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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

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The Observer

Women's rugby club established on campus

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Girls on campus wearing rugby jerseys may be making more than just a fashion statement. They may be members of the University's first women's rugby club team, which was approved this year.



The Observer

NDSP arrests three during game

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 While the Irish battled the Washington Huskies in the rain Saturday, South Bend Police and Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) arrested three people outside the stadium and 34 people were asked to leave the stadium, director of NDSP Sergeant Phil Johnson said.


The Observer

Race in election discussed

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Racial policy preferences have not changed significantly in the United States from 1988 to 2008 despite the success of President Barack Obama, visiting scholars said Monday.


The Observer

College changes class ring purchase policy

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Since July 21 of this past summer, Saint Mary's College has mandated that only students of junior status or higher can order class rings. The idea behind this new policy is to maintain the integrity of the class ring, Vice President for Student Affairs Karen Johnson said. Before, underclassmen could buy a Saint Mary's ring, even if they planned on transferring somewhere else. "In the past a student could enter Saint Mary's, buy a ring in her first week, and then withdraw with the ring," Johnson said.  Juniors and above will have to provide proof, such as a transcript, that they have completed 60 credit hours. Once students have reached this threshold, they are able to purchase a ring at any time. Johnson said she has received no reactions to the policy from alumni, students or parents. Senior Elementary Education major Megan Hayes said this policy is appropriate for the sale of the Saint Mary's class rings. "The class ring is like a right of passage," Hayes said.  "It represents all four years that I've been here [at Saint Mary's].  It's something you should earn, not just pay money for." After knowing another student who bought a class ring during her first year and ended up transferring to another college, Hayes said she decided to wait to buy hers.  She waited until her junior year, even before the policy was put in place, to buy her class ring. "It's not just for symbolic reasons," Hayes said of her decision.  "It's a waste of money to buy the ring unless you are going to graduate from Saint Mary's." The original design of the ring included only the seal and the phrase "Spes Unica," but the words "Saint Mary's College of Notre Dame" were later added. The phrase was changed to "Saint Mary's, Notre Dame" in 1973 when the two schools decided to forgo a merger, Balfour salesman Jim Bell said in a 2005 interview with The Observer. Other images on the current ring represent the French origin of the founding Sisters of the Holy Cross — two fleurs-de-lis on the top of the ring and the French Cross.     The current design of the Saint Mary's ring has been sold since 1973, although the tradition of class rings has been a part of the college since at least the 1950s.  The ring bears the college seal, adopted from the Sisters of the Holy Cross seal.  Another symbol of Christ on the ring is the phrase "Spes Unica" or "One Hope" on the bottom of the ring. Students have the choice of a small diamond or an open book to be displayed in the center of the ring.


