Making Connections this Spring

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope the first weeks of the new semester, while cold, have been fruitful. We have much to be proud of as we begin the new semester, and I am especially grateful for your flexibility and attention to necessary COVID protocols as well as student leadership and participation in the University’s observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Walk the Walk Week. Thanks to all of you – and in particular the students involved with the MLK Day Coalition – for your advocacy of a full-day observance of this important date. The past month has demonstrated the strong sense of community that truly undergirds our common life and work at Notre Dame.

In my conversations with students this past semester, a common theme I heard was the challenge of making authentic and meaningful connections (with one another, with the wider University community, and with God), especially after students’ various experiences related to the pandemic and systemic racial injustice. I write to share a few opportunities that we in the Division of Student Affairs will offer this semester to support you, and we look forward to partnering with you, Student Government, and colleagues across the University on these and other endeavors.

In the weeks ahead, partners within the Division of Student Affairs, including the McDonald Center for Student Well-BeingMulticultural Student Programs and Services, and Campus Ministry, will begin launching new opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences, deepen social connections, and strengthen resilience. We hope you consider getting involved in one or more of these Reflect, Connect & Grow opportunities or seek additional services through departments like the University Counseling Center and the Center for Student Support and Care. You will be able to find more details about these opportunities on these departments’ individual websites, as well as in our weekly e-newsletter to students.

As you connect with one another and our wider University community, I also hope you consider connecting with me this semester as well. As I have shared in the past, I prioritized listening to students in the fall when I met with student leaders and a variety of student groups to help me gain a deeper understanding of the student experience. This semester, I look forward to engaging with the student body even more by offering a variety of informal opportunities for you to meet with me at your convenience. I have detailed these opportunities below, and look forward to our interactions.

Fireside Chats

Students, either individually or as a group, are invited to meet, connect, and share ideas with me every other week near the fireplace on the first floor of Duncan Student Center. These fireside chats will begin next week during lunch from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Simply stop by as your schedule allows on any of the following days:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 15
  • Thursday, March 3
  • Tuesday, March 15
  • Friday, April 1
  • Monday, April 11
  • Tuesday, April 26

Student Office Hours

Students are also invited to meet with me during student office hours from 9 to 10 a.m. in 316 Main Building every Thursday starting March 3. Please either stop by to chat individually on a first-come, first-served basis or complete this form if you’d like to request another date and time. 

Inclusive Campus Student Survey

Finally, next week, you will hear from me once more regarding the administration of the third Inclusive Campus Student Survey, which serves as another opportunity for you to share your feedback as we continue to strive to make Notre Dame a more inclusive campus where every individual feels a sense of belonging. Please be sure and complete the survey after you receive your personal link to do so. 

As we move ahead with our newly revised protocols, I hope you consider prioritizing your spiritual and mental well-being with as much zeal as you have your physical health in the first part of 2022. While I understand it can be difficult to put your overall wellness ahead of more immediate pursuits, it is also important to care for yourself both spiritually and emotionally in order to grow individually and make more meaningful connections with others.

Thank you again for your continued resilience this academic year and for your commitment to your health and well-being and that of our entire campus community. I look forward to connecting with you this spring.

In Notre Dame,

Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.
Vice President for Student Affairs