Thousands of Notre Dame students sign-up for solidarity

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By Emily Pritchard - epritchard@abc57.com

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Students at the University of Notre Dame are banning together to support the LGBTQ community and others on campus. Over 2,000 students have signed the "Signatures of Solidarity" pledge. The growing list is to voice support for fellow students "regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other factors."

Alex Coccia is an incoming junior and has been working all semester to start a conversation about inclusion on campus.

"I’ve been working this whole semester to try and create the open dialogue on campus with respect to a nondiscrimination clause and a gay-straight alliance, something that students have really been struggling for awhile," said Coccia.

Students requested this semester that the university add "sexual orientation" to its nondiscrimination clause.

Notre Dame’s current nondiscrimination clause reads as the following according to its website.

"The University of Notre Dame does not discriminate on the basis of race/ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, disability, veteran status, or age in the administration of any of its employment, educational programs, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletics, recreational, and other school-administered programs."

The request was denied.

In a public statement on April 25th the university said the following.

"Notre Dame continues to be committed to non-discrimination and inclusion, as articulated in the "Spirit of Inclusion" statement and the University’s discriminatory harassment policy. While the wording of the University’s non-discrimination clause will remain in its current form, Notre Dame will strive to enhance awareness of existing practices and protections among students, faculty and staff. The avenues for reporting harassment and discrimination will be clarified, strengthened, and better publicized."

"The response from the public statement to the university was we’d really like to show more and show a firmer commitment," said Coccia.

The denial of the addition wasn’t the main reasoning to start-up the signatures, but the driving force was actually one student’s decision to transfer.

"In response to learning that one our classmates is leaving because he or she did not feel comfortable here and around his or her classmates, and so in response some of the student government leaders of the rising junior class decided to have these "Signatures of Solidarity"," said Coccia.

He said within 12 hours the statement got over one thousand signatures, and as of Friday evening it totaled 2,083.

Coccia wanted to make clear that this isn’t a petition, but a showing of support.

"This is a statement clearly from students for students and is really trying to affirm how we define our Notre Dame family," he added.

He said even though people may have different views, that they should all be able to ban together on one issue.

"Despite religious or even political differences, what we do agree on is the dignity that each human being is due and the fact that we have to stand in solidarity with each other," said Coccia.

The "Signatures of Solidarity" statement is as followed.

"As students of Notre Dame, we would like to extend some words of encouragement and solidarity to our fellow classmates. To the members of the LGBTQ community, and indeed, to any and all members of the Notre Dame community who feel rejected, neglected, or discriminated against in any way, we want you to know how much we care for you. We wish to use this letter to remind everyone that we are all members of the Notre Dame family — regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other factor. As members of that family, it is our honor and duty to stand behind you. Please, never ever forget that there are many here who love you and will do whatever it takes to make you feel at home. There are so many students that support you and want for Notre Dame to be a place of welcome for you. If you are feeling ostracized, we encourage you to reach out to us for anything you need. This is our home, and it should be a loving place for all to live. As students, what we say to one another is far more important than anything we could say to the administration or alumni about this issue. No matter what stance anyone else takes, know that everyone involved in this effort welcomes you on this campus and will do whatever it takes to make sure that we make this community one that each and every person feels that they are a part of."

Faculty and alumni have also started a separate list of signatures. Coccia said that list has grown to over a thousand.

In response to the request for a gay-straight alliance to officially be recognized as a club on campus, Notre Dame deferred the decision until the fall.

University spokesperson Dennis Brown said, "We won't have anything to add until we've had the opportunity to thoroughly review."

Notre Dame’s Nondiscrimination Clause:

http://www.nd.edu/~equity/diversity/Non-DiscriminationClause.shtml

 

Notre Dame’s Public Statement:

 

http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/30481-notre-dame-enhances-support-for-gay-and-lesbian-students/

 

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