2017 Newsletters

March 2017 Newsletter

Message from the Chair Jack Bergen ‘77

2017 is off with a bang!  It is an understatement to say that things have not been dull.  Both on-campus and around the US, there have been many opportunities to express our feelings (good or bad) about the current state of events.  Whether it’s a Women’s March, a LGBT rally or an event in support of immigrants, many of us have stood up to make our voices heard. I hope and trust that all students and alums remain safe and free from discrimination of any kind.

Coming up in April, we have an entire weekend planned on campus to hold the 2017 Thomas Dooley Award CelebrationDuring the weekend, we will be recognizing Kristen Matha SMC ’03 as the 2017 recipient of this prestigious award as well as having a special student/alumni reception. I hope to see many of you there!

I will also be making a second trek back to campus in June for my 40th reunion.  In between visits to the beer tent, Holly and I will be running the GALA reunion panels.  We are always looking for members to be part of the panels to share your stories.

Finally, I want to give a “shout out” to our community in New York City.  Through the leadership of a small core group of alums, the first ever regional chapter of GALA has been formed called GALA ND/SMC Club of NYC. They are already planning some great events.

Thomas Dooley Award Weekend – April 28th – 30th, 2017
Registration is Now Open

As was shared in a special newsletter in February, GALA-ND/SMC is proud to announce the recipient of the 2017 Thomas A. Dooley Award is Kristen Matha SMC ’03.  Kristen has made tremendous contributions to the LGBT community both at her alma mater Saint Mary’s College and through her work at the NCAA.

The award ceremony and dinner will be held Saturday evening April 29th at the ECK Visitor Center on Notre Dame’s campus (next to the ND Bookstore) starting at 6:30pm with an open bar reception.  This venue is a very unique facility on Notre Dame avenue and features a beautiful outside patio area for cocktails before dinner.  Registration for the award ceremony/dinner is now open.  Go to Dooley Weekend Celebration to sign up.

The weekend celebration will also include an Alumni/Student reception Friday night April 28th at the Morris Inn, a panel discussion with a theme of “Reconciling Religious Freedom with Civil Rights” on Saturday morning, an “after party” Saturday night and a prayer service/mass on Sunday morning.

Opposition to Mike Pence as Commencement Speaker

Alumni Reaction – As this newsletter goes to print, a letter was sent to Fr. Jenkins on behalf of the Notre Dame alumni LGBT community expressing our deepest sadness for the selection of Mike Pence as the 2017 commencement speaker.

To quote from the letter, “While Vice President Pence might be the “lesser of two evils”, and Notre Dame was “caught between a rock and a hard place” by inviting President Trump, we do not support this selection for commencement speaker.  In the end, he does not stand for the values that Our Lady has taught us of respect, diversity and inclusion for all humans.”

Student Reaction – Notre Dame’s students also responded swiftly by voicing their opposition to this decision.  As reported in the Observer Friday March 3rd, The executive board of the Diversity Council, a student group promoting “awareness, understanding and acceptance of all differences that make up the Notre Dame community,” released a statement expressing the group’s dissatisfaction with the University’s decision. “Our working definition of diversity spans, but is not limited to race, gender, ethnicity/culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and spirituality,” it said. “In the spirit of our mission, we are disappointed and angered by the University’s announcement of Vice President Mike Pence as the 172nd Commencement speaker.”

In addition, a group of students organized a fundraising effort to perform a massive “Flag Drop” to display hundreds of rainbow flags around campus.

As a show of unity with the LGBT community on campus, we encourage as many alums as possible to attend the Dooley Award Weekend and to see firsthand all the rainbow flags to be hung from dozens of buildings around campus.

Alumni Reunion Weekend at Both ND and SMC
June 1st – 4th, 2017

Panel Participants Needed!

Come reminisce with old friends and make some new ones back in South Bend.  Once again, GALA will be hosting a panel-style seminar on both ND & SMC campuses featuring alums and others sharing stories of LGBT life on campus.  If you are interested in participating on either of the panels, please contact Holly James at hoj056@utulsa.edu. .

GALA Officers Openings

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Treasurer and Vice-Chair for Program position have recently become open.  The term of these unfilled positions is through spring 2018.  Please consider helping out if you have the time (position description here).  Being an officer of GALA-ND/SMC is an opportunity to directly support the LGBT alumni and students of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College and help our community.  If interested, send an email to jack.bergen@yahoo.com.

GALA ND/SMC Club of New York City

GALA ND/SMC Club of New York CityAs of January 2017, the New York City metro area now has its own chapter of  GALA ND/SMC called GALA ND/SMC Club of New York CityThe NYC club is the first “regional” group to be established, and was formed as a result of the overwhelming support and engagement by members in the area.

The mission of the NYC Club, like the national organization, is to bring together NYC metro area LGBT alums and friends from Notre Dame & St Mary’s in fellowship and to provide a forum for social events, community service, professional networking, and student support.  The NYC Club will be led by a group of alumni volunteers whose goal is to provide programming that is fun, interesting and promotes camaraderie in this community.

The leadership committee consists of:

  • Edward Augustine ’87 (Co-chair)
  • Ron D’Angelo ’86 (Co-chair)
  • Liam Dacey ’04
  • John Flanagan ’93
  • Arlene Ortiz-Leytte ’08
  • Kevin Romero ’03
  • Martin van Koolbergen ’94
  • Jack Bergen ‘77 (Officer Liaison)

To kick things off, the club will be joining other Irish LGBT groups by marching in a St Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday March 5th sponsored by St Pat’s for All. The St. Pat’s for All parade celebrates the diversity of the Irish and Irish American communities of New York.  Our own Phil Donahue ’57 will be this year’s Grand Marshal.  A post-parade gathering is also being planned at one of the local Irish Pubs.

Fall Tailgater – Saturday September 30, 2017 – 5:00PM Kickoff  (ND vs. Miami of Ohio)

Once again GALA ND/SMC’s will be holding our annual football tailgater on campus, this year for the ND/Miami of Ohio game on September 30th.  Make sure to put it on your calendar and request tickets in the football lottery.  Stop by before the game to have some beverages and game-day munchies.  Last year over 30 students, alums and South Bend friends stopped by.

2017 Membership Drive – Join or Renew Now

Now that 2017 is kicked off, please consider becoming a “dues-paying” member of GALA ND/SMC.

  • Your dues provide support for student programs and leadership opportunities
  • Your dues assist with regional & campus events including the Tom Dooley Awards
  • Your dues allow the organization to advocate for LGBT issues on campus and help to maintain the website & online member directory

Also, consider one of the “enhanced membership levels” which automatically allocate a portion of the annual membership to the LGBT Student Scholarship Fund.

Notre Dame Day – April 23rd & 24th, 2017

Once again Notre Dame will be holding a 24-hour celebration in April called Notre Dame Day For the past two years, many GALA members contributed to PrismND, the official LGBTQ student organization, by everyone donating just $10! Let’s try to outdo ourselves this year!  Keep an eye out for the communication from ND and look for our postings on Facebook for the link to contribute.