Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone

“Do not fear, for I am with you, be not afraid, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)

These words echo in the hearts of many of us in the Notre Dame family. The past few years have been strenuous, to say the least, both for our school and our country. We students have never before experienced such unrest, turmoil and division. In the challenges and hardships of our everyday lives, it is so easy to forget that our Lord God is with us in all things.

We as a nation overturned an immense court decision that will have an effect on the lives of our families, our friends and our peers. In a world filled with death, we have truly taken the first step toward building a culture of life. For those unaware of the existent networks of support, protection, dependence, radical hospitality and abundant love for women in crisis, this decision understandably evokes a lot of fear.

In a post-Roe world, our society must remember the responsibility we have to each other: to support and protect the dignity and value of every human life, mother and child. We as human beings are intrinsically dependent on one another. We must rely on others for support and care, providing them the same in return.

We must learn to be not afraid. We must embrace the understanding that we are not alone. We must embrace the call to abundantly love and serve one another. In the words of the Gospel, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (John 4:18).

We see the division on our campus, and in our nation, on the issue of abortion. We understand the fear and anxiety of those who are uncertain of what the future holds. It is with all this in mind that we call each and every one of you to join us in reflecting upon our role in creating a society with respect and support for all human life.

As stated by Professor O. Carter Snead, Director of the Notre Dame De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, in a post-Roe America, it has never been more important to ensure the “intrinsic equal dignity and value of every human life and to create a society where every child (born and unborn), mother and family is welcomed into a network of support and protection and loved unconditionally, from conception throughout the human lifespan.”

In accordance with the mission of the University and the Catholic Church, we embrace the fact that “appropriate and effective programs of support for new life must be implemented, with special closeness to mothers who, even without the help of the father, are not afraid to bring their child into the world” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae).

By supporting local and national organizations and initiatives, maternity leave policies, childcare benefits, adoption and foster care, education, housing, employment and health care, we are prepared to show women that they need not be afraid and that they will never be alone. We reflect this sentiment in our theme for this year’s Respect Life Week programming: Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone.

This Respect Life Week will feature prayer, service and educational initiatives as we remind one another to trust in God, remain peaceful in uncertainty and support one another in our needs both big and small. Supporting each person’s unique and intrinsic dignity begins with recognizing the gift that your life is to others. God is with you in all things, He has a plan for you and He will never leave you alone.

We invite you to join us in welcoming Robin Sertell, author of Miracles Happen in the Wilderness and known for her story of surviving three separate abortion attempts while in her mother’s womb. Her keynote address, Abortion Isn’t Final: Exposing the secrets that the abortion industry doesn’t want you to know, will be held in the LaFortune Ballroom on September 29th at 7 pm.

Gather with us after 10 am Basilica Mass on Sunday, September 25th for brunch and fellowship in the LaFortune Ballroom. Partner with us in supporting mothers in a post-Roe world as we hold a week-long maternity clothing drive for the Family Resource Center and volunteer at the Women’s Care Center. Pray with us for the lives lost to abortion as we hold a memorial for the unborn on Wednesday, September 28th. A full schedule of the week’s events can be found here.

We invite you to join us on our mission this year, to abundantly and joyfully love and support others and to discover in return the fruits of a society that understands the nature of the human condition: we are dependent on one another, we support one another and no one, truly, is alone.

In life and love,

Merlot Fogarty
President Notre Dame Right to Life


A response to ‘Not a serious program’

I read Ryan Peters’ “Not a serious program” column that appeared the week after the Marshall game. As an attendee at that game, I would like to make a couple comments relative to what is happening in the stadium during games. I agree with him that ND Stadium IS NOT INTIMIDATING.  It once was. I am a 1970 graduate. I have been in the stadium many years since. I believe it was in 1967 that legendary Southern California coach, John McKay, stated that Notre Dame Stadium was the worst place to play because of the noise level. That noise was created by human voices. We didn’t have a loudspeaker blaring electronic noise between plays. We were so loud the opposing team couldn’t run plays. As another example, several years ago I was sitting in the lower level in the southeast part of the stadium mixed in amongst Pitt fans. As the teams were warming up, a number of Pitt fans were having a great time carrying on about how Pitt was going to maul us. With the “kickoff cheer” and the subsequent roar from the student body and fans in the stadium, they looked shocked and surprised. They sat down, and there was hardly a whimper out of them for the rest of the game.

