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Response to Annex SMC

Elizabeth Cress | Friday, November 12, 2010

As a senior at Saint Mary’s I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying four years of the “draconian, single-sex education” referenced in Annex SMC (Nov. 10). Your first incorrect assumption is that the women of Saint Mary’s share your perspective that having no male, computer science majors (sorry Mark) in their midst is somehow oppressive or relegates them to lives of mediocrity, but I digress.

Notre Dame is a storied institution with a national footprint/brand, impeccable resources, quality faculty members, a strong, supportive alumni organization, and impeccable adherence to its mission. I have the greatest respect for the history and reputation of Notre Dame. With that said, Saint Mary’s needs to give no ground to Notre Dame or to defend its academic excellence versus any other institution. Saint Mary’s has an equally commendable history of fulfilling its unique mission as a highly respected liberal arts college.

You thoughtfully pointed out many benefits to Notre Dame merging with Saint Mary’s, but did I miss the part about gains to Saint Mary’s? Having us available to help with football recruiting is the least we could do if you would allow us to join the Notre Dame family. And the addition of funds to the Sisters of Holy Cross coffers from the Notre Dame endowment … eureka!

Of course, our lives would be forever changed by gaining the prestige of a Notre Dame degree, even though the addition of Saint Mary’s would no doubt meaningfully degrade the value of the Notre Dame brand. Dealing with the gender imbalance would, as you suggest, be a huge hurdle, but one that you could overcome with time. The women of Saint Mary’s would not think for a minute that you view Notre Dame students as being superior to the “chicks” at Saint Mary’s. From your article, it sounds like you have done your due diligence and have become intimately familiar with all the dimensions of life at Saint Mary’s. Your bio says you are a computer science major and therefore must be highly intelligent (especially compared to Saint Mary’s women) so I would not question your thought leadership on the annexation proposal.

At the same time, I do wonder about a couple things. Currently, I enjoy the best of both worlds. Notre Dame is gracious enough to provide access to academic disciplines not offered at Saint Mary’s, is willing to share a variety of resources, provides access to football and basketball tickets, and allows me to share their zip code. Our social lives at Saint Mary’s can be as intertwined as we want them to be with the Notre Dame students (you didn’t reference that but I’m sure you have been an active participant, unless you have been consumed with preparing your thoughtful presentation on the merger of Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame?). All of these points make me reflect on why it would be beneficial to be bought by Notre Dame (even though, as you point out, it is a far superior school), when I already enjoy many of its offerings. It is also hard to ignore that Saint Mary’s offers the liberal arts degree that I CHOSE to obtain, a challenging academic environment, non-need based academic scholarships, very strong alumni connections, a beautiful campus, great facilities, humility and other admirable values and the list goes on.

You do make a compelling case for annexing Saint Mary’s, Mark, and I am so thankful that you are working hard to make a difference for the less fortunate and to help enrich my life. For your efforts to help me avoid a life of quiet desperation, the opportunity to tend to my six children, and the freedom to do all I can to make life easier for my husband when he comes home from the third shift at the coal mine, I will be eternally grateful. As you already know, “ignorance is bliss.”

With respect and gratitude,

Elizabeth Cress


Saint Mary’s

Nov. 11