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College Democrats support mural decision

| Tuesday, January 29, 2019

University President Fr. Jenkins recently announced plans to cease displaying the murals in the Main Building that depict the voyage of Christopher Columbus. The College Democrats of the University of Notre Dame support this decision and the message of inclusion it sends to the Notre Dame community.

While the voyage and exploration of Christopher Columbus represent major historical events, their consequences cannot be ignored. The arrival of Columbus in the Americas precipitated slavery, epidemic and genocide for indigenous populations and established the foundation for a legacy of racial injustice that affects us even today. None of these historical facts, of equal or arguably greater importance, are depicted in the murals in the Main Building; consequently, sincere defenders of “history on campus” should object to the misrepresentation on display.

Furthermore, the current prominence of these murals on campus sends a message of exclusion to prospective members of the Notre Dame community. Their celebration of a man who enslaved, tortured, and executed his fellow humans is an insult to any member of a marginalized community who enters the Main Building, and in deciding to cover the murals, the University acts consistently with its stated intention to “build a Notre Dame community in which all can flourish.” Christopher Columbus may have been Catholic, but he abandoned the central tenets of the Catholic faith — human dignity, solidarity and care for the vulnerable — that Notre Dame holds dear. It is heartening to see the University reaffirm its own commitment to those values.

We understand, better than many, the importance of reckoning with our history, and we would never advocate removing Christopher Columbus, or any other figure, from the history books. However, we stand by the University’s decision to remove his deeds from a place of honor and prominence on our campus, and we are committed to working with the University administration and all interested parties to make Notre Dame a more welcoming and compassionate home.

Patrick Aimone

College Democrats of the University of Notre Dame

Jan. 23

 

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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