ROTC hosts review, Pax Christi protests
Shortly after ROTC's annual Presidential Pass in Review occurred Monday night in Loftus, about 30 students organized by Pax Christi gathered to protest ROTC.
"We are furiously concerned that the Catholic school of Notre Dame is not training future officers in the rich tradition necessary to make good and informed decisions about war," said Pax Christi leader senior Tom Feeney after the rally.
Pax Christi-Notre Dame, "a group of students dedicated to prayer and political action for the peace of Christ," was concerned with the moral awareness of the Notre Dame ROTC program, Feeney said. He added that the University should work more with ROTC participants to "form their consciences," which he said included approaching the use of warfare with a Catholic or Christian perspective.
This year's protest stemmed largely from a speech Pax Christi wrote for University President Father Edward Malloy to present at the ROTC ceremony, where he is always recognized by Notre Dame students of the armed forces.
Malloy's office redirected the group to Father Richard Warner, director of Campus Ministry and ROTC chaplain, and they met Monday morning. Feeney said Warner listened to the group's concern, but Malloy did not read the pre-written speech, which highlights the Christian just-war theory and Catholic Social Teaching as ways to deal with military conflict.
During the Monday night protest, Feeney read the entire speech. It also appears on page 15 of today's Observer.
Feeney said Pax Christi had three specific goals it hoped to attain from the protest: spark dialogue "in the context of friendship" on the issue, raise institutional questions and press for the administration to make reforms in ROTC curriculum.
Many at the Pass in Review were aware of the protest that followed the ceremony, but they stressed the significance of the event in all ROTC programs.
"For ROTC members, it's their key military event of the year," said Col. Mark Gehri of Air Force ROTC. "It's the only time when the entire corps gets together to give thanks to the University for its support."
He added that the cadets can also remind the campus of their committed patriotism.
Likewise, Pax Christi used the event to speak out for what its members feel is the moral obligation of the University concerning ROTC training.
"It's sort of the ritual of ROTC's presence on campus," said Feeney. "So if you were to make a statement against ROTC's presence on campus, that would be when it would happen."
Members maintained they did not want to disturb the ceremony, which is why they moved the protest to Stonehenge from the doors of Loftus, where Pax Christi protested last year. At least 20 ROTC students attended the Waiting for Malloy protest on Stonehenge Monday, including junior Andrew DeBerry of Air Force ROTC who has been collaborating with Pax Christi this year to better understand how to work together.
"I thought they made strides of improvement in communicating their respect for those involved with ROTC. I think they bring up some good issues for the University to address, such as not having a clear class available on Catholic approaches to war," said DeBerry.
All News Stories for Thursday, April 25, 2002