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Identity crisis

Lauren Galgano | Friday, February 20, 2004

It’s only normal for the college student to be caught in some sort of identity crisis. But I wonder, is the same degree of self uncertainty permissible for the administration of a university?

Initially, you may ask, “Can an institution even have an identity crisis?” I propose two key words that will clear the matter up immensely: “academic freedom.”

“Academic freedom” is a 50 cent phrase that will buy you a better ranking in U.S. News. Want to compete with Ivy League schools? You had better be hosting sexually explicit theatre presentations, selling the most controversial books written by pro-abortion activists in your bookstore and denying any accordance with Catholicism other than some unfortunate traditions due the circumstances of the University’s founding. Otherwise, there goes your respect in academia.

Given these criteria, our administration seems caught in a very tight spot.

To be clear, I honestly believe that our great administrators want to maintain the uniquely Catholic atmosphere that generally permeates the grounds of this beautiful campus.

However, the question now becomes, “Why are we so determined to sell ourselves short?” Trying to conform to the mold of a secular society only diminishes what Notre Dame stands for, leading to inherent contradiction.

Let me provide some concrete examples.

In one breath, we are told that certain politically charged events – I don’t believe I have to name the two most recent – will be allowed on campus in the name of “academic freedom.”

Shortly before one of the productions, however, the administration was forced to remove a provocative “advertising” display for the production from LaFortune. I suppose if we can’t have Notre Dame women parading around in bikini tops in a public forum, we should just put them on stage and sell tickets. (I think you get my point …)

Likewise, the Queer Film Festival slipped in under the guise of “academic freedom,” as well. Never mind the fact that these films presented propaganda explicitly contrary to Catholic teaching.

So what is my point? Am I advocating that we should neither be “academic” nor “free” at this University? Not in the least.

In fact, by denying conformity to the culturally accepted relativist secularism, I suggest that we could be freer to embrace our true identity through a sincerely introspective look at our definitively Catholic heritage.

Want to discuss homosexual issues during this current wave of unrest in our nation? Attend the symposium panel discussion examining the government’s regulation of traditional and same-sex marriage unions to be held Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Eck Visitor’s Center Auditorium. This panel will feature three speakers presenting three different approaches to the issue.

Surely such a dialogue requires a strong adherence to “academics” as well as to “freedom of speech.”