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Where is the fairness?

Alan Keck | Thursday, January 26, 2012

When President Obama was elected in 2008, it was seen as a sign of increasing fairness in America. Deserved or not, President Obama himself was seen as a sign of fairness and all that is right when it comes to equality. However, with the new Health and Human Services mandate that he and his administration have adopted, it seems as though fairness can only extend to one party.

What Notre Dame is faced with is a lose-lose situation. We could go along with the mandate, thus throwing our collective Catholic identity and adherence to the Church’s doctrines out the window. This, of course, is something that we should not and will not do. Our hallmark as one of the — if not the absolute — best Catholic universities will be lost.

The second option is to eliminate health coverage for Notre Dame employees. This also contradicts what the Church preaches in terms of helping and protecting those who seek such protection. Additionally, eliminating coverage not only goes against Church teachings, but it will also cost the school a penalty of ten million a year, according to Mr. William McGurn in his Wall Street Journal article that specifically looked at the law and how it affects not only the Catholic left, but institutions like Notre Dame. That penalty amounts to about $1,200 per undergraduate student, which may possibly be made up through a $1,200 addition to our tuition and fees.

In addition, by not covering school employees, there is a real chance that very qualified professors and workers will not want to risk working for a company that has no coverage for them. Therefore, President Obama may not only be hurting this school’s chances to hire respected and intelligent professors, cooks and landscapers, but he also may be increasing the cost of attending Catholic schools that may drop coverage — which is significant for a man who wants every American child to attain higher education.

There is even a third option, as noted by Ms. Carney et al., which disregards the mandate. That option is to accept the coverage, but only enact the parts that do not conflict with Church teachings. This is perhaps the most viable option, but it’s impossible to see how the HHS will react to such selective interpretation of the mandate. One could assume, however, that fines, sanctions and legal action of some sort will be levied against the University — all against a Catholic school that just wishes to keep its Catholic identity true. Separation of church and state works both ways. President Obama is trying to meddle in the affairs of the Catholic Church with state policies, a right that many people will say he does not have.

Looking back, I was actually wrong early on in this letter. I said it was a lose-lose situation for the University, when in fact, Notre Dame is faced with a lose-lose-lose situation.

What President Obama fails to see is that he too is facing a losing situation. By enacting this mandate, he risks the chance of alienating the Catholic left who helped him get to office in the first place. President Obama’s chance for re-election may increase if he simply decides to not act in a position of change for religions, most notably Catholicism.

I do hope that the University will continue to fight this, and I am in agreement with Ms. Carney et al. when I say that I will stand by the University against this overstepping of boundaries.

Love Thee Notre Dame!

Alan Keck


Duncan Hall

Jan. 26