Letters to the Editor (Spring 2008)

Author: Matt Cashore '94

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the spring 2008 print issue are marked with double asterisks (**). The original, longer versions of some of those letters also are included here.

Living Green

**The biggest hurdle environmentalists face in this country (“A New Climate of Cooperation”) is not technological but sociological. An overwhelming majority of Americans think of energy conservation, recycling and carbon dioxide footprints as something someone else needs to worry about. Only a grassroots approach will solve this problem.

One person I know has proportionately exceeded the entire University’s accomplishments (based on your winter article). In 2007, he and his family recycled—through their volunteer efforts—about 15,000 pounds of metals from local industrial sources in addition to paper, plastics and other materials. The family uses public transportation and bicycles to go to work, school, church and shopping, reducing their gasoline consumption by 500 gallons. He estimates his family’s conservation practices have eliminated about 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide. He doesn’t boast about any of this, but tries to inspire others to be similarly creative.

Ed D’Silva ’78
Fort Collins, Colorado

Lost Place

**The disdain and blitheness with which Notre Dame “obliterated” the University Club (to quote the January 17th Chicago Tribune) certainly must give potential major donors second thoughts (“Campus’ lost places”). When Robert Gore Sr. gave the University Club to Notre Dame in 1968, he was allowed to designate some honorary lifetime members, and I am fortunate to have been so named. For many years my family, other families, alumni, faculty, students and friends enjoyed the club and all it stood for—daily and on football weekends, during graduation, Junior Parents Weekend and many other events.

When I heard the club’s days were numbered, I contacted a Gore family friend. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first time any member of Gore Senior’s family had heard of the University’s plans to demolish the club. Yet the Tribune article quoted a University spokesperson as saying, “We met our obligation,” making one wonder how the University defines meeting its obligations to major donors. The spokesperson also was quoted as saying,“Efforts to relocate the club are at a standstill.” Based on past comments, this “standstill” is now entering its seventh year.

Homer Barton ’51
Owensboro, Kentucky

MLK error
I love your magazine. And I look forward to it every quarter. But on the train ride home tonight I read something that caught my attention and that needs correction in a subsequent issue. In Dick Conklin’s piece, which discusses events that took place on October 21, 1964, in Chicago at Soldier Field, he refers to a caller inviting Father Hesburgh to a rally with Martin Luther King, and additionally telling Hesburgh, “that Mayor Richard Daley and Cardinal John Cody had turned down invitations.”

There are two concerns with that quote. One is that there is an implication that Cardinal Cody was insensitive to civil rights. In fact, while John Cardinal Cody may not be remembered fondly by many in Chicago, his civil rights record was stellar, both in New Orleans and in Chicago, and indeed he met with MLK in February 1966 to discuss MLK’s Northern City Campaign (Please see pages 132-133 of the book Catholicsim, Chicago Style, by Ellen Skerrett, Edward R. Kantowicz and Steven M. Avella, c. 1993 Loyola University Press). Two, there is a factual error. For on October 21, 1964, the Archbishop of Chicago was Albert Cardinal Meyer. Cody at the time was in New Orleans, where he was cutting his teeth integrating the city’s Catholic schools. Cody became Archbishop of Chicago in 1965, after the premature death of Cardinal Meyer.

Michael Barron ’87
Oak Park, Ilinois

Hesburgh memory
Reading the piece on Father Hesburgh and Martin Luther King reminded me of a wonderful thing about Father Ted. In the fall of 1963 the Texas Club at Notre Dame invited George Wallace to speak at Notre Dame. I was an Instructor in the English Department that year. I had met Father Ted in the spring of my freshman year at Notre Dame, 10 years earlier, and had been privileged to talk with him once or twice a year during my undergraduate career. So when I heard that George Wallace was coming to Notre Dame, I went to see Father Ted. I wanted him to veto Wallace’s visit.

Father Ted listened to me, and then said, “Bert, I don’t want him here either. But if I veto his appearance, that will set a very bad precedent. And someday, when somebody else is president of this university, you may want to invite someone like Martin Luther King here to speak, and that president will veto Dr. King’s appearance. I think you should accept that George Wallace is going to speak here, and maybe organize some sort of protest.”

