Notre Dame Alumni Protest with Dollars

By Jacqueline L. Salmon A new front has opened in the battle over the commencement appearance by President Barack Obama … Continued

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

A new front has opened in the battle over the commencement appearance by President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame. This one involves money.

Groups protesting the event are turning to alumni, hoping that dollars will speak louder than petitions, which have failed to budge the university to rescind the invitation.

The latest message from one group of Notre Dame alumni: either university President Rev. John I. Jenkins steps down and the Obama invitation is withdrawn, or we withhold our donations to the school.

The endeavor is being organized by David DiFranco, the CEO of a Michigan corporate travel agency, along with six other alumni. He says it’s not just about Obama.

“There’s been a history of some questionable leadership,” at the school, he said in an interview this morning. The Obama invitation was “the straw, or the log, that broke the camel’s back.”

The group has a Web site that doesn’t beat around the bush. It’s called Signatories are asked to put down the amount of money they will withhold from the university.

DiFranco acknowledges that it would be easy for anyone to put down any amount, but that his group plans some due diligence to ensure that the total is accurate.

The move is the latest front in the effort to force the university to back down from its invitation to Obama, who will also receive an honorary degree. Groups opposed to the Obama speech have gathered hundreds of thousands of online petition signatures and have promised large demonstrations before, and during, the commencement ceremony on May 17. (There’s been somewhat of backlash to that, though, with the local bishop asking people to stay away from the protests.)

Other groups such as the American Life League and the Cardinal Newman Society are pursuing alumni dollars, with the goal of getting them to hold back donations, said spokesperson Katie Walker.

University spokesman Dennis Brown declined to comment on this latest move, although university officials have said in the past that Jenkins won’t step down and the Obama invitation won’t be rescinded.

“We knew that there would be criticism and support” of the Obama invitation, said Brown. “And we’ve received both.”

  • ndpeggy

    21 = members of the Facebook group7,449 = members of the “We will be honored to have President Obama at Notre Dame” Facebook groupMany alumni in fact support and applaud the University’s invitation.

  • ndfan1

    I went to the “We will be honored to have President Obama at Notre Dame” Facebook group. I noticed two websites that offer the opportunity to sign a petition in support of President Obama speaking at Notre Dame. The two petitions combined have roughly 35,000 signatures. The petition at has more than 300,000 signatures — a ratio of roughly 9 to 1. It seems that while “many alumni in fact support and applaud the University’s invitation”, there are many, many more that don’t.

  • fw1952

    Several years ago, Paul Harvey, a practicing protestant, was invited to speak at a Catholic College. He accepted, but a cry from Catholics was heard when it was revealed that Mr. Harvey objected to some Catholic teachings. As a Christian who respects other Christian faiths, he decided that it would be improper to speak at the College as his invitation had generated much devisiveness amongst Catholics.With Paul Harvey, it was always about the other guy, not himself. With Obama, it is always about him, so don’t expect him to decline the invitation.So far, we have Embryonic Stem Cell Research, reversal of the Mexico City Accord, movement on the Freedom of Choice Act, his desire to legalize Partial Birth Abortion, and his intention to rob practicing Catholic physicians of the right to refuse to perform abortions. Does anyone really think Obams respects Catholics?

  • Steve59

    Nobody should support hypocrisy and fraud.Notre Dame claims to be a Catholic school, and it was built with the donations of faithful Catholics. Even non-Catholics–in fact, even anti-Catholics–should be opposed to any school violating its core beliefs…whatever they may be.To HONOR the most pro-abortion politician in US history (among other affronts to the faith) is simply fraud…and should be opposed.