Notre Dame will invest $6.5 million in campus energy conservation measures over the next two years, University president Fr. John Jenkins and Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves announced last week. The initiative, known as Energy Conservation Measures II, will focus on improving lighting, heating and cooling in 55 campus buildings, according to a press release from the Office of Sustainability. It will target buildings that have the most opportunities for saving energy, Rachel Novick, education and outreach program manager for the Office of Sustainability, said. “The University has been working on efficiency renovations in several buildings, so this is the next step in that process,” Novick said. “It’s part of the continuous process of finding opportunities to save energy on campus, and changes will be implemented right away.” Novick said a major focus of the new initiative is improving lighting both indoors and outdoors, and this goal will be reflected in the upcoming transition to high-efficiency fluorescent lighting in buildings and the replacement of over 100 outdoor lampposts with LED lights. Additionally, LED lights will power exit signs and new lampposts installed on campus. The initiative will also include the improvement of the heating and cooling systems on campus. Novick said many of the currently are old fashioned and energy-consuming systems will be replaced with adjustable systems that use less energy. “There are a lot of opportunities to improve efficiency behind the scenes,” Novick said. “For instance, the pumps and motors that run chemical equipment on campus will be replaced with higher efficiency models.” Novick also said the University’s utilities department is conducting a careful analysis of the fume hoods used in laboratories on campus. “Most people don’t know that the hoods use a huge amount of energy,” Novick said. “There is an opportunity to reduce the amounts of air used in the hoods, which would decrease energy consumption.” While the ultimate goal of making campus as energy-efficient as possible reflects the environmental consciousness of the University, Novick maintains that the $6.5 million initiative is a worthwhile financial investment. “It’s really important that the University as a Catholic institution reduces its environmental footprint,” Novick said. “But it’s also a great investment because all the money put into the initiative will come back in the form of energy savings in six or seven years.” Novick said the initiative is projected to yield over $1 million in annual energy savings and reduce campus carbon dioxide emissions by 14,900 tons each year, and the investment will eventually benefit students beyond simply conserving energy. “The energy savings will lower the University’s overhead, which will allow them to provide more services to students by paying less energy bills,” Novick said. “This investment makes a lot of sense.” Although the initiative includes several small-scale projects, Novick said the combined effects would accumulate. “Each individual project and building is a relatively small slice of the initiative, but it all really adds up,” Novick said.
Notre Dame released a statement Thursday in which it said it thoroughly investigates every sexual misconduct allegation, adheres to student privacy laws and does not tolerate sexual misconduct, in response to complaints directed at the University. “Sexual misconduct is unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Notre Dame,” the statement said. “The unfortunate reality is that sexual misconduct is a serious issue at colleges and universities across the country, and we are not immune.” The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) delayed the investigation of a sexual assault allegation that a Saint Mary’s College student filed in September against a male Notre Dame student. The Tribune cited the student and her family’s disappointment with the University’s investigation. The Tribune also compared the case to that of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg, a Saint Mary’s student who committed suicide in September, nine days after reporting a sexual assault allegation against a Notre Dame athlete to NDSP. Seeberg’s parents expressed disappointment with the University in a December interview with the Chicago Tribune, but Notre Dame and University President Fr. John Jenkins have said the investigation had integrity. “We regret that some are critical of our handling of sexual misconduct allegations, and we understand the pain these families are experiencing,” Notre Dame’s Thursday statement said. “At the same time, we stand behind the thoroughness, integrity and objectivity of our investigations, as well as the services available to students who are subjected to sexual misconduct.” NDSP works with the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office, Special Victims Unit and other area police departments throughout sexual misconduct investigations, according to the statement. “Notre Dame takes very seriously its obligation to thoroughly investigate every allegation of sexual misconduct, particularly in light of the gravity, complexity and sensitivity of these cases,” the statement said. University spokesman Dennis Brown said the University is working with the U.S. Department of Education to review its policies on sexual misconduct allegations. “We’re working with the department on an overall review of our policies,” he said. “This review is unrelated to any specific case.” The University does not release information about investigations, according to the statement, because it follows the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects students’ education records, grades and disciplinary histories. “However, beyond the limitations imposed by FERPA, it is Notre Dame’s long-held belief and policy that our students deserve certain degrees of privacy as part of the educational process, and we have stood by that principle, even in the face of the criticism that might invite,” the statement said. According to the statement, sexual misconduct cases are particularly complicated on college campuses, when the students involved are usually acquaintances and alcohol is often a factor. “The University works tirelessly on many fronts to combat sexual misconduct — by holding students to the highest of behavioral standards, providing victims and survivors with the resources they need, offering an array of education and prevention programs and promoting an environment of respect that honors the human dignity of each person,” the statement said.