I followed his advice, and with a group of students and several graduate student nuns organized a protest. The old Field House was jammed for Wallace’s speech. We had lots of signs that said “End Segregation Now,” and had distributed them. Texas Club boys tore off the “End” from our posters, so that they said “Segregation Now,” and waved them about joyfully. Ralph Martin and a couple of other students had seats near the platform; when they stood up to walk out, that was the sign for a dozen or so more of us to get up. We tried to persuade others to join us in leaving, but got no response.

Sister Mary Petrus Sullivan stood outside the Field House with a sign that said “Christ Made Us All One Race.” The New York Times ran a picture of her on its front page the next morning. But our protest on campus was a failure, a depressing, frustrating failure.

That spring, Martin Luther King spoke at Notre Dame. Father Ted had invited him, and introduced him. It was a wonderful, inspiring, and redeeming evening.

I cherish so much of Father Hesburgh’s presidency, his courageous citizenship, his enlightened leadership. And I remember the lesson he taught me when George Wallace came to speak at Notre Dame, and the gift he gave us all when he brought Martin Luther King to campus to speak.

Bert G. Hornback ’57, ’61M.A., ’64Ph.D.
New Orleans, Louisiana

Investment policy

**Your profile of Scott Malpass, Notre Dame’s investment wizard, raises some thorny ethical and moral issues. According to the article (“Malpass & Co. take high road to bottom line”), Malpass follows moral guidelines “set in 2003 by the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops as well as [Notre Dame’s] own social responsibility policy.” By following these guidelines Notre Dame does not invest in “corporations from any industry whose products, policies or philanthropic endeavors support . . . arms manufacturing.” We can assume, then, that Notre Dame does not invest in General Electric, a corporation that has manufactured, in whole or in part, jet fighter engines, land mines and the Sidewinder missile.

Yet in the same issue we read (“How blue and gold make green”) that Notre Dame has accepted the donation of a “solar array” from General Electric. Should we conclude, then, that Notre Dame refuses to invest in GE but accepts GE’s gift of benign solar panels? Doesn’t this amount to a two-faced, selective relationship with a known arms manufacturer?

However, I’d like to raise a larger issue: Why shouldn’t Notre Dame invest in arms manufacturers? For generations Notre Dame has trained officers for the armed forces through its ROTC programs. Why then should Notre Dame train officers then refuse to support the production of arms that these men and women will use in times of war? Shouldn’t Notre Dame invest in the development of weapons that its alumni may need to defend themselves against their perceived enemy? I believe Notre Dame’s perceived moral position of being antiwar is out of sync with the world of war it helps to sustain.

John H. Zaugg ’61
San Francisco

Many kudos on Mr Malpass’ success. Any chance he could parlay his skills by opening an ND mutual fund to mirror the ethical and successful investing style for alumni/ investors? I’m sure I’m not the first to ask, but as a financial advisor it would be a wonderful thing to offer clients and serve the mission.

John “Jack” Gibbs ’86
Via email

The statement made in your winter issue that in deciding upon endowment investments Notre Dame “blacklists” companies whose products or policies support a number of things that “run afoul of Catholic teaching” including “arms manufacturing” surprised and distressed me. Surely that doesn’t mean that companies like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and United Technologies are excluded from the list of appropriate investments by the Notre Dame endowment because they manufacture and supply armaments and arms components used to defend the freedom of this country? Please say this isn’t so.

Any such list of prohibited investments should be made available to all alumni to see what companies Notre Dame deems unworthy of support. It would be very unfair for Notre Dame to be soliciting contributions from an alumnus who works for such a company if such information were being kept secret from him or her.

Richard J. Carter Jr. ’68
Orleans, Massachusetts

The old Mass

We were delighted to read “An extraordinary liturgy returns to campus,” describing the interest of Notre Dame students in the Mass celebrated in Latin according to the Tridentine Rite. We’re now forming a society of people within the Notre Dame community who are interested in any aspect of the Tridentine Rite, including its history, theological and philosophical underpinnings, spiritual implications, and the various arts, music and architecture used to adorn it. The society’s end will not be political but rather the appreciation of the beauty, mystery and intellectual rigor of this form of liturgy. For more information contact steventantillo@yahoo.com.

