Protesters object to decision to honor Bush
By KERRY SMITH
The administration's decision to invite President Bush to give the Commencement address and award him an honorary doctor of laws at Commence-ment has sparked controversy from within the University community.
Many groups and individuals affiliated with Notre Dame have expressed concern that the invitation neglects the Catholic values and traditions on which the University is founded. Led by government professor Peter Walshe, a group of faculty, students and alumni created a petition and will hold a demonstration outside the Joyce Center Sunday to protest the decision.
"Does [University President Father Edward] Malloy really believe George W. Bush is a role model for the graduating class — someone worthy of an honorary degree?" Walshe said. "Commencement is a time to celebrate the values of the University and President Bush is incapable of doing this."
With 667 signatures, the petition has been signed by 115 faculty, 98 graduate students, 173 undergraduate students, 208 alumni, 22 staff members and 51 others.
Walshe, who wrote the petition, pinpointed the opposition to Bush, writing, "The policies of the Bush administration which will, inter alia, give a huge tax refund to the rich, cut by 86 percent programs that provide health care access for the uninsured, abandon the environment — both nationally and globally — to the predatory drive for corporate profits, and promote another arms race with its Strategic Defense Initiative, contradict Notre Dame's mission as a Catholic university."
Walshe thinks other issues need be addressed as well.
"Our petition objects to a range of policies being pursued by President Bush. But it lets the president off too lightly," Walshe said. "As an adamant supporter of capital punishment, he stands in fundamental opposition to the U.S. Catholic Bishops and Pope John Paul II … The petition could also have drawn attention to President Bush's derisory contribution of $200 million for the international fund to counter the AIDS pandemic in Africa."
Petition supporters will protest Sunday in two ways. Some will gather at Leeper Park in the morning and march to the Joyce Center, where they will hold a rally and hand out leaflets to those entering the graduation.
The rally will include speeches on what protesters think are four contradictions between Catholic values and Bush's policies: labor, the environment, capital punishment and the military.
Protestors attending graduation will wear white armbands and/or white tape on their mortarboards signifying opposition to the administration's choice of a commencement speaker.
According to Walshe, Malloy defended his administration's decision to honor Bush in a letter to a concerned alumnus
"Malloy has written a perfunctory, less than thoughtful, four-sentence response to a long and carefully argued letter from an alumnus explaining why he considered the invitation to President Bush to be totally inappropriate," Walshe said. "Malloy wrote `In inviting President Bush, we honor the office he holds, rather than any particular policy choices he makes as our national leader.' Had Bush been pro-choice he would not have been invited. That he seriously disregards Catholic social teaching in a host of other policies has been ignored."
Opposition to Bush does not stop at members of the Notre Dame community. Other protestors are expected, including members of the Indiana chapter of the American Atheist Organization.
who are opposed to Bush's faith-based initiatives.
All News Stories for Friday, May 18, 2001