OutreachND deserves recognition
Think, Question, Resist
Notre Dame will never be a family so long as injustice divides us. Many injustices tear at the fabric of our community, but one of the most hurtful is the University's discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
At our University, gay, lesbian and bisexual students operate on the fringes of acceptance. In good times, they are welcomed by the Standing Committee for Gay and Lesbian Student Needs, Campus Ministries, student government and their fellow students. However, they also face discrimination, harassment and must live knowing that their own activities could be censored at any time. This is because despite more than 20 years of unofficial existence, the University still refuses to recognize the student-run gay, lesbian and bisexual group, OutreachND and refuses to include sexual orientation in our non-discrimination clause.
Even if you have been here several years, you should be just as outraged as the first time you heard about this injustice.
I believe the administration's primary reason for not granting the group club status is that they believe that in the future one or more members of OutreachND may advocate views that contradict the teachings of the Church. Unfortunately the administration is making a terrible mistake since the acts of individual group members do not represent the views of their organization, unless the group's leadership claims they do. For instance, I advocate radical political views (many of which conflict with those of the Church) that are different from those of most members of the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) or Pax Christi. Holding either of these groups responsible for my views would not be fair. As organizations, OutreachND, the PSA and Pax Christi do not condone anyone violating the Church's teachings and that is how they should be judged.
Secondly, the administration may believe that it offers sufficient services to gay, lesbian and bisexual students and thus that there is no need for a student-run club. The fact that OutreachND has existed for over 20 years shows the truth that Notre Dame is far from providing adequate support for gay, lesbian and bisexual students. In fact, many of its gay, lesbian and bisexual programs rely upon OutreachND members to organize events, though the University refuses to share the credit.
Thirdly, I suspect that the primary unstated reason for not recognizing OutreachND is that the decision would be unpopular with conservative donors. In this case, the University is again mistaken, as it loses more donations in the end with its current approach. Campus gay rights activism will continue to make national news stories, embarrassing the University, until OutreachND is recognized.
On campus, students and faculty are overwhelmingly in support of recognition. The campus gay rights movements in the springs of 1995 and 1997, and 1998/1999 were particularly strong. For most of our community, it is obvious that discrimination is wrong and we show no sign of changing our minds.
If the administration wants to act to heal this divide in the Notre Dame family, it does not have to spend millions of dollars on a new initiative or tread into uncharted territory. It simply needs to take a small step and join more than 30 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States by recognizing a student-run gay, lesbian and bisexual group.
Unfortunately, for reasons that continue to baffle most students, the University will not take this action until it is confronted by an active student body demanding justice. If you disagree with the administration's decision, now is the time to come out and say so.
Aaron Kreider is a graduate student in the sociology department. He can be reached at email@example.com. His column appears every other Monday.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Viewpoint Stories for Monday, October 15, 2001