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  • Reverend James Squire

Notre Dame Scandal

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

Notre Dame has an ongoing scandal, and it’s not about one of their athletic teams. I am a big Notre Dame fan. Many of my students and friends attended that university. Our school motto at the Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pa. is Esse Quam Videri. It means to be and not to seem to be. I am sure that one of the reasons that we chose it long ago is that doing what you say you will do and expect others to do the same is a big deal with young people. You have heard of bounty hunters. Students are integrity hunters. If you say you should do something to students and don’t do it yourself, watch out!

According to an “Inside Higher Education article” on 10/9/20, The Reverend John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame University, attended the White House Rose Garden announcement of soon to be Supreme Court Justice Barrett who went to Notre Dame Law School and became a gifted teacher there. President Jenkins attended the event along with several Notre Dame faculty and administration. Everything was fine except for the fact that Father Jenkins came down with the Covid 19 virus.

I think that things would still be OK for him except that he chose not to wear a mask, social distance, and refrain from hugging and shaking hands with others who attended the Rose Garden event. All of this was caught on camera. Strike one.

Still you might say, so what, he is just human. That doesn’t go over well with students knowing that he was one of the college presidents who pushed hard for opening on time on his college campus. He also laid down some heavy penalties for students if they failed to honor the CDC guidelines. Students could be sent home for an offense.

OK, but it was just a one-time thing. Well it wasn’t. He broke his rules in August and had to apologize then for taking photos with students breaking social distancing rules. Strike Two.

In case you didn’t see something coming, you don’t know the integrity hunters who gave him a pass on the August event.

Two quotations from the student government are as follows: “Students and faculty and staff have been asked to refrain from unnecessary travel yet Fr. Jenkins travelled across country to participate in a large gathering,” the resolution said. “A professor’s nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court is significant and could be framed as necessary travel, but Fr. Jenkins could have fully participated in the event while following Covid 19 guidelines.”

“Fr. Jenkins public displays of disregard for public health directly contradicted his commitment to the Notre Dame community, directly endanger the safety of students, faculty and staff”, The resolution went on to read. “He can no longer, in good conscience, call the student body, faculty and staff to adhere to the safety protocol that he ignores.”

The faculty had a vote on all of this too. They weren’t pleased either. The resolution that came from the students didn’t pass, but the student senators are open to more resolutions on the matter in the future as they thought “his behavior was an embarrassment.”

The integrity hunters, better known as students, will usually give someone a second chance, but he is on thin ice because my experience working with students says, “Three strikes and you are out!”.

Students, in terms of integrity, don’t listen to what you say, they watch what you do even more so than those in the adult world. “The listen” by “watching “your actions.”

One of my great memories when I was at Episcopal as Chaplain was inviting, on behalf of the school and the Murphy family, The Reverend Monk Malloy, then President of Notre Dame to give a lecture on moral issues of concern for young people. The Murphy family who are very close friends set up an endowed lecture on moral issues in memory of their daughter, Maura. Dr. Brien Murphy, Maura’s father, had attended Notre Dame. Monk Malloy was a great athlete, stayed with the students in a dorm, and was known to play a fair share of pick-up basketball with them. He knew kids. The students loved his personal anecdotes on the moral life that he spoke about in his lecture. Monk made a hit with my integrity hunters. He talked the talk and walked the walk. Bottom line, that is what students “listen to”.

I will be rooting for the Notre Dame Football Team this weekend.

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