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Notre Dame's Black Alumni start petition to end racism on campus

NOW: Notre Dame’s Black Alumni start petition to end racism on campus

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Members of Notre Dame's Black Alumni Association have started a petition to try and end racism on the university's campus. The petition currently has more than 11,000 signatures.

The petition started as a conversation among the school's Black Alumni on how to help bring change to their community.

"Initially, I just started a group chat for a bunch of us, threw a bunch of alumni in there, just to generally talk about ways to help the communities that we’re in," said Reed Hunnicutt, one of the petition's authors. 

The petition includes specific positive changes the group feels Notre Dame needs to bring to campus.

"I didn’t expect all of people from other races or any other identities in general to come with us and side with us," said Chioma Amuzie, another author of the petition. "It felt good to see that."

"Even people who weren’t Notre Dame related were saying we want you guys to have a better experience and I think that meant a lot to us because you don’t want to feel like we’re isolated when you’re going at this," said Hunnicutt.

The petition include stories from alumni and former staff about the negative experiences they had on campus.

"I brought serious concerns to those on leadership in regards to being singled out, being discriminated against, and then being retaliated against," said an employee who wanted to remain anonymous. 

"Many of us reported the incidents that we faced whether it was with NDPD or with our rector or professors and nothing happened with administration or we just ignored when we reported those things," said  Angelle Henderson, another author of the petition. 

"Some of these stories you wouldn’t expect to be allowed to happen on any campus without kids being expelled," said Hunnicutt.

The university says they have heard some of the outrage and concerns from these students and have been working to make changes.

"I agree that besides the school newspaper there maybe ways for me to communicate to the student community," said Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications Paul Browne.

"It’s important for us, which is why we came together to  create this petition is that, we’re not focused what happened or didn’t happen in the past. Now is the time to make some actionable change," said Trebor Goodall, another author of the petition.

Some of the changes listed in the petition include establishing an accountability board and having more transparency from the university when it does address racism or harassment. 

"I think seeing the process being as transparent as possible and ultimately seeing the person that was in offense receive reprimanding and repercussions for those actions would be something that would be really tangible and something that I would like to see on campus," said Henderson.

Other demands in the petition include a call for more representation in the schools administration and more diverse faculty members.

"These things could have been prevented if you had black people in power and positions that matter. On the president’s leadership council, out of 20 people there’s only one black person," said Goodall.

"Almost in relation to, I think this arose in the pandemic, in our mental health services area having more practitioners of color," said Browne.

The petition also calls for students and faculty to be educated on biases and microagressions that may be present on campus.

"That’s a form of racism that people engaging in it may not even recognize, so engaging in training, it start on that level and go up," said Browne.

"I think that universities are unsure which angles to attack first because there are so many angles that need to be attacked," said Amuzie.

Notre Dame's Black Alumni say they want to make it clear that it's the school's responsibility to make sure racism doesn't persist on the school's campus.

"We all want Notre Dame to be the best version of itself but at the same time we’re not asking that Notre Dame be anything that it hasn’t already said that it wants to be," said Hunnicutt. 

You can find the petition here.

Music for this story was provided by Bensound

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