The Observer

Jenkins addresses Commencement issues in letter to students

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University President Fr. John Jenkins sent a letter dated May 11 to all Notre Dame graduates, addressing the controversy that has erupted over his invitation to President Barack Obama to give the principal address and receive an honorary degree at this Sunday's Commencement. In the letter he wrote that Notre Dame must be a crossroads "where people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue." University spokesman Dennis Brown said Jenkins does not normally send such a letter to graduates, but "given the unusual nature [of their Commencement] he thought that it would be appropriate to reach out the seniors." In a copy of the letter obtained by The Observer Tuesday, Jenkins wrote he hoped the Obama visit would lead to "broader engagement on issues of importance to the country and of deep significance to Catholics. "Ultimately I hope that the conversations and the good will that come from this day will contribute to closer relations between Catholics and public officials who make decisions on matters of human life and human dignity," he wrote. Jenkins addressed his critics in the letter, specifically those who have called into question the administration's stance on life issues. "I am saddened that many friends of Notre Dame have suggested that our invitation to President Obama indicates ambiguity in our position on matters of Catholic teaching. The University and I are unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural birth," he wrote. He also referenced the University's long history of conferring honorary degrees on U.S. Presidents in the letter. Obama will be the ninth president to receive a degree from Notre Dame. "It has never been a political statement or an endorsement of policy," Jenkins said of the honorary degrees. "It is the University's expression of respect for the leader of the nation and the Office of the President. In the Catholic tradition, our first allegiance is to God in Christ, yet we are called to respect, participate in, and contribute to the wider society. "As St. Peter wrote (I Pt. 2:17), we should honor the leader who upholds the secular order," Jenkins wrote. He wrote of what he called an "obligation" for an institution like Notre Dame to "engage the culture." "[A] Catholic university has a special obligation not just to honor the leader but to engage the culture," he wrote. He specifically wrote about his time as an undergraduate, when Fr. Theodore Hesburgh was University president, writing that Hesburgh called Notre Dame "both a lighthouse and a crossroads. "As a lighthouse, we strive to stand apart and be different, illuminating issues with the moral and spiritual wisdom of the Catholic tradition. Yet, we must also be a crossroads through which pass people of many different perspectives, backgrounds, faiths, and cultures," he wrote. "At this crossroads, we must be a place where people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue." Jenkins also told graduates that he recognized the invitation to Obama has triggered a debate that they have been a part of. "In many cases, the debate has grown heated, even between people who agree completely on Church teaching regarding the sanctity of human life, who agree completely that we should work for change - and differ only on how we should work for change," he wrote. Jenkins said he has seen the graduates "observed, interviewed, and evaluated" by many people, in addition to discussing the decision among themselves. "You engaged each other with passion, intelligence and respect. And I saw no sign that your differences led to division," he wrote. "You inspire me. We need the wider society to be more like you; it is good that we are sending you into the world on Sunday." Jenkins told graduates "there will, no doubt, be much attention on your Commencement" in the letter. "Remember, though, that this is your day. ... You are the ones we celebrate and applaud," he wrote.


The Observer

High security, protesters expected at Commencement

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Almost two months after the announcement of President Barack Obama's commencement schedule, Notre Dame's campus will be flooded with visitors, graduates and Secret Service agents and South Bend's streets will be lined with protesters Sunday when Obama visits campus. When the president addresses the over 2,900 graduates in the Class of 2009, commentators predict the packed Joyce Center will be the calm at the center of a protest storm. Bishops, student groups and anti-abortion activists have spoken out against University President Fr. John Jenkins' decision to invite Obama to speak at Commencement and award him an honorary degree. Hundreds of protesters plan to stand or walk along Angela Blvd. and Indiana 933 Sunday; busloads of protestors are expected to arrive in South Bend - at least three buses are expected from Chicago - to join those who have already descended on South Bend. Anti-abortion activists Randall Terry and Alan Keyes have led dozens of protesters on to campus the past few weeks, pushing baby carriages with bloody baby dolls and bearing graphic images; over 20 of these protesters have been arrested for trespass on University property. A plane sponsored by the Center for Bioethical Reform has circled the campus since April 28, alternating images of an aborted fetus with messages to Jenkins to change his mind, and trucks from the group are driving the streets in South Bend bearing graphic images protesting the decision. As local police are coordinating with Secret Service to prepare for the president's visit, those living around campus are preparing for an estimated 20,000 protesters to come to their neighborhood. Reports by WNDU and WSBT indicate residents of the neighborhoods around the campus' main gates, who are used to crowds from football weekends, have growing concerns related to damage to personal property if the protests are not peaceful. The Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society are joining in protest Sunday, according to the Web site notredameprotest.com; their day's activities will include two parts: walking in the neighborhood leading up to the ceremony and joining the scheduled prayer services on campus during Commencement. Another group - ND Affirm Life - will be protesting around campus today until Sunday, according to its Web site. The events will include prayer rallies, speakers and acting in solidarity with ND Response on Sunday. Captain Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department (SBPD) told The Observer the police are prepared for any disturbance before Commencement day. "We have numerous officers on call should we need them on Friday or Saturday," he said. And when Sunday arrives, law enforcement will be monitoring the situation closely. "All the local enforcement will have fairly large [presence], with man power in the area," Trent said, stating that various state units and local law enforcement agencies will be assisting SBPD. He said the police haven't made exact estimates as to the numbers that will flock to Notre Dame in protest. "It's hard to put a number to that. We've heard multiple thousands, which we're kind of skeptical of," Trent said. "We're prepared for whoever comes." Trent said he knows that at least one group has filed for a permit for a protest walk, and that the city approved that request. "If past behavior is a predictor, we see what's happened in the last week on campus, and we're just preparing for a magnified [situation]," he said. This weekend's events will be different from past protests because the groups have made media and law enforcement aware of their plans, he said. "We've received word from protest groups themselves that suggest that they're going to be very vocal and some of the groups that we're expecting can be problematic when they come together," Trent said. SBPD will also be assisting with the presidential visit itself, both on and off campus, Trent said. "If everybody does this peacefully, then it will be just a day of complete standing, monitoring the situation," he said of police activity during Commencement. "We're there just as much to protect everyone's 1st Amendment rights just as much as everyone's right to private property is enforced." University spokesperson Dennis Brown said the University is not commenting on specific actions Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) is taking in preparation for Commencement. Construction on local roads, specifically on Indiana 933, will cause traffic blocks, police said, and officers will be on hand for traffic and crowd control Sunday.


