Notre Dame

Officials quiet about status of discussion after several scholars voice concern

Officials at the University of Notre Dame are contemplating opening a satellite campus in China, but the discussion has prompted concern among some faculty who say the notion runs afoul of the school’s Catholic identity and, if approved, would appear to condone some of the communist country’s anti-Catholic policies.

The partnership under consideration would be a joint residential liberal arts college with Zhejiang University at the school’s new international campus in Haining, China.

The college would open for the 2017-18 academic year and is projected to admit 1,000 undergraduate students, 70 percent Chinese and 30 percent international, according to Notre Dame officials. The college would operate autonomously, directed by a governing council, comprised of members from Zhejiang University and Notre Dame and chaired by the presidents of both universities.NotreDame3.MudFlapDC.Flickr

A white paper on the subject was authored by J. Nicholas Entrikin, Notre Dame’s vice president and associate provost for internationalization, and Jonathan Noble, the university’s assistant provost for Asia. Circulated to Notre Dame faculty in October, it states that the international campus “will be composed of six colleges and institutes, each developed in joint partnership with North American and European university partners … This past summer Notre Dame and [Zhejiang University] signed an agreement to hold bilateral discussions about the feasibility of this joint venture.”

In January, the Irish Rover—Notre Dame’s independent campus newspaper—reported on a Dec. 5 faculty town hall discussion on the possible joint venture. At the forum, moderated by Associate Provost Entrikin, several faculty members voiced reservations about the potential partnership.

Fr. Bill Miscamble, professor of history, argued that it was wrong for Notre Dame as a Catholic university to pursue the discussion any further. Citing the Chinese government’s persecution of the underground Catholic Church in China, as well as the state-sponsored People’s Church, he argued that Notre Dame’s involvement might “indicate that somehow or other, Catholics in America are tolerant of vast human rights abuses.”

John Cavadini, professor of theology and director of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life, posed questions about the possible restrictions that could be placed on Notre Dame in China.

“I wonder if we’ll be able to be ourselves in China,” Cavadini said at the December meeting. “Can we have a chapel there in which Mass is celebrated and in which there are no restrictions on who can come to Mass? Or are we going to censor ourselves and the Holy Mass? I wonder if Catholic theology will be taught and will be available and open to all students.”

And Fr. Bill Dailey, a law lecturer, said that in the last three years, at least one-third of all those seeking asylum in the United States were from China. He noted that there is a list of countries with which Notre Dame would never consider such a proposal, noting in particular those led by Kim Jong-un or Bashar al-Assad.

“What is the concrete evidence that China should not be on that list?” Fr. Dailey asked. “There seems to be reams of concrete evidence that they belong on that list, that they belong on that list emphatically.”

But John McGreevy, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said at the conclusion of the forum, “I tend to think of it more as opportunities for our faculty to become globalized than what we’re going to do for liberal arts education in China, but that might be significant too.”

While acknowledging the importance of questions about academic and religious freedom, McGreevy said, “I think engagement is a much wiser long-term strategy for Notre Dame than what I might call a puritan strategy, that is, we can’t engage in China in any serious way.”

When contacted by The College Fix for an update on the status of the China campus discussion, Entrikin’s office directed the reporter to university spokesman Dennis Brown. Brown also declined to comment.

There are unconfirmed reports that Notre Dame may send a delegation to Zhejiang University for further deliberation sometime in the near future.

College Fix reporter Alexandra DeSanctis is a student at the University of Notre Dame and managing editor of the Irish Rover. 

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Eight students enrolled in course; scholars remain tight lipped about curriculum

A controversial new course at the University of Notre Dame on “white privilege” launched recently despite a tidal wave of criticism from conservatives, Catholic groups, and even many students and alumni who suggested the subject matter is biased, inflammatory, and meant to shame white people and indoctrinate students.

But the three co-teachers of the one-credit, six-week seminar are remaining silent about the national censure they endured and the many questions and concerns about the class curriculum.

The seminar is being co-taught by Iris Outlaw, director of the multicultural student programs and services; Emmanuel Cannady, assistant director of outreach services for the Gender Relations Center; and Ke’ana Bradley, assistant director of programming for the multicultural division.

Outlaw declined to comment to The College Fix when asked about the material being used to teach the seminar. Neither Cannady nor Bradley responded to the Fix’s request for comment as well.

