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Campus groups seek Trump petition updates

| Wednesday, February 1, 2017

More than a month after they submitted a petition asking University President Fr. John Jenkins not to invite President Trump to speak at this year’s Commencement, the Notre Dame College Democrats and Diversity Council are still waiting for an answer.

Senior co-president of College Democrats Andrew Galo said the petition had roughly 3,600 signatures when it was delivered to Jenkins in December. Galo said the petition’s goal was only further reinforced with the new executive order Trump signed Friday, banning  travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

“Fr. Jenkins has already called on the President to rescind this hateful, bigoted and misguided order,” Galo said in an email. “We agree, and we hope Fr. Jenkins goes one step further in choosing a different Commencement speaker. We will certainly be more vocal until a decision is made.”

Jenkins issued a statement Sunday urging Trump to rescind Friday’s executive order, which stopped visas from being issued to nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and to refugees of Syria indefinitely. It also banned all refugee entries for 120 days, required a review of visa adjudication processes and stipulated refugees can be admitted on a case-by-case basis, especially if they are religious minorities. 

Senior Rachel Wallace, who is student union representative for Diversity Council, said at this point, she thinks it is unlikely for Jenkins to invite Trump. 

“A lot of the orders he’s signed, particularly this last one … [are] so against what Notre Dame stands for,” Wallace said. “The strongest point of content in our petition wasn’t necessarily that he goes against Catholic values — we were really focusing on student safety and inclusivity.”

In the past, six presidents of the United States have spoken at Commencement during their terms, with four of them speaking at the first Commencement after their inauguration. Jenkins said he was undecided in continuing this tradition and extending the invitation to Trump in an interview with The Observer on Dec. 2, before the executive order was issued.

Galo said neither Jenkins nor his staff have reached out to comment on the petition. However, he said, they have heard from students, alumni and community members who share the same views.

Wallace said since the petition was submitted to Jenkins in December, she figured there was a slim chance of them getting a response before break. However, she said, she did expect that by now it would have been addressed, and although it hasn’t, she still remains hopeful for a response.

“We are looking to do some kind of follow-up, whether it’s … a letter … or if it’s more of an action,” Wallace said. “We’ve just been focusing on that whoever the speaker is … they represent our values and that our students feel included. … We want a confirmation that he’s not our speaker, and we can move forward from there.”


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About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

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