The Observer

Class of 2009 valedictorian discusses service work

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In her four years as an undergraduate, Brennan Bollman, the class of 2009 valedictorian, has found that Notre Dame has a character all its own. "I think it's that people here care about each other, about the local community and the larger world. They care about their hall mates even if they don't know them; they care about the staff that works here," Bollman said. "It flows naturally out of the Catholic character of the school." The caring that Bollman senses among her classmates is one reason she said she is proud to represent her graduating class at Commencement. "I'm incredibly excited," she said. "This is a wonderful graduating class, very engaged and passionate." Bollman has come to appreciate the character of Notre Dame and of the class of 2009 through taking part in a range of extracurricular activities. Bollman served on Voice, the student advisory board of the Center for Social Concerns, and worked to promote NDVotes '08. She said her involvement with the Center for Social Concerns helped her meet many of her closest friends at Notre Dame. "One of the cool things about Notre Dame is that I have friends in every major," Bollman said, "a lot of whom I met through the Center for Social Concerns." She said the commitment to service which the Center for Social Concerns represents is a major part of what makes Notre Dame special. "The Center for Social Concerns is one of the most important things on campus," she said. Bollman is a Biological Science major and Peace Studies minor from St. Joseph, Mich., and will attend Harvard Medical School in the fall. She said she originally planned to pursue a career in biomedical research, but her service work convinced her to become a doctor instead. Bollman spent the summer after her freshman year working at a Catholic Worker house in New York, and spent the next two summers in Haiti and Cambodia. "I realized I want to help individual people in individual moments," Bollman said. "So medicine was a better fit. Everything flowed from that." Bollman taught English in Cambodia and worked in Haiti to help implement her undergraduate research work, which focused on eliminating the disease that causes elephantiasis. Summer service was only one part of Bollman's active service work throughout her time at Notre Dame. She has worked at the Sister Maura Brannick Health Center in South Bend for the past two years and helped coordinate the Pathos Project, a class for pre-professional students that integrates discussions about human suffering with service work. Bollman is also active in Lewis Hall, where she has lived for the past four years. As Bollman prepares to graduate, she says that her time at Notre Dame has been a wonderful experience. "I'm grateful for the opportunities I've been offered and the people that I've met," Bollman said. "I hope that I can honor those gifts."


