Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Get Real, Rover!

Now anyone who knows me knows that I love to dialog and discuss issues with people of various backgrounds. A two-hour conversation with one Mary Daly regarding the crosses on South Quad during the Blue-and-Gold Game proves this. What I cannot stand, however, is ridiculous claims without any evidence to support them. The previously mentioned President of Notre Dame Right to Life and newly selected Editor-in-Chief of the Rover committed this argumentation sin in her first column in her new position (found on page 2).

Though there are many parts of her column that I disagree with (if not all of it), the part I find most repulsive is her claim that Notre Dame's Catholic identity is critical to how other top-tier schools view us. Further, she even goes as far as to posit that losing this identity would cause other schools to view Notre Dame less seriously and with diminished respect.

Now when this portion of Daly's column, I was extremely curious to see what evidence she would provide to substantiate these rather bold claims. I was terribly disappointed (and perhaps somewhat elated) to see that the best support she could muster was from a sole Harvard student's op-ed. That's right, the views of one student suddenly constitute proof that the Ivies and the like love/respect our Catholic nature.

I believe that other top universities accept our Catholic underpinnings and respect us for them, but at the same time see it as restrictive to our pursuit of academic excellence. I find a few supporting arguments, none from student op-eds.

Firstly, Notre Dame sacrifices (albeit without a strict quota) hiring professors purely based on merit in order to have a good amount of Catholic professors. How would top academic institutions approve of this?

Secondly, what respect have we gained from other academic institutions based on the Obama furor? Obama chose Notre Dame over his all other highly touted universities. In return we protest and ask him to decline the invitation? I'm sure Harvard and Yale are loving Notre Dame for this.

My final argument relies on collegiate rankings. The widely read ranking of top colleges by US News and World Report includes peer review as part of their rankings system. In the most recently released rankings, peer review counts for approximately 25% of the final rank. According to this ranking, Notre Dame is the 18th best university in the nation. In another ranking system, published by the Times Higher Education-QS, peer review is given much more weight (40%). Notre Dame takes a nosedive in this ranking, falling to number 53. Looking solely at peer review, Notre Dame does not even crack the top 33 US universities.

Fr. Hesburgh once wrote about the conflict of being a Catholic University and noted the difficulties inherent in searching both for the "Truth" and pursuing academic freedom/excellence. Given all that Notre Dame sacrifices in the name of our Catholic identity, should we really view it as something other top-tier universities value? This is not to say that our Catholic identity is wrong or should be challenged, but only to remind the Mary Daly's of the world that other universities view it as a hindrance to our academic mission.


Henry Vasquez said...

I casually suggested the other day that Lefty's should start a war against the Irish Rover, picking on everything controversial that they write, and watching them suffer because they can only respond at the lame pace that they are published at. A level-headed colleague of mine thought this was a bit too much. I guess he's right. But it is tempting... (pets chin)

Bill said...

I'd rather not sit around waiting for a month just to flip through 4 pages of poorly written columns and shoddy journalism in order to actually have something to write about.
The Rover isn't worth our time. Just because it's printed on paper and we're online doesn't mean that they are a credible enough news source for us to bother taking down. The Rover is only useful as a napkin or an umbrella when it rains.

ShamRockNRoll said...

...Or to wipe your ass with when you run out of TP :)

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure how it got there, but we've definitely had a copy of the rover in our bathroom for about a week now. It's even sitting next to the toilet... how convenient ; )