We Seek Change.

Jun 24, 2020

Dear Notre Dame Family and Club Leaders,

 

We seek change — in our alumni efforts, our campus, and in this country. But true change begins in our hearts.        

This is a crucial time in our nation and in the history of Notre Dame, as racially-biased, abhorrent behavior is discriminately killing our Black brothers and sisters — in body, mind, and spirit. The tipping point has been crossed. Enough! Enough of the systemic racism that plagues American society and its ill effects within the ND family. The time is NOW to stand for social justice and to take actions of inclusivity toward our diverse alumni.

More than 40 years ago, our beloved Fr. Ted Hesburgh took bold action to create diverse alumni boards, beginning with our Black alumni. But the alumni experience begins as a student. And, if the student experience is spoiled by racial discrimination, prejudices, or microaggressions, there is no interest in being engaged in the life of the University as an alumnus, fearing continued or similar unwelcome treatment in our Clubs.

 

Proximity breeds empathy and distance breeds suspicion. And reading this most recent petition online, from a collection of young Black alumni, this quote rings true and has now garnered the endorsement of more than 10,000 people, a number that continues to grow. This petition offers insight into the negative experiences of Black students on our campus, which should be embarrassing to us all, considering Fr. Sorin’s goal for ND to be “one of the most powerful means of doing good in this country.” Unfortunately, the same challenges apply for our Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and Native American students and alumni. While not every member of the campus community is guilty of engendering these negative experiences, lack of corrective action is unacceptable. We propose that Clubs be incentivized for driving diversity outreach and racial justice, and also propose a “no tolerance” system for unjust behavior.

 

Eight years ago, NDAA created the Diversity Council:

to represent a united voice on issues and interest of Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and Native American alumni of the University.
to collaborate with and support the work of the respective Diversity Boards of these ethnic groups through relationships with Notre Dame Clubs and Affinity groups (YoungND, Senior Alumni, ND Women Connect).
to support the University’s diversity goals.

 

What are you or your Club doing differently to welcome diverse alums to your local ND table?

 

Capitalize on the changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has fostered in our world. Use this time to virtually “learn, lament, and then lead” going forward. Make a statement of support for our Black alumni, then take action. These are hard times that merit soft hearts.

 

Do some or all of the following:

Commit to having a Diversity Coordinator in your Club, to aid your focus.
Host small “Listening Sessions” to support the healing of our Black and diverse alumni, to avail in empathy.
Use your influence as work, community, and Club leaders to speak and act against racial injustice.
Host roundtables with your Board to share immediate changes you can make toward racial inclusivity.
Commit this next year to be “All Things Diversity,” in relationships and activities.
Pray that God will change hearts, as needed, to be more welcoming, and then take action.
Learn about and share cultural history and practices of Catholicism/religion, by our various Diversity Board groups.
Review ClubHub for more diversity programming ideas.

The status quo is not acceptable. Our Diversity Regional Directors are your resources. We connect with the Club Diversity Coordinator and share programming ideas from the Diversity Boards, to attract more diverse alumni involvement. But without relationships, nothing will change.

And if your region or Club is devoid of diverse alumni, there are diverse topics on ThinkND, in books, movies, community presentations, and organizations — all for your enrichment to “Be a Force for Good.” Follow Jesus’ example. He taught us how to live in relationship with those similar and different from ourselves. And remember, others form opinions about Notre Dame based on the model we set by our actions.

In Acts 4:20, the apostles Peter and John said, “It is impossible for us to not speak about what we have seen and heard.” And they not only spoke but acted as called and commissioned by Jesus. We too, as the Notre Dame family, are called and commissioned by Jesus to act for justice.

What will you do?... What will you fight for?


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