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viewpoint

Alumnus questions campus

| Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dear Notre Dame Community,

It’s rather odd that I decide to write an Observer article after 17 years have passed since I was a Notre Dame student. I know things have changed, but at the same time, I realize the beauty of Notre Dame is the constancy of the University in so many wonderful facets – the academia, spirituality, athletics and certainly, let us not forget, controversy and exchanges of ideas. Isn’t this what a university education is all about?

I write this letter from outside the University looking in, from someone who knows and loves Notre Dame well, but is not there to witness the current daily dynamics of our University. Please understand that I fully admit that my remarks are mere assumptions about today’s Notre Dame and merely ask to clarify the situation. I fully understand I may be missing the mark here completely. I am simply putting my thoughts onto paper as an alumnus perceiving activities on campus from afar.

Recently, I have read frustrations regarding Students for Child Oriented Policy (SCOP) – accusations of narrow-mindedness, possible hatred and lack of Christian charity in the group’s mission.

Certainly, human sexuality is an immensely complex issue, and I am no expert in the field. Rather, I am an economist in thought. I currently teach economics and understand the natural balance maintained in society and life, dare I say God’s natural law. With 30+ states allowing for the marriage of same-sex couples, it is impossible for Notre Dame to ignore (nor should the University ignore) the new forms of these issues in today’s society. As an institution staunchly grounded in the Christian foundation, it is Notre Dame’s duty to address any issues affecting society because it affects her students.

I commend the administration, and in particular my former Notre Dame classmate and friend, Erin Hoffmann Harding, who so eloquently addressed Notre Dame’s mission and the University’s responsibility in this heated debate with the establishment of “Beloved Friends and Allies,” a collaborative piece between university and Church that beautifully explains Notre Dame’s mission to the GLBTQ community in a distinctly Catholic context.

Of course, with any organization, especially one the size of Notre Dame, human error is never extinct. I am assuming that the execution of this plan and topic on campus is not perfect. And here I arrive at my perceptions and questions.

Are there organizations on campus in support of GLBTQ community walking a fine line on Church teaching? Are they doing just enough to not be antithetical to Church teaching, but somehow promoting ideas against the Church’s teachings? I do not know, as one not on campus currently, but from the responses I have seen, it seems that may be the case.

For two years now, students have been walking through rainbow doorways on campus to come out as whoever they want to be. This is a great concept displaying God’s individuality in creation, and it would seem that this movement is done in accordance with the Catholic message. It is here I wonder as well. Is there somewhere a hidden agenda existing that promotes a lifestyle that counters what the Church considers to be God’s natural law? Do the members of Students for Child-Oriented Policy (SCOP) sense hidden agendas (whether or not they are actually present)? I would assume that SCOP does sense that a hidden agenda is in place for some groups and activities at Notre Dame.

Is this the natural balance that SCOP provides to the Notre Dame community, or is SCOP merely a right-wing extremist group? Personally, I believe SCOP is providing a needed balance to Notre Dame. I believe that students involved in SCOP love God, God’s Church, Notre Dame and all of you reading this. I believe that SCOP is not intending to be hateful, but inform those they care about what the Church preaches regarding sexual unions. Let us never forget that although a university, even a great university, Notre Dame goes beyond and is a great Catholic university.

 

Gregory Bergman

class of 1997

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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  • no

    If your question is “is the university less anti-gay than it was in 1997” then the answer is most assuredly yes. But don’t worry too much. It’s still got a reputation for being one of the most anti-gay national universities in the country. I look at that as a negative, but from your noncommittal, word salad-y letter (it’d be better and more honest if you just articulated what your concern is instead of weirdly dancing around it) it seems like that will comfort you.

  • ND Senior

    The name of the club is “Students for a Child-Oriented Policy,” yet most of their work focuses on criticizing gay marriage. If the club truly cared about child-oriented policies, they would be working towards improving the foster care system, education, SCHIP, providing affordable daycare and preschool, pollution exposure, or any of the numerous issues that affect children’s outcomes. The research shows that children of heterosexual or homosexual parents fare equally well, so trying to stop marriage equality under U.S. law will do nothing to improve children’s outcomes. The porblem that I have with SCOP is that the club does not live up to its name. In practice, it is just an anti-gay group using children as an excuse for its message.

