Issues clarification, then promotes March for Life
The Sunday before Thanksgiving 2019, an email from the Notre Dame Student Government account was sent out to the student body promoting “the opportunity to represent the Notre Dame spirit at the national Women’s March.” Less than 24 hours later, the same official account issued a clarification email, stating that the event was “sponsored by the College Democrats.” Following disgruntlement on campus, Student Government reached out to Notre Dame Right to Life offering to assist the club in their advertisement, registration, and funding efforts for the March for Life.
The 2020 Women’s March, according to its official website, called for “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people, regardless of income, location or education.” Student Government’s original email billed the Women’s March as “a civic platform used to show solidarity for advocates of human dignity for marginalized individuals and groups.” The event took place on January 18, 2020, six days before the March for Life.
Highlighting topics addressed at the Women’s March such as “ending violence against women, racial justice, LGBTQ rights, workers’ rights, immigrant rights, disability rights, and environmental justice,” the Student Government email included details for how to express interest in registering via a Google form and provided two contacts for the event, both of whom are members of the ND Women’s March 2020 Board.
The unsigned email was sent out from the official Student Government address and concluded with “Go Irish! Beat Injustice!” and seemed to have been written “on behalf of the entire Women’s March [B]oard.” It also expressed “hopes to turn this into a yearly tradition.”
The email also informed the reader that “the cost for this trip will be subsidized with help from on-campus organizations, and the cost to be paid by participants is undecided but will range from $50-$100. Financial assistance will be available.” The email did not specify which “on-campus organizations” would be providing the subsidies nor did it cite the source of the “financial assistance.”
The second email, entitled “Clarification Regarding Email,” was sent out to the same email list as the first. This second message clarified that “the email pertaining to the Women’s March is an event that is being sponsored by the College Democrats.” The College Democrats were not mentioned in the first email, nor was the ND Women’s March Board mentioned in the second email. The clarifying email noted that the March “is not a Student Government event,” and directed questions to the College Democrats whose email address was provided. The second email was signed by the Notre Dame Student Government.
After sending the Women’s March emails, Student Government reached out to Notre Dame Right to Life to offer assistance in advertising the Club’s March for Life registration. On December 6, just under two weeks after the initial Women’s March email, the Student Government account sent an email to the student body with an invitation to the 47th annual March for Life. The University grants excused absences to all students who attend the March for Life and, “In 2018, more than 1,100 students, faculty, and staff participated in the pilgrimage, the largest single contingent in the history of the March.”
Signed by the March for Life Team leads, the email explained that “Notre Dame annually attends the March for Life, in line with our University’s commitment to the protection of life and Fr. Jenkins’ words that, in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church, ‘the University of Notre Dame recognizes and upholds the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.’”
The email also included a link for registration and notified recipients that “financial assistance is available by contacting either of the March for Life Team leads,” whose names and emails were also attached. In addition, the email informed students about Right to Life’s office hours and gave the details for a registration session.
Notre Dame Right to Life sent a cohort of 701 students on buses, which contributed to the total of more than 800 faculty, students, and staff from the University who participated in the March for Life on January 24, 2020.
John Hale is a junior studying political science and Italian with a minor in theology. His favorite intramural athletic event is broomball and he enjoys plane spotting at Detroit Metro Airport. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org