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Eleven years have passed since University of Notre Dame students embarrassed the university by complaining that alum and then-Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan was too small of a fish to speak at their commencement.
Now, the university might be on the verge of attracting a whopper, Barack Obama, to speak May 17. However, Notre Dame’s decision has come over objections of conservative wings of the Catholic church that complain Obama’s views on stem cell research and other human life issues run counter to church teachings.
Is the university making the right call? And what does the choice of a commencement speaker say to you?
One can argue Notre Dame or any other university should welcome a president out of respect for the office. Or that bringing speakers with different views onto campus enhances a liberal arts experience. Or that Obama’s presence would raise the university’s stature and help the development office raise funds.
The other side of the coin is the one taken up by the conservative groups. Being a Catholic institution, Notre Dame ostensibly embodies at least some of the church’s teachings. So, inviting a speaker like Obama would be anathema to at least some students, parents, donors and possibly even some faculty.
What do you think?