CV NEWS FEED // Notre Dame University President Fr. John Jenkins is defending a school-sponsored drag show slated to take place next week, citing “academic freedom” over the objections of students.
The highly controversial event is scheduled for November 3 and will feature at least three drag performers, one of whom is a student.
More than 400 people, including many students, have emailed their objections to Notre Dame’s administration.
In an automated response, however, Fr. Jenkins appeared to dismiss their concerns.
“We defend [academic] freedom even when the content of the presentation is objectionable to some or even many,” Fr. Jenkins wrote. “The event you reference is part of a one-credit course in Film, Television and Theater on the history of drag, and the principle of academic freedom applies.”
“The right of free expression does not, of course, extend to speech that threatens violence or constitutes harassment against an individual or a group,” he continued. “Such expressions violate University policies and will not be tolerated.”
Writing for The Federalist, Notre Dame student Merlot Fogarty reported that the planned show is co-sponsored by multiple university departments and programs, including “the Departments of Music and American Studies, the College of Arts and Letters Initiative on Race and Resilience, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, and the Gender Studies Program.”
“Students plan to host a rosary rally outside of the performance on Nov. 3 if the show is not canceled,” Fogarty added.
A few weeks ago, Irish Rover Editor-in-Chief Nico Schmitz wrote an op-ed encouraging people to speak out against the drag show in order to preserve “Notre Dame as an authentically Catholic institution.” The Irish Rover is Notre Dame’s Catholic student-run newspaper.
“In supporting lies about the human person—lies that say men can be women and that a minstrel show of femininity is a legitimate art form—the university is not only actively working against her [sic] mission, but permitting irreparable damage to its community and image,” Schmitz wrote in the October 11 piece titled “No Place for Drag at Our Lady’s University.”
“Notre Dame” in French means “Our Lady.”
There is nothing confusing about the Church’s stance on issues of sexuality. The Catechism additionally describes that “Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. … For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day.”
Drag shows, even when not performed for children, dishonor and violate this natural order. They skew the line between genders and celebrate the chaos and confusion of gender dysphoria under the guise of “self-expression.” Fundamentally, a drag show mocks all that it means to be a woman by painting a hyper-sexualized picture and making her an object of derision.
“Such a performance is particularly egregious at a university dedicated to the exemplar of all women,” he added. “Under the eyes of Our Lady atop the dome, this performance threatens to fundamentally insult the core of what it means to be a woman.”
The Irish Rover states that it is “devoted to upholding the Catholic mission of the University of Notre Dame.” Pro-abortion professor Tamara Kay recently sued the paper, claiming that it “defamed” her.
Schmitz’s predecessor Joseph DeReuil denounced Kay’s claim as “baseless” in a July interview with CatholicVote. The Irish Rover soon after filed a motion to dismiss the case.
“Because Kay’s claims are baseless, we wish to put this behind us as quickly as possible so that we can reorient our focus upon promoting the Catholic identity of Notre Dame,” DeReuil said.
Fr. Jenkins has served as Notre Dame’s president since 2005 and is currently serving his fourth five-year term. Like all of the university’s past presidents, he belongs to the Congregation of Holy Cross (C.S.C.), which founded and is affiliated with Notre Dame.
In recent years, the university has been known for the long tenures of its presidents, having only three in the last 61 years. Being a C.S.C. priest is a prerequisite for the office. All Notre Dame presidents are required to take a vow of poverty and do not directly receive a salary, which is instead paid to the congregation.