01 April 2009

Vocabulary in the News: Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame

Link directly to article: Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame

Criticism over Obama invite mounts at Notre Dame Mar 27 06:06 AM US/Eastern By TOM COYNE Associated Press Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Jimmy Carter came to Notre Dame in 1977. So did Ronald Reagan in 1981 and George W. Bush in 2001.

The University of Notre Dame has a tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at graduation. But this year's selection of President Barack Obama has been met by a barrage of criticism that has left some students fearing their commencement ceremony will turn into a circus.

Many Catholics are angered by Obama's planned appearance at the May 17 ceremony because of his decisions to provide federal funding for embryonic stem cell research and international family planning groups that provide abortions or educate about the procedure.

The consensus Thursday on the campus of the nation's largest Catholic university was that any president should be welcomed at Notre Dame.

"People are definitely entitled to their outrage, but I think the main thing is to see that it's an honor to have the president of the United States come to speak here whether you agree with him or not," said Katie Woodward, a political science junior from Philadelphia.

Justin Mack, a senior film major from Dallas, agreed.

"I didn't vote for him and there are a lot of things I don't agree with him or support. But I feel like for this event people need to put that aside," said Mack, a senior film major from Dallas. "My hope is that doesn't distract too much from what the weekend is about, which is the graduation."

But the distractions have been mounting, including sharply worded letters from two bishops. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Phoenix Diocese on Wednesday called Obama's selection a "public act of disobedience" and "a grave mistake." On Tuesday, Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, which includes Notre Dame, said he would not attend the ceremony because of Obama's policies.

Hundreds of people on both sides of the issue have sent letters to the student newspaper, and a coalition of conservative student groups has announced its opposition.

University spokesman Dennis Brown says Notre Dame does not plan to rescind the invitation. Anyone associated with the university can recommend a commencement speaker, he said, and the president consults with university officers to see who would be most appropriate.

Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins has said the university does not condone all of Obama's policies but that it's important to engage in conversation.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Thursday that Obama believes everyone has the right to express their opinion, saying the president met last week with Chicago Cardinal Francis George and others to discuss topics Obama and the Catholic church are interested in.

"He looks forward to continuing that dialogue in the lead-up to the commencement, and looks forward to delivering the address in May," Gibbs said.

Bob Reish, the student body president and a graduating senior, said there is a "general excitement" about Obama's visit, although he is aware there are people on both sides of the issue.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, The Observer, the student newspaper, had received 612 letters about Obama's appearance—313 from alumni and 299 from current students.

Seventy percent of the alumni letters opposed having Obama giving the speech, while 73 percent of student letters supported his appearance. Among the 95 seniors who wrote letters, 97 percent supported the president's invitation.

Sophomore Kelsey Fletcher, a Japanese major from nearby Elkhart, said she doesn't think the university should have invited Obama to speak.

"He shouldn't be giving the commencement address because of his policies, but once you invite him you can't disinvite him," she said. "That would be rude."

Others noted that Obama is only speaking at three universities this year.

"We can't just forgive his viewpoints, we can't just let it go without expressing our thoughts on it," said Thomas Heitker, a freshman biology major from Columbus, Ohio. "But he's only speaking at three universities this year and to be one out of so many is something we should be proud about."

Chris Carrington, a political science major from the Chicago area, said he doesn't see how Obama's appearance at Notre Dame contradicts Catholic values.

"To not allow someone here because of their beliefs seems a little hypocritical and contradictory to what the mission of the university and church should be," he said.


- abortion noun [countable] 1. a medical operation in which a developing baby is removed from a woman’s body so that it is not born alive The number of abortions performed each year are dropping. to have an abortion: She had an abortion when she was 15 years old.

[uncountable] 2. the practice of performing abortions, as a social or political issue society's attitude to abortion

- alumna noun [irregular from Latin – plural: alumnae] a woman who was a student a particular school, college or university She is an alumna from the Sorbonne in Paris. Many alumnae in this association came from the local girls’ school.