What is different? I submit that the use of electronic noise and piped in “cheering” has taken the student body, the fans and the band out of the game. I was at the Marshall game and was appalled at the lack of noise support from Notre Dame fans. I don’t believe the fault lies totally with them, however. The electronic noise took them out of the game from the start. While I like the lead up to the opening kickoff with Kathy Richardson and the Dropkick Murphy’s, it needs to be timed effectively so that the student body can let the opposition know it is a force. From the opening kickoff on, it seemed that the electronic noise was piped in between every play. It not only took the student body and fan cheers out of the game, the electronic noise also stepped on the announcer and the referees. In short, it became the game.

If Notre Dame wants to have an intimidating stadium, it needs to put the noise back into the student body, the band and its fans. We were constantly reminded in the weekly run-up to a home game that we were a part of the Notre Dame “team,” and that we needed to let the opponents know we were there. We believed our participation had an effect. I think it did. Opposing teams were intimidated. Our players told us that and thanked us.

If Notre Dame wants to fix the noise in the stadium, fix the electronics.

On another matter, we had first time guests with us. I was honored and excited to show them the campus, traditions such as the “Trumpets in the Dome” and take them to the Convo to the upper-level sports history displays. Even though both activities were promoted in pre-game materials and the game program, “Trumpets under the Dome” was a whimper by the statute of Sacred Heart, and the Condo was locked down so that no athletic displays could be visited. An attendant told us it was by order of the University.  So much for that.

David A. Redle

class of 1970

Sept. 20

The views in this letter to the editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.


Pick up a newspaper

Even though I’m from the Class of 2020, I’m going to propose something to you that’s so old-fashioned and outlandish that you might mistake me for a member of the Class of 1920. You should read a physical newspaper. 

I have no special vendetta against trees and I have, in fact, heard of this new fad that they call the World Wide Web. Instead, I believe print news offers three distinct advantages: it is better for accountability, it is immune to some troubling new advancements in information warfare and it even helps make you smarter. 

First, accountability. Did a politician really use that dreadful slur? Did a media outlet actually make a slanderous accusation? While it’s possible to update a website or delete a tweet before screenshots can record it, good luck trying to round up all the printed evidence. 

Second, print newspapers can never microtarget content with the same precision of online algorithms. Your virtual news feed can be curated to exactly match your views, leading to each person consuming content in their own highly personalized echo chamber. Yes, I’m aware that print newspapers can still attract distinct populations and write with bias. Try reading about the same topic in both the Irish Rover and the Observer! But a print newspaper can’t disseminate disinformation with the same surgical intentionality of a Russian-made fake video of the Ukrainian president surrendering, distributed to only the people most likely to be convinced by it and nobody else. Yes, that really happened.

Lastly, dealing in paper and ink actually makes you smarter. A 2018 study published in the Educational Research Review found that “paper-based reading yields better comprehension outcomes than digital-based reading.” Your brain can better recall what it read by remembering tactile cues (the feel and weight and even smell of the pages flipped) and where on a printed page it saw something. In contrast, virtual reading has fewer cues and more distractions like app notifications or pop-up ads.

Should you never scroll through the Observer’s website ever again? Of course not. But the next time you head to the dining hall, consider grabbing a print copy instead. If nothing else, you’ll find the results to be much less catastrophic when you spill your cereal on that old-fashioned version. 

Andrew C. Jarocki

Class of 2020

Sept. 7

This letter to the editor is the views of the author and not necessarily of The Observer.


Coeducation 50 years in the making

Fifty years ago I was a senior in high school beginning my college application process. One of the applications was to the University. Little did I know that I was going to be a “pioneer.” Campus was about half the size it is today. I wanted to go to the best university to give me the best future. The process was “snail” mail and computers were not part of our lives. The wait period seemed to take forever — no universal notification or class celebration. Four hundred new students joined the 375 women from the 1972-73 year. We made up about 10 percent of the student body — about 6600 total in the late ‘70s.