The Observer

ND Response organizes demonstration on campus

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ND Response, a coalition of 11 Notre Dame student groups opposed to President Obama's commencement visit, will hold their biggest event yet when they begin a "prayerful and constructive" demonstration Saturday night, a series of events that is scheduled to stretch nearly 24 hours. The ad hoc group composed of 11 student clubs is leading the only on-campus demonstration scheduled this weekend in response to Obama's visit. The group will host a prayer vigil, outdoor mass, rally and an alternative event - a meditation - for seniors boycotting their graduation. A May 12 press release from the coalition said they aim to "literally fill Notre Dame's South Quad with Notre Dame and pro-life supporters from around the country." The group has invited anyone who is "interested in respectfully and constructively standing alongside us as we give witness to Notre Dame's Catholic identity and affirm the sanctity of life," according to ND Response's Web site. The demonstration events will begin Saturday at 9:30 p.m. with all-night prayer vigil in the chapel of Alumni Hall. Local Bishop D'Arcy, who is boycotting the ceremony based on the University's invitation to Obama, is scheduled to be present at the beginning of the vigil. Events on Sunday, the day when primary Commencement ceremonies will take place on Notre Dame's campus, begin at 10:45 a.m. with a Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament in the Alumni Hall chapel, moving outdoors at 11:15 a.m. for a Mass. The outdoor Mass will be celebrated on South Quad outside the Rockne Memorial building. The primary event of the day, a rally, will begin immediately after the Mass on South Quad. Some six speakers will be present for the rally, including Fr. John J. Raphael, principal of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, La., and a Notre Dame alumnus; Elizabeth Borger, former chair of the board of the Woman's Care Center and a Notre Dame alumna; Professor David Solomon of the philosophy department and director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture; Fr. Wilson Miscamble, a professor of history at Notre Dame; and Lacy Dodd, an alumna of the University who also serves on the board of directors of the Room at the Inn in Charlotte, N.C. Then, at 2 p.m., ND Response will hold a "Class of 2009 Vigil for Life" at the Grotto on Notre Dame's campus. "Those supporters in attendance will be urged to join seniors who have decided not to attend graduation at a prayer vigil on campus," according to the group's Web site. "Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, will be leading a Scriptural Rosary during this prayer vigil," the Web site states. A post-commencement honor ceremony and party are scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, held by ND Affirm Life, a national coalition group organized in response to the Obama invitation, at the State Theatre in downtown South Bend. ND Response, although having coordinated events with outside organizations, is not officially associated with any outside groups. While inviting those outside the University community to the demonstrations, the coalition states on their Web site that graphic images "not in keeping with the tone of this rally" will not be permitted on campus and those violating this request may be escorted from campus by security.


The Observer

Schmidt presents agenda

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Student body president Grant Schmidt discussed his agenda for the 2009-2010 term during his first State of the Student Union to the Student Senate Wednesday evening. Before laying out his agenda, Schmidt took time to address the controversy that has been fueled by President Obama's invitation to speak at Commencement. He urged senators to listen to the discussion so they can assess the situation. "This issue is going to go way beyond May 17th," Schmidt said. "Therefore, as your student body president, I encourage you to recognize that to many, the present controversy deeply conflicts with what they've been taught and what they believe and what they know, but I also encourage you to recognize that for others many see the issue in a different light and are encouraged by the decision." Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Bob Reish, Schmidt said he will continue to work to improve relations with the South Bend community. "I promise that we will do our part to continue in educating the student body of our rights but also of how to best establish a relationship with the city and how to ultimately understand the culture in which we live in," he said. In addition to ensuring the safety and promoting the well-being of Notre Dame students off campus, Schmidt also addressed the University's obligation to the city, saying they must work to fulfill Notre Dame's role in the community. Schmidt addressed several other initiatives that student government will work toward during the term. On campus, he said the Gender Issues Committee will continue to reevaluate the University's sexual assault policy. "The efforts up to his point have been tremendous and we will continue to insure the safety of students on and off campus," Schmidt said of the committee. Another area of concern Schmidt spoke about was enhancing campus diversity. "Comfort is a good thing, but we also need to challenge ourselves to learn more than we already have," he said. "We will work hard to facilitate opportunities for these questions to be asked and answered." After touching on other aspects of his campaign platform, such as the Online Syllabus Database, the ISBN Database and the Global Water Initiative, Schmidt turned to words of encouragement. "Tons of good ideas. It's so easy to sit here and talk about them," he said. "Do something about it." Turning again to the Obama controversy, Schmidt told members of Senate to use the heated debate to get the student body excited about other issues. "Prove that this isn't an apathetic campus," he said. "We are the University of Notre Dame and you better believe that we care about the issues of the past, the issues of the present, and the issues that will affect us in the future." In closing, Schmidt encouraged the Senate members to take advantage of their leadership opportunity. "Know that you have the opportunity each day until April 1st and beyond to make a tangible impact on this campus," he said. "Make this place your home."


