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Bumper sticker may send wrong message

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, September 2, 2007

The final shot of a video featured on the revamped Notre Dame Web site is distressing. It draws attention away from the University’s impressive incoming class, which the rest of the three-minute video highlights, and should be edited to remove the political bumper sticker it includes.The video, entitled “A New Home Under the Dome,” spotlights the arrival of the incoming first-year class. The class, the video tells us, consists of just under 2,000 students from an applicant pool of 14,500 – an exceedingly exclusive and bright bunch indeed. Impressive, too, is that the class is distinguished by greater ethnic diversity than any other group in Notre Dame’s history, with over 25 percent of the students being minority. Both signs of progress, to be sure.Unfortunately, though, the video ends in the following way: The camera holds on a close-up of the vanity license plate on the back of a recently unloaded SUV. As the car drives away, we see the “Bush/Cheney in ’04” bumper sticker next to the Notre Dame vanity license plate. As graduates of the University who also grew up a mile from campus, we are well aware that there is nothing decidedly false or inaccurate about the contiguity of a Notre Dame vanity plate and a Republican bumper sticker. However, as alumnae who do not approve of most of the Bush administration’s foreign or domestic policies, we hate to think that this shot in some way signals the University’s endorsement of the Bush/Cheney administration and its past or future decisions.As alumnae from the Classes of 1994 and 2003, we too applaud this year’s incoming class and look forward to the promise of the future they can help create. We hope that their Notre Dame education will provide them with the tools to think critically, to act as engaged citizens of this country and the many other countries they represent, and, most importantly, to be guided in their work to act justly toward the most vulnerable members of the global community. At its best, this is what four years of a Notre Dame education afforded each of us, thanks to so many excellent and committed Notre Dame professors and staff members.We urge the University administration to continue striving to make Notre Dame a place that is open-minded, a place of thoughtful exchange, a place where many viewpoints are welcome and a place whose identity, fortunately, is not tied with any particular politician or political party. (And we urge the Web site administrators to review this video and consider editing the shot before the partisan bumper sticker appears!)

Mary Kate Goodwin-Kelly, Maura KellyalumnaeClass of 1994, Class of 2003Aug. 30