Letter from the GALA ND/SMC Officers and Board – July 4, 2017

Re: Response from the Notre Dame Alumni Association on the Inclusion of LGBT Alumni Affinity Group

Notre Dame LGBT Alumni And Friends,

In April 2014, GALA ND/SMC, on behalf of all Notre Dame LGBT alumni and friends, requested official recognition from the Notre Dame Alumni Association (NDAA) in a letter to Dolly Duffy, its Executive Director. As a part of official recognition, we requested the same rights, privileges and support provided all other ND Alumni Diversity Groups representing Black, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific and Native American alumni. In making our request, we highlighted several major reasons for inclusion:

  • The University has made much progress toward the LGBT community in many places except for LGBT alumni.
    • It has reconciled its Catholic identity and support for LGBT individuals through the Spirit of Inclusion.
    • In 2013, it recognized an LGBT student group PrismND.
    • Recently, it gave permission for the establishment of Spectrum, an LGBT employee resource group.
  • Our group’s mission, of engaging fellow alums and helping students, is exactly aligned with the core principles of the NDAA and the diversity alumni affinity groups.
  • In the top 20 ranked universities, 18 out of 19 of Notre Dame’s peer schools have a formal relationship with their LGBT alumni. Notre Dame, which prides itself on being a leader, is woefully behind its peer institutions.
  • During the Year of Mercy Pope Francis called for the Church to be more inclusive and to reach out to all Catholics wishing to be part of the institution.
  • It’s just time.

Since then, many discussions have taken place with ND alumni leadership. In addition, the University conducted an external “best practices” evaluation to review the NDAA structure and the services it provides. GALA members participated in that external review, and in it we shared benchmark data from our peer schools. At the time, it seemed like a “no brainer,” given how overwhelmingly far behind Notre Dame is in comparison to its peer schools.

Unfortunately, the head of the ND Alumni Association very recently (April 2017), verbally informed our Chair that Notre Dame will not be granting our group’s request to have the University’s LGBT Alumni group, GALA ND/SMC, recognized as an official, affiliated group.

Because of the protracted length of time it took to reach this decision, and because we would like to share with you the rationale and the decision process for the decision, we have asked Dolly Duffy for a full, written explanation, including how the decision was reached–especially in light of the acceptance of other LGBT-related groups within the University. Once this additional information is provided, we will share it with all members.

In the meantime, we will continue to look for ways to provide programming for LGBT alums both though the University and GALA ND/SMC. We encourage everyone to become more involved in your regional ND Alumni Clubs, requesting events directed toward the LGBT alumni community, and asking them to partner with GALA ND/SMC.

We have expressed our deepest disappointment at this decision and have requested additional dialogue.

What next steps is GALA ND/SMC taking?

  • We have sent the letter to Dolly Duffy asking for a formal, written response to our request of 3 years ago.
  • We are preparing a communication to the incoming NDAA Board, which is to be installed July 1, 2017. This will inform the entire board of our request, the current status and the value of a more formal relationship with the school’s LGBT alumni.
  • Following the communication to the full NDAA board, we will distribute a press release to make the situation known to a wider audience.
  • We will keep members updated with feedback from the NDAA leadership and board.
  • Once the press release is sent, we will let GALA members know where it has appeared, and ask you then to follow up with your own thoughts and comments to those publications to ensure the greatest impact.

What can you do now as an LGBT alum, friend or ally?

  • Share what has happened, and your thoughts, with fellow alumni, friends and allies via the GALA Facebook page and all the other ways you communicate with other GALA members, alums, friends, family and allies.
  • We encourage you to direct any donations normally made to the University to the GALA ND/SMC LGBT Student Scholarship Fund. Tax-deductible donations made to this fund go to help deserving LGBT students at both Notre Dame & Saint Mary’s afford the $65,000+ annual cost.

Please share with us, the Officers and Board of GALA, your ideas and suggestions for promoting the acceptance of GALA as a legitimate member organization of the full Notre Dame community.


The GALA ND/SMC Officers and Board