Obama/ND Followup

I’ll be honest, I figured I wouldn’t feel the need to post past my initial response to this issue. However, this seems to be a far bigger issue than just me venting in a blog. I write in here mostly because I like it. If people decide to come visit, it is a bonus. I usually get no more than five visitors on a given day, mostly all friends of mine I would believe.

However, yesterday, I posted my entry as my Facebook status message. Something I usually do if I make a major update like the other day. I had a friend that has no affiliation with ND whatsoever read my post yesterday and passed it along. Out of nowhere comes 50+ visits from over 10 different countries.

Now, I don’t say this to brag about visits to my blog, but to give some perspective on what is going on here. My blog is a very small slice on what is being thrown out there right now regarding this issue. There is an online petition that has gained over 65,000 signatures Obama speaking at ND and this story also made the front page of Fox News’ website. There are two opposing Facebook groups that have been formed and are growing exponentially, one of which started an online petition for Obama speaking at ND. Some of these people have ties with ND, but many do not. To say this has blown up is an understatement.

Seems everyone has forgotten about the students of the class of 2009.

And this gets to the true purpose of my post. As every day passes, people are quickly losing perspective of the people this ceremony is actually for. I have many friends in the class of 2009 that are angry — no, they are furious. Not because Obama is speaking, not for pro-life/pro-choice, but because thousands upon thousands of people are using their moment of triumph into a political platform and the class of 2009 be damned if they are in the way.

They did not work for years to reach this moment to be treated like this. Their families do not deserve this. They should not be needing to spend their last months of their college careers trying to fight for their day to be what it should be: for them.

They are slowly, but surely, getting lost in the shuffle.

One of my fellow dorm-mates, friend, and member of the class of 2009 recently wrote about this on his own Tumblr blog:

In the name of multiple of my friends and acquaintances who have expressed to me and others, directly or indirectly, via facebook, observer letters to the editor, and casual conversation, I decided to post a request on the Notre Dame Alumni Network Discussion thread on linkedIn.com.

This was a petition asking the members of this particular network to refrain from venting and ranting about thoughts on economic, morals or politics President Obama might have that don’t align with those of the Catholic Church, on a public manner that would encourage others to lobby for the protesting of Obama’s invitation, as such demonstrations would disrupt our commencement ceremonies.

I do not, by any means, show my political preference, nor do I defend any particular individual or institution. I simply ask of those in the group to help me with my cause, which is to give our graduating class the oportunity to share a quiet and peaceful ceremony, much like those before us have enjoyed (with few exceptions).

This was a very simple and well-thought out idea. He is putting things in the proper perspective. He is not preaching a different belief system, simply that people are able to let the students enjoy their last moments at ND in peace. However, just like everything else surrounding this circus, people still refuse to keep this perspective:

In asking for this simple favor that does not ask or expect people to change their personal opinions,I found people who are unwilling to show compassion for our cause (100% apolitical) claiming a duty to defend their moral fiber. Advocating for the rights of the unborn and framing themselves as self-righteous Christians who want nothing but oh-so-hateful Obama to be uninvited from this commencement ceremony. Like Tim McGuire, a 1985 graduate who found himself being a great Christian and clearly showing me his respect for others, his tolerance of what he cannot change, and his obvious desire to “do upon others as [he] wish[es] they do upon [him].”

If you are interested in knowing what what he wrote as a response to my petition, read the quote I posted below….


I gave 20 years of my life to protect and defend the Constitution. This man’s record is decided Pro-Abortion Rights…not Pro-Choice. We are Catholics. Notre Dame apparently pretends to be a Catholic University. You cannot reconcile this. Carter and Clinton were both Pro-Choice…that is different than being Pro-Abortion Rights…significantly different. I hope that the Catholics who can, march on the University. I hope they disrupt your Ceremony.

When Jose Napoleon Duarte spoke at our commencement, we had to pass through metal detectors (unusual at the time). Protesters had to be pulled from the bleachers. Hey, it made the experience memorable.

I hope the faithful march on South Bend. I hope they exercise their Rights. And, ultimately, I hope that Fr. Jenkins is gone by this Summer.

Good luck, that Notre Dame diploma means a lot in this World. Much of that has to do with the University’s standing as one of the greatest Catholic Universities on this Planet.

Semper fi, always faithful.


I simply cannot believe this. Once again my fellow alumni are completely losing perspective again.

I hate to break it to everyone, but ND is respected for a lot more than being “one of the greatest Catholic Universities on this Planet.” It is respected for being one of the top academic institutions on this planet. It is respected for being a Catholic institution, but not being afraid allow their students to be exposed to differing viewpoints, political stances, religions, and keeping an open dialouge about it all while keeping the Catholic faith at the forefront.

If ND was not like this. I would have not been admitted to the University as a Protestant. I would have been shunned from attending my dorm Mass. My views would simply be laughed off instead of discussed. I would not have been able to take a class entitled “Christianity and World Religions” which an amazing and elightening view of the world. I would have not been thought Philosophy by an atheist man who was the best professor I had at the University.

