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Make a decision

Stepanie DePrez | Monday, March 30, 2009

Since the onset of the “Odrama,” I have been very conflicted as to where I stand on the issue and what I should do. A lot of me thinks that since I am a sophomore, I have no real place objecting to anything that happens at graduation. But it does make me think, what would I do if I were a senior? I think the issue merits examination, even if I am in no position to react.

I have been in a number of classes where I felt bad, even guilty, for having the gut reaction of “I don’t want Obama here.” Listening to the mainly one-sided opinions of other students talk about the “embarrassing factions” who are objecting and the “radical, selfish Catholics” who are taking graduation from the seniors, I can see how easy it would be to say, he’s coming, it’s over, get over it.

But I came here because Notre Dame is a Catholic university. We’ve been toeing the line of that title for a while, calling ourselves a Catholic university with great pride and distinction, so proud that we aren’t just one or the other – we have peaceably reconciled being a top research university with our commitment to education with a Catholic identity. But I think the issue’s finally come to a head. That’s what this “Odrama” is really about – which comes first, Catholic, or University?

If we are a university first, then by all means, the President should be speaking here! Education and open-mindedness should come first in all things, and we should operate on a platform of openness to hearing anyone, without questioning speakers who might otherwise be held accountable for positions that are contrary to Catholic doctrine. If we are Catholic first, then why should Notre Dame confer its prestige upon someone who as acted in ways that violate core Catholic doctrine? I think that President Obama coming here has become such a (national) issue because Notre Dame, Catholic University, has never had to choose its ultimate designation in such a public, definitive way.

To listen to students of differing views discuss this topic is to witness negotiations between a person speaking Greek and a person speaking Swahili. They get nowhere, because neither really understands where the other person is coming from. All those against Obama receiving an honorary degree are stating that no matter who he is or what the award is for, he holds a position contrary to a “non-negotiable” teaching. All those delighted to see Obama speak and receive the degree think this is irrelevant because he’s the President and we’re a university.

So the time has come for us to decide. We can no longer live in the limbo of thinking being a Catholic university can appeal equally to both aspects – somewhere along the line, we must ultimately make a decision. After sitting with this for a week, unsure which attitude I would subscribe to, I realized the distinction has already been made by one of Notre Dame’s ubiquitous mantras: God, Country, Notre Dame.