“I think especially when it’s songs that everyone knows and we’re all singing at the same time, we’re all a community, and it feels cool to be a part of that,” she said. “It was awesome to have a game on my birthday,” she said. “And it was really fun to share my birthday with Angela. We called every touchdown a birthday touchdown for us and I got to go up for 28 push-ups.” “There were definitely still some sloppy plays, but there is always room for improvement,” she said. “I think the team definitely pulled themselves back together after being shaken up by USC last week and started playing like it was our game, not someone else’s. It was great to see us converting on third downs and driving the ball well.” “It was more toned-down,” Sullivan said. “I was worried that it would take away from the band, and I like the tradition that we have, but I think they did a better job this time.” “I thought they did a really good job with it this weekend. ‘Crazy Train’ was fun, but it got played a little too much [at the USC game],” he said. “I thought they did a great job of mixing it up this weekend. It got everyone pumped.” Andruszkiewicz said she thought the game went very well overall. “It was pretty much a perfect game for me because it was my 20th birthday,” Ryck said. “My family was here — my parents and my sister and a few friends.” “It was pretty much a perfect game for me because it was my 20th birthday,” Ryck said. “My family was here — my parents and my sister and a few friends.” Winning was a great birthday present, Andruszkiewicz said. “It was awesome to have a game on my birthday,” she said. “And it was really fun to share my birthday with Angela. We called every touchdown a birthday touchdown for us and I got to go up for 28 push-ups.” Junior Joe Thomas said the Oct. 23 loss to USC lowered his expectations for the season but did not make him especially concerned about Saturday’s game against Navy. For junior Angela Ryck and sophomore Eily Andruszkiewicz, Notre Dame’s 56-14 victory over Navy was particularly special because it was also their birthdays. Thomas said he was pleased the Irish scored so many points but thinks the team still needs to improve. “I think we needed this game against a not very legitimate offense,” Thomas said. “I would have been a lot more concerned if they weren’t an option offense that I know we can stop.” Andruszkiewicz said she thought the game went very well overall.well.”stop.”vulnerable.”pumped.”time.”Rague said she liked the music a lot. “I’ve always thought the key to success in a football team is having a steady quarterback, and we still haven’t made a decision there,” he said. “We’re a solid chunk through the season and I think that’s what’s holding us back. The quarterback is the leader on the field and if we feel like the quarterback could be pulled at any time, everyone feels more vulnerable.” Junior Kelly Sullivan said she wasn’t sure if she liked the music but thought it was better than it was at the USC game. The music played over the loudspeakers was a nice touch, Thomas said. Sophomore Lisa Rague said she liked the music a lot. Winning was a great birthday present, Andruszkiewicz said.
