Catholic college campuses are one sector of our church where there has been tremendous discussion, growth, and development on LGBT topics. New Ways Ministry’s “Gay-Friendly Catholic College List” contains about half of the Catholic colleges in the country (our definition of “gay-friendly” is that they have some visible program, policy, or organization that is supportive of LGBT people).
Noticeably absent from this list are two of the premier Catholic campuses in the country: The Catholic University of America (CUA), Washington, DC, and the University of Notre Dame (UND), South Bend, Indiana. However, I’m betting those absences won’t last much longer thanks to the efforts of two very effective campus leaders at these schools.
CUA’s Ryan Fecteau and UND’s Alex Coccia, both sophomores, have been working patiently and steadfastly with other students and the administrations to have their schools officially recognize student-run gay-straight alliances on each campus. At CUA, Fecteau is working with other students in CUAllies, and at UND, Coccia’s efforts have been through the 4 to 5 Movement. Bondings 2.0 has already reported on the partnership that these two schools have formed to strengthen each effort. Since then, both campuses have had some successful steps toward gaining official recognition.
The Tower, CUA’s student newspaper reported recently that
“. . . a resolution sponsored by senior Robert Shine was brought before the Student Association General Assembly (SAGA) in support of making CUAllies an official student organization. When SAGA voted on the resolution on February 22, CUAllies won the assembly’s support 20 to 3.
“Opposing votes were due to conflict of politics and concerns why the organization was previously denied official recognition.
“ ‘SAGA voted to support the creation of the student organization CUAllies as they create and foster a safe, welcoming, and affirming environment for all students on campus,’ said Leslie Martin, SAGA speaker.
The Observer, UND’s student newspaper reported
“In a push for improved inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) members of the Notre Dame community, the Faculty Senate passed two resolutions Tuesday, one supporting a gay-straight alliance and the other proposing adding sexual orientation to the University’s non-discrimination clause. . . .
“Faculty Senate chair Morten Eskildsen said the group decided to address the two resolutions due to outside support of the measures. . . .
“During Tuesday’s meeting, Eskildsen said there was a ‘clear majority’ in favor of passing the resolutions. He said there seems to be strong support among Notre Dame faculty for advancing LGBTQ rights on campus.
” ‘The documents brought forward show really that this was the right thing to do. Overall, people felt that gays and lesbians who were feeling sort of left out or marginalized, there was a desire to try and improve their situation,’ he said. ‘That was the main sentiment of those arguing in favor of the resolutions.’ “
On HuffingtonPost.com, Shane Windmeyer reported on a new campaign that UND’s 4 to 5 Coalition has instituted:
“On Tuesday, Feb. 28, campus community members of the University of Notre Dame released a video on YouTube called ‘It Needs to Get Better – A Message from the 4 to 5 Movement.’ Emboldened by the It Gets Better Project, the message is part of a campus initiative encouraging college students to speak out that is based on the notion that four out of five college-age students (18 to 30 years old) support the general civil rights package for LGBT people.”
The South Bend Tribune story on the UND activity noted that the YouTube video has already received 18,000 views. You can watch it here:
To help spread the news of their efforts beyond their campuses,both CUAllies and the 4 to 5 Movement will have an exhibit table at New Ways Ministry’s Seventh National Symposium, From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships, March 15-17, Baltimore. In addition, Fecteau will be leading a Symposium “Open Space” session for those under 30, entitled “Dorms, Lectures, and All-Nighters.”
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry