As we’ve all heard, this week marks the 40th anniversary of the suspension of the Notre Dame 10. In 1969, 10 students were suspended under the “15-minute rule” after protesting Dow Chemical, the CIA and the Vietnam War. These students faced expulsion and arrest, but would not back down in trying to stand up for their morals. As we remember this important event, I ask Notre Dame to also remember the modern-day Notre Dame 10: The 88 people arrested at Notre Dame during a pro-life demonstration last spring.
In the weeks leading up to President Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame last May, our campus became the site of one of the largest pro-life demonstrations of the year. Thousands of pro-life advocates flocked to Notre Dame to peacefully demonstrate against our decision to invite the pro-choice president to be honored at Notre Dame.
Among the 88 arrested were an elderly priest, several nuns, Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade), Alan Keyes, Jane Brennan (author of Motherhood Interrupted), and many other non-violent participants in America’s pro-life movement. These brave people prayed the rosary, sang religious hymns and partook in other peaceful means of protest. All were arrested, handcuffed and hauled off to jail, where they spent time in custody. It was even more shocking when the charges were not immediately dropped, and even worse that these people had to return to South Bend to plead “not guilty” and request jury trials.
Many of these 88 people are still facing jail time. While the St. Joseph County prosecutor is now in charge of the proceedings, Notre Dame still has a prerogative, as the original complainant, to seek that the charges be dropped. Yet Notre Dame has repeatedly refused to seek such leniency or even answer the pro-lifers’ requests for dialogue.
It is a shame that public arrests of pro-life demonstrators took place at Notre Dame. The guilt of these arrests at America’s premier Catholic university ought to be enough of a punishment to offset whatever was inflicted on Notre Dame’s property rights.
As we remember the Notre Dame 10 this week, let us not forget the Notre Dame 88. We should respect all who dare to speak out for Catholic morality, not prosecute them.