Notre Dame Among Many College Campuses Dealing with Sexual Assault

Editor’s note: The names of the sexual assault victims’ names have been changed in accordance with guidelines from the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.

By Marie Fazio and Adrianna Fazio

Sarah has been a victim of sexual assault several times throughout her past four years at Notre Dame. Looking back, she sees countless frustrations and internalizations with both the reporting process and her, now convicted, assailant’s treatment.

“People are hard on themselves here, there’s a lot of internalizing of blame and you don’t want to ruin someone’s career,” she said. “That was my biggest drawback. As much as he screwed me over and ruined me in a lot of ways that I can’t get back…I don’t want him to not get a degree. If he gets dismissed, that’s it….He will not graduate with a degree from Notre Dame.”

Sarah is not alone.

Notre Dame has a public and ongoing conversation about sexual assault since the 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground” highlighted the story of Lizzy Seeburg, a Saint Mary’s student who took her own life a few days after filing a sexual assault report against a Notre Dame football player.

Notre Dame’s issues are part of a national trend on college campuses. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, 23.1 percent of female and 5.4 percent of male undergraduate students nationwide experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

Notre Dame students participated in Clothesline Day by hanging shirts with empowering messages in the center of campus.
Photo by Adrianna Fazio

Campus Climate Survey

In 2016,  the Notre Dame campus climate survey — which all Notre Dame students had the chance to respond to in the 2016 fall semester — reported 5 percent of females and 1 percent of males who responded had experienced some form of non-consensual sexual intercourse during their time at the university. The term was defined by oral, anal, or vaginal penetration, to any degree, with any object.

Twenty-one percent of Notre Dame females and 4 percent of Notre Dame males reported having experienced other forms of non-consensual sexual contact. This statistic does not align with the low number of reports made every year to Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) or the Title IX office.

NDSP sends out crime alert emails when the Title IX coordinator receives a report of sexual assault on campus. In 2016 and 2017, only four sexual assault-related crime alerts were sent to students, a number that has decreased since 2015.  

Notre Dame assaults reported to the community via email, 2013-2017

Map created by Marie Fazio and Adrianna Fazio, information gathered from University of Notre Dame archives on their public website.  

In the Campus Climate Survey, 90 percent of those who reported having experienced non-consensual sexual assault in the last 12 months said that they did not report the incident. Reasons for not reporting ranged from a lack of faith in the outcomes of reporting to blaming oneself for the incident.

The Process

Heather Ryan, Deputy Title IX Coordinator of Notre Dame, oversees student processes and has a role in administrative investigations and facilitating resources for students reporting. In order to increase reporting, Ryan said the university is trying to improve education about the process and increase agency of the survivor.

“Some of the things we’re trying to do is create spaces where they know about options available… before they have to come in and make a decision,” Ryan said.

Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 11.50.44 AM
Graphic via University of Notre Dame website

“We want to give a complainant agency and help them make choices… them understand all the options in every space that we can,” Ryan said.

However, despite the increased education and awareness, there is a mistrust of the system. Sarah, who recently underwent the Administrative Hearing Process, was urged by friends to not report due to their bad experiences with the system. Sarah ultimately chose to report after hearing of other girls who had been harmed by the same perpetrator, but felt that her assailant did not take the hearing seriously because he wasn’t afraid of consequences.

“In my case, my rapist said that he trusts the process,” Sarah said. “Why would you trust the process more than I do? I should be trusting the process to protect me, to benefit me, but the fact that he said, as a respondent, that he trusts the process, in a hearing, on record, and I was like, I don’t- is problematic.”

Based on conversations with students who don’t know anyone personally affected by sexual assault at Notre Dame, many students see the numbers or crime alerts and still don’t fully understand the weight of the issue.

Amelia (whose name has also been changed) is a survivor who was assaulted by a friend of a friend visiting campus.

“Now that it has happened I can see how it could happen to anyone,” she said. “The statistics aren’t accurate because not everyone wants to talk about it…it’s an epidemic I would say.”

Current Movements

The primary movement to combat sexual assault on campus is greeNDot – “violence prevention strategy predicated on the belief that individual safety is a community responsibility and not just that of the victim or perpetrator” (Notre Dame Title IX).  

Sarah said, “GreeNDot has become this huge thing that didn’t exist when I got here. But even with that, the culture isn’t changing-it’s not changed-which is really awkward because people will say they’re greeNDot certified… and still rape people.”

On April 20, approximately 100 students and faculty marched from Holy Cross College to Saint Mary’s College, through the Notre Dame campus, and ended at the Grotto to stand in solidarity with all those affected by sexual assault and harassment. The event was part of the international movement, Take Back the Night.

Photo by Adrianna Fazio

Connie Adams, head of the Belles Against Violence Organization at Saint Mary’s, said, “Take Back the Night is an opportunity to gather together as one. It is only in unity that we will be able to work together to find a solution to end violence and abuse.”

Professor Pamela Butler of the University of Notre Dame, however, had a different take on the issue. Although she sees the value in having a professional and institutionalized responses to rape culture, she believes that the most profound movements come directly from student led movements.

Students need to make their own voices heard,” she said.

