Implementing LGTBQ Nondiscrimination at the University of Notre Dame

I founded the Notre Dame Progressive Student Alliance in 1998.

For the past twenty-five years the Notre Dame community has campaigned for non-discrimination for LGBTQ students, faculty and staff every two years. We have petitioned, won every single student and faculty government vote, got national media, rallied, worn t-shirts, hunger struck and yet we have never won.

I think the administration no longer seriously considers the issue. (They did consider it in 1995-1997 - when they had a taskforce on the nondiscrimination clause whose conclusion they rejected.)

The current campaign is the 4 to 5 Movement and part of their campaign was a video: It Needs to Get Better

A couple days ago, the University administration stated again that it would not change its policy.

The Notre Dame community needs a strategy that works. This is my suggestion.

You need to implement non-discrimination yourselves.

First: you need to declare the official existence of a Gay Straight Alliance. Then you need to hold a mass public meeting in Lafortune (the student center) with one or two hundred people. You challenge the administration to allow the public meetings to continue, or to punish students, faculty and staff for just sitting around and talking to each other. This is a classic dilemma demonstration. Either the administration cracks down and looks very stupid, or it lets you have a club. If the administration cracks down you need as many people as possible to say "me too". I admit that I'm a member of the Gay Straight Alliance and am equally responsible for the group's actions. If they try to punish you, you come back with more people until you win.

The Gay Straight Alliance should continue to hold public events and act as an official student organization until the administration gives in.

Second: you need to record all instances of discrimination based on sexual orientation. These cases should be made public. If the victims are comfortable with it, the perpetrators should be held accountable through community pressure and required to attend non-discrimination educational trainings, victim-offender mediation, and apologize. If offenders, including university administrators, do not take these steps then their hate crimes should be exposed. If the victims want privacy, then at least you can track the hate crime as a statistic. You might want to produce an annual report on discrimination at Notre Dame.

At the root, the issue is not equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people. The core problem is that Notre Dame is run by the 1% - the president, vice-presidents, fellows and trustees. It is a structural system of injustice and the solution is democracy. Notre Dame should be run by the students, staff, faculty, and community. Occupy Notre Dame.

If you mobilize a loving community of Notre Dame students, staff and faculty then you can make it better.

Before someone dies

Ultimately there is a serious danger that a student will commit suicide because the administration refuses to create a more welcoming / less discriminatory environment.

Letter to the student newspaper by a student who did a failed suicide attempt