What You Need to Know About the GRC

When you first hear of the Gender Relations Center (the GRC) you probably think, "Oh, it's just more parietals talk." Well folks, I hate to break it to you, but our GRC is SO much cooler than that. I'm here to tell you how it goes above and beyond what any of us realized.

It's fitting that this week is Stand Against Hate Week as the GRC is co-sponsoring many great events on campus. I recommend going to check out their events as the week closes down, but let's start from the beginning. Who is the GRC and what do they do? After a little exploring of my own, I realized how important it is that we recognize this resource, as it approaches many issues that we need to be talking about on campus.

Gender relations, according to the GRC website, simply refers to how people interact and communicate with each other. The GRC's mission: to engage the campus in respectful dialogue and to build a community that fully honors the human dignity of each person as a child of God. I feel that this embodies the ideal of Notre Dame - the idea that we're a family who supports one another. Like in any family, there must be someone who addresses the elephant in the room; the GRC is here to do just that for us, so that we can increase understanding in our community. All those topics that we claim aren’t talked about enough, the GRC is talking about them. The GRC does more than just host speakers or lead sexual assault prayers. They bring together many different organizations and offer many different services for us. 

Have you ever heard of the FIRE starters?

I hadn’t either. The FIRE starters are a group of peer educators who help set up the programs and start the conversations about the issues people don’t often talk about like gender relations, sexuality, relationships, and body image (I personally think that body image is a big problem on campus so I am happy to see it being recognized).

I reached out to FIRE starter Kristin Brennan '16, who filled me in on the idea behind FIRE Starters. “FIRE Starters want to promote an open, friendly Notre Dame environment where everyone feels safe expressing themselves. We want to create a campus that values the inherent human dignity and value of every individual, despite his or her sexuality, gender, or relationship status.” Kristin said that she decided to become a FIRE Starter because she wanted to be an informed resource about these topics so that she can they be there for her friends or anyone on campus who needs someone to listen. I encourage you to find and recognize the FIRE Starters around campus! They are here for us, they are are peers and friends, and they should be recognized for the work and training that they do to improve our community.

The Fire Starters

Okay, so what else does the GRC do?

The GRC has a ton of events going on all the time. FIRE Starters host events weekly on different topics. Kristin is a part of the Embodiment group within FIRE Starters that works to promote body image. Remember seeing yoga on South Quad back when fall was a reality?  Well, that was Kristin and the GRC! They host Time to Heal dinner, Gender Buffets, Show Some Skin, and, as I mentioned before, Stand Against Hate Week. Additionally, they help groups like PrismND and Allies to support the LGBTQ community. They also work with Men Against Violence and help to organize events in response to sexual assaults on campus. I know there are many events going on on campus all the time, but if there is a GRC event that peaks your interest, you should take the time to check it out. 

Where can I find the GRC?

EVERYWHERE! I was fortunate enough to chat with my dorm’s very own GRC commissioner (fun fact: did you know every dorm has one?!), Leah Selmek. Leah has severals reasons for being part of the GRC: "There are a lot of issues on campus that cause problems for many people, like comments, jokes, and actions that go around that are more hurtful than funny. It's our job to try to keep that from happening, but also teach others why it's not okay." Her job as a dorm commissioner is to host three events a semester for her dorm, whether it’s walkovers or other gatherings. She's hosted a Mean Girls watch complete with slutty brownies to look at gender roles. So, the GRC is very much present right in your own dorm giving you an outlet to talk about these issues as well. The office of the GRC is a part of Student Affairs and is located on the third floor of Lafun. 

The GRC is doing great things for the Notre Dame community. They're working to improve our communication as a student body, so that we can all show that we “love thee Notre Dame”.  Go check out a GRC event! Take advantage of the opportunities this club offers us to work on our relationships and expressing ourselves! Thank you GRC for all that you do!

If you are even more interested a note from Kristin, "Students can apply each year in the spring to become a FIRE Starter for the following school year. I strongly encourage anyone with ANY interest in some of the topics I've mentioned to get involved. Our goal is to deliver positive messages to as many circles on campus as we possibly can!"

For more information on the GRC please check out their website

“Don’t forget to love yourself” -Soren Kierkegaard

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All images courtesy of grc.nd.edu