Parietals fight sends students camping
By JASON McFARLEY
Paul Graham knows demonstrations can be a powerful tool. And he's hoping this one will be.
Graham and two other Notre Dame students are rallying student support for a campus-wide campout to take place on South Quad tonight. The event comes in response to Campus Life Council's April 23 defeat of a resolution that would extend parietals from midnight to 1 a.m during the week.
"I think it's about time that we get together and say, `Hey, we disapprove of this," Graham said of parietals, the policy regulating visiting hours between members of the opposite sex.
The hours currently prohibit the presence by the opposite sex in residence hall rooms after midnight on weekdays and past 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Organizers, including sophomores Graham and Seth Whetzel and junior Michael Pfaff, are optimistic about a favorable turnout for tonight's campout.
"By coming out in here in full numbers, hopefully hall rectors and administrators will take notice that [the parietals measure] is something that's important to students," Graham said.
Last week, CLC members voted 10-6 in favor of pushing the visiting hours back to midnight. The measure fell a vote short of the majority needed for passage. Voting on the resolution was sharply divided; dissenting votes came from rectors and the lone administrator on the council, Bill Kirk, assistant vice president for student affairs.
The CLC approved a proposal that called for parietals to end at 9 each morning. Opposite-sex visiting currently begins at 10 a.m.
On Friday, those connected with the protest distributed more than 1,500 fliers promoting the event. The fliers urge students to bring their sleeping bags for a campout near the flagpole on South Quad tonight beginning around 10 p.m..
The fliers also make arguments for extending parietals, citing unfavorable comments from CLC members.
The double-sided sheets contain a quote from Kirk allegedly calling the resolution "tyranny of the majority."
Another passage reads: "Clearly, the administration doesn't respect student opinions, rights and input. Instead, it sees itself as the student body's parents, but it acts more as a dictator — always serving its own interests."
In bold all-capital letters, the fliers urge students to "show the administration that we do have a voice … and a backbone. Hell, come for fun."
While the Office of the Student Body President is not affiliated with the protest, student government officials said they support the campout's purpose.
"We are not organizing this, but as students we would like to offer our support to enforce what students believe in," said Brooke Norton, student body president.
Both Norton and Brian Moscona, student body vice president, said Sunday that they plan to attend the sleepout as individuals not associated with student government.
"Parietals add to the problems we have with gender issues on this campus," said freshman Amanda Hughes, who helped distribute fliers Friday. "It would be nice if you had an extra hour of study time through the week."
In March, the Student Senate conducted a survey that polled student opinion on changing parietals hours. Of 3,038 respondents, 2,429 — about 80 percent — were in favor of extending parietals past midnight during the week.
Kirk, who voted against the parietals resolution last week, has agreed to tonight's protest.
As assistant vice president for student affairs, Kirk was responsible for considering organizers' request to hold the campout. Du Lac, the University's guide to student life, gives Kirk discretion in permitting on-campus leafletting and demonstrations.
In an April 26 e-mail to Graham, Pfaff and Whetzel, Kirk approved the leafleting and the campout but made organizers aware that "tents, structures, furnishings and amplified sound will not be permitted and that all participants in the demonstration will be expected to conduct themselves in accordance with University regulations.
Kirk approved the activities on the grounds that the demonstration be orderly and demonstrators not impede the freedom of the University community.
Graham said he's encouraging students to be mindful of the rules governing the campout.
"We're emphasizing that there can be no alcohol and no tents. It would ruin the spirit of the protest and the mission behind it," Graham said. "Besides, the purpose of the event is to gather students peacefully together so we can all get united behind this one cause."
Protestors will begin unrolling their sleeping bags at 10 p.m. tonight on South Quad. The camp out wraps up around 10 a.m. Tuesday.
All News Stories for Monday, April 30, 2001