Urge University of Notre Dame to keep on-campus student family housing
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“The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and that of the Church.”
-Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia
While University of Notre Dame has a proud history of strong Catholic identity and mission, its current plan to demolish on-campus student family housing is diametrically opposed to its core values. The university's mission statement declares that “The emphasis on community in Catholicism explains why Notre Dame historically has fostered familial bonds in its institutional life.” Notre Dame has indeed fostered familial bonds for married graduate students through the communally focused “Vetville,” and its replacement, University Village, for as long as married students have been allowed to enroll. Familial bonds are a daily reality in The Village and close by Cripe Street Apartments (housing for married students without children), which together consist of 89 families, 61 of which are international (69%). These families are welcomed to Notre Dame from all over the world with a safe, affordable place to live on-campus. Neighbors share childcare and build the meaningful and necessary friendships to navigate the complexities and challenges of student family life.
The Notre Dame Housing Office has been slow to reveal any concrete plan for families since its initial announcement of the permanent closure of on-campus married housing three years ago. In a 2014 letter to University Village residents, Erin Hoffman Harding, VP of Student Affairs, wrote, “In the summer of 2018, married and parenting students will be welcomed to live in designated sections of Fischer Graduate Residences,” and those with a lease for 2014-2015 would receive “grandfathered lease rates.” Now, in fall of 2017, this will apply to only a small percentage of families. The remaining residents will be offered rates approximately double that of their current rent, with no family friendly amenities, making this a nonviable option for student families. Only through direct inquiries have residents discovered that the alternative idea for families is to “cluster” in several different off-campus neighborhoods, with the University providing resources for activities (First Friday dinners, cooking classes, etc) to create a community atmosphere divorced from geographic place.
The alleged attempt to create activities is admirable, but falls far short of the “familial bond” type traditions The Village maintains through its physical layout and geography. Situated on the northeast corner of campus, at Douglas Road and S.R. 933, University Village is comprised of 6 apartment buildings situated around a fenced recreational space. Residents have easy access to campus life via a walking path, and to a safe, affordable, campus community with neighbors right across the enclosed playground. These core components - proximity, layout, safety, and affordability - are essential for the welfare of families, but are most decisive for the thriving of international families.
Join us in our appeal to the 71 year tradition of Notre Dame supporting student family life with affordable, communal focused, on-campus housing, in alignment with its Catholic values. Join us in our demand that a meaningful equivalent to this housing model be implemented before current housing is closed.
#SaveUniversityVillage #WhatWouldHesburghSay #AmorisLaetitia
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