Given the task to write a “50 years of Women on Campus” reflection, I wonder what is it that I want new students to know about what was and what is now. Do I want you to know what campus looked like 50 years ago? What was here, what intentionality was given to have women here? Women were given a men’s hall — which definitely was built for men. The first year Badin and Walsh Halls were occupied by the first 350 women with Farley and Breen Phillips the next to go to women students and upping the total to 650.  The halls opened with urinals in the bathrooms, which were quickly filled with a flower pot.  The women’s halls received washers and dryers in our basement as the men had laundry service. Yes, that was only the beginning of the noticeable differences. The women’s halls had “detex” entry systems and evening guards at the doors. Male classmates had to be escorted by their host.

After working with the women for the past eight years, I wonder about our similarities and what have we done to move women to a new place. Speaking with the women students I realize we all suffer from the “imposter syndrome.” We worked to climb to the top in high school. Studied to achieve the best grades, held leadership positions, volunteered, membership in interest clubs, vocational experience, etc.  There were no gaps in our experiences. We then decided to apply to the best of the best universities that would provide us with the best future options.  We were achieving the next “steps.” Not sure if we set the visions or if it was assumed from our influencers.  Somehow, we didn’t or haven’t learned that we are capable and talented women deserving of the gifts and earned accomplishments. THIS IS ONE WISH FOR ALL: YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!

Campus was significantly smaller — no mod quad, east quad, nor west quad.

Women wanted  the opportunity to participate in athletic competition.  During the first five years women had to initiate the sports; field hockey, fencing softball, volleyball, rowing. It is wonderful seeing women in Fencing, Swimming and Diving, Lacrosse, soccer, Basketball, softball, track and field, etc.  In addition, the representation with boxing, rugby, etc., have provided the much needed athletic outlets. The participation includes more reasonable times for practice and quality of equipment. We are also celebrating 50 years of Title IX-women or girls did not have the opportunity to participate in sanctioned sports.  How exciting! Domer women will have been given many opportunities.

The one thing that remains consistent is the transitional journey.  I still remember the uncertainty and feelings of being out of place. We all do what we need to do to make it comfortable, making friends, participating in sports, walking around the lakes, taking naps, crafting, etc. Home under the Dome takes time and work! The noticeable difference is that women are on campus and it is as common as seeing another male student!  This has not always been the case.  We can thank Fr. Hesburgh for his insight and desire to make campus more inclusive, in all ways. 

I had the privilege of returning to the University as a Rector, after 35 years in higher education having worked in private and public universities. The past eight years I have been able to serve the students and the university in this role. The experience has been so exciting to see the changes the University has made to assist women and all students. 

The overall growth (6000 to 10000) of the university has continued to bring the gender into balance.  To walk on campus and NOT have a clue that 51 years ago campus was all male is a great achievement.  To see the influences from women — academically, administratively, athletically and aesthetically has improved the overall beauty and comfort. I know Fr. Ted is smiling down, along with Our Mother, marveling at the women’s presence.

Carol A. Latronica

class of ’77

Aug. 23


Let’s put labor back in Labor Day

Let’s focus on labor this Labor Day. Let’s not forget the heroism of American workers in the past, who by banding together won victories that we take for granted, such as the eight-hour workday, the 40-hour workweek, the end of child labor and salaries sufficient to support their families.  After declining for decades, the labor movement in the U.S. is growing at a pace not seen since the Great Depression.  For example, last December a single Starbucks store in Buffalo successfully voted in a union. Today, employees in more than 200 Starbucks stores nationwide have voted for unions.

A year ago, JusticeND, a coalition of concerned faculty and staff, began a university-wide discussion about the fairness of the wages being paid to hourly staff.  Noting that Notre Dame’s minimum wage fell far short of meeting the basic needs of families of living in South Bend, we called upon Notre Dame to follow Catholic Social Teaching, which demands that employers pay living wages.   Notre Dame students joined this dialogue by launching their own “Raise the Standard Campaign,” which pushed for raising student wages and widening participation in deliberations about salaries and working conditions.  

