Students sign petition against Trump invitation
Observer Staff Report | Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Members of the Notre Dame College Democrats and the Diversity Council penned a petition asking University President Fr. John Jenkins not to invite President-elect Donald Trump to speak at the 2017 commencement ceremony.
Six presidents of the United States have spoken at Commencement during their terms, Four of them — Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — spoke at the first Commencement after their inauguration. In an interview with the Observer on Dec. 2, Jenkins said he had not decided whether to extend an invitation to Trump.
The petition asks Jenkins not to continue the tradition, citing Trump’s behavior towards Mexican immigrants and women and his appointment of former Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon as his chief policy strategist.
“This behavior is not consistent with our mission at the University of Notre Dame,” the petition reads. “His hateful rhetoric towards people of color, his embrace of sexual assault and his utter lack of respect for opposing viewpoints not only render him unfit for the Oval Office, but unfit to set foot on our campus.”
The petition also asks Jenkins to declare Notre Dame a “sanctuary campus,” protecting undocumented students. At a November prayer service, Jenkins told Notre Dame’s undocumented students the University would “do everything we can to ensure that you complete your education,” and he later signed a statement in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an action which the petition applauded.
“However, we fear for the safety of so many of our classmates, peers and community members should the President-elect deliver the Commencement address in May,” the petition continued. “He has already proven himself unwilling to denounce violence and hatred on behalf of his cause. He has brought with him a string of intimidation, hate crimes and ignorance. Were he to deliver the Commencement address on our campus, we have no doubt that the safety of many in our community would be at risk.”
As of 11 p.m. Wednesday night, the petition had garnered 382 signatures.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that all U.S. presidents since President Eisenhower have spoken at Notre Dame Commencement.