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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Notre Dame students right to oppose Obama’s visit

    For a president that many absurdly equate with Jesus Christ, it’s a shock that Barack Obama has been snubbed by two of the three universities he plans to visit for graduation.

    Obama announced a few weeks ago that he is delivering commencement speeches at Notre Dame University and at our rival school, Arizona State University.

    Many UA students were frustrated that Obama keeps inadvertently insulting Arizona’s first university. As Desert Lamp blogger and former Wildcat columnist Evan Lisull noted, this was Obama’s second UA dismissal after saying our basketball team “”just squeaked in. Based on reputation.”” Most Wildcats were bitter that Obama couldn’t have looked past athletics and chosen the best university in the state of Arizona.

    Travel to South Bend, Ind., and the Catholic college students won’t express gratitude for Obama’s presence. The Associated Press recently reported that hundreds of Notre Dame University students are opposed to Obama being the keynote speaker. They object to his views on stem cell research and abortion, and they have every right to be outraged. Notre Dame is a Catholic institution, and Obama’s more liberal standpoint doesn’t mesh with the tradition of the religiously affiliated school.

    A campus club called ND Response executed a protest on April 5, and Notre Dame junior and club spokesperson, Kathleen Donahue told Fox News, “”It’s a shame for a Catholic university to think that we can honor someone just based on his leadership. You can’t really separate his views on abortion and his actual actions, like federal funding for abortions overseas. At a Catholic institution, we can’t consider leadership that doesn’t honor human life.””

    Donahue has a point. Notre Dame was not the right university for Obama to visit, and he cannot expect the religious right to endure his intruding presence on one of the most memorable days of their lives. Had he chosen to speak at UA, there would definitely be uproar among the College Republicans, but most people would just be excited about having the president come to Tucson.

    Life is different for the Fighting Irish, however, and before you criticize the students for being politically closed-minded, you have to understand that Notre Dame runs very differently than public, secular universities. Notre Dame requires students to live in the dorms all four years, and there are strict rules against men and women having sleepovers on-campus.

    As a UA student where dorm life is optional and Resident Assistants don’t complain about male/female slumber parties so long as they’re not loud enough to wake up the rest of the dorm, it doesn’t surprise me that a rigid school like Notre Dame would be uncomfortable with a liberal presence at graduation.

    It’s possible to understand both arguments. Not everyone at Notre Dame is livid about Obama’s speech, but it’s nonetheless controversial. Relative and spring 2008 Notre Dame graduate, Ali Donovan said to me, “”In truth, I think it’s pretty cool that he’s speaking at ND and I wish I could see it. That being said, a graduation, and especially the honorary degree that comes with it, may not be the most appropriate forum for someone whose politics often clash with those of the Catholic Church. For a school that prides itself on its Catholic identity, I can see why some people are upset.””

    All this aside, it’s extraordinary and historical when a president partakes in a university graduation ceremony. Obama did not set out to shove his success in the face of Republicans, but he and his administration could have predicted that the devout Catholic graduates wouldn’t be thrilled to see him on May 17.

    ASU students have not vehemently expressed distaste in Obama’s graduation appearance, but university officials are unable to grant Obama an honorary degree. It’s strange that the drastically more prestigious Notre Dame is giving Obama an honorary degree, but our more average rival can’t do the same.

    ASU does, however, have a legitimate reason for denying Obama an unearned honorary degree. University spokeswoman, Sharon Keeler told the AP that Arizona State only gives honorary degrees to people who have lifetime achievements and have been in their positions for a long time. “”His body of work is yet to come. That’s why we’re not recognizing him with a degree at the beginning of his presidency,”” Keeler said. Thank you, ASU, for realizing that Obama has not yet saved the world. If only half the American public could also get a grip.

    No amount of protest will stop the President of the United States from speaking at Notre Dame next month, but all those opposed have done a service to the Catholic religion by speaking out against someone who they believe enables sin. He has upset a large circle of people at Notre Dame, including many bishops and priests, so it’s nice to see that even the president can’t get away with slighting certain religious beliefs without consequence.

    -ÿLaura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at

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