passion. She proves what is possible for women when we risk, persevere and demand a seat at the table.

Sen. McMorrow currently serves Michigan’s eighth district — a significant feat considering the state of Michigan did not elect a woman to the U.S. Senate until 2000. Michigan’s first female senator, Debbie Stabenow and Sen. McMorrow both campaigned in the 2018 election cycle. 2018 continues to be a beacon of hope for proponents of equal political representation. Women candidacies reached a historical high in 2018, exposing a promising trend in American politics—the increased mobilization and political engagement of women. Female leaders benefit society as a whole; however, real, lasting change requires more than individual successes. It requires action. Now. When inadequacy translates to candidacy, things get done.

Despite the unprecedented number of women running for office, the discouraging reality is that we still have a long way to go. While 51 percent of the United States population are women, women make up just 24 percent of the Senate. The result? The underrepresentation of women in American politics.

Of the people. By the people. For the people.

The issues we face as a country are women’s issues. If social, political and structural barriers exist for women in electoral politics, we must find a way to alter the system. Our country suffers when half of its population is granted a quarter of its voice.

Trailblazers like Sen. Mallory McMorrow provide an essential perspective on Capitol Hill. Women’s issues must be at the forefront of the American agenda — not only for lawmakers, but for the general public. The U.S. lags behind other established democracies when it comes to women’s representation in politics. But we cannot win seats if we do not run. At our current rate, the U.S. will not reach complete legislative parity for another hundred years. We must accelerate this timeline. Instead of asking for a seat at the table, women must demand a seat at every table.

You can contact Ashlyn at

BridgeND is a multi-partisan political club committed to bridging the partisan divide through respectful and productive discourse. It meets on Tuesdays at 5pm in Duncan Student Center W246 to learn about and discuss current political issues, and can be reached at or on Twitter @bridge_ND.