The University of Notre Dame’s student newspaper made national headlines last month when it printed an amateurly penciled anti-gay comic strip. The controversy has not tamed.
The backlash then was vocal, intense and deserved—the comic depicted one character asking another how to turn a ‘fruit’ into a ‘vegetable.’ The response: ‘a baseball bat.’
Earlier, an equally offensive cartoon- suggesting you turn a ‘fruit’ into a ‘vegetable’ with ‘AIDS’ had been rejected.
On campus, the response has also been fierce and adamant, but very supportive of the LGBT members of Notre Dame’s student body, faculty and staff.
Only days after the cartoon appeared, students held a rally protesting the insensitivity of the publication.
Following the public display, groups organized to circulate a petition asking the university to adopt a non discrimination clause, which includes sexual orientation. Currently, the Catholic institution does not have one.
Dozens of other Catholic universities in the United States have already included sexual orientation protection in their student handbooks. Notre Dame has fought it.
While various administrators have condemned the cartoon in a press release shortly after it was published, no official commitments have been made about it.
The petition drive will continue through March, and student leaders will then lobby the university president, the Rev. John Jenkins, to “do the right thing.”
It’s only one gay rights item on the agenda for Notre Dame. The administration will also be called upon to decide whether or not to approve a campus Gay-Straight Alliance. Notre Dame has never had an officially recognized club of this type, although an unofficial group, a council for gay and lesbian students, has existed since the ‘90s.
Heidi Schlumpf, a University of Notre Dame alum who worked at the student newspaper during her college days, captured the feelings of most students when she blogged that “student newspapers make mistakes. But publishing a cartoon that turns gay bashing into comedy? That goes beyond a simple mistake.”