Steven Tantillo ’82

I read with great interest the latest item on the restoration of the Tridentine Mass at Notre Dame. I hope that a sacred place will soon also be found for the eastern rites of the Catholic Church. If Notre Dame is to be true to her Catholic convictions, then the worship of our Byzantine, Melkite and Maronite brothers and sisters should be welcomed on campus.

Robert W. Shaffern ’87M.A., ’92Ph.D.
Scranton, Pennsylvania

Regarding the Latin Mass: It was suspicious enough that for nearly 50 years the universal liturgy of the church disappeared from America’s greatest Catholic campus. Editor John Nagy was walking on hot pins confirming that those present were also Catholics while the tridentine rite was never prohibited. In fact, Archbishop Albert Ranjith, secretary of the Roman congregation for the liturgy, recently wrote that hand communion should be reconsidered. Rather the university’s administration should also allow traditional philosophers next to the pragmatists in recognition of the Church’s intellectual traditions and not be afraid of alienating the coming generations from the actual world of poverty, inequality, urbanization and nationalism.

Christopher Dawson was teaching that a society is doomed when public and private life are deprived of spirituality and this has certainly come through in our Western civilization: the vast majority of our Eurocrats are secularists. Uplifting the spirit remains the foremost function of the Mother Church. In its early formative years near the end of the Roman Empire, She has weathered the storms between the Hellenists and Latinists establishing the great scholastic schools or the artes liberales, the time confrontation of the deductive and inductive thinkers. With mature clergy She can continue to fulfill Her unique mission.

Arnold VanPeteghem (attended ND 1954–55)

Preferential options

**“The Godfather of Liberation Theology” presents a contrast between the “pained,” dogmatic and officious popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI who cared little for the plight of the poor with the warm, caring and thoughtful Father Gustavo Gutierrez. This is tiresome, offensive and intellectually dishonest. Liberation theology did intend to combine Marxist ideology and Catholic theology and needed to be guided back to reality. The malicious insinuation that these two popes did not always wholly and fervently support the Catholic Church’s preferential option for the poor but rather finally came around to realize Gutierrez was right is mendacious. I wish Notre Dame Magazine could praise a wonderful man like Gutierrez without the predictable slam on two other wonderful men of the Church.

Paul J. Cella Jr. ’66

It was 1980 and I was living with the Holy Cross fathers in Canto Grande, a large sprawling shantytown outside of Lima, Peru. I was fortunate to have taken a class with Father Gustavo Gutierrez on liberation theology that South American summer. Myself and the other Holy Cross associates who had been working in Santiago, Chile, were traveling during our teaching break.

It was this December 2007 and a group of my fourth-grade families and I stood in mud and rain delivering food to migrant farm worker crammed into 15-by-15 foot shacks, sometimes with families of six, outside Portland, Oregon. These 10- and 11-year-olds had a hard time understanding how such poverty could exist so close to their homes.

How can I begin to explain the structures of economic injustice in our own society? How can I explain how the increase in earning of the top 1 percent of U.S. income bracket was more than the total income of the bottom 20 percent? Padre Gutierrez brought the spirituality to such questions. The first sign that the Catholic Church has truly embraced Jesus’ message of love is when we recognize Bishop Oscar Romero as a saint and endorse his social message. Until then, my Eucharist is celebrated among the poor.

David Brady ’79
via email

Urban living

**As a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-accredited historic preservation architect, I endorse the sustainable community approach of New Urbanism (“The Once and Future Neighborhood”). I like the sense of community and walking to the store in my small town, and that’s why I live in one. What concerns me about this Notre Dame study is that there is not one mention of the fact that Cooperstown, New York, is a massive historic district, encompassing 4,100 acres and 507 buildings. If the idea of New Urbanism is to grant the privileges of “beauty, durability and convenience,” then why is there not a discussion of keeping the beautiful buildings that are there? Like it or not, most modern-built structures will not meet these ideals, given the pressures of return on investment and the questionable quality of many modern construction materials and methods.

