Notre Dame will kick off the fourth-annual Walk the Walk Week on Jan. 20 to encourage diversity and inclusion on campus with a series of events open to all members of the Notre Dame community.
The week will begin with a candlelight prayer service in the Main Building Rotunda on Jan. 20 at 11 p.m., followed by a complimentary breakfast in South Dining Hall. The Office of the President and the President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion will sponsor the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Luncheon on Jan. 21, which will include a panel discussion with seven members of the Notre Dame community.
Senior Alyssa Ngo, chair of Diversity Council, will be speaking on the panel to bring a student perspective to the dialogue.
“I see it as my role to push the other panelists because some students are unhappy with the administration and with the faculty in terms of how the University treats diversity,” Ngo said.
Following the luncheon, Multicultural Student Programs and Services will host Opal Tometi — a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement and the executive director of Black Alliance for Just Immigration — for a lecture in 102 DeBartolo Hall at 7 p.m.
Director of MSPS Iris Outlaw said she believes Tometi’s passion for advocating for immigrant justice will resonate with the themes of the week.
“Unfortunately, a lot of times when we think about immigration and people who are undocumented, we look only at Latinos, but we fail to realize that there are a lot of different ethnic groups that are in the same plight,” Outlaw said. “[Tometi] having this conversation in regard to people who are from the African diaspora, showing the similarities of why people are leaving their home lands to come to the United States is really interesting … and it really leads to talking about building coalitions to address how we ought to be speaking up for all regardless of their ethnicity.”
Other notable events and programs of the week include a civil rights photography exhibit in the Snite Museum of Art, an examination of the current state of racial and ethnic relations in the U.S. presented by the Institute for Latino Studies and Africana Studies and a panel discussion on confronting whiteness at Notre Dame co-sponsored by the Kroc Institute Mediation Program and the Keough School of Global Affairs.
Ngo and Outlaw said the planning of the week was informed by the results of the Inclusive Campus Student Survey.
“The panel for [the luncheon] is going to start by focusing on the results because they are directly from the student body; it’s what [students] had to say about the environment on campus,” Ngo said.
Although Walk the Walk Week will have a special emphasis on considering diversity on campus, this week will not be the end of these conversations, Outlaw said.
“We looked at the data and the comments that were made, and we hope [the week] is the beginning of the conversation,” Outlaw said. “Then, for the rest of the semester we’ll continue to have discussions about how we can help change the culture of the institution so that we’re truly welcoming to all.”
Clare Mundy, associate director for the Office of the President, took a leading role in organizing many of the events for the week.
She said University President Fr. John Jenkins and the President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion want to invite the campus community to consider where it is as a University and as a nation this week.
“It’s a time to really think about how we can live out more fully Notre Dame's three core principles of diversity and inclusion, as Fr. Jenkins articulated them: respecting the dignity of every person, building a Notre Dame community where all can flourish and living in solidarity with all, particularly the most vulnerable, both here at Notre Dame and beyond,” she said.