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Students protest in response to Charles Murray lecture

| Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thirty minutes before sociologist Charles Murray was scheduled to speak in McKenna Hall on Tuesday, students began to gather outside the building; some carried signs with slogans protesting Murray, and many were dressed in black.

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 2.13.19 PMMichael Yu | The Observer

Students gathered outside McKenna Hall on Tuesday afternoon to protest a talk given by author Charles Murray.

“We’re out here to let students know that not everyone on this campus believes what’s written in Charles Murray’s books and articles,” fifth-year Rachel Wallace said. “ … We want to present an alternative narrative to what he’s proposing.”

Murray — best known for co-writing “The Bell Curve” in 1994 — is a libertarian political scientist. “The Bell Curve” argues that genetics at least partly determines economic and social success; his critics, however, argue the book approaches claiming that race is a genetic factor contributing to IQ differences.

The protest was organized by student activist group We Stand For, a group that has organized a number of protests on campus since the election of President Donald Trump.

Murray spoke at Middlebury College on March 2, but the event turned violent, leaving one professor injured and forcing Murray to be interviewed via live stream.

The demonstration in front of McKenna did not turn violent, even as students began to leave the area designated for them by Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) in small groups at 12:57 p.m. to approach the door of McKenna Hall, where they were blocked by NDSP officers. Once there, four Ph.D. students read the letter 67 graduate students submitted to The Observer.

Protesters then began to chant: “Who is the enemy? White Supremacy,” “Your message is hatred, we cannot tolerate it” and “We stand for love, we stand for justice and we stand for equality.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 2.13.31 PMMichael Yu | The Observer

One of the protesters holds a sign reading ”Racist pseudo-science is not welcome here” outside the doors of McKenna Hall on Tuesday.

At one point, Holy Cross guest student Patrick Guibert approached the protesters and asked them to cite where Murray promoted “white supremacy and eugenics,” to which individual protestors asked him why he was defending “a white supremacist” and “Where are your receipts?”

“My concern during today’s event is that more recently, there has been a tendency to mob up against people and mischaracterize people and judge people,” Guibert said in an interview after the protest. “My concern about the protest, I feel, was fear that any mischaracterization or misrepresentation of [Murray] or his arguments would undermine progressive social change, and it would undermine the completely legitimate criticism of his points that we wanted to raise.

“ … When I tried to ask what specifically has he said, I got shut down by everyone.”

Many of the protesters, including senior Natalie Thomas, president of the Black Students Association, cited Murray’s work on “The Bell Curve” as their reason for joining the protest.

“I think the problem comes when a lot of the students feel targeted,” Thomas said. “ … That’s why I think it’s problematic that he was invited.”

Some protesters, however, were torn about whether or not to join the demonstration.

“I was really undecided,” senior Mercy de la Rosa said. “One of the police officers … is my friend and I didn’t want to make it about NDSP. It just felt like a lot when Ann Coulter came my freshman year — and actually it’s a lot of the same people here today — so for me, I wanted to stand for something. It’s really insulting to be Hispanic and work really hard and get into law school, even, and to be told that that’s only because I’m Hispanic.”

Second year law student Terrence Way said he “took the liberty to do some independent research” after hearing that Murray had been scheduled to appear on campus. He said “it’s appalling to see that sort of thing here.”

“When it comes to discourse, it’s not a problem of having controversial ideas,” Way said. “We’re mature enough people to understand that our point of views are not the end all, be all of the universe — we know that. It’s when you try to engage in discourse with false narratives. It makes no sense and it doesn’t represent who we are as a university.”

Notre Dame has an “Open Speaker Policy,” which states students and student groups “may invite and hear any person of their own choosing,” although the sponsorship of guest speakers “does not imply approval or endorsement” of the views by the group or the University.

“I hope the University takes a closer look at its speaker policy in the future and sees how the speakers affect the students on our campus and ask if it fits in with our mission and if we want our name on it,” Wallace said.

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About Megan Valley

Megan Valley is one of the Associate News Editors for The Observer. A junior majoring in English and the Program of Liberal Studies, she hails from Flushing, MI and lives in Flaherty Hall.

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  • Hound Dog

    It seems none of these protestors actually know anything about Murray other than propaganda from the left. Shame on them. You never learn anything when your mouths are open and your ears are closed.

    Hound Dog. ND class of ’86

    • Adrienne Whisman

      Have some direct quotes from the guy:

      “when we know the complete genetic story, it will turn out that the population below the poverty line in the United States has a configuration of the relevant genetic makeup that is significantly different from the configuration of the population above the poverty line. This is not unimaginable. It is almost certainly true.”
      —“Deeper Into the Brain,” National Review, 2000

      Any geneticist worth their salt will tell you that genetic make up between humans has very little variance and a person’s educational success also revolves around access to education and opportunities to succeed. If you’re born rich, you have better access and opportunities because money.