One major goal of historic preservation is precisely “about making things relatable,” as one student says, because it grounds us in a comfortable, familiar environment. Students being taught about the value of classical architecture should also learn ways of retaining the culture we “relate to,” learn how to value places that are “home” to each of us and how to protect them through historic preservation.

Brian D. Rich ’94
Vashon, Washington

Stressed out
Andrew Santella’s article “Feeling Anxious” offers a timely historical perspective on the causes and effects of stress in our daily lives, but not enough emphasis it seems on the growing barrage and nature of the information that feeds that stress.

Professor Davis, the political science professor quoted by Mr. Santella from the book Negative Liberty, would surely agree that terror alerts and negative-oriented news are not the only causes of growing feelings of uncertainty. The pervasiveness of information media seems to have bred what might be described as a “culture of comparison” that constantly reminds us of what we do not have, what we are not and why one is person or thing is better or worse than another.

And it isn’t just the obvious, such as the recent highly publicized suicides of a Facebook assaulted teenager or a negatively blogged advertising executive in Chicago, or the relentless (and painful) dissection of every word of political candidates. It can be more subtle and unconscious. In the same issue of the magazine, Notre Dame’s endowment of $6 billion was highlighted for its accomplishments in spite of investment restrictions, but not before a paragraph including a comparison to Yale and its rank among higher education institutions. Do we really need to know that we are second to Yale and 14th among all institutions? Isn’t $6 billion enough to know in and of itself?

Some stress is good, it brings out the competitor in us, but if the anxiety of constant comparison destroys us, we will have missed the point of Mr. Santella’s warning.

James J. Licata ’75
Chicago, Illinois

Thank you for running Mr. Santella’s essay, “Feeling Anxious.” I enjoyed his humor about having an anxiety problem. Having just gone through the process of diagnosing and defining my own anxiety problem, I share his frustration and his understanding of having a problem that is manageable . . . annoying and unwanted, but manageable. Thank you for running it.

Dena Imbergamo (St. Clair) ’90
Vienna, Virginia

Time to revise financial aid
Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania and Stanford. This is not just a list of the most prestigious universities in the country but is also a list of the educational institutions that are offering comprehensive financial aid to students from low- and middle-income families. One glaring omission to this list is Notre Dame.

In December 2007, Harvard became the first major university to announce a complete overhaul of its financial aid practices. Harvard does not require any contribution for educational expenses from families earning less than $60,000. Yale, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and now Stanford have all followed suit with similar financial aid policies. With some of the most prestigious universities already on board to help students from all economic backgrounds afford the increasing costs of college, why is Notre Dame waiting on the sidelines?

The procrastination is not due to a lack of funds. As of June 30, 2007, Notre Dame had an endowment of approximately $6.5 billion and cash contributions totaling $215 million over the previous 12-month period. The university boasts a 25.9 percent return on their endowment portfolio resulting in asset growth over a 12-month period of $1.4 billion.

With an endowment fund in the billions and educational costs still prohibitive for middle- and low-income families, the university has forgotten what makes it great: its students. The university boasts a dedication to diversity, but that dedication needs to include economic diversity as well. Due solely to their economic background, students are unfairly being asked to make educational decisions based on cost, often foregoing certain private schools even though they may be more than qualified to attend. Now, rather than offering students a chance to attend but requiring them to mortgage their future, the educational elite are opening their coffers to fully aid needy families. As a result, these schools have not only ensured that their incoming classes are economically diverse, they have shown the public that students are their first priority.

Notre Dame is currently engaging in a fund raising effort called the Spirit of Notre Dame. The purpose of the fund raiser is to increase the funds available for capital expenditures, professorships and financial aid. With a $6.5 billion endowment and over $200 million in cash contributions this past fiscal year, I find it unbelievable that the university has to raise more money to offer adequate financial aid. How much money does the university need in order to be more generous with financial aid? Is $17.1 billion enough? That was the amount of Stanford’s endowment at the time they became the latest convert. Rather than waiting for $17.1 billion, isn’t the more prudent course of action to reshuffle the school’s priorities?