The Observer

Laetare Medal will not be awarded

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Judge John T. Noonan Jr., recipient of the Laetare Medal in 1984, will deliver an address "in the spirit of the award" at the Commencement ceremony Sunday, The University announced April 30. The University will not award the medal this year, according to a press release. Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, was selected to receive the award March 22, but she declined the medal in a letter to University President Fr. John Jenkins April 27, marking the first time the award has been accepted and then declined, according to an April 28 Observer report. "I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award [President Barack Obama] an honorary degree," Glendon wrote in the letter. Glendon also said in the letter that implications that her speech would "balance" the event is inappropriate for a Commencement ceremony. Jenkins said that since Noonan has already received the Laetare Medal, the University decided "upon reflection" not to give the award this year. Dennis Brown, University spokesperson, told The Observer that the University decided against making a "hurried decision." "The Laetare Medal is our highest honor, and we annually take great care in selecting a recipient. While we have a list of individuals who are more than worthy of the award, upon reflection we decided against making a hurried decision," Brown said. He said Jenkins reflected on various options and decided to ask a former Medal recipient to speak to graduates. Jenkins called Noonan the "ideal choice" in the press release. "In thinking about who could bring a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature and a deep commitment to Catholic values to the speaking role of the Laetare Medalist - especially in these unusual circumstances - it quickly became clear that an ideal choice is Judge Noonan," Jenkins said in the press release. "This Commencement ceremony, more than anything else, is a celebration of our students and their families. Judge Noonan will join with President Obama and other speakers in that celebration, sending them from our campus and into the world with sound advice and affirmation." Noonan serves as a Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was appointed to the Court in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan. Noonan joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1961 as a professor of Law, and taught at the Law School until 1966. He has also taught at the University of California Law School at Berkeley. Working as a consultant for agencies in the Catholic Church, Noonan has consulted for Pope Paul VI's Commission on Problems of the Family and the U.S. Catholic Conference's committees on moral values, law and public policy, law and life issues and social development and world peace. Noonan was also a governor of the Canon Law Society of America and director of the National Right to Life Committee. Noonan graduated from Harvard University in 1946 and received a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1954. Aaron Steiner contributed to this report


The Observer

Though solemn at times, Obama speech not without humor

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President Barack Obama received almost as many laughs as ovations during his address to graduates Sunday in the Joyce Center. Though some pro-life protesters shouting from the upper bleachers in the arena interrupted some of the president's lighter comments, Obama made jokes about his luck with honorary degrees and latent basketball talent. The president addressed the controversy surrounding his honorary Doctor of Laws degree with a joke and a request to University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh. "I don't know if you're aware of this, but these honorary degrees are apparently pretty hard to come by. So far I'm only one for two as President," Obama said, alluding to Arizona State University's decision to not award him an honorary degree when he spoke at the school's commencement Wednesday. "Father Hesburgh is 150 for 150. I guess that's better," Obama said. " Father Ted, after the ceremony, maybe you can give me some pointers on how to boost my average." The president, in congratulating the class of 2009 for their accomplishments, especially acknowledged this year's winning Bookstore Basketball team. "I want to congratulate the winners of this year's tournament, a team by the name of 'Hallelujah Holla Back.' Well done," he said. "Though I have to say, I am personally disappointed that the "Barack O'Ballers" didn't pull it out. Next year, if you need a 6'2" forward with a decent jumper, you know where I live."


The Observer

Protesters line entrance to campus

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About 50 people lined the entrance to campus at Notre Dame Ave. and Angela Blvd. Saturday with posters showing graphic images to protest Obama's abortion policy and University President Fr. John Jenkins' invitation to the president. Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) arrested 10 protesters for trespassing on campus Saturday afternoon at the entrance to campus, according to a South Bend Tribune report. About 18 people, including politician Alan Keyes, were arrested Friday for trespassing after they entered campus to pray the Rosary, the report said. Commencement weekend events, including the Commencement Mass which took place Saturday afternoon, continued as scheduled throughout the day Friday and Saturday. Controversy over the issue erupted after the University and the White House announced on March 20 that Obama will speak at Notre Dame's Commencement ceremony and receive an honorary degree. Many pro-life groups and religious leaders, including South Bend-Fort Wayne Bishop John D'Arcy, have denounced the University's invitation to Obama because of the president's pro-choice stance on abortion. Participants Saturday's protest said the demonstration was not organized by any specific group or organization. Several students, offended by the graphic images of fetuses surrounding campus, stood in the midst of the protest with signs in support of Jenkins' decision to invite Obama to deliver the Commencement address. Graduate student Ashley Baldridge said her poster, which said "Pro Notre Dame's Choice," was meant to put the focus back on the students graduating on Sunday.