According to Notre Dame’s class listings, eight students have enrolled in the course.

In order to participate, students had to complete a 15-20 minute interview prior to acceptance. The seminar’s description states that “the goal for each participant is personal transformation: to leave the class… more aware of injustices and better equipped with tools to disrupt personal, institutional, and worldwide systems of oppression.”

“[P]eople consciously and unconsciously simultaneously participate in and are affected by systems of oppression. However, since these behaviors can be learned, they can be unlearned.”

The course includes a university-funded trip to the annual White Privilege Conference, which is being hosted in March in Louisville, Kentucky. The website for this conference states the fee for one college student is $195. That adds up to $1,560 for eight students, not including travel costs and fees for professors.

Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown told the Irish Rover independent campus newspaper in an interview that covering such costs is not out of the ordinary.

“The university will assist with funding for the conference,” Brown said. “There is nothing unusual about such funding for student participation in for-credit, off-campus experiential activities.”

When asked about the definition of white privilege and the logic behind awarding credit for this class, Brown replied that all universities explore complex issues.

“The theory of ‘white privilege’ is a well-established area of academic inquiry within sociology and certainly is a subject worthy of close examination by students who are interested in better understanding race relations,” Brown explained.

But many critics have called the conference anti-Christian. As the Cardinal Newman Society reported, recent workshops have accused Christianity of “punishing the poor, destroying the environment, and contributing to the war on terror.”

A highly influential Notre Dame alumnus and donor, troubled by the prospect of the course, wrote a letter to Outlaw in December noting the potential detriments of sending students to the white privilege conference. A copy of the letter was obtained by The College Fix. The alumnus has asked to remain anonymous.

“An unintended, but predictable, effect might be radicalization that teaches them more about the effectiveness of street methods (cop hating, traffic disruption and property destruction) than it does about an empathetic, Christian love of all men who we believe have been made in the image and likeness of God,” the alumnus said.

The alumnus later told The Fix that he received a phone call from Brown in reply, not responding to his specific concerns, but notifying him that Outlaw had received the letter.

College Fix reporter Alexandra DeSanctis is a student at the University of Notre Dame and managing editor of the Irish Rover. 

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The Notre Dame women’s basketball team met with representatives of the local police union after they wore t-shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” on them last weekend.

The team, which had their coach’s permission to wear the shirts, says that their only intent was “to show sympathy for family members of those who have died in the recent confrontations,” not to criticize law enforcement.

But others didn’t take it that way. The Elkhart Truth reports:

One Mishawaka police officer who runs a store in South Bend began selling T-shirts that say, “Breathe easy, don’t break the law.”

Meanwhile, Brenda Reimer, the mother of one of the players, earlier this week posted on Facebook photos her daughter was mailed anonymously showing a team jersey set on fire.

“Last weekend my daughter and her teammates showed sympathy for a family who had lost someone. Today, she came home to this,” Reimer wrote.

Sgt. Dan Demler, president of the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the meeting on Friday helped each side better understand the other’s viewpoint, but he declined to describe the talks in detail.

“It was just a healthy discussion about why we stand the way we stand, why we took issue with it,” he said. “This whole deal is something that has completely spiraled out of control locally and nationally, so to go into detail about it, I just think this thing could get worse and worse.”

Pasquale Rulli, president of the Mishawaka FOP Lodge No. 91, said that all parties at the meeting agreed “to avoid speaking further about the matter in public.”

Read the full story.

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Greta Van Susteren took on Notre Dame’s upcoming class on white privilege, tearing the course a new one for dividing Americans and pushing the notion that only black Americans have it bad in this country.

The Fox News reporter stated in part during her “Off-The-Record” segment recently:

… Face it, Notre Dame’s course name, “White Privilege,” points fingers and creates victims. It is code for all whites have a leg up. And that’s simply just not true.

There are many poor whites, unemployed whites, whites who have lots of problems. White Americans down and out, with no hope. Just like there are many black Americans, unemployed, with lots of problems, down and out. And likewise, with no hope. There are also middle class blacks and middle class whites who have lots of problems, too.

