As they waited for all members of the executive board to arrive in the Zoom room, conversation flowed in a steady, comfortable stream. There were check-ins about people’s days and weekends as well as the verifying of details and ideas for upcoming Frontline club business matters.
Alejandro Claure De La Zerda, Notre Dame Frontline’s current president, greeted each executive member as the faces of Miranda Cuozzo, Ashley Lizana, Cynthia Trujillo, Matty Aubourg and Aidee Barajas popped up on the screen.
In the spring semester of 2019, the Realities of Race seminar through the Center for Social Concerns culminated in a trip to St. Louis where students examined and explored race through the lens of mass incarceration. On the last night of this trip, a group of five students sat around talking about their passion to keep these conversations about race going even after their course had ended. From this, Notre Dame Frontline was born. Frontline’s mission, stated in the biography of their Instagram page, is to “hold a safe space for conversations on race and its accompanying issues that affect students on and off campus.”
The name Frontline comes from the desire to be working on the frontlines of issues that involve race. Club members discussed the importance of choosing a name that sounded accessible for all students in order to encourage individuals who may not always be aware of these topics to engage in conversation. The Frontline club logo speaks to the work we need to do as a whole society to combat injustice and the importance of holding those around you accountable for keeping the flames of passion alive in this fight for equity.
Opportunities for conversation hosted by Frontline share a common theme, with all event titles starting with the phrase “Let’s Talk About…,” for instance, “Let’s Talk About Race,” “Let’s Talk About Women” and “Let’s Talk About Representation” have been the majorly advertised opportunities to engage in discussion with peers. Trujillo, the 2020-2021 vice president of Frontline, described this year’s “Let’s Talk About Race” as one of her favorite events the club has put on so far. With a turnout of approximately 50 students, it was a welcomed uptake in interest. Executive board member Aubourg valued the high engagement of the event as it allowed the executives to introduce what Notre Dame Frontline is before breaking out into smaller group discussion.
Although the topics and types of conversations Frontline looks to spur are more serious in nature and subject, those putting on the events stress that they do enjoy themselves. With snacks and community, ND Frontline hopes to give individuals of the Notre Dame family a comfortable setting to have some uncomfortable conversations. As the club looks to secure funding from the university at the end of this semester, plans for what’s to come next from Frontline include events targeted to specific colleges. Miranda Cuozzo, the incoming president of Frontline, expressed a desire to have events that connected with certain majors or general colleges on campus to demonstrate the role race plays in every aspect of life.
The meeting flowed with an effortless collaboration. While one member offered contacts of different clubs to engage with, another volunteered to handle the SAO space request. “Does that sound good, team?” Trujillo asked with a smile as the meeting came to a close. With plans for the end of the year social divided among members and an excitement for the work that is to come, Alejandro, Miranda, Ashley, Cynthia and Aidee logged off.