With blonde hair and blue eyes, Barbie seems like an all-American girl next door — but behind the plastic doll lies a mysterious past and a troubling message, according to Terri Russ. Russ, a communication studies professor at Saint Mary’s College, outlined the truth behind Barbie’s life and her impact on women in her lecture “Barbie — Love Her, Hate Her, Who Cares?!” on Thursday evening in the Saint Mary’s Student Center. “[Barbie] is this really interesting toy,” Russ said. “She’s been around for well over 50 years now … [but] even though she’s a doll, she … represents more than that. Clearly, she’s part of our cultural understanding of a lot of things.” Barbie, whose full name is Barbie Millicent Roberts, is a teenager with an interest in fashion. She hails from a make-believe town in Illinois where she lives with her architect father and stay-at-home mother, Russ said. The story behind Barbie’s creation is guarded closely by her manufacturer Mattel, , Russ said. “One of the things [Mattel] has … done is been very protective of what the public knows and doesn’t know about Barbie,” she said. “One of the ways we see that play out is in terms of the creation of Barbie.” Mattel advertises that Barbie was named for the daughter of her creator, Russ said. However, there are other possible stories of Barbie’s creation. “[One] story is that Ruth Handler, the woman who we think came up with the idea of Barbie, wanted to design a doll for her daughter, Barb, so that her daughter and her friends could practice being an adult in play and make believe,” Russ said. At that time, the only other popular dolls on the market were made of paper, she said. Handler wanted to enrich her daughter’s playtime, so she turned to another doll on the market for inspiration — a highly sexualized German fashion doll named Lilli. “Lilli was a sex toy doll marketed to men in Germany and other places in Europe,” Russ said. “So, you can kind of tell why Mattel would want that [sanitized].” The second story, Russ said, starts with a man named Jack Ryan — an engineer employed in the defense industry. “After World War II, the defense industry kind of went downhill, so [Ryan] needed to find something to do,” Russ said. “He was really good with plastics, so he went to work for Mattel.” Some believe Ryan’s interests dictated the appearance of Barbie, Russ said. “Jack was kind of like the Hugh Hefner of his time,” she said. “He had a preference for thin, blonde women with big boobs. The story is that he designed Barbie.” However, Russ said most Barbie scholars believe the true creation story is a blending of the two. Beyond mystery surrounding Barbie’s creation, the doll also has a powerful effect on the lives of little girls around the world. “[Barbie] is this idea of little girls getting to practice being a woman, and they do that by buying Barbie,” Russ said. “But, buying Barbie is never enough, because she only comes with one outfit, and the whole purpose of Barbie is to dress her up. To do that, you have to buy more outfits, and all the accessories.” This constant need to purchase Barbie accessories instills consumer behavior in girls, Russ said. “As we know from other research, that whole consumer identity continues in other forms,” she said. “We’re marketed that we can improve ourselves if we buy the right product. That presents this really interesting phenomenon.” Despite Mattel’s idea that Barbie should inspire girls to pursue careers as doctors, teachers, dentists and more, there is a strange reality left out of this empowering thought, Russ said. “It’s interesting, because we’re supposed to view Barbie to help us be anything we want to be as a girl, but it’s very controlled by Mattel,” Russ said. “If you think about all the careers Barbie has been, which is a lot, there’s also a lot of things she hasn’t been.” Barbie has never been a professor, single mom or other realities women face, Russ said. “If [Barbie] is supposed to represent what it’s like to be grown up as a woman, it presents a very narrow view, not just physically, but holistically,” she said. Russ said Barbie’s physique creates an ideal body that is unrealistic. “We’re not going to find anyone who even comes close to looking like Barbie,” Russ said. “Even if they are blonde and thin, still nobody can really look like Barbie. She’s just completely unreal. I mean, hopefully no one has feet like that.” In fact, she’s creating a body image paradox that is not ideal, Russ said. “While we all know Barbie is just a doll and she’s unrealistic, there’s still that part of us that asks, ‘Well, what if? What if I could do that?” she said. “There is this ambivalence. We love her, but we know we shouldn’t love her, but we don’t really hate her, and she’s hard to hate. She’s a doll.” Despite Barbie setting unrealistic physical standards, mysterious career paths and disjointed thought paradoxes, Russ said Barbie does not have to be hated. “Nothing … is good in excess and nothing is good in a vacuum. It needs to be contextualized,” she said. “At the end of the day, [Barbie] is a toy — a doll — but a really, really famous doll.”