Now, it’s no secret I’m white. I also have privilege. But I know a lot of blacks that are right there with me with that privilege. But that’s not the point of this “Off the Record.” The point is this. Notre Dame and other universities that use terms like “White Privilege” are not going to heal the divides – past divides, present divides, or future divides. Course names actually set the tone for the semester and blaming something is a lousy way to start. …

 

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IMAGES: Fox News

Next semester, Notre Dame will offer a class that aims to help students acknowledge and understand their so-called “white privilege” and – as a result of their “personal transformation” – find ways to “disrupt … oppression,” a description of the class states.

“The goal for each participant is personal transformation: to leave the class… more aware of injustices and better equipped with tools to disrupt personal, institutional, and worldwide systems of oppression,” according to a description of the six week, one-credit sociology course titled “White Privilege Seminar.”

Its class description argues “people consciously and unconsciously simultaneously participate in and are affected by systems of oppression. However, since these behaviors can be learned, they can be unlearned.”

The “White Privilege” seminar is billed as a “preparatory class” for its students, who will receive university funding to attend the White Privilege Conference, a four-day event set for March in Louisville, Kentucky.

But some students, in interviews with The College Fix, said they believe the class is blatantly biased and not appropriate.NDWhitePrivilege

“This isn’t multicultural,” Notre Dame student and conservative activist Mark Gianfalla tells The Fix. “It’s an opportunity to bias students towards the shaming of one culture and ethnicity.”

Notre Dame student Timothy Bradley, executive editor of campus publication The Irish Rover, also told The Fix it’s “unusual” that, before enrolling in the course, interested students are required to fill out applications.

“The course application asks students to provide answers to questions such as, ‘What privileges do you have? What benefits have you received? How do you define white privilege? What do you hope to gain from the conference?’” Bradley notes.

That conference will examine “challenging concepts of privilege and oppression and offer solutions and team building strategies to work toward a more equitable world,” according to its website. The site adds the conference is not “designed to attack, degrade or beat up on white folks.”

The Notre Dame course is scheduled to meet eight times between January and March and will be taught by Professor Iris Outlaw, director of Multicultural Student Programs and Services at Notre Dame. Professor Outlaw did not respond to The College Fix’s email requests for comment about her class.

Gianfalla notes that Outlaw participated in protests against conservative pundit Ann Coulter from speaking on campus earlier this year.

And Bradley points out that paying for students to attend the White Privilege Conference could present a conflict of interest for Notre Dame, a Catholic university, considering that the conference itself is a harsh critic of Christian values.

A workshop titled “The Roots of Racism in Christian Hegemony” took place at the last conference, with the intent to “dig beneath the surface of Christianity’s benign reputation to examine how it undermines our interpersonal relationships, weakens our communities and promotes injustice.”

“As a Catholic university, Notre Dame should strive to do the best it can, through education and campus life, to promote the Catholic faith and educate the hearts and minds of students in light of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Bradley said. “The attacks against Christianity and heterosexuality at the White Privilege Conference seem to share little or no common ground with the synthesis of faith and reason that is central to Notre Dame’s mission as a Catholic university.”

College Fix reporter Samantha Audia is a student at the University of Michigan.

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The University of Notre Dame may have undermined its legal case against the contraceptive mandate in Obamacare by approving a student health plan that covers abortifacients, the National Catholic Register reported, citing legal experts:

“The university need not provide student health insurance at all,” said Gerard Bradley, a constitutional scholar at Notre Dame’s law school, who outlined the options available to university administrators.

Bradley noted that only group health plans must comply with the mandate. Consequently, the university also had another option: It could have opted to self-insure the plan for students and avoid coverage of services that violate Catholic teaching. …

“In its pending lawsuit about the employee and staff health plan, Notre Dame has said that its Catholic faith forbids it to arrange or facilitate coverage for contraception and abortion,” Bradley said.

“Yet when it comes to student health coverage, the university has chosen to facilitate and arrange coverage for contraception and abortion. The court hearing Notre Dame’s lawsuit will surely notice this inconsistency.”

Part of the problem is how long the school waited to challenge the mandate after its original suit was thrown out as premature:

[Alumni group leader William] Dempsey contended that Notre Dame’s 11th-hour petition prompted the judge to question the university’s sincerity. That skepticism, said Dempsey, will be reinforced in the wake of the latest news regarding the student health plan.

“Notre Dame has declared in court that to do what it is doing now would be scandalous. And it is doing this voluntarily,” Dempsey emphasized, echoing concerns raised in the alumni newsletter.

Read the full story here.

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