The Observer

Graduates appreciate Obama's remarks

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Kristina Sinutko said she was proud to be a Notre Dame graduate when the "We are ND" chant rang out from the senior class in response to protesters interrupting President Barack Obama's Commencement address in the Joyce Center Sunday. "You can't come to our graduation and yell and get away with it," she said. Sinutko, a graduate of the College of Arts & Letters, said she thought both University President Fr. John Jenkins and the class of 2009 handled the interruptions in the ceremony "very appropriately." Although she said she was surprised Jenkins and Obama directly addressed the controversy surrounding the president's visit to campus, Sinutko said it "would have been awkward" if the issue was not engaged. "I'm so glad he talked about it," she said. "He tried offered a peaceful solution to the problem instead of egging it on." Arts & Letters graduate Damian Kearney also said he was relieved when Obama addressed the "elephant in the room." "With all the conflicting emotions, it felt tense in there for awhile," Kearney said. "I was a little surprised but very grateful both [Jenkins and Obama] talked about the issues." Kearney said the comments of Jenkins and Obama during Commencement succeeded in creating dialogue about many "moral and ethical" dilemmas between the Catholic Church and the political sphere. Marlene Daut, a graduate who received a Ph.D. in English at the ceremony, said she appreciated Jenkins' introduction to Obama's address. "I liked how Jenkins drew attention to the fact that less attention has been given to Obama honoring the University by speaking here," Daut said. "Obama chose to have dialogue with Notre Dame." Daut said she believes Obama discussing the conflict on campus over his views on abortion was the "right thing to do." "It had seemed like he might avoid the issue," she said. "But he was respectful of Notre Dame's views." But not all students appreciated the abortion discussion at the graduation ceremony. "I was surprised and disappointed," graduate Joanna Emilian said. "It's most disappointing that our Commencement ceremony had to be embroiled in this debate." Emilian represented her pro-life beliefs by wearing a mortar board with a cross and baby feet. "The symbol, a cross and baby feet, is to represent the Catholic and pro-life viewpoints," she said. "As a Catholic university, we shouldn't be honoring individuals who so radically advocate anti-life views." Kim Stoddard, a graduate of the College of Engineering, also said she did not want to hear about the abortion debate during the ceremony. "I was just thinking, 'not more of the same thing,'" she said. Chris Labadie, an Arts & Letters graduate and chairman of ND Response, the student coalition that protested the University's invitation to Obama, attended the graduation ceremony wearing the mortar board with the cross and feet - representative of his pro-life viewpoint. Labadie said he doesn't think Commencement was necessarily the right venue to discuss the abortion debate, but he said Jenkins comments clarified some of the ambiguity surrounding the invitation. "That is something ND Response has been looking for from Jenkins," he said. Labadie said he was surprised Obama discussed the controversy surrounding his invitation to speak at the graduation ceremony. "I didn't think he was going to touch on issues of life, but he did it in a good way," he said. "It wasn't incendiary." Graduate Jackie Kallberg said Obama's speech to the graduates was funnier than she expected. "I liked the part about Bookstore Basketball," she said. "Mostly because I suck at basketball but love Bookstore." She said she was worried when Obama initially mentioned the abortion debate, but she said it eventually came off as open and dignified. "It was an awesome speech, moving and very inspiring," she said. John Aland, a graduate from the Mendoza College of Business, said he enjoyed both Jenkins' and Obama's speeches during the ceremony. "Fr. Jenkins came to play today," he said. "They both dealt with the situation well." Aland said the people that interrupted Obama's speech with yells about abortion acted inappropriately, but it didn't ruin the ceremony for him. "I didn't pay them any attention," Aland said. "The protesters didn't affect my week." Graduate Patrick Sheehan said the "We are ND" chant that countered the yells from the crowd was "sweet." "There's no place for protesters at graduation," Sheehan, a Mendoza graduate said. "It was great." Arts & Letters graduate Molly Key said no matter what viewpoint students held about Obama speaking at Commencement, the events leading up to graduation made for a memorable experience. "A lot of people say they don't even remember their commencement speech," Key said. "There's no way we'll forget this."


