Some Notre Dame students and religious groups are in an uproar following the announcement that President Barack Obama would speak at the heavily Catholic university’s commencement ceremony.
Obama’s liberal stances toward abortion and stem cell research are the foundation for the rampant outcry. Mary Daly, president of Notre Dame’s Right to Life club, told McClatchy Newspapers that Obama “does not have a whole lot in line with the mission of this university.”
The university’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, told the university’s campus newspaper that the invitation to speak at commencement was not because Notre Dame was honoring his views – but his leadership.
Well, perhaps all those up in arms should realize the opportunity in front of them. The notion of the leader of the free world speaking at a commencement is something special. Rarely do college graduates get to listen to such a high-ranking official at a monumental moment in their lives. After all, speakers at Kent State commencements rarely go beyond the silo of Northeast Ohio or the university’s immediate reach.
It’s unlikely Obama will force his views down the throats of Notre Dame’s graduates or faculty. We have more faith in the president’s tact and believe he wouldn’t stoop to the level of using a graduation speech as a tool for advancing a far-left agenda.
Don’t be surprised, however, if some political language seeps into the address. After all, Jimmy Carter used his commencement address at Notre Dame as one of eminent key foreign policy addresses. George W. Bush used his address to declare faith-based organizations were key in eliminating poverty.
Notre Dame grads, however, shouldn’t look at only the content of the president’s speech. They should look at the symbolic gesture of his presence. It says something special about the academic institution from which you’re graduating when the president of the United States of America takes a day from his schedule to wish you well on your journey through life.
Whether it’s Bush, Bill Clinton or the current president, we should look at our commencement speakers as a model of what we can become. Young people should have enough respect for the presidency to open their hearts and minds and listen to what the nation’s commander in chief has to say.
We might disagree with what’s said, but we can’t ignore a president’s status as a leader in society. After all, that’s what college prepares us for. We attend college to earn an education that will give us the foundation to further ourselves in society. And ideally, our commencement speakers should reflect that.
Kent State would only be so lucky to have such a distinguished guest at graduation. But whomever it may be, let’s look to him or her as a reflection of our potential.
The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.