This weekend’s 30th anniversary of the Africa Faith and Justice Network conference will highlight the plight of people in Africa, Rev. Bob Dowd, director of the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, said. “It’s a great way to learn about important issues that affect the quality of life of people in Africa,” he said. “It’s an important way to learn about how we can make a difference through our advocacy.” The conference, titled “Justice for Africa – Justice for the World,” will take place at Notre Dame today through Sunday for the second time in the conference’s history. Dowd said the Africa Faith and Justice Network considered many factors when it decided to hold the conference at Notre Dame, particularly its position as a leading university. “To hold a conference at our University is something the AFJN leadership thought would be important because they really wanted the conference to engage young people in the work of AFJN and involve young people to be a part of it,” he said. Additionally, Dowd said the Congregation of the Holy Cross is an organizational member of AFJN. Notre Dame also has a student chapter of AFJN. “Universities are places where people devote themselves to learning and understanding,” Dowd said. “Part of AFJN’s mission is to promote awareness and a greater understanding of the challenges that face the people of Africa. The conference will feature several speakers and workshops outlining quality of life issues in Africa, Dowd said. Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Ppolicy In focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., will deliver the keynote address this evening. “It’s a great way to grow in understanding and also begin to explore how we might act in order to promote greater justice in our world,” Down said. “I think growing in understanding is the first step.” The Kellogg Institute, the Center for Social Concerns, the Holy Cross Mission Center, the Institute for Church Life, the College of Arts and Letters and the Department of Africana Studies are sponsoring the conference. “I would invite everyone to the conference, especially people who have the slightest interest in Africa and how the U.S. relates to Africa and African countries,” Dowd said.
At approximately 11 a.m. Thursday, South Dining Hall was evacuated after smoke in the basement triggered smoke alarms throughout the building, South Dining Hall general manager Marc Poklinkowski said.University spokesman Dennis Brown said a small outdoor fire at McKenna Hall caused smoke to spread through the underground tunnel system and set off the dining hall’s alarms.“There was no fire in the South Dining Hall,” Brown said. “Some leaves caught on fire in an outdoor ventilation space near McKenna Hall at 10:11 a.m.“It was extinguished quickly and there were no injuries or damage. However, it caused some smoke, which made its way through our underground tunnels to the South Dining Hall, which then caused the alarms to go off.”Poklinkowski said the smoke set off several alarms in the basement of the dining hall and caused the evacuation, which lasted about 20 minutes.“There was a decent amount of smoke, so it set off a number of our alarms,” he said. “We were probably outside for about 20 or 25 minutes.”Poklinkowski said between 100 and 150 students were in the dining rooms at the time the alarms sounded, so it took less than five minutes to evacuate. He said dining hall management was aware of why the smoke was coming up through the basement but didn’t take any risks in evacuating the building.“We saw the smoke coming in and we knew why the fire alarm was going off, but you never take a risk with an alarm going off,” he said. “We were on the phone with the fire department to make sure we knew what was going on.”The dining hall reopened for lunch following the evacuation, but Poklinkowski said that the basement, including the Grab and Go line, remained closed to students for an additional hour while the fire department made sure it was safe.“[The fire department] kept the basement closed a little bit longer, because that’s where the problem was,” he said.The basement reopened at approximately 12:15 p.m. and the dining hall returned to full operations.Tags: evacuation, fire, fire alarm, McKenna Hall, South Dining Hall
Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, co-founders of the national organization End Rape on Campus, are coming to Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) for a series of appearances and discussions on sexual assault and activism on college campuses. Clark and Pino filed a federal complaint with the Department of Education against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for violations of Title IX and the Clery Act while they were students there and were also featured prominently in the recent documentary “The Hunting Ground.” Abby Palko, associate director of the Notre Dame’s gender studies program, said Saint Mary’s faculty spearheaded the initiative to get the women to appear at the three universities. Lucy Du “Stacy Davis, chair of gender and women’s studies, contacted me and Mary Kearney [director of the gender studies program] here at Notre Dame, as well as April Lidinsky, director of women’s and gender studies at IUSB,” Palko said. “She asked if we would be interested in having them talk on our campuses, and of course we said yes.”Each school is hosting a different kind of event, ranging from lectures to discussions to question and answer sessions, Palko said. “At Saint Mary’s, Stacy wanted a big public lecture. We each decided what was most needed for our students,” she said. “We wanted for Notre Dame, and students in particular, to hear what it was like to take on the challenge of standing up for their rights and their safety, to challenge institutional procedures that did not protect them, to go through the process of filing a complaint with the federal government.”Palko said Clark and Pino can bring a relatable perspective to the campus discussions on sexual assault because of their experiences as students. “One of the reasons Mary and I are so excited for them to come is because they were college students just like you,” she said. “We think Annie and Andrea are great models for speaking up even when there is social, professional or interpersonal risk to standing up, and speaking up, and saying that this is not okay.”Clark and Pino will be leading a discussion and a question and answer session at Legends on Friday at noon, Palko said. They will be delivering a lecture at Saint Mary’s on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Madeleva Hall and a discussion at IUSB on Friday at 2 p.m. “The talk will be 20 to 25 minutes, and then there will be time for discussions and questions,” she said. “We want students to get ideas and practical tips for dealing with the issue of sexual assault, so they feel more empowered. … We welcome anybody anticipating a fantastic conversation.”Speaking on sexual assault activism at Notre Dame, Palko said she believes students are still learning how to be active bystanders. “I think Notre Dame students have an enormous passion for taking on social justice issues but are not sure what to do when it comes to sexual assault,” she said. Sexual assault is an issue that demands response from every member of the campus community, Palko said. “We want to make the Notre Dame language of ‘We’re a family’ even more real,” she said. “Everyone should say, ‘Not another person on this campus should be sexually assaulted.’”While faculty and staff can’t be active bystanders at parties the way students can, Palko said, they can contribute to ending sexual assault by emphasizing the seriousness of the issue in their classrooms. “Over the summer we worked with the Title IX coordinator and the directors of undergraduate studies,” she said. “One of the suggestions we’ve made is putting on syllabi a note about the part in Title IX about confidential resources and non-confidential resources. We all put on the honor code, the anti-plagiarism pledge, but we can do it too with sexual assault resources, as a signal to students that this is just as important.”Palko said although sexual assault is not a new issue at Notre Dame, there is now an increasing willingness and comfort in reporting. Ending sexual assault on college campuses is difficult, she said. “It’s so hard to talk about sexual assault on college campuses as if it’s all the same — because we’re not all the same. With Notre Dame, we have Saint Mary’s across the street and there are fraught relationships there,” she said. “The parietals, single sex dorms, off campus culture and Catholic nature of the school are all characteristics that make Notre Dame unique.” Tags: activism, IUSB, sexual assault, The Hunting Ground
Four students have founded the Friends of Israel Club on Notre Dame’s campus, aiming to educate students on the history and current political situation within Israel. The club, which began meeting last month, is a bipartisan political group which also hopes to offer opportunities to support Pro-Israel politicians and legislation.According to junior James Argue, co-founder of the club, the Friends of Israel’s stance is opposed to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaign.“We hope to … provide an alternative point of view on campus,” Argue said in an email. “We believe that most Notre Dame students would strongly support the American-Israeli alliance if they examined these issues more closely. We hope to provide that opportunity and to help create an informed and meaningful dialogue throughout campus.”According to senior president and co-founder Tom Olohan, the club was founded in December 2015 and first met as a group this past February. The other three co-founders are junior James Argue, graduate student Brendan Roche and senior Matt Matigian.Olohan said he was inspired to start the club after noticing a bias in the information provided to students.