“I’m most concerned with are the professionalization of sexual assault advocacy and response  on college campus what we’ve lost with that. I think we’ve gained things, but we’ve lost some things…the centrality of students’ voices to this entire process.”

The Future

As an additional strategy to combat sexual assault, campus leaders are currently discussing the use of the new app, Callisto. The app’s novelty is rooted in three main elements:

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 12.49.58 PM
Graphic via Callisto website

Notre Dame has not officially decided to utilize Callisto on campus, but the conversation is currently in the works, officials said.

Future Goals

According to the 2016 Campus Climate survey,  91 percent of students agree (68 percent) or somewhat agree (23 percent) that they are aware of strategies to intervene if a situation had the potential for sexual assault. This is a 10 percent increase from the 2015 campus climate survey, which is some improvement in the realm of education and awareness about sexual assault, but the war is far from won.

“I think the more we can get students to be a part of the discussion…that’s how we are going to minimize this, because students are a part of that,” Ryan said. “It’s how do we create space where this isn’t OK.
“I can see it shifting, but it’s not where any of us want it to be.”


World Cup Timeline

The World Cup, the word’s most watched sporting event, gains traction from every corner of the globe. Every four years, the 32 best soccer teams in the world battle for the coveted trophy, the honor, and for their dedicated fans back home. The World Cup history is filled with drama, passion, and underdog stories. To take a look back at the history of the tournament, I created a Timeline to reminisce on some of the most memorable moments.

From own goals to shoe-less social statements, the World Cup has an awing history. Take a peak at the past 87 years and see what you know!

World Cup Timeline

Reflecting on #BlackHistoryMonth – Storify

With the conclusion of Black History Month, dozens of Tweets, Facebook Posts, YouTube videos, and news articles had accumulated to commemorate African-American presence in the United States.
I used Storify to collaborate all of the forms of media to document the events in the grander history of Black History Month and Black History Month 2017.

Black History Month acknowledges the past, present, and future of racial equality. From major news sources to political officials, entertainers, and common people, Black History Month continues to radiate throughout multimedia journalism and social media platforms.

Reflecting on #BlackHistoryMonth

Best Beaches on Cape Cod

It is undeniable that Cape Cod beaches are international tourist destinations and bucket list attractions. Everyone has their favorite piece of Massachusetts shoreline and it seems that the competition between loyal beach-goers never ceases and the debates never end. Though all are frequented by families, teens, and adults alike, certain beaches are better suited for specific audiences.

I have compiled a map of the best beaches on Cape Cod (data provided by with a link to a video of each beach, a description of the clientele, and geographic description.

Whether it be the vast dunes of Welfleet or the rolling Brewster flats, there is a beach for every occasion.

This is a map of the best beaches on Cape Cod. All data was collected from (Map created by Adriana Fazio)


Google Trends – The Oscars and Spring Break Destinations


The slowly approaching 2017 Oscars will be held Sunday, February 26th, and thus commences two weeks filled with commentary, controversy, and a sudden interest in the film arts. The 2017 nominees for Best Picture include Manchester By The SeaArrivalLa La Land, and Hidden Figures.

Using Google Trends, I compared the Google search interest  of these four films in comparison to Spotlight, the Best Picture winner in 2016. Over the past 30 days, La La Land and Hidden Figures have clearly gained the most traction of the four nominees, followed by a consistent interest in Spotlight. Arrival and Manchester By The Sea have a seemingly lower interest rate, but are still notoriously popular and strong contenders. Due to technical limitations, FencesHacksaw RidgeHell Or High WaterLion, and Moonlight (the other nominees) are left out of the graphic.

Covering a wide array of interests and social issues, the 2017 nominees encompass a variety of audiences. However, the energy surrounding all aspects of La La Land is undeniably reflected in the search interest over time. It will be interesting to to compare the Academy’s verdicts with the people’s searches; will there be correlation with the two? To be decided on Oscar Sunday: February 26th 7 P.M. Est on ABC.

View the Google Trend graph yourself!



Though February brings the perfect weather to binge watch all of the Oscar Nominees, it also breeds a strong disdain for snow, sleet, wind chill, and grey skies. Not quite the turning point for early spring, the 28 days seem to endlessly drag on. With my own mind thinking towards spring break, I used Google Trends to compare search interest in five popular warm weather destinations: Palm Springs (CA), Palm Beach (FL), Daytona Beach (FL), Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), and the Outer Banks (NC).

All five destinations usually attract different crowds. Daytona Beach is the home to the infamous “college spring break” experience, Palm Beach (though undeniably a fun scene) attracts families as well. Palm Springs is usually aimed at an older crowd, but since it is home to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, it has become a more popular destination.

Cabo San Lucas is frequented by students from Southern California and Arizona (a warm beach just a short plane ride away) and the Outer Banks are a universal favorite and a bucket list vacation. Though the varying crowds, Palm Beach is clearly gaining the most consistent interest this winter. The peak interest in Palm Springs occurred in mid-January: the week the Coachella Line-Up was revealed. Cabo, Daytona, and the “OBX” still sound like lovely trips, but they do not seem to be the hot commodity this spring break season.

View the Google Trend graph yourself!