Letters to the editor: from print issue

Author: Readers

The Unseen Notre Dame

Thanks to Ed Cohen and Matt Cashore ‘94 for the compelling photo essay, “The Unseen Notre Dame” (Spring 2003). Cashore’s pictures speak volumes, with unique camera angles, textures that jump off the page and subtle influences of ambient lighting. For me, some of the pictures were quirky and fun, some awe-inspiring, others sentimental. The way Cashore photographs people seems to place one into their presence, capturing heart and spirit, and you feel you’re sharing their stories. Beautiful work.

Kathleen Conway
Glencoe, Illinois

Affirmative Action . . .

Kudos to Father Malloy and the University for standing up to George W. Bush’s latest assault on affirmative action. Preference is given to prospective students for a myriad of reasons including family, income, athletics, extracurricular activities, etc., that are not related to pure academics. Why shouldn’t race be included, as Father Malloy indicated, to make this great University more reflective of its diversity and culture?

It’s sheer hypocrisy for Bush, who got into Yale based on his family name, connections and influence, to want to ban affirmative action policies. Unfortunately for this administration what is good for the rich and powerful does not apply to the poor and powerless.

John White

. . . and other racial issues

While reading the articles by Mel Tardy ‘86, ’90MBA (“My Notre Dame”) and Sarah Childress ’03 (“Fading Colors”), I recalled my own painful Notre Dame memories. As a black native of a rural Southern town, I never fit in socially at Notre Dame, especially with the urban Northern blacks. Writing an op-ed for The Observer in my junior year about my experiences was cathartic for me, for I learned that I needed to define my identity instead of allowing others to do so for me. Although I’m more comfortable with being black, it’s still not the center of my existence.

My concern now is that Notre Dame seems to be living in an outdated era. The United States and its Catholic community are both far more diverse than Notre Dame’s student body. How many Notre Dame legacies realize that Hispanic immigrants have spurred much of the Catholic church’s recent growth in this country? To express pride in its ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, my parish has a sign that reads, “Many faces in God’s house.” Why hasn’t Notre Dame, a top Catholic university, taken steps to create an environment that nurtures all of its students?

I worry that most Notre Dame students graduate with little knowledge about the world beyond their own backgrounds. This is frightening, especially when considering that many alumni have or will become leaders in workplaces with people unlike themselves.

Alva Lewis ’91
Silver Spring, Maryland

When I read Mel Tardy’s article (“My Notre Dame”) I thought of the lyrics to “Galway Bay”: “The strangers came and tried to teach us their ways. They scorned us just for being what we are.”

The important issue is not his view that Notre Dame has an “Irish and white” culture, but that he attempts to compare “cultures” as though all cultures are equivalent commodities. The Catholic Christian culture is the culture to be engendered in everyone by attendance at Notre Dame. Saints. Peter and Paul advocated a culture that eventually replaced the pagan cultures of the Mediterranean. Saint Patrick and his followers replaced the Druid culture of Ireland with the Christian culture. Notre Dame should be teaching that aspects of cultures inimical to the Christian culture are unacceptable, whether Nazi, Buddhist, Irish, Italian or African.

Dennis S. Mackin ’66, ’69J.D.
Tucker, Georgia

When I came to Notre Dame in 1936, the only blacks on campus were not African Americans but international academic imports —and very few and occasional. After I graduated, it began to bother me, and I began sending a few dollars to an organization that helped fund black students at Catholic universities. But it was all too many years after that that Notre Dame began looking for African-American students.

When I read Mel Tardy’s article, I was shocked that black students felt that Our Lady’s University was a hostile environment as late as the 1990s. Our Lady, I’m sure, must have turned away. Blacks were still not sure of their acceptance at Notre Dame? The dictionary’s definition of the word catholic is an embrace of all races, all humans, the world. What definition did white Notre Dame students use in the 1990s? I’m happy to hear that things are changing, but I gather that there is too much reliance on black alumni instead of alumni at large.

J. Robb Brady
Idaho Falls, Idaho

The Eternal Now

In “A Wonder Full Life” Juan De Pascuale skillfully conveys the human predicament of our times. The ethos of today’s modern society deadens our ability to perceive life with wonder and astonishment, fully present in the Eternal Now. The world in which we live should not serve as a barrier that separates us from the divine but should be a bridge to that realm, the true reality. Call it religion, spirituality or mysticism, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we make progress toward rediscovering and remembering our true nature so that we may come to understand and fulfill our purpose in the universal order as genuine human beings.

Gretchen Ariz ’92