class of '01
Constantly students and alumni use this forum to complain about many things that, while they won't affect world peace, console victims of oppression or feed the hungry, are the issues that face the Notre Dame community — on campus and beyond. I could rage endlessly about the senseless ticket distribution system (football, U2, O'Neill SYRs), the terrible refereeing of girls' interhall flag football officials, the fact that The Observer can't ever get the crossword puzzle right or that student government is funnier than Befuddled and Bemused. Yet I've somehow managed to deal with these awful tribulations. However, two recent developments in the decisions of our morally conscious administration do cause me great distress.
First, witness the administration's punishment of the ROTC at Notre Dame. Since when was it un-hip to be patriotic, especially at a time when America desperately needs to show its true colors? On Sept. 29 the Army ROTC cadets participated in their routine training exercise, conducted at least once each semester since ROTC was founded. There was nothing out of the ordinary or different about that weekend's events from previous years — battle drills in the woods, some land navigation, team building exercises and leadership development.
This year the ROTC faculty, seeking to give their cadets an exceptional training opportunity, decided to liven-up the weekend by coordinating for our cadets to ride in Blackhawk Helicopters back to Notre Dame from their training site. These choppers were generously furnished by the Illinois National Guard. The cadets relished the opportunity to fly from LeMans Military Academy back to the field in front of Holy Cross College. At that point the cadets dismounted their choppers and formed up for a foot march back to Pasquerilla Center, the home of Notre Dame's ROTC programs.
The American flag and Battalion colors were uncased as the cadet battalion proudly marched across U.S. 31, down Dorr Road, around Holy Cross Drive and down Juniper Road, finally arriving at Pasquerilla Center. Notre Dame Security Police provided traffic control, which was greatly appreciated. As they crossed U.S. 31 dozens of motorists beeped their horns, waved to the cadets, shouted supportive words and showed their patriotism. Furthermore, during their march across campus, several people cheered, waved and took pictures of the marching Notre Dame students. Morale amongst the cadets was extremely high; truly these students exemplified "God, Country, Notre Dame."
The high morale hit rock bottom when the battalion arrived back at its home. Notre Dame administrators had already called for a meeting with the ROTC commanders to discuss the offensive and unacceptable behavior displayed by the army cadets, specifically: marching, singing cadences and wearing camouflage — how atrocious!
As a result of that meeting ROTC cadets are no longer allowed to sing cadences during runs around the lakes. They are no longer allowed to wear camouflage at their training periods on the campus proper. Also, the cadets are forbidden to utilize training aids like rubber weapons as they offend and scare too many students and administrators.
Army cadets must train for the National Leadership Advanced Camp where they are evaluated and graded on their military development. As well, they train for their collegiate competition Ranger Challenge, in which they participate against Ranger Challenge teams from other universities.
In this competition cadets in 9 and 5 person teams must perform land navigation, rifle marksmanship and 10-K runs with full equipment and rope bridging. It is impossible to train properly for the run and the rope bridging without all necessary items — like one's camouflage uniform, rubber rifle and full load of equipment, as well as an area to train (like the spot on St. Mary's Lake near Carroll Hall which has been used since Ranger Challenge was created in 1987.) Sadly though, the cadets are not allowed to perform their routine training. Would someone really suggest that the football team practice without pads or artificial crowd noise, that the baseball team practice without gloves, that the band practice without instruments or that our student actors and actresses not be given a theater to perform? Of course not. So why punish these Notre Dame student-athlete-leaders?
At this point I wish to take issue with the moral majority that is our dear administration. In the Oct. 8 Observer there is the article concerning Cooper Rego and the alleged rape that transpired in 1998.
Here is a person, maybe not formally prosecuted for rape, (as Notre Dame wouldn't dare allow such a spectacle to go outside the Dome) but who was punished as a result of some type of conclusive evidence to support the claim of Miss Pienovi. Yet this morally upstanding, patriotically-condemning administration of ours is seriously considering his return to campus, despite the ban against him.
"As an individual, security would ask him to leave, as a group that is something different." This said by the director of Public Relations Denny Moore, the only Notre Dame official who would comment on the impending episode. Yeah, good response —strength in numbers. I guess the ROTC programs just need more cadets to join.
I do not use this example to exploit the plight of Miss Pienovi. However, it does serve to showcase the often-contradictory policies of our administration in both instances. Especially because ROTC bailed out Notre Dame during the great wars and Miss Pienovi graciously gave of herself to increase sexual assault awareness at Notre Dame.
The fact is this administration does an excellent job of living in its glass house while casting stones at others. This university has a host of issues to contend with, however, no one of any real substantial importance is in tune with any of them. Perhaps if Mr. Kirk weren't spending all his time in the Green Field on Saturday mornings ticketing tailgating students who aren't affecting anyone but themselves then maybe he'd have a better idea. The words "God, Country, Notre Dame" are engraved over a doorway at the Basilica. I now realize why those words do not hang over any door into the Golden Dome.
All Viewpoint Stories for Friday, October 12, 2001