Saturday, May 16, 2009

Notre Dame Students Struggle to Balance Outrage, Respect at Obama Speech

Father Norman Weslin is carried on a blanket by Notre Dame police after his arrest during an anti-abortion protest Friday, May 15, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana. (AP)

With many Notre Dame students opposed to President Obama's views on abortion and stem cell research, some plan to make a stir while others are aiming for a more respectful protest.

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Saturday, May 16, 2009

As some Notre Dame students prepare to protest the university's recognition of President Obama with an honorary law degree on Sunday, the on-campus message is clear: Keep it respectful.

"We're committed to a prayerful, peaceful protest," senior Emily Toates told "We will not be showing any graphic images. There is a place for them, but it can dilute your message, and we want to make sure our message is heard."

Toates, 21, is one of up to 40 graduating seniors expected to skip Notre Dame's commencement on Sunday in opposition of Obama's commencement speech, due to his pro-choice abortion stance and his support of embryonic stem-cell research. Notre Dame will confer degrees on roughly 2,000 undergrads, 420 MBA students and 200 law school students.

Instead of tossing her mortarboard with fellow classmates, Toates will take part in a meditation to be held at the university's grotto -- an event organized by ND Response, a coalition of student groups that is holding a series of events throughout the weekend, including an all-night prayer vigil to begin at 9:30 p.m. Saturday and a rally on Sunday.

"I'm really excited about it because the grotto is a special place for me and a lot of students," she said. "It'll prayerfully unite those of us who aren't attending commencement."


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