Through it all though, ND opened my eyes to several things. It also allowed me to strenghten my faith through all the things I listed above. It gave me some of the best memories of my life and a college experience like none other because of everything I listed above.

Above all else, I got to be a part of the amazing Notre Dame family. So to those alumni that are refusing to gain the perspective that the class of 2009 is requesting, I ask you this:

Why are you turning your back on the Notre Dame family?

The ND family isn’t just about preserving Catholic faith. If that was the case, I would’ve been cut from it a long time ago by being Methodist, choosing to remain Methodist, and not holding the exact same views as the Catholic Church. We are supposed to fight for each other, help each other. We all talk so much about the ND family and how it is a bond that surpasses everything.

From the actions of some alumni, I am wondering if that message ever sunk in.

Instead of trying to protect the members of the class of 2009 from the thousands of people that have chosen to make their graduation a political battle ground, some alumni are choosing to throw more fuel onto that same fire. This is simply not acceptable. Whether you like to admit it or not, taking those actions is turning your back on the entire class of 2009.

I understand you want to fight for the Catholic identity of ND. I do not fault you for that. I encourage it. However, have the perspective to realize that graduation ceremonies are not the time nor the place to do this. Just as Obama will not be using his commencement speech to speak on abortion, no one should be using the ceremony as a political battleground.

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)

Fellow members of the ND family, the celebration of the achievements of the class of 2009 is not the time for these protests. Give them their moment.

Our ads that ran through football season had the theme of “We are the Fighting Irish” and “What are you fighting for?” I encourage every to hold fast to their beliefs and fight for them. Fight Obama, the ND administration, whatever before and after. But do not, and I repeat, do not, forget to fight for the fellow members of the ND family.

Personally, I will be fighting for the class of 2009. I encourage everyone to do the same.

  • John

    I think you're conflating "preserving Catholic faith" with "preserving Catholic values." Of course Notre Dame welcomes all faiths (including Ryan Ritter's… but far more importantly: MANTI!). But Catholic values are irreconcilable with those of the President on this particular issue.

    In light of that, I'm not sure why you're so surprised at the pushback this is getting. I agree that the inevitable (*INEVITABLE*) protestations will detract attention from the Class of 2009's achievements. Unfortunate, to be sure, but honoring such a polarizing figure is bound to invite controversy. I imagine passions were similarly ignited (on a lesser scale) in the late 1980s when Notre Dame awarded Daniel Patrick Moynihan the Laetare Medal.

    And think about it: if Notre Dame were awarding President Bush an(other) degree in May, the controversy would simply shift from abortion to just war theory, torture, etc. Public, political figures invite controversy and disruption of the status quo wherever they go. It's part of the game. Why does this surprise and appall you?

    Personally, I disagree with the university's choice to award the President an honorary degree, but I understand the opposing argument. There are those who won't, and it's going to be disruptive. I sympathize with your argument that these disruptions will marginalize the Class of 2009, but still: the President of the United States of America — the most important person in the entire world, regardless of whether you agree with his stance on abortion — is delivering their commencement address, so let's not feel TOO sorry for them.

  • Colleen

    Have you been reading the Viewpoint articles at all? Particularly this one? I just don't see why there is such an outcry over this and not similar incidents. And to those who say it's not that Obama was chosen as the speaker, but that he's receiving an honorary degree, I just have to ask if they have checked into the life/choice opinion of every individual ND has given an honorary degree to.

  • John

    Bah, Moynihan was 1992… I was close.

  • Ryan

    Controversy I expect, protests I expect, and that is why I looked up the Viewpoint on Monday. I knew this would cause a good bit of debate.

    But like Colleen said some of what has been threatened is just completely out of line. When we get to the point in which we have alumni stating that they hope the ceremony is disturbed, with pictures of aborted babies no less, something is very wrong.

    I'd have no problem if people in attendance say didn't stand/applaud the President or if a large protest was held at the airport when the President arrives. I wouldn't have much of an issue with the Right to Life group doing the cross display on South Quad like they do for a football weekend. Or a group of friends can get together and spell out "Choose Life" on their caps.

    However, wanting to display pictures of aborted babies on campus is crossing the line. I'd say the same thing if say Bush was coming and a protest group wanted to display pictures of dead civilians from our attacks or something similarly gruesome. There are so many better alternatives than what people have been throwing out there.

    And like I said in my post today, the really disheartening part about it all is that there are some alumni feeding fuel to what can easily amount to a total circus. I expect much more level heads from the Notre Dame family than what I have seen and read. People are getting far too wrapped up in the controversy and forgetting what the day should be for.

    I don't expect it to be a perfect day for them in the least, but I do hope alumni, like yourself have said, can at least sympathize with the class of 2009 and try to take a step back somewhat for at least a day.