We were encouraged that, in July, Notre Dame announced salary increases, which raised the pay of faculty and staff by 3% and set a minimum wage of $15 per hour for work-study students and $17.50 per hour for all other hourly workers.  These increases are an important first step. But much more needs to be done. According to new research last year by the Notre Dame Center for Social Research, the new minimum wage for entry-level positions at Notre Dame does not provide a financially stable situation for most families.

Raising low wages benefits not just Notre Dame staff and faculty. It benefits the entire the South Bend community. Notre Dame is the largest employer in South Bend, a poor city with a median household income of only $42,657, which is far below the national average of $64,994 (these figures are 5-year averages from 2016 to 2020 in real (2020) dollars).  Black households in South Bend average only about half the income of white households. If Notre Dame is to be, recalling Fr. Sorin’s words, a “powerful force for good” in South Bend, we must take responsibility not only for the poverty in South Bend but for the policies that created and maintain the racial wealth gap. 

Notre Dame’s mission obliges us to cultivate in our students, “a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.”  We cannot teach the history of the labor movement and social encyclicals without taking responsibility for the justice of our own labor policies.  The progress that we made last year was the fruit of disciplined reflection and dialogue about our collective obligations to the most vulnerable members of our community. JusticeND calls upon all members of the Notre Dame community to press forward, particularly as the cost-of-living continues to rise.  Let’s take time on this Labor Day to ask ourselves what new strides we will look back upon on Labor Day 2023. 

Clark Power
John Duffy
Steve Fallon

Aug. 29


First-year FAQ: A first-year survival guide

Your first year at Notre Dame is hard. It can be exciting, life-changing, terrifying, revelatory, unforgettable and probably every other adjective you can think to ascribe to it, but at the end of the day, it is still hard. When you first arrive on campus, it’s easy to feel somewhat adrift. You’re separated from your parents, you’re thrust into a dorm beyond your choosing and you’re paired with a total stranger as a roommate. Then you’re hit with assignments, anxieties, due dates, social pressures and a flurry of new experiences, some of which you’ll love and some of which you won’t. And what’s more, you begin this journey under the golden dome of one of the last bastions of western Catholicism: The University of Notre Dame (aka Catholic Disneyland). It’s a lot. Every upperclassmen who’s been through it knows it’s a lot. And every first-year going through it alongside you knows it’s a lot. Still, that doesn’t make your first year any less stressful. So, in an attempt to quell some of the expected terror of one’s first year in college, I have decided to compile a set of frequently asked questions, and to answer each of them to the best of my ability––even if that ability is decidedly on the low side.

I’ve heard Notre Dame is extremely rigorous academically, and I’m a little intimidated. What can I do to prepare?

This question is frighteningly common, and I think it’s important to dispel the prevailing idea that academics at Notre Dame are overwhelmingly strenuous, or that first-years may not be ready for the challenge. Prepared students should find the workload manageable, and, more importantly, if you have been admitted here, you deserve to be here. There is no reason to panic if you suddenly receive an assignment or challenge you haven’t encountered before. You can do this! But, in case you do find yourself struggling, here are some tips from my experience to help you along the way:

First, get a planner to help organize your day. Start by marking off each assignment’s due date, each essay’s due date, the dates of each exam, the dates of each lab, the times for office hours, every group project meeting, writing center meeting, advisor meeting, internship interview, Rector meeting, social events, dorm party, call to your parents, intervention for your friend’s roommate, stress-induced headache, unexpected panic attack, OCS meeting and OCS sentencing and then organize your free time in case you find it prudent to occasionally take a stroll around the lakes or scream interminably into your pillow. 

