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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Calling for accountability

Dear President Jenkins,

I am writing to express my profound disappointment at your presence (or lack thereof) at the poetry reading by Juan Felipe Herrera, the U.S. poet laureate.

First, I was frustrated by the lack of attention you gave to correctly pronouncing our poet laureate’s name during your half-hearted introduction. Especially for someone as respected as Juan Felipe Herrera, your role, at the most basic level, is to do your best to introduce his name accurately. Please consult a Spanish speaker if you are struggling. Further, as Juan Felipe Herrera is our first Chicanx poet laureate, I read this negligence as ignorant and indifferent toward the Latinx community and their achievement.

Secondly, your immediate departure after the introduction came across similarly, as rude and uncaring. As the presenter, your task is to convince the audience of the legitimacy of that speaker. However, your glaring absence from the actual performance snubbed both our poet laureate and all attending persons.

To be perfectly frank, you should not introduce a speaker if you cannot be present for the performance. President or not, you are held to the same standard of accountability as the rest us, or, rather, you should be held to an even higher standard. Once again, I must reiterate that this seeming lack of attention communicated that you do not care to engage with or support our Latinx community, nor participate in dialogue about diversity and inclusion across differences in race, gender identity and sexuality.

Again, being frank, I expect better of our president, and I encourage you to do better, or, at the very least, to give the semblance of caring. You are accountable to Notre Dame’s communities of color and other marginalized communities on our campus to be our strongest ally and advocate. I am by no means convinced that you are doing so.

I hope that this transparent feedback will encourage you to be equally transparent with your students, and that it will serve in some small capacity towards creating a university where accountability is the norm, rather than the exception.

Aniela Tyksinski


Oct. 6

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.