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Notre Dame Students End Hunger Strike
Today for Gay Rights

Phil Donahue Supporting Cause
at University's Campus 'Speak Out'

Small Power Clique Opposes
Openly Gay & Lesbian Presences

Compiled By GayToday

ndujpg.jpg - 9.62 K Notre Dame, Indiana -- Over a hundred students at America's best-known Roman Catholic institution of higher learning, the University of Notre Dame, went on a three-day hunger strike this week in support of gay rights. The strike began Wednesday, February 3 and ends today, Friday, February 5. It represents the fourth demonstration activists have called in the past year.

The strike also represents part of a week of activities on campus whose aim is to show student support for the inclusion of sexual-orientation as a protected category at the school. A "Speak-Out" on Tuesday with former talk show host Phil Donahue will call further attention to the students' cause.

The student activists' non-violent strategy was prompted by a Board of Trustees meeting both yesterday and today wherein a disgruntled President Malloy has already gone on record as strongly opposed to enacting any measure that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in faculty and staff hiring and promotions, in student admissions and in access to activities and facilities.

This measure has received strong support from student and faculty Government. "It's very frustrating. All this work, and finally it comes down to a showdown between this small, unresponsive, cabal of administrators versus a large majority of faculty and students," said David Hartwig, a member of the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA).

Currently OUTreach ND, the student-run gay and lesbian organization on campus may not meet on the campus, cannot post advertisements on campus nor, despite having been in existence for over 28 years, has it been permitted to buy advertising space in the Observer, the campus newspaper.

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Notre Dame's gay and lesbian alumni association GALA-ND/SMC is also kept from making its presence known in the Observer, a fact which activists deplore. Since October 1998 incidents of overt bigotry affecting gay or lesbian faculty members have come to light.

pdonahue.jpg - 11.40 K Phil Donahue Notre Dame's power brokers ignore the university's official policy of inclusion for gay and lesbian students, but as Phil Donahue stated at a rally on campus in November, "What sort of inclusion is it if they say that if you are gay you are a member of the Notre Dame family, but they won't even give you a room to meet in."

One effect of the measure would be to force the university to open up access to facilities and services to gay and lesbian student groups.

"The purpose of this week of action is to rally a generally apathetic student body behind an issue with which most students are quietly sympathetic," said Madolyn Orr a PSA member: "We want to make the Trustees and the administration aware that the students and faculty are strongly opposed to the administration's attitude toward gay and lesbian students and faculty here. They need to stop discriminating against gays and lesbians."

"The general feeling on campus is that the situation isn't that bad here," said Aaron Kreider, co-chair of the PSA: "Well, we want the campus, the administration, and the Trustees to ask themselves, 'If everything is OK at Notre Dame, if there's no discrimination, then why are over 100 students going on a hunger strike? This is the fourth demonstration we've organized in ten months."

Students on the hunger strike gathered in a campus dining room where they've Been sitting together with empty plates and drinking water.

Student activists have distributed rainbow ribbons, rainbow sno-cones and handbills that read "Thank you for wearing shoes to support gay rights (or you have no sole).", a gay and lesbian film festival at 9:00 to 11:00 Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, in the Montgomery Theater in the La Fortune student center.

There will also be a table set up in the student center throughout the week where information regarding the non-discrimination proposal, and the history of anti-gay and anti-lesbian discrimination at Notre Dame.

The school week's activities have been organized by a social justice group, the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA), founded two years ago to address issues on the Notre Dame campus and throughout the world . Student-led issues recently acted-upon have included opposition to U.S. military action against Iraq, and outright support for equal rights for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals at Notre Dame. OUTreach ND: Notre Dame's student-run gay and lesbian student group, GALA ND/SMC: Gay and Lesbian Alumni of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's, and the College Democrats of Notre Dame have all supported this week's activism as well.

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