Currently, the university is spending approximately $159 million of its endowment, which is approximately 2.5 percent of its $6.5 billion. Recently Congress has begun to inquire as to how colleges and universities are spending their endowments. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has suggested that colleges and universities be required to spend 5 percent of their endowments in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. If such a requirement were mandated, Notre Dame would be required to spend approximately $325 million of its endowment each year. That would leave an additional $166 million to be dedicated solely to financial aid.

The university’s focus must switch from the size of its endowment back to the needs of its students. Someone needs to remind the university’s administration that size really doesn’t matter; what matters is how you use it.

Brian DeVirgilio ’02
via email

That angry mob
I find it interesting that the nickname of O’Neill Family Hall has now sprouted a genesis legend. At the risk of ruining the fun, however, I must debunk the myth. I was one of those “irate” students relocated from Grace Hall, although fate moved me to Keough, away from most of my friends, who went to O’Neill. The name sprung from typical young male irreverent humor. Residents were allowed to nominate new nicknames for the halls. One of my friends suggested a play on the word “family” in the hall’s name, to imply some sort of mafia connection—i.e., The O’Neill Family Mob. The powers-that-be rejected this name. As a compromise, the word “angry” was inserted, lest anyone assume that the Irish criminal underworld financed the building of the hall. The only bonfire of which I have knowledge that occurred on campus during this time was a spontaneous act of couch burning on South Quad during a power blackout in the spring of 1999. This was at least three years after the birth of O’Neill’s nickname.

Interesting mental image, of angry Grace residents holding a night-time rally around a bonfire (did we brandish torches, clubs and pitch forks as well?), but I am sorry to report that there is no truth to the legend.

Dr. Thomas Myrter ’99
via email

Monetary problem
How is Jackie Smith’s alternative monetary system, described in Expeditions, even legal? For years fringe groups have been trying to set up alternative monetary systems and been arrested for tax evasion. Every transaction that uses her “money” takes revenue away from the government. If that is her aim, then shame on her and ND Mag for publicizing it. If she is targeting globalization, why? There is nothing wrong with globalization when the playing field is level and all can compete. It brings undeveloped countries into the economic world, binds us together and allows the world to move together. The unstated assertion is that globalization is bad, that this new money is a way to fight globalization, and no one loses. I’d say the first kid who loses a book or sport or field trip loses because of this subversion of the proper operation of the tax structure and monetary economy.

Tim Reidy
Via email

The real religious issue
Your “God’s Only Party” article omitted the principal religious issue dividing Democrats and Republicans: abortion. An honest discussion of the topic would have at least stated the parties’ positions on abortion. If you lack the courage to utter the word abortion, leave the entire topic of religion and party preferences alone rather than addressing it in a politically correct way.

Bob Boldt
via email

Carlson a winner
Just want to comment on what a great letter John Carlson sent in. I am just a loyal member of the Subway Alumni and that letter pretty much says why I am an Irish supporter. It is not always about winning or losing but how you play the game and what you do with your life to become a better person and make a better world.

Don Newsham
via email

Drop the freelancers
I don’t mean this in any ND-centric parochial way. But I think to use contributors not affiliated in some with the school looks lazy in a magazine that only comes out four times a year. Even if you get Garry Wills. And most of the contributors are not Garry Wills but writers who got your address from Writers Market. It’s not that I don’t care about a woman who’s finally got to put her mother in a home, it’s just that those articles are in every Sunday supplement in the country.

I’d much rather read something an ND student wrote than something by a random freelance.

It’s a very good magazine; I’d like to read it all. Thanks for it.

Bill Gunlocke ‘69 (’69. That must look old.)
via email

’*More on Carter story*":/news/9761
It took me until today, 3/24/08, to get up the courage to read the Jimmy Carter article in the Autumn 2007 issue.

I knew what I would find and I did—a paean to him. He couldn’t have written it any more biased if he had done it himself.

A point of clarification: Carter had been in submarine school all of one month when President Truman signed Executive Order 9981. Hardly a submarine officer!

Bill Hohmann ’58
via email