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Advertising Notre Dame: Ad shows ND’s shortcomings

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, September 12, 2005

What kind of image is Notre Dame selling in the new television advertisement? A university that provides higher education? I think not, because it does not say anything about Notre Dame’s academic programs. It does not highlight the wonderful faculty and facility we have. It does not say what the school’s mission statement is. Instead, the commercial successfully sold an image of homogeneity. It perfectly depicts the lack of diversity at Notre Dame, which not only discourages those who cannot identify with the girl in the video to apply, but it also shows disrespect to the minorities at Notre Dame since they are nowhere to be found in this 30-second television advertisement that is supposed to represent Notre Dame.

In the commercial, the white girl who lives in a middle-upper class suburban neighborhood prays that she will get admitted to Notre Dame. What kind of students will this video attract? Definitely not those who grow up in inner cities and constantly struggle with the inequality in the distribution of educational resources and yet manage to score high on the SATs and maintain a 3.8. Definitely not the African American students who study so hard just so that they can be the first ones in their families to attend college. Definitely not Jews or atheists who believe that Notre Dame offers them what they want academically and yet are skeptical about the difference of their religious backgrounds. These students are different and yet they are the kind of students that Notre Dame claims it strives to reach out to. However, not only does this new commercial fail to reach out to students with a diverse background, it sends a clear message telling them not to apply because we don’t want those who hold different opinions and they will never fit in.

In addition, when Julie Flory, an assistant director at the Office of News and Information, states, “It’s hard to craft a message so perfect that no one can dislike it,” she neglects the minorities on campus. They are not Catholic, white or rich, and yet they have chosen to come to this school for the higher education opportunities it provides. They are part of the student body and yet they are not recognized by the administration. Indeed the majority of Notre Dame students are from white, Catholic, middle-upper class families; however, that does not mean Asians, Mormons, gays or people whose parents have three jobs just to keep them in school do not exist here. Oftentimes these marginalized groups are only seen but not heard on campus. In this case, they are not even seen in this commercial, as if Notre Dame does not approve of their presence.

Notre Dame tries hard to create an image of “We are ND.” Everyone in this big Notre Dame family is happy and well taken care of. However, who is excluded in this school is evident. Some may argue that it is white, rich and Catholic students are Notre Dame legacies and Notre Dame must carry on this tradition. Sure, Notre Dame can accept any kind of students it wants, but these students will not always live in the Notre Dame bubble. When they graduate, they will realize that there are many different kinds of people in reality. Not everyone shares the same worldviews, not everyone votes for Bush, not everyone is heterosexual, not everyone goes to church and not everyone can afford football tickets.

Diversity has been one thing that Notre Dame tries to increase in the past decade because the school sees the importance of diversity and the advantages it brings. I cannot imagine how this commercial will hurt the efforts and awareness that have been made by students who care about diversity issues. One thing that was right about the commercial is how flawlessly it illustrates the lack of diversity in the student body, as Matt Storin, the associate vice president for News and Information stated -“[The video] shows what Notre Dame is, what it strives to be and how it is different from other universities” – Notre Dame is unique because there is no other school that betrays its mission to increase diversity and neglects the marginalized like Notre Dame does. I wonder when Notre Dame will truly embrace diversity as it says it does. I can only hope for the day when everyone -Latinos, bisexuals and Buddhists – are truly considered part of the Notre Dame family.

Shan-Jan Sarah LiuSenate Diversity Committee ChairpersonseniorPasquerilla WestSept. 8