    Tyrel London submitted a Viewpoint a few days ago about his struggle with his sexual orientation and how it almost pushed him to suicide. Matt Dooley published a similar story last semester. LGBTQ students are suffering because they feel unwelcome and unloved; we need PrismND. Almost every other university in America has an LGBTQ group, yet Notre Dame did not institute PrismND until last year. For years there was not an organization that supported our LGBTQ students. Trying to “offset” PrismND with another anti-LGBTQ group will just reverse the progress that ND just made towards loving and accepting all students.

    There is really no excuse to not support PrismND. Even if you believe that marriage is only for 1 man and 1 woman, our LGBTQ community members need support. Imagine being told that you are forbidden from marriage and parenting, two fundamental human relationships, solely on the basis of your sexual orientation. You didn’t chose this life and were simply created this way; now you will be stigmatized for just being LGBTQ and accused of mortal sin if you ever acted on your human desire for love and companionship. If you expect LGBTQ students to follow Catholic teaching and be celibate, you are going to need to go above and beyond to show them love and support to help them cope with that kind of major deprivation.

    A lot of the pro-SCOP people paint the two clubs as “gay marriage vs. traditional marriage” when the issue really is “love vs. not love.” SCOP talks about gay marriage in terms of theory and fails to consider the emotional and psychological consequences that their words have on other people. No heterosexual couples have been forced to divorce because gay marriage exists. No heterosexual people have been stigmatized and judged for their sexual orientation because LGBTQ people were accepted and loved as people. No children’s lives have been ruined because gay marriage exists. SCOP isn’t preventing any harm and is only causing more harm.

  • Scott Opperman

    Well, since you mention it, one does wonder why you–a personal friend of a high-ranking administrator–have come out of the closet, so to speak, after graduating 17 years ago to submit something to The Observer on this particular topic today.

    Since you seem concerned about how well ND students follow the Catholic magisterium’s teaching, let’s take your meanderings and make some substitutions. Let’s make the focus the Church’s social teaching this time:

    “Are there organizations on campus in support of [certain political and economic positions and practices] walking a fine line on Church teaching? Are they doing just enough to not be antithetical to Church teaching, but somehow promoting ideas against the Church’s [social] teachings? I do not know, as one not on campus currently, but from the responses, I have seen, it seems that may be the case.

    “For … years now, students have been walking through [business school and law school] doorways on campus to come out as whoever they want to be. This is a great concept displaying God’s individuality in creation, and it would seem that this movement is done in accordance with the Catholic message. It is here I wonder as well. Is there somewhere a hidden agenda existing that promotes a lifestyle that counters what the Church considers to be [socially ethical]? Do the members of [the Children’s Defense Fund, Diversity Council, GreeND, Human Rights-ND, Men Against Violence, Model United Nations, NAACP, ND for Animals, National Alliance on Mental Illness ND, ND-8, Peace Fellowship, PrismND, Progressive Student Alliance, She’s the First Club of Notre Dame, Shades of Ebony, Social Justice in American Medicine, Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy, et al.] sense hidden agendas (whether or not they are actually present)? I would assume that [many of these organizations do] sense that a hidden agenda is in place for some groups and activities at Notre Dame.

    “Is this the natural balance that [these organizations provide] to the Notre Dame community, or [are they] merely [left]-wing extremist group[s]? Personally, I believe [they are] providing a needed balance to Notre Dame. I believe that students involved in [these clubs] love God, God’s Church, Notre Dame and all of you reading this. I believe that [these clubs are] not intending to be [condemnatory], but inform those they care about what the Church preaches regarding [social ethics]. Let us never forget that although a university, even a great university, Notre Dame goes beyond and is a great Catholic university.”

  • Hector

    Your fears are well founded. The Notre Dame community has turned into a giant gay festival. We are all having gay intercourse. Everywhere. Even as I type this post. It feels so right. Notre Dame forever, baby!!!

    • Jake Reilly

      I sincerely hope you are being sarcastic. If not, what gives you the right to judge your fellow human beings on their natural sexual desires?

      • Hector

        Judge them? Not only am I not passing judgement, I am participating!

  • Wow…

    I literally thought this was a parody, what with the “hidden agenda” conspiracies and what not.

    Then I realized it wasn’t. “And Jesus wept.”