At 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the university community came together for a prayer service, organized by student government, in response to reports of four separate sex offenses reported to the Notre Dame Security Police on Jan. 18.
These incidents were reported anonymously, and occurred twice in 2014, once in 2015 and once at an unknown date. The alleged assaults took place in the Main Building and in Flanner Hall, and were, respectively, reports of indecent exposure, rape and sexual battery. The two accounts of rape said they occurred in 2014 and 2015. Until an Observer article highlighting the reports on Jan. 24 and an email announcing the prayer service on Jan. 30, there was little fanfare or knowledge of any of these incidents. There remains no further information.
As Scholastic goes to print for its annual student government issue, I am forced to reflect on the many pervasive issues that consume this campus and the university community. We conducted interviews with those students running to become the next student body president and vice president in our office in the new Duncan Student Center: a physical reminder of the progress and wealth that Notre Dame continues to build upon each and every day. Yet as we build up our shining exteriors, we lose sight of the problems that remain existent and stagnant — and which deserve both our attention and resources. We see this even in student government, as many of the problems that these current candidates for student body president and vice president are grappling with are the same issues that have formed tickets’ platform tenets in my four years at this magazine.
With every new honor and building, Notre Dame is thrust into a larger and brighter spotlight. Yet as the light grows stronger, the shadows grow deeper, and those forgotten victims and marginalized members of our community drop further and further into the recesses of our minds.
As you enjoy the amenities of the new student center and rightfully read the ideas of your potential student government peers for making this university even greater, I beseech you to not forget the issues that continue to plague this campus, and so many others, and the community that wills it to stand. We may never know the details behind these reports of sexual offenses — or, indeed, if they are related or individual. But they remind us that for all of our steps forward onto a new stage for Notre Dame, we have the toughest of issues to address. And that is a duty that lays on the shoulders of us all, as a community.