Designed as an opportunity for students to converse about life issues, Notre Dame Right to Life hosted a seminar for freshmen on “Being Pro-Life in the University” on September 18. Mary Daly, Program Coordinator for Notre Dame’s University Life Initiatives and a former president of Notre Dame Right to Life, delivered a brief presentation followed by discussion.
The seminar was limited to 15 students in order to create a setting conducive to discussion. In her presentation Daly told students to make the most of their time at the University by making it an active learning experience in and out of the classroom. In a telephone interview with The Rover, Daly explained, “I think it is important for students to realize that as much as they are learning just in going to class and putting forth the effort there, they too have to take ownership or responsibility for continuing their own education in life issues because it’s not necessarily the case that they will be receiving that formation in the classroom, just because of what major they have. … However, we have the moral obligation and responsibility to continue learning more [about life issues] so that we are equipped for the world.”
Daly also encouraged students to look to their peers for development, saying, “there is a lot of passive learning that goes on in the friendships that they have and so I encouraged them not to forget that they are learning from the friends that they make and just to feel comfortable making friends with people in the Right to Life Club or the clubs on campus that approach life issues.”
She continued to expand the implications of a pro-life stance, explaining, “The best way to be pro-life in the university is by living in a way that makes the pro-life message attractive to others. We talk about the culture of life and culture is something that is lived. I think that more than arguments, essays, protests or demonstrations the biggest impact that pro-life people can have is the example of their lives. That is how we are going to affect the culture in our world today, by showing people what it means to be pro-life and that is done by the subtle habits of our everyday lives.”
During the discussion following the presentation, students raised topics of their own interest, one of which was voting with respect to life issues. They discussed the idea of ‘single-issue voting’ and how to balance life-issues with other important topics. Daly said, “The students I think came to the consensus that it is not necessarily a single issue we are thinking about in coming to the polls. We think that all these issues are related in some shape or form and that questions about beginning and end of life issues ultimately do affect questions about the economy or taxes because they are all related to how we live. … People all have responsibility to form their conscience the best way they can and to vote accordingly. If [a single issue] is important to an individual voter and important enough to affect their vote, I don’t think there is necessarily something wrong with that.”
Seminar participant Catherine Owers found this portion of the event particularly valuable.
“I enjoyed the seminar because it made me think more holistically about my voting decisions,” she said. “I realized that although many people understandably focus on abortion when they think of pro-life issues, there are many additional issues that we also need to be aware of and concerned about, like euthanasia and just war.”
Notre Dame Right to Life intends to continue the seminars as a series. Chris Damian, Notre Dame Right to Life Vice President for Events, shared plans for upcoming events.
“In the future, we hope to host seminars on a variety of issues, including end-of-life issues, addressing disabilities, and the intersection between life issues and various academic disciplines,” he said.
Joe Mackel is a senior biology major who loves fall, especially at Notre Dame. To exchange pictures of colorful trees, email him at email@example.com.