The Observer

Obama calls for 'open hearts,' 'open minds'

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President Barack Obama's Commencement address marked an important day in Notre Dame's history, as the president, while recognizing irreconcilable differences on the issue of abortion, urged graduates and all Americans to seek a common ground. A theme of his speech: "Open hearts. Open minds. Fair minded words." Obama called on Americans to help reduce the number of abortions performed and also to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies. In the 164th University Commencement address Sunday, Obama acknowledged the controversy surrounding his visit to Notre Dame to deliver the Commencement address and receive an honorary degree. At least four protesters shouting against the president were removed from the Joyce Center by law enforcement. The graduates erupted into a cheer of "We are ND" and turned to the back of the arena to overpower the protesters' few voices. Obama settled the crowd after these interruptions, saying "It's alright." "We're following [Valedictorian Brennan Bollman's] adage that we don't do things [because they are] easy," Obama said to applause from the crowd. "We're not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes." Addressing the complexities surrounding stem cell research, one of the issues that spurred the controversy surrounding his visit, Obama said: "Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved." Working through these conflicts, Obama said, is the main question that faces the nation. "Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort?" Obama asked. "As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without, as [University President Fr. John Jenkins] said, demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?" These questions arise most powerfully, Obama said, in discussions about the issue of abortion. After telling the graduates about a letter he received from a doctor regarding the then-candidate's stance on abortion, Obama spoke of the importance of extending "the presumption of good faith" to find commonalities with those who hold differing beliefs. "Because when we do that," he said, "when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe precisely what we believe - that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground." Obama continued: "That's when we begin to say, 'Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, with both moral and spiritual dimensions." To arena-wide applause, the president issued a call to "reduce the number of women seeking abortions," "reduce unintended pregnancies," "make adoption more available" and "provide care and support for women who do carry their child to term." "Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women," Obama said. Noting the complex views of most Americans on the issue of abortion, the president acknowledged that "each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction." "Surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature." The president also called the graduating class to lead lives of service to "minds and hearts." "It's a way of life that has always been the Notre Dame tradition," Obama said to applause. "[University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh] has long spoken of this institution as both a lighthouse and a crossroads," Obama said. "The lighthouse that stands apart, shining with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition, while the crossroads is where '… differences of culture and religion and conviction can co-exist with friendship, civility, hospitality, and especially love.'" Obama, joining with Hesburgh and Jenkins, told the graduating seniors how inspired he is "by the maturity and responsibility with which this class has approached the debate surrounding [Sunday's] ceremony," to which the students received a standing ovation. The class of 2009 will enter the world facing great challenges, the president said. "Your class has come of age at a moment of great consequence for our nation and the world - a rare inflection point in history where the size and scope of the challenges before us require that we remake our world to renew its promise; that we align our deepest values and commitments to the demands of a new age," Obama said. "It is a privilege and a responsibility afforded to few generations - and a task that you are now called to fulfill." Obama issued a call to the graduating class as they enter the world facing a troubled global economy and harmful climate change, charging them to lead their generation to reconcile these problems. "In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family," he said, to applause from the crowd. These challenges, Obama said, cannot be overcome alone. "[N]o one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history," he said. Doubt should not act as a deterrent to continued faith, but should "compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the spiritual and moral debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame," Obama said. "Even as we cling to our faith to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds," he said. The call to service is the "one law," Obama said, that "binds people of all faiths and no faiths together." Praising the graduating class for its demonstrated commitment to service - noting that upwards of 80 percent of the class of 2009 "have lived this law of love" - saying it is an "incredibly impressive, a powerful testament to this institution. "Now you must carry the tradition forward. Make it a way of life," Obama said, also noting the service work of Hesburgh in his speech. After his address, Obama was presented with a copy of a now-famous photograph - one showing Hesburgh and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at a 1964 civil rights demonstration - as a gift of thanks from University Provost Thomas Burish. Pointing out Hesburgh in the crowd, Burish described the photo: "The minister and the priest, hand-in-hand, singing the civil rights anthem."