Seen and Heard

Author: Ed Cohen

The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies started fall semester without its star faculty recruit, a Muslim scholar named by _Time_ magazine as one of the most influential people in the world. In August, the State Department, acting on a request from the Department of Homeland Security, revoked the work visa of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen. No reason was given to Ramadan of the Kroc Institute. But various federal agency spokespeople quoted by news organizations said the reversal was made under a provision of the USA Patriot Act and related to federal law provisions that apply to foreigners who have used a "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity." Ramadan is a widely known scholar and considered a moderate by many in the Muslim world, but some Jewish groups have called him anti-Semitic, and there have been unsubstantiated accusations connecting him to terrorist groups. In a statement issued in late August, the University said it knew of no reason for the problem and that it was hopeful that the State Department would reconsider. . . . The Notre Dame Concert Band played a 12-day concert tour in Australia and New Zealand in May. It was the band's first visit to the South Pacific in its 159-year history. The tour culminated with a sold-out performance (more than 2,500 people) at the famous Sydney Opera House. Sixty students went on the trip. . . . Students no longer have to dread their parents seeing their grades when they're mailed home at the end of the semester. They aren't mailed home anymore. The change began last year and is in line with the trend at most colleges, the registrar's office says. Undergrads can now look up their final fall and spring semester grades on an online password-protected site, saving them time and the University money. Students can fill out a form and receive a paper grade report in the mail if they wish (or their parents order them to). Or they can give their parents the password to look online. Still being mailed home are midsemester grades for all freshmen and deficiency reports for any upperclassmen getting a D or F in a class as of midsemester . . . . A study of 82 students who fought in the Bengal Bouts found no signs of a decline in their mental abilities after their competitions. The study didn't examine whether a decline of that sort preceded their decision to take up boxing. Seriously, the findings suggested that the Bengal Bouts, like most other amateur boxing, is relatively safe because fighters wear headgear and the bouts are shorter than in the pros The study was led by James Moriarty, M.D., '72, chief of medicine at Notre Dame. . . . A survey of participants in the Center for Social Concerns' popular Urban Plunge seminars found that before the taking the Plunge about 16 percent of business majors considered "personal laziness" to be a leading cause of poverty. Afterward the figure dropped to just over 3 percent. The No. 1 poverty cause cited by all Plunge participants, before and after, was lack of education. Urban Plunge is a one-credit seminar course built around a 48-hour immersion in an urban center during winter break. . . . Notre Dame has a Flint Thomas, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, and a Thomas Flint, professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion. Yes, they often get each other's mail. . . . Members of the new President's Circle donor recognition group (for benefactors who give an unrestricted $25,000 or more to the University in a given year) were invited to Washington in early July to meet National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice '75M.A. and _Meet the Press_ host Tim Russert. They also dined at the Library of Congress. Begun last year, the President's Circle had about 60 members at the time of the trip. University fund-raisers hope to expand the number to 100 by the end of this year. . . . Of the 88 former Irish football players who appeared on NFL opening-day rosters between 1996 and 2003, 82 of them—93 percent—had their college degrees, according to a published report. By the University's reckoning, since 1962, 99 percent of scholarship football players who remained at Notre Dame at least four years earned degrees. . . . The constitutional separation of church and state exists not to keep religion out of public life but to keep government out of religion, Associate Professor of Law Richard W. Garnett told a Senate judiciary subcommittee in June. Speaking at a hearing titled Beyond the Pledge of Allegiance: Hostility to Religious Expression in the Public Square, Garnett said the church-state divide was intended "not to 'put religion in its place'—after all, in our tradition, the government lacks the power to determine religion's 'place'—but instead to protect religion by keeping the government 'in its place.'" . . . A group of drunken off-duty police officers in Fremantle, Western Australia, made a group of Notre Dame study-broad students kneel on the ground outside their dorm and then taunted them about their nationality and the United States-led invasion of Iraq. Following an independent investigation of the May 25 incident, a police official issued a formal apology to the U.S. consulate and the University of Notre Dame Australia, where the students were taking classes. According to published reports the incident began when the students were celebrating a 21st birthday at a nightclub in Fremantle. A fight broke out between at least one student and the off-duty police. After the students left the club the police apparently tracked them back to their dorm. One student was initially charged with assault in connection with the club fight, but the charge was later dropped. Notre Dame Australia hosts the study-abroad program but has no other financial or legal ties with the South Bend campus. . . . Running pals and future president's-office-suite neighbors Father John I. Jenkins, CSC, '76, '78M.A. and John Affleck-Graves ran South Bend's Sunburst Marathon together on June 5. The Reunion Weekend race ends at Notre Dame. Jenkins, 50, president-elect, and Affleck-Graves, 53, executive vice president, finished the 26.4 miles in a respectable 3 hours 51½ minutes. . . . Members of the campus's _Mystery Science Theatre 3000_ Club (for fans of the former cable TV show that featured characters making incessant wisecracks during bad movies) kidded their new president, Eric Houston '05, that his e-mails announcing the particulars of the next weekly meeting were too short. So he lengthened them. His first message in the new format ended with the entire first chapter of _The Great Gatsby_.