Second, do not underestimate the positive impact of a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately, due to academic pressures, mounting workloads and the urge to excite one’s social calendar, sleep can be difficult to come by for many first-year students. Fortunately, there is a handy technique that we Fighting Irish have been using for decades. While doctors generally suggest you sleep eight hours a night (56 hours a week), it is not always practical to spread your sleeping hours evenly across each night of the seven-day cycle. As such, one tried and true method suggests that a weary college student sleeps a little under four hours each night, before subjecting themselves to a party-induced coma for 29 hours from Saturday night at 3 am to Monday morning at 8 a.m. Ta Da! 56 hours a week, and you wake feeling fresh as a daisy!

Third, take a deep breath now and again. Weirdly enough, it really will be okay. 

I’m not particularly religious. Will I feel as welcomed here as my Catholic peers?

While Notre Dame’s reputation has been infallibly built on its academic excellence, moral rectitude and epic football program, some eagle-eyed students might also notice that Notre Dame is actually a Catholic institution. In fact, Our Lady’s campus is home to 57 different chapels, as well as being littered with countless statues of notable Catholic figures such as Mary, Jesus and Lou Holtz. Still, can’t we all feel accepted at this institution regardless of our personal beliefs?

Mostly! Ultimately, Notre Dame is a respectful, open-minded community for learning. The Catholic roots serve as a guide in all of the University’s actions, but they are not what define the school––rather, it is we, the student body, who define Notre Dame. That said, if you have an aversion to Catholic imagery, you’ve made a catastrophic error in school selection. 

How important are the dorms really? Does it matter which one I’m placed in?

I suppose this varies by person, but personally, my dorm will one day be the centerpiece of my obituary. 

I’m nervous about getting a random roommate. What do I do if we don’t get along? 

Ah, the randomized roommates. Notre Dame’s most confusing source of pride. While the process is inherently a gamble, many Domers past and present report finding lifelong friends in their first year roommates, often rooming together again in the years that follow. But then, of course, there are the odd mismatched roommates here and there. No doubt, in your first year at Notre Dame, you’ll hear a number of completely baffling roommate horror stories: the kid who can’t sleep unless Motley Crue is playing at the unhinged volume of a space launch, the kid whose rejection of private property extends to your personal belongings or the kid whose once youthful rebellion has accidentally made them permanently nocturnal. Unfortunately, you can only hope you’re not forced to room with your soon-to-be worst enemy.

Still, if you and your roommate aren’t best buds, that’s fine too. You don’t need a lifelong bond to cohabitate effectively, and if worse comes to worst, you only really need to be in your dorm room when you’re sleeping. There are so many friends to be found at Notre Dame. Don’t be discouraged if the kid on the other bunk doesn’t happen to be one of them. 

What are Parietals?

A cataclysmic bummer.

Is there anything else I should know before I start my freshman year?

Don’t freak out! College can be stressful, but it can also be the absolute time of your life. Put yourself out there, and get involved in as many things as possible. You only get four years here (actually I’m on track for five and a half, but that’s beside the point). Make the best of it, and don’t forget to have fun! I think I speak for all upperclassmen when I say we are so excited to welcome you to Notre Dame!

Daniel Lucke


Aug. 29


A welcome from Notre Dame Right to Life

It’s the start of a new, beautiful fall semester here at Our Lady’s University, and Notre Dame Right to Life (NDRtL) wants to extend a warm welcome to students returning to campus and all new students who are joining the Notre Dame family this school year! We are so happy to have you here. 

We are so excited to begin this year’s line-up of amazing speakers, service opportunities, social events, dialogue, education and activism. This is, after all, the first year ever that NDRtL has existed in a world without Roe.

NDRtL is the largest non-academic student-run club on campus. Our mission is to promote a culture of life in the Notre Dame community through education, service and prayer. We believe that all life has value, from conception to natural death. Our programming seeks to serve students at Notre Dame by promoting and upholding the sanctity of all human life. 

Now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, it is more important than ever for students to get involved in pro-life initiatives. We have waited 50 years for this first step in the fight against abortion. Yet this is only the first step. Building a culture of life means creating a society in which abortion is not only illegal, but also unthinkable. 

This means providing resources and aid to women in unplanned pregnancies, supporting candidates and legislation that stand for strong adoption and foster care reform bills, child support and mandatory maternity leave and finally, ensuring that each and every individual in our society knows and cherishes the unique, unrepeatable life and dignity of every human being from the moment of conception. 