“After attending the ‘Understanding Gaza’ panel, I was very disappointed that all the attendees left that room with only one side of the story of the 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas,” Olohan said in an email, “While I published an article that addressed some of these issues in The Observer the next spring, I soon realized that a student club would be the most effective way to educate students on these issues.“I founded The Friends of Israel to spread awareness of the rich history of Israel from Joshua to David, from subjugation and exile at the hands of the Assyrians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Ottomans, English and others, to independence in 1948. Students need to know about the dangerous regional situation of Israel and the incredible benefits Israel provides for the United States. Finally, I founded the club to let students know about Pro-Israel politicians and legislation and offer students the opportunity to support both.”According to Olohan, the club’s primary activity involves coordinating presentations geared at educating students on important American-Israeli issues, and on the history of and current political situation in Israel. Additionally, the club brings in Pro-Israeli speakers throughout the year, and will host an event towards the end of the spring semester celebrating Israeli culture and the American-Israeli alliance.On Wednesday, the club is planning to present at the College Republicans club meeting to both introduce the Friends of Israel Club and its goals, as well as to present opportunities to support the campaigns of pro-Israel legislators.According to Roche, other events planned for the semester include a March 30 talk by Yuval Shaham, current Israeli Emissary to the Jewish Federation of Saint Joseph Valley, as well as an April 8 event in South Bend co-sponsored with the Jewish Federation of Saint Joseph Valley during which Arab-Israeli diplomat George Deek will speak.Roche said that students should be interested in Israel because it “[provides] the [United States] with key intelligence regarding nations in the surrounding area.”“They also have cooperated in the United States, particularly in the field of technology, which has helped the profitability of U.S. companies. It is also important that it is a democracy, unlike the majority of countries in the region, and that it is a true ally in the face of many regimes that have a very unfavorable view of America,” Roche said.“We are hoping to reach out to the incoming class, as well as providing an alternate point of view for those already on campus,” Argue said. “The public is often only given one side of the story, and this is just as true at Notre Dame as elsewhere. We want to provide the missing information and to be a voice on the other side of the issue. Again, we want to stress that we are a bipartisan group and that we support a two-state solution in the right conditions. Ultimately, we want to raise awareness of the plight of Israel and to be the catalyst for meaningful debate on our campus.”Tags: Friends of Israel, hamas, Israel
Daniel Karpowitz, the author of “College in Prison: Reading in an Age of Mass Incarceration,” discussed the higher education of prison inmates on Wednesday afternoon in McKenna Hall. Karpowitz said the concept of college-in-prison programs, which aim to provide degrees to inmates while in prison, is representative of a much bigger idea.“College-in-prison awakens lurking doubts about whether anybody every truly changes — a question that lies at the heart of nearly all thinking not only about education, but also about democracy itself,” Karpowitz said in a reading from his book.Karpowitz said people are split on whether college-in-prison is in fact a positive development within the prison system.“The angry and resentful rejection of opportunity for people who have done bad is very common,” Karpowitz said.However, Karpowitz said the importance of college-in-prison is in part because the current prison system only claims to provide rehabilitation, but, in reality, it is a toxic environment for inmates.“All of the prisons I have entered strike me as places of waste that perpetuate and intensify both racial and class inequality,” Karpowitz said. “As a result, prisons, among the most important and pervasive public institutions of our age, undermine our democracy and do a disservice to the republic they are meant to serve.”Karpowitz, who also serves as the director of policy and academics for the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), said BPI offers incarcerated men and women the opportunity to better themselves and earn a college degree in prison, in an attempt to counteract the current prison system’s failings.“Nearly all of the students the college has engaged in prison are guilty of serious crimes — most of them violent crimes,” Karpowitz said. “On the other hand, I see most forms of punishment as unfortunate mirror-images of the violence to which they respond.”Karpowitz said the program aims to find incarcerated men and women whose high intelligence has never been fully nurtured.