This blog is a place for Notre Dame students and others to share their thoughts on Father Jenkins' forthcoming policy on academic freedom and Catholic identity at Our Lady's University.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rethink approach to discourse

Observer - Viewpoint
by Chris Scaperlanda

"Student responses to Father John Jenkins' speech last week have left me in doubt about whether or not we deserve the respect that he gave us. By delivering his message as an open forum Jenkins gave us a look at what a good university ought to be. "

(Read More)

11:54 AM | 0 comments links to this post

"Monologues" do not agree with true freedom

Observer - Viewpoint
by Jonathan Rose

"The removal of explicit or implicit Unicersity sponsorship of any activity that is contrary to the Catholic faith is surely not a violation of freedom as understood by Pope John Paul II, but is actually an exercize of such freedom, because it is what we ought to do."

(Read more)

11:43 AM | 1 comments links to this post

Vagina Monologues not the Answer

Observer - Viewpoint
by Kateri Brown

In response to Maribel Morey's More than just the heterosexual male point of view

"lest we go on under the delusion that heterosexual males are the only ones in opposition to the production of The Vagina Monologues on campus."

(Read More)

11:40 AM | 2 comments links to this post

Detractors Should Reexamine Jenkins' Statements

Observer - Viewpoint
by Cole Milliard

"It is sad to see that Father John Jenkins' attempt to explain and clarify the discussion regarding the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival has failed to impact some of his detractors. The tired, irrelevant arguments they present do no good for Jenkins' effort to address these issues on a rational and well-thought-out basis."

(Read More)

11:10 AM | 1 comments links to this post

Monday, January 30, 2006

From today's Observer:

Freedom Debates Not New at ND
by Mary Kate Malone

An interesting, brief history of freedom of speech debates at Notre Dame from the 1960s to present.

Viewpoint: New approaches for feminists
by Chris Weinacht

"Even feminists question the goals of the 'Vagina Monologues.'"

3:23 PM | 0 comments links to this post

From Just An Amateur:

University President Fr. John Jenkins' speeches on academic freedom as it relates to "The Vagina Monologues" and the "Queer Film Festival" are all the buzz on campus right now. The QFF is going under some cosmetic changes to avoid the charge that it promotes an "out and proud" agenda. A lot of the controversy was simply semantics--many people implied that the word "festival" in the title connotated some type of celebration of the films, whereas anyone who's reasonably engaged in the modern cinema knows that "festival" does not have that connotation. To avoid confusion, the label is being dropped. Fr. Jenkins has brought this up in both his talks, and I think it demonstrates that he genuinely listened to the people responsible for the festival before making up his mind. Also, work is being done to ensure a Catholic viewpoint on homosexuality is not excluded from the event. For this year, "The Vagina Monologues" will be toned back from a public, admission-charging performance into a classroom event with no tickets sold, turning it from a celebratory exercise into a critical one. It also seems evident from the speech that Jenkins will soon ban any such performance sponsored by the departments.

I think Jenkins has basically gotten things right. The problem isn't with a movie, play, or book that has themes antithetical to the Church's position on such things. If that were the case, we might as well not read Hegel in the Philosophy department or Luther in the Theology department. But there would clearly be an issue if Notre Dame sponsored a reading of Luther under the heading, "Luther Was Right, The Church Was Wrong." This was the case with both of the above events, and it appears as though Fr. Jenkins, through dialogue and action, has basically removed this obstacle. Again, the problem isn't the works in question or their subject matter (subject matter, as Victor Morton has long insisted, is neutral), but the context they are being examined in. The right answer would NOT have been a complete squelching of the texts or films in question, ie censorship—I can see appropriate forums where both this play and the types of movies the film fest is showing could be sensibly discussed, and this seems to be the direction Jenkins wants to move things in. Students and faculty at a Catholic university have a special responsibility to be "in the world, but not of it," and we would be tainting our mission not to examine such works with a critical Catholic eye.