- alumnus noun [irregular from Latin – plural: alumni] & adjective [in the plural] a person who was a student a particular school, college or university I am an alumnus of Kennesaw State University. An alumni association bridges the gap between former and current students of an university.

- attend verb to be present at I attended a medieval music concert last Christmas.

- barrage noun [singular] a lot of criticisms, complaints or questions directed at one person barrage of: a barrage of abuse

- commencement ceremony noun [countable] a ceremony where degrees or diplomas are conferred; a graduation The culmination of education for the high school student, the commencement ceremony, or graduation, is a major event and transition point for students.

- commencement speaker noun [countable] a notable member of the community, important citizens or politician invited to a graduation to give the commencement speech or address. President G.H.W. Bush was the principal commencement speaker at Notre Dame in 1992.
- condone verb [transitive} to approve of behavior that most people think is wrong This company does not condone discrimination of any kind.
- deliver an address expression to give a speech Due to the dire economic situation, the president is planning to deliver an important address to the nation tonight on television.
- distract verb [transitive] to get someone’s attention and prevent them from concentrating on something She was distracted by all the noises outside and couldn’t concentrate on her homework.
- embryonic stem cell noun [countable] a cell taken from a the early stages of a human embryo and is capable of developing cells of any type, for example blood or nerve cells Some scientists believe that embryonic stem cells will make it possible to treat serious disease.
- entitle verb [often in passive voice] to give someone the right to do something entitle someone to something: Membership entitles you to special discounts. entitle someone to do something: The people who are entitled to vote should be aware of that fact.
- family planning noun (uncountable) & adjective the practice of controlling the number of children that you have by using contraceptives (= drugs, objects, or methods that stop a woman becoming pregnant) a family planning clinic
- freshman noun [American term - countable] a student in their first year of a four year educational program such as a 4-year high school or a 4-year degree at university
- funding noun [uncountable] money that a government or organization provides for a specific purpose funding of: an increase in the funding of health care funding for: The government is still failing to provide adequate funding for reasearch
- graduation noun [uncountable] 1. the act of receiving a diploma or degree after finishing school After graduation, she worked as a research chemist.
[countable /uncountable] 2. a ceremony at which you are given a diploma or degree
- junior noun [American term - countable] a student in their third year of a four year educational program such as a 4-year high school or a 4-year degree at a university
- lead-up noun [uncountable] the period that comes before an important event lead-up to: the lead-up to the Olympic Games
- major noun [American term - countable] 1. a student’s main subject at college or university My major was in French at university. 2. a student who is studying a particular subjuct as their main subject at college or university a political science major major in verb [American term – transitive] to study something as your main subject at college or university At university, I majored in French.
- mount verb [intransitive] if a particular feeling mounts, it gets stronger over a period of time Tension continues to mount between the two political parties.

- outrage noun [uncountable] a strong feeling of shock or anger at something you feel is wrong or unfair outrage over: There was public outrage over the bonuses given to CEO of companies laying off workers. outrage at: Health workers were outraged at the pope’s comments concerning condoms.

- policy noun [countable] a set of plans or actions agreed on by a government, political party, business or other group It is not the hospital’s policy to disclose names of patients.
- put something aside phrasal verb [transitive] to deliberately not consider or include something They’ll have to put their political difference aside and find a solution.
- rescind verb [transitive] to cancel officially Obama rescinded a Bush abortion rule.
- rude adjective not polite I don’t want to seem rude, but I’d rather be alone.

- senior noun [American term – countable] a student in their fourth year of a four year educational program such as a 4-year high school or a 4-year degree at a university

- sharply adverb in a severe way The government has been sharply criticized for human rights violations.

- sophomore noun [American term - countable] a student in their second year of a four year educational program such as 4-year high school or a 4-year degree at a university
- student body noun [countable] all the students that belong to a university or college
viewpoint noun [countable] 1. a way of considering something This has been a very difficult year from an economic viewpoint. 2.an attitude or opinion It’s important to try to understand viewpoints we disagree with.
- worded adjective expressed in a particular way a politely worded letter of rejection a strongly worded statement

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