During the first week of October, three of GALA-ND/SMC's officers
visited the Notre Dame and Saint Mary's campuses. The visit coincided
with the ND-Stanford football weekend, but was structured as a working
trip for GALA Chair Tom O'Brien '86 and Secretary Liam Dacey '04.
Below is an update letter from Tom O'Brien about the campus visit:
I try to make it back to campus every year or so for a game and to
catch-up with friends, this year’s trip to South Bend in early October
was a different sort of homecoming. It was my first as Chair of GALA;
and while it was nice to see the Irish win a game and celebrate at the
GALA tailgater (thanks as always to Tim Hennessey and Ed May for
hosting!), the focus of the visit was on fulfilling GALA’s mission,
which includes improving communication with University and College
officials; and increasing the visibility of gay and lesbian alumni at
Notre Dame, Saint Mary's, and nationwide.
I was joined by Vice
Chair Steven Saftig and Secretary Liam Dacey. (We left treasurer Mike
August at home to revamp the website.) We held meetings with Chuck
Lennon, Executive Director of the Alumni Association; Sr. Sue Dunn,
Assistant Vice-President for Student Affairs and Co-Chair of the Core
Council for Gay and Lesbian Students; Mary Porter, Faculty Advisor to
the Saint Mary’s Straight and Gay Alliance (SAGA); members of the
Career Center and Business school; and student representatives at both
the undergraduate and graduate levels.
I am pleased to report
that the meetings were productive; and I believe that we accomplished
the goal of raising our profile on campus and improving the lines of
communication with university officials. While GALA and the university
still do not agree on two of our primary objectives - adding sexual
orientation to Notre Dame’s non-discrimination clause and formal
recognition of the student group OutreachND - the welcome we received
was sincere. We left with some specific “To Do” items that reflect not
only a willingness to work together but also what I believe to be a
real change in the way Notre Dame views its GLBT students and alumni.
These action items include
- Hosting a 2009 webinar in
conjunction with the Career Center, the Business School, and the Alumni
Association on the topic of “Being out on the job market and in the
work place.” The seminar is scheduled for January 22. It is part of a
“Diversity in the Workplace” series which includes a diversity
reception at the university’s Winter Career and Internship Fair. I
think this is an indication that major employers are serious about
including GLBT students when they recruit, and that they expect
colleges and universities to be as inclusive with their own career
- Putting together a panel on the gay
family as part of reunion weekend 2009. This is something that GALA
has done in the past; and we are looking at planning other activities
that would make homecoming more of an event weekend for GALA.
opportunities to work with ND’s regional alumni networks, building upon
activities like the recent “Dining Diversity” which involved the Notre
Dame Club of San Francisco and GALA. (See www.galandsmc.org for a report from Steven on the event.)
speakers and other activities on Saint Mary’s campus. Our organization
serves alumni of both ND and SMC but we have not always done a good job
of attracting and retaining female members from Saint Mary’s or Notre
Dame. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Saint Mary’s has already
adopted a non-discrimination clause that includes sexual orientation.
We should learn from that experience; and that is only possible with
active participation from both campuses. This includes alumni as well
as faculty and current students.
And speaking of students,
let me add that as alumni, we all should be proud of the current
leaders on campus. Steven, Liam, Michael and I have all been impressed
by the courage, character and commitment of the members of OutreachND,
the Core Council, and the Progressive Student Alliance. It was clear
by the results from the recent GALA survey that our membership believes
one of our primary functions is to support the current students. They
make it so much easier to stay engaged as graduates when you see all of
their efforts, particularly with regard to the non-discrimination
clause. We will continue to support them in these efforts.
students are the principle reason I returned from South Bend even more
committed to GALA and our goals. Is the university where we want it to
be with regard to its GLBT family members? No. Is there reason to
believe that continued engagement will help? I honestly think so. The
partnership with the Career Center on the Webinar is one indication.
this and other programs develop, we will need your assistance. If you
are interested in sharing your workplace experiences as part of the
webinar, please contact me at email@example.com.
One thing that could grow out of this is a job shadowing or mentoring
network for graduates moving to new areas of the country.
will be using our new website to share information on all of our
activities. I hope you will take the time to visit www.galandsmc.org
and check it out. Renew your membership so that you can take advantage
of the Members Only section which includes GALA’s directory. Mike
August has done yeoman’s work on this and deserves all our thanks.
hope is that a dynamic website reflects a dynamic organization. We are
more than 900 members strong, representing all parts of the country and
graduating classes that stretch from 1945 through 2009. You will be
hearing from us and from the regional coordinators about ways to become
involved both locally and at the national level. If you look at our
agenda of activities and have suggestions for others that you think
GALA should be involved in, let us know. The work matters; and we want
you to be a part of it.
Tom O'Brien '86