(Side-note: Hope everyone enjoyed yesterday’s post)
It would appear that my sentiments on this issue are quite in line with the class of 2009. The Observer put out an article March 27 that broke down the Viewpoint letters for and against Obama speaking at ND. The breakdown actually rather surprised me to a point:
Of the 612 Letters to the Editor The Observer has received as of 2 p.m. Thursday, 313 have been authored by alumni. Of those letters, 30 percent are supportive of the University’s decision to invite the president and 70 percent are against.
And while more alumni have written to The Observer than students, their voice must not be lost. In fact, of the 282 letters authored by students, the breakdown is a bit different: 73 percent of students who have written Letters to the Editor are supportive of the Obama selection, while 27 percent are against it.
Looking at the senior class’ response, the sentiment is even more extreme: 97 percent of seniors are supportive, 3 percent are not.
Now, I know that letters alone aren’t a perfect poll, but the numbers are still rather staggering nonetheless.
The article continues, remarking on some of the same statements that I myself have tried to express:
There is a clear disconnect between alumni and the student body as a whole on this issue.
This is the seniors’ graduation, their last memories of Notre Dame as a student. Protesters would do well to remember this. Make your views known; healthy debate is welcomed. Photographs of aborted fetuses are not.
The “healthy debate” seems to be getting completely glossed over as an option. In my opinion, that is were the biggest disconnect seems to come from. Students do see the outrage and understand why people want to protest — the issue has been though why try to protest via shock tactics and being purposefully disruptive to other members of the Notre Dame family (of which some alumni have threatened in previous letters). I am hoping that some of the more outrageous protest threats do not go through and cooler heads will indeed prevail some May.
For instance, some better ideas for protests:
- The South Quad Cross display done every year during a football weekend by the Pro-Life group
- Organizing a protest at the airport when Obama arrives, keeping the circus away from campus
- For students in the class of 2009: Spelling out “Pro-Life” or “Choose Life” on your caps with a group of your friends
- Those in attendance at the ceremony: Do not stand/applaud Obama.
All these can get the point across without resorting to ridiculous shock tactics or asking the University to slap the President in the face by resending his invitation to speak. Sometimes very simple gestures and demonstrations are the most profound. For instance, I for one always thought the cross display on South Quad was one of the more chilling demonstrations that I’ve ever seen, and that is even after seeing it multiple times as a student.
The article concludes with a recent quote from Fr. Hesburgh:
University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, without a doubt one of the most influential American Catholics, a man who has fought tirelessly for civil rights in this country and to transform the University into a respected institution of higher learning, said this Friday speaking to a group of alumni, parents and friends of Notre Dame:
“No speaker who has ever come to Notre Dame has changed the University. We are who we are. But, quite often, the very fact of being here has changed the speaker.”
I believe this is what any protester should hope for and should try to embrace this challenge. It is my hope that this is what alumni or any other protester will keep at the front of their minds if they are around the campus come May.