We must make sure, however, that this is followed up by a sincere attempt to ensure that the Catholic worldview is not merely shielded from official criticism, but is nurtured and promoted. Contrary to what some might think, the "Catholic eye" is not a guarantee in any classroom at Notre Dame, especially in the fine arts departments. Jenkins' speeches are a step in the right direction, but to heal the wounded Catholic culture on campus, as Fr. Robert Spitzer of Gonzaga might put it, will take significant time and effort. Catholicism cannot simply be another tool of critical discourse in a shed full of such tools. I'd also like to see more events on campus emphasizing our unique nature as a Catholic university. In our desire to look at the modern world and critique it, we must not forget to encourage and promote works that promote our ideals (how about a festival for films dealing with significant religious topics?), and not restrict ourselves to criticisms of our worldview. For a Catholic university, the lessons of faith must be the guiding light of everything it does, whether we're reading St. Thomas or Eve Ensler and whether we're watching THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST or MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and the standard by which other ideologies are judged.

Michael Gerardi
Keough Hall
Junior, Electrical Engineering

Michael is the editor of film review blog Just An Amateur.

12:34 PM | 1 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Commonality should trump emotion

Written by one of this blog's administrators, originally published in The Observer:

Commonality should trump emotion
By: Observer Viewpoint
Issue date: 1/26/06 Section: Viewpoint

Before this campus spontaneously combusts into a fiery ball of emotion over University President Father Jenkins' addresses to the faculty and students, I think everyone needs to realize he did not say the Vagina Monologues would be banned. In fact, they were not even the focus of his message to the students. They were only one factor in calling the subject of academic freedom and the Catholic identity of the University to discussion.

It would seem that Father Jenkins' evaluation of this situation is just and fair. He has not yet instituted any policies, but rather is absorbing opinions first. Anyone can e-mail him, and he has promised to read each one.

He spoke of a concern that students understand the difference between censorship, which will not occur, and the implications of sponsorship. The University of Notre Dame is founded on Catholic principles as a Catholic institution. Catholics and others, both nationally and internationally, look to this University as a model of Catholicism. This institution, therefore, must be sure to fulfill its position as a role model in accordance with Church teaching. If the school wishes to maintain its recognition by the Church Magisterium, it must remain in line with Church teaching. There are clearly many issues at stake in this matter.

The question and answer session that took place following Father Jenkins' address appeared to be skewed and overly representative of the supporters of the Monologues. It is indeed unfortunate that the advocates of the University's withdrawal of sponsorship (again, not banishment from individual academic classroom or private settings) were not mixed among them, but instead cut off because of time limitations.

Though time was against me then, through this channel of academic freedom, I would like to encourage my fellow students to calmly and sensibly discuss these issues among not only their friends, but also with those who are "on the other side." I believe that we will find more common ground than we expect. I am sure we will all agree on the value of academic freedom. I hope we will remember that the United States also allows for private institutions to also have freedom in preserving their beliefs and creeds, particularly those of religious nature.

Lastly, as a woman, I want all to understand there are a mulititue of avenues that exist which offer hope ending the violence against women that so many spoke of after Father Jenkins' speech. Take, for example, the upcoming Edith Stein Conference, Notre Dame Right to Life's desire for a Women's Center on campus or discussions on the Theology of the Body. They may all have a radically different approach than the Monologues, but they all want women, their bodies, and their sexuality to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity.

I hope members of various factions, representing all sides, will take conscious measures to quell their potent emotions and come together, using their academic freedom, to discuss these matters among one another. I believe if we can understand that Father Jenkins does not wish to alienate women, but rather is carrying out his duty of maintaining Notre Dame's Catholic identity and helping all of us understand the true nature and meaning of academic freedom, we will become a better Catholic and academic institution.

Mary Elizabeth Walter
Jan. 24

9:50 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Welcome to The Truth Will Set You Free

This blog was created as a place for students to share their thoughts regarding Fr. Jenkins' address and forthcoming policy on academic freedom and Catholic character at Notre Dame. We will be publishing letters and articles from students on the issue, as well as pertinent links and updates on the issue. Stay tuned for updates!

11:31 AM | 0 comments links to this post