As this year progresses, we will continue to reflect on the future of the pro-life movement and the state of our culture. We will not stop until every woman, child and family is treated with dignity and love in both the culture and the law. 

In addition to post-Roe initiatives, Right to Life holds many events throughout the semester which help to promote dialogue on life issues and bring awareness to the places in our society where the most vulnerable among us are forgotten. This year, we are excited to announce the inaugural Right to Life retreat, “Serve One Another Humbly With Love” (Galatians 5:13), which will be held on September 3, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

“Life Fest,” the annual kick-off event for Right to Life, a celebration of the joy of each and every life within the Notre Dame family, will be on September 2 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on South Quad. Any and all are welcome for burgers and hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, cotton candy, cookie decorating, games, tie dye and fellowship!

As a Catholic club, NDRtL chooses a yearly patron saint both to guide and strengthen the spiritual dimension of our club’s initiatives. For the 2022-2023 school year, NDRtL’s patron saint will be St. Joseph! St. Joseph is titled the “Pillar of Families,” “hope in difficulties,” “protector and patron of the unborn” and “patron of fathers.” We recognize that fatherhood is invaluable and essential to promoting a culture of life. In a post-Roe America, fathers will need to step up, and St. Joseph will be their guide. Further spirituality initiatives include monthly Right to Life Mass in the Basilica, all-night adoration and weekly Chaplet of Divine Mercy at the Grotto for the unborn. 

Furthermore, this year for service is going to be huge! We have so many moms and families to help and we cannot wait to get started. Our service initiatives range from baby showers for moms in the community, free weekly babysitting for parenting students and faculty, spending time with the elderly at Holy Cross Village, raising money for a mom who chose life that we’ve adopted through “Let Them Live,” volunteering at the Women’s Care Center or Hannah’s House and so much more! 

Our education branch seeks to serve the Notre Dame community by providing the platform for conversation and dialogue and to open the door to changing hearts and minds in the Notre Dame community. We have a lineup of some wonderful (and very famous!) speakers coming our way this fall that you won’t want to miss out on. Lastly, we are ecstatic to announce we are partnering with the Saint Joseph FertilityCare Center to host a series on Natural Family Planning and living a comprehensive pro-life ethic that combines science and faith. 

While some may argue otherwise, we want to emphasize: We are a non-partisan club. All are welcome to participate in dialogue and events with NDRtL, and we joyfully receive newcomers into the Right to Life family. We recognize the controversy of the pro-life identity and the difficult conversations that are being had on all life issues across our nation. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions or would just like to chat, please stop by our office hours! We have an open door for any and all who would like to engage — visit our website for hours. 

We strive to root our work in prayer and set all of our hardships at the feet of Christ, in constant intercession with Our Beloved Lady, the Virgin Mary. We maintain that every individual is made in the image and likeness of God and as such should be treated with dignity and kindness in all circumstances. Mothers, fathers, children, the elderly, those in prison, the disabled and each and every one of you deserve the dignity and respect owed to a child of God. 

Whether you are already an active member of the club or you are just interested in seeing what RtL has to offer, we would be honored to work joyfully alongside you to promote a culture of life here at Our Lady’s university. We will be praying for each and every one of you. 

If you or someone you know is going through an unplanned pregnancy, you are not alone! Notre Dame is committed to providing resources and helping students choose life. Contact Peggy at ND’s Family Resource Center (, 574-631-3000). Visit one of the several local Women’s Care Centers for free, confidential pregnancy resources (574-234-0363). Browse local resources via, or contact NDRtL at with any questions you may have! We are here to serve! Go Irish, Save Babies!

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

In Christ,

Merlot Fogarty


president, Notre Dame Right to Life

Aug. 22

Editor’s note: A previous version of this letter to the editor used the terminology “anti-abortion” instead of “pro-life” due to The Observer’s adherence to AP style. The wording was changed back as the letter represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. The Observer regrets this error.

Letter to the Editor

The views expressed in this letter are not necessarily those of The Observer.