Monday, March 5, 2012

a spirit of inclusion (?)

As you are probably well aware, fried chicken parts were recently placed in the mailboxes of the Black Student Association (BSA) and the African Student Association (ASA) here at Notre Dame. Though I see this as low, crude, and quite frankly shocking considering it’s the 21st century, I am not writing about my personal response. Rather, I want you to consider the university’s response. An e-mail was sent out alerting campus about this hate crime, the story was covered in the Observer, and a town hall meeting was held tonight to address this incident and the greater social context from which it came.  I applaud the university on its response, and I think these steps should be taken. The university’s official statement, quoted in the Observer, said that "These acts of harassment are a clear violation of University policy, unacceptable in every way, and will not be tolerated on our campus.” I think it is great that the University is taking the situation seriously and making its point clear.

But now I want you to consider another situation, one that is hypothetical but not unthinkable given the situation just described. What if there was rotten fruit placed in the mailbox of Core Council? Would the university promptly address the student body, have an article written up, and address the occurrence at an open meeting? Sadly, I think I have to answer this with a no. The university’s actions regarding the BSA and ASA are in accord with the mission statement, which claims 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.” But the mission statement is SILENT about sexual orientation. It follows, then, that the university would not follow the same procedures for my hypothetical situation as it did for the real situation at hand. Yet both acts are equally vulgar and discriminatory. To put it frankly, the university is stupid for not including sexual orientation in the spirit of inclusion. Our GLBTQ classmates, roommates, and friends are no less human than the rest of the student population, and they deserve to be treated with the same degree of care and respect. One of the goals of the Four-to-Five movement is to change this spirit of inclusion to include sexual orientation. We are not asking the University to condone gay marriage or homosexual relationships, for that matter. We are merely asking that the university recognize all human INDIVIDUALS, whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or straight, to be treated as such, to be promised to receive equal love, respect, and protection as ALL Notre Dame students should in a place where they are supposed to call home. THIS inclusive love is what Christianity is all about, and in not realizing this, the university acts in a way that contradicts its own teachings.

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