Student Support

One of GALA ND/SMC’s mission is to provide support to the LGBT student communities at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.  Support can be in many forms.  One way is via our group providing monetary assistance to help defray the cost of student events.  Another is by leveraging our alumni network allowing members to contribute their time and experience to help students succeed on campus and/or through networking for career advice.  All members are encouraged to think about how they might be able to help LGBT students.

Linkedin – GALA has a Linkedin group for professional networking purposes.  This is a closed group, which requires approval by the group admin or an invitation from an existing member.  Also, visibility can be set to “private” so other Linkedin users will not see your membership in the group.  Students & alumni are both encouraged to join the group and reach out to members:  GALA LinkedIn Group.

GALA ND/SMC Response to Observer Editorial – April, 2018

The following “letter to the editor” was published in the Observer on April 18, 2018 in support of the University allowing PrismND (and the LGBT student community) greater freedom and flexibility to express themselves on campus.  The original Observer Editorial was published on April 13, 2018 called: Don’t just include, protect.

GALA ND/SMC, the LGBT Alumni/ae affinity group for Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, adds its voice in support of the Observer Editorial, “Don’t just include, protect.” Over the past year, a number of significant events at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and the broader Catholic Church have called into question their commitment to either inclusion or protection. Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s must take serious, meaningful action to end their backsliding on LGBTQ issues.

We were shocked and saddened by the December USCCB open letter regarding transgender individuals, which calls for “compassion” but denies that transgender people should be allowed to live their authentic lives. We found ourselves similarly disheartened by a recent speaker at Saint Mary’s, who compared the transgender experience to self-harming mental illness, rather than a part of personhood that can be authentically lived.

GALA-ND/SMC, representing Notre Dame’s LGBT alumni, is not officially recognized by the Notre Dame Alumni Association despite our formal request, but we feel that our mission compels us to speak up in support of LGBTQ students currently at the University. For a parent leaving their child in the care of the University, these developments would seriously call into question whether their student could actually be safe in a place that may not support them living openly in their identity.

Furthermore, we join the Editorial Board of The Observer in its concerns about the institutional framework that prevents change on campus. While GALA-ND/SMC has provided broad support over the past decade — for example, fundraising for last year’s flag drop, and providing a venue for an LGBTQ dance that PrismND had been discouraged from sponsoring — the inability of students to fund or organize for their own priorities, despite this being the express purpose of creating a student organization, calls into question the effectiveness of the University’s response.

These trends at Notre Dame and in the broader institutional Church are concerning. With the creation of the Pastoral Plan in 2013, Notre Dame committed itself to “an environment of welcome and mutual respect” where gays and lesbians “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” Despite their omission in this section of the Pastoral Plan, we are certain this standard applies to transgender students as well.

Much has happened beyond the campus boundaries since the Pastoral Plan was created five years ago, but if anything, Notre Dame’s voice on LGBTQ issues has quieted. We support an institutional response that removes the de facto practice of restricting LGBTQ student voices and activism that ends the culture of silence or outright rejection from major academic departments that allows this to persist. Until then, we hope students know that generations of alumni stand together and say to every LGBTQ student that you are authentic and you are loved.

In Notre Dame,

The Officers of GALA ND/SMC

Ram Ballesteros ’09, Bryan Rickets ’16, Morgan Benson ’14, Andrea Green ’11 

St Mary’s LGBTQ Resource Fair – Thursday February 8, 2018 5:30pm – Rice Commons

GALA ND/SMC Scholarship recipient Sushi Le SMC ’20, as part of her scholarship community service project, has partnered with Saint Mary’s College’s Sexuality and Gender Alliance Club (SAGA) to host a LGBTQ Resource Fair.  The purpose of the event is to allow students and members of the South Bend Community the opportunity to get to know the LGBTQ/Ally organizations, groups, and individuals who provide resources and serve the local community. The event is free and open to the public.

For more info, go to:  Saint Mary’s LGBTQ Resource Fair.


GALA ND/SMC Reaction to Mike Pence Named 2017 Commencement Speaker

The following letter was sent to Fr. John Jenkins on March 2, 2017 following the University’s announcement of Mike Pence as the 2017 commencement speaker.

Fr. Jenkins,

On behalf of the LGBT alumni of the University of Notre Dame, we wish to express our deepest sadness with your choice of speaker for the 2017 commencement ceremonies.

For many years, Vice President Pence as Governor of the state of Indiana, has demonstrated his intense opposition to the LGBT community. He has advocated and voted repeatedly to restrict and/or to remove rights of LGBT individuals. He has express views that are totally without merit such as “being gay is a choice”, that allowing gays in the military is a “social experiment”, that gays can be “converted” into being straight and most recently approved legislation to allow discrimination based on religious beliefs.

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.

Respectively Yours,

Jack Bergen ‘77

Chair – GALA ND/SMC (LGBT Alumni Group of Notre Dame & Saint Mary’s)


Winter Career and Internship Fair and Diversity & Inclusion Reception – February 2017



The Notre Dame Career Center is sponsoring a Winter Career and Internship Fair on February 1, 2017.  This fair offers a wide variety of opportunities and industries for students to explore. Undergraduate and graduate students from all colleges and majors are encouraged to attend.  The event also provides employers who understand the value of seeking out and recruiting “diversity-affiliated” students.


GALA ND/SMC, for the first time, is partnering with the ND Career Center to help students prepare for this event.  Along with resources from on-campus diversity support groups, students will be coached prior to the career fair on ways to approach potential employers and suggestions to look for companies that offer a friendly, receptive or inclusive workplace.  The student “prep” session is taking place Tuesday evening January 24th on the ND campus.

We are looking for several alumni to participate in this “prep” event.  Your role would be to speak to students describing what it is like to be “out in the workplace”, share your experiences in looking for a place to work, and the ways to see if a potential company may be “LGBT friendly”.  The audience would be a small group of students with the ability to talk one-on-one after the formal portion.  Wouldn’t you have appreciated someone coaching you through this process?  Now is your chance to give back and help a student find an inviting environment to start their career in.

If interesting in this unique opportunity, contact Jack Bergen at