      “The professional consensus is that the United States has experienced dysgenic pressures throughout either most of the century (the optimists) or all of the century (the pessimists). Women of all races and ethnic groups follow this pattern in similar fashion. There is some evidence that blacks and Latinos are experiencing even more severe dysgenic pressures than whites, which could lead to further divergence between whites and other groups in future generations.”
      —The Bell Curve, 1994

      Dysgenics is the study of factors producing the accumulation and perpetuation of defective or disadvantageous genes and traits in offspring of a particular population or species. The adjective “dysgenic” is the antonym of “eugenic.” He believes cross racial relationships and “bad breeding” are making the population “sick.”

      “You want to have a job training program for welfare mothers? You think that’s going to cure the welfare problem? Well, when you construct that job training program and try to decide what jobs they might qualify for, you had better keep in mind that the mean IQ of welfare mothers is somewhere in the 80s, which means that you have certain limitations in what you’re going to accomplish.”
      —Interview on race and IQ, “Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg,” PBS, 1994

      I haven’t been able to find any reputable sources that say welfare recipients, especially single moms, have lower IQs. IQs in fact have been proven in multiple studies to be racist and classist as those tests, as well as most standardized tests, are geared towards financially secure white males. You can’t measure intelligence, as how would you define it? Plus do you know how hard it is to get from poverty into an educational setting? You need money and to get that, a job. It’s hard and many people can’t sacrifice the 2 or 3 jobs they are working to get an education because they have to provide for their families.

      Murray uses racist, white supremacist research and ideas to promote his own biases. His research has been disproved by other scholars and he is not someone I would want at my school, ever.

      Have a nice day.

      • Patrick Guibert

        Good job googling the dude and copy-pasting from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s assessment of him. However, Murray has argued that those quotes have been taken out if context and that they misrepresent his arguments.

        It’s okay. I know you’re not lazy or self-righteous in your failure to give the other side a chance to respond. It’s easy for anyone to not want to listen to those whom we deem “Bad People,” so you might not have even thought to consider whether Murray has anything to say in regards to the allegations leveled against him. But it’s okay, now you know. And so because you’re not lazy or self-righteous, I’m sure you’ll take the time now to examine and respond to Murray’s explanations of those quotes.

        Look forward to the continued dialogue.

      • Hound Dog

        Snowflake!! He was right there at OUR school and you had a chance to ask him questions !! BTW, he has done more research and work into his studies than you have in your recitation of quotes. IQ is definitely a determinant of success and “NO”, IQ tests are not racist, classist, or gender biased!!

        Grow up!!

        • RandallPoopenmeyer

          Eff you, you sound like the least intelligent person here. Give me actual genetic testing results, and maybe I’ll give him a chance.

          • Hound Dog

            Are you a student at Notre Dame??

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Are you a student at Notre Dame? By the way you use the word “snowflake”, I assume you never made it to Notre Dame and so you decide to be an online troll instead. “Grow up!!”

          • Hound Dog


          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Looks like reasoning is hard for you.

          • RandallPoopenmeyer

            That doesn’t answer my question. Answer my question or I’m done talking with you.

          • Hound Dog

            You didn’t ask a question, idiot!!

          • disqus_PBnOP0sXke

            Name calling much?

    • Patrick Guibert

      Hound Dog, man, don’t write us all off. I was at the protest and I can clearly articulate my objections to specific arguments that Murray has made.

      That said, I totally share a lot of your same concerns. I posted on the event facebook page over the weekend asking if we could clarify the specific arguments (in context!!!) that the protest would address. I wanted to make sure that everyone was prepared to engage with and change the minds of anyone who saw validity in ideas we disagree with.

      Turns out that catchy chants and matching outfits were more important.

      That said, a few people were willing to engage with me.

      • Hound Dog


  • Annette Magjuka

    I am proud of ND for having an open speaker policy and proud of the ND students who protested without violence.

  • NDaniels

    Dysgenics and Eugenics are not antonyms, they are like two peas in the same pod. Dysgenics is merely used as a means to justify eugenics, which is based upon the false theory of Evolution which denies that speciation occurs at the moment of conception, and thus every son or daughter of a human person can only be a human person, as a member of the human race. The theory of Evolution actually denies the equality of human persons, making it appear as if there are groups of persons who exist in the same Time but in different Spaces, who evolved at different rates.

  • Tripper

    I see a bunch of protestors who look like they have no business at the University of Notre Dame, and their ignorance is only matched by their worthlessness. Do better Notre Dame, on behalf of Catholics everywhere.

    • Patrick Guibert

      I don’t blame my fellow students as much as I do the professors who mentor them. If the professors cared about bringing about positive social change more than being liked, they would emphasize the importance of trying to understand the viewpoints of “the bad people” so that they can engage in constructive conversation and perhaps change some people’s minds. Without hope of changing anyone’s minds, there can be no hope of seeing any political change. So by condoning the abandonment of dialogue, these professors have left the students they mentor with no hope and no way forward. If I were hopeless about possibility of change, I would be doing exactly what these protesters did. It’s pretty disgraceful how much the faculty mentors are failing the students they want to help.

      Well, at least they get a lot of facebook likes.