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Excitement turned Disappointment

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When I first learned that President Barack Obama would deliver the Commencement address in May, I was excited. While I did not vote for President Obama last fall and many of my political views are not consistent with his, especially regarding the sanctity of life, I nevertheless show the utmost respect for him as the president of our great country. Upon hearing of his selection, I was interested to hear the words of wisdom that he would undoubtedly share with my graduating class. When my parents expressed disappointment with the University’s selection, I vehemently defended the University’s choice to them and told them how strongly I believed that the Notre Dame administration’s actions deserved support. However, in the last few weeks, I have changed my mind.

The strongest contributing factor to my change of heart has been the dismay I experienced upon learning that the White House had requested that all university signage and symbols behind the stage in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University be removed when President Obama delivered an economics speech in the hall two weeks ago. This included an ancient monogram depicting the initials IHS that symbolize the name of Jesus. After reading about these events, I was deeply saddened that the respected leader of our country made such demeaning requests so that the camera quality of Gaston Hall was sufficient. This led me to question whether President Obama’s presence was appropriate for the Commencement ceremony at our beloved University.

Now Mary Ann Glendon has declined her prior acceptance of the University’s Laetare Medal, the first time the award has been declined after being accepted. I wish to applaud Mary Ann Glendon, who despite her prominent position and the effect she undoubtedly knew that her decline of the award would have on the University of Notre Dame, for making a difficult decision and having the courage to do what she believes is right. We could all learn a lesson from Mary Ann Glendon about the importance of standing up for what we know is right, even if we are standing alone.

Megan Sennett


Pasquerilla West Hall

April 28