Notre Dame, our Mother
Tender, strong and true
Proudly in the heavens,
Gleams thy gold and blue.
Glory’s mantle cloaks thee
Golden is thy fame,
And our hearts forever,
Praise thee, Notre Dame.
And our hearts forever,
Love thee, Notre Dame.
~~ Notre Dame Alma Mater
The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of asking sitting Presidents to speak at their commencement ceremony every spring. They don’t always accept but most of them do.
The president of the university, Father John Jenkins, is struggling with whether or not to invite Trump. Apparently, he feels that Trump has exhibited a lack of Christian charity in his words and deeds. In fact, Father Jenkins has reassured all undocumented students who are there under DACA that they will be safe there and continue their studies; he has also considered designating Notre Dame a “sanctuary campus.”
Father Jenkins isn’t unfamiliar with controversy. He got a lot of flak for inviting President Obama to give the commencement speech in 2009. The Democrats’ pro-choice stance is antithetical to the teachings of the Catholic church, and there were many protesters in the city that weekend. He defended his decision by saying that as a University, they are committed to open discourse and discussion of all points of view. He got in some trouble with the Archdiocese, but he stuck to his guns.
I’m not a Catholic and I’m not even religious, but I’ve always admired Father Jenkins for his open-mindedness in the pursuit of truth, knowledge, and justice. I feel that Notre Dame does good things in our community and in our world and that they are committed to racial and social justice. Father Hesburgh was a vocal and active supporter of the Civil Rights movement. So while I don’t subscribe to the tenets of the Catholic church (or any church, for that matter), I give credit to anyone who seeks to help others and alleviate pain and suffering in their fellow human beings.
Heck, you don’t have to be religious to feel that way.
The student Democrats at Notre Dame have written a letter that will be sent to Father Jenkins urging him to not invite Trump to speak at commencement in 2017. It is worth a read because it says quite eloquently my feelings on the matter. Although I am not an alumna, I signed the letter as part of our community. I grew up here and have had a lifelong connection in that way, so I felt justified in signing.
While I share Father Jenkins’ commitment to open discourse, the reason I am opposed to Trump speaking at commencement is that what he says and does is not just antithetical to Catholic teachings; it is antithetical to basic human decency. The moment that I came to the conclusion that he is a contemptible person is when he mocked the disabled reporter. That is vile behavior and it shows a complete lack of empathy, charity, and kindness. His subsequent actions only added to my feelings, including his attitude towards women.
I am proud to be from South Bend, and a big part of that is Notre Dame. We love taking out-of-town visitors to see the campus, which is absolutely beautiful. I feel a certain pride of place about Notre Dame and I feel that Trump’s message would sully the good name—and the mission—of the University.
If Father Jenkins does invite him to speak, and he accepts, I plan on voicing my opposition by protesting and I have many friends who feel the same way.