“The characteristic student will have dropped out and fled from school after the ninth grade,” Karpowitz said. “Our most accomplished students are typically the ones who fled school the earliest.”Karpowitz said the importance of a college degree to an incarcerated person cannot be overstated.“A degree is both a practical credential and a power symbol, especially to students who are the first in their family to go to college,” Karpowitz said, reading a passage from his book.This education gives the inmates a chance to learn and succeed, and once their sentences are finished, they are truly ready to contribute to society with what they have learned while incarcerated, Karpowitz said.“This is about the love of learning, this is about the celebration and manifestation of the liberal arts and this is about inclusive excellence in American education, which is a meritocracy,” Karpowitz said.Karpowitz said the significance of education is best summed up by the mother of Easy Waters, a former inmate who received his college degree in prison and is now an accomplished poet and novelist. Water’s mother was a very vocal supporter of her son’s education, even while he was incarcerated.“‘You can lose everything — possessions gained can always, always be taken away. But an education — nobody can ever take that from you,’” Karpowitz said, reading a quote from Water’s mother in his book.Tags: college in prison, education, prison
Although junior Natasha Reifenberg has advocated for reproductive rights in Latin America and senior Aly Cox is the president of the Notre Dame Right to Life club, the two found common ground in their views towards a criminal ban on abortion in El Salvador and coauthored an editorial expressing their opinion on the issue. Inspired by the common ground they found during this encounter, the two are planning a BeyoND the Abortion Debate dialogue dinner — cosponsored by BridgeND, Show Some Skin, We Stand For and the Notre Dame Right to Life club — to bring together pro-life and pro-choice students to discuss abortion and find areas of common ground.“[Cox] and I both feel really really strongly about the importance of dialogue,” Reifenberg said. “I think she’s someone who really understands that, because the pro-life position is the majority position at Notre Dame.”Cox said she felt it was her club’s duty to create a space for discussion between pro-life and pro-choice students who said they felt they did not have a platform from which they could discuss their views.“ … The long term goal for this project is that [Reifenberg] and I want to spread it to other college campuses and see if we can get other campuses to take up this event, whether they have a pro-life or a pro-choice majority,” Cox said. “We want to show people that whoever the majority is, [they] have the responsibility to create a positive space for this dialogue and learn how to work with minority voices on their campus.”Cox said she wanted the discussion to encourage members of the pro-life and pro-choice communities to work together — despite their differences — to serve the marginalized, especially women.“How can we make sure they are our priority and that they don’t suffer due to our inability to work together? Because that would be a very selfish decision for either side to make, that we could not work with the other side, because of our differences and then the people who suffer from that decision are poor and vulnerable women, especially those facing unplanned pregnancies,” she said.Reifenberg said she and Cox chose moderators for the discussions who would create space for compassionate discussion, rather than inflammatory debate.“ … We chose moderators who can model this idea of friendship and who understand that the whole point of this isn’t [to be] the best at arguing and to be like shutting people down … but the people who can best promote discourse around a really difficult topic,” Reifenberg said.Each table will have one pro-life and one pro-choice moderator, Cox said. The moderators will meet before the dinner to find common ground in their views.“They’re supposed to meet ahead of time to get to know each other, start to become friends, learn more about each other and learn where they have common ground so that they can be leaders at their table for discussion,” Cox said. “They’re also going to be charged with the task of making sure the conversation stays productive, doesn’t turn into a debate, and condescending commentary and tones of voice are not allowed.”Promoting future conversations beyond the discussion is “really key to the event being productive,” Cox said.“I think that those kinds of real action can be a result of these conversations start[ed] at the tables at the event on April 4, and I think it would just be a greater cause for change.” Tags: Abortion, dinner, Pro-choice, Pro-life, Right to Life