Students rebuke Notre Dame president for not wearing mask at White House

Jenkins’ behavior has outraged some members of the Notre Dame community, with more than 200 students signing a petition calling for his resignation after he was seen without a mask and shaking hands with other unmasked attendees at the Sept. 26 ceremony for Barrett, a Notre Dame faculty member and alumna.

The ceremony is now considered a likely superspreader event after multiple participants including President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for the virus.

Now, Jenkins has not only been reprimanded by students, but he faces possible action from the Faculty Senate. They voted on Tuesday night 21-20 to postpone action on a resolution of no confidence in Jenkins, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Jenkins last week apologized for his behavior, saying he regretted his “error of judgment in not wearing a mask” and that he decided to quarantine “in an abundance of caution.” The Student Senate on Oct. 1 voted down a resolution for Jenkins’ resignation, according to The Observer student newspaper.

The following day, he announced that he had tested positive for Covid-19, calling it “a good reminder for me and perhaps for all of how vigilant we need to be.” A university spokesperson did not respond Thursday when asked for an update on Jenkins’ condition.

Ashton Weber, one of the students who drafted the resolution for Jenkins’ resignation, on Tuesday wrote in The Observer that Jenkins’ diagnosis “strengthened” her belief that he should resign.

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Notre Dame back in spotlight after president caught in Rose Garden coronavirus storm

Notre Dame is back in the national spotlight after the school’s president, Reverend John Jenkins, tested positive for covid-19 after attending a high-profile event at the White House.

Jenkins was pictured without a mask during a White House event at the Rose Garden nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on September 26. Some students of the school, which has instituted coronavirus mitigation protocols and briefly suspended in-person classes after an outbreak, immediately started a petition calling for the president to resign.

More than ten attendees — including the President of the United States Donald Trump and Jenkins — have since tested positive for covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.

Rev. Jenkins apologized for attending the event and “failing to lead as I should have.”

(GRAPHIC: DAVID FOSTER/YAHOO FINANCE)
(GRAPHIC: DAVID FOSTER/YAHOO FINANCE)

‘Frustrated at the hypocrisy of the lack of leadership’

The situation enraged students at the prestigious university.

“Notre Dame is kind of a good example of like a microcosm of the United States in terms of just people are frustrated at the hypocrisy of the lack of leadership,” Makira Walton, a 21-year-old Notre Dame student, told Yahoo Finance. “It’s obviously a very deadly disease and, and we shouldn’t just use statistics to discount what is a loss of life that is very personal to some people — I think that kind of gets lost in translation.”

Walton, who co-authored the petition calling for Jenkins’ resignation, added that while she was “very, very thankful that nobody has seemed to have had very serious symptoms from this White House outbreak, including Father Jenkins,” the situation was frustrating since the school’s leader was “in direct breach of the University’s COVID-19 procedures, as he was recorded shaking hands with several unmasked individuals and photographed sitting without a mask in close proximity to other attendees.” 

In this Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, photo former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, front second from right, speaks with others after President Donald Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington. Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins stands at back right. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
In this Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, photo former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, front second from right, speaks with others after President Donald Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington. Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins stands at back right. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“It’s frustrating,” Patrick Kelly-Dutile, one of the authors of the petition for Rev. Jenkins to resign, told Yahoo Finance. He noted the stress of “having gone through the entire process in the late spring … of going home early from last school year, and having to finish the year remotely, and then going through the lockdown when the entire summer, having to take these sort of preventative measures.” 

The political science and Spanish double major, a junior, has been living on campus housing since early August and was supposed to be studying abroad in London this semester.

“The president of the university — who has brought forth these guidelines for us to follow — deciding that maybe they don’t apply to him,” Kelly-Dutile added, “that seems kind of hypocritical.” 

Jenkins penned an op-ed in the New York Times

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Notre Dame student: Father Jenkins, Trump failed COVID-19 leadership test

  • An event held in the Rose Garden may have been responsible for infecting many high-profile politicians with coronavirus.
  • As a Notre Dame student, it was extremely disappointing to see our President, Father John Jenkins, at the event and not following the protocols that we students have been carefully following ourselves.
  • Rachel Palermo is a J.D. candidate at Notre Dame Law School.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Leaders must lead by example. 

Setting policies is an important part of being a leader. But the people who set the rules need to join the rest of us in following them.

As a law student at the University of Notre Dame, I have spent the last few months following important rules that have been imposed by our school.

Early this summer, the Notre Dame administration announced that we would return to in-person classes for the fall semester, even as many colleges and universities converted to fully remote learning. In exchange for being able to attend in-person classes, our community has been entrusted with meeting certain safety expectations.

To name a few: we wear masks at all times, stay six feet away from other people, and refrain from traveling outside of the area. We are often reminded that our responsibilities to one another don’t end once we leave campus.

I understand that the only way to keep our community safe is to take the COVID-19 rules and recommendations seriously, even when they are inconvenient. I’m proud that many other Notre Dame students have demonstrated responsible behavior — on and off campus — because they also understand the stakes are too high. 

Last week, along with many of my classmates, I watched the Rose Garden ceremony for the nomination of our professor, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, with disappointment and embarrassment. 

Setting aside whether or not we believe that nominating someone to the US Supreme Court a month before an election is appropriate, we sat in disbelief as some Notre Dame professors and administrators didn’t wear masks, ignored social distancing guidelines, and even shook hands with other attendees. They broke every rule and guideline that we have been told to follow. 

We watched a potential super-spreader event unfold before our eyes on live television, with familiar faces in the crowd. For those of us who have been social distancing since the spring, watching the ceremony was like observing an alternate reality. 

This week, we learned that Donald Trump, Melania Trump, and other high profile White House officials in attendance at the ceremony tested positive for COVID-19. Trump’s diagnoses came just 48 hours after mocking Joe Biden at the presidential debate for his habit of wearing masks. 

Sen. Mike Lee and former Gov. Chris Christie, who tested positive as well, were captured on video hugging other attendees in the Rose Garden. Our own University President, Father John Jenkins, was also present, flouting both mask and social distancing guidance. He has since announced

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University of Notre Dame president tests positive for COVID-19 after attending White House Rose Garden ceremony with President Trump

The University of Notre Dame’s president has tested positive for COVID-19, a school spokesman confirmed Friday morning, less than a week after he attended Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination ceremony at the White House without wearing a mask.

The Rev. John Jenkins has mild symptoms and contracted the illness “from a colleague he was in regular contact with at Notre Dame,” according to university spokesman Paul Browne.

Jenkins, who’s led the Catholic university since 2005, has drawn scrutiny in recent weeks for appearing not always to follow COVID-19 safety precautions.

In August, Jenkins sent an apology to students after he was photographed taking a group picture with students standing around him, and within 6 feet, when the school reopened for in-person classes. The photo, which was shared widely on social media, appeared to show everyone wearing masks.

More recently, Jenkins came under fire for not wearing a mask when he attended the Rose Garden ceremony for Coney Barrett’s nomination Saturday. Photos from the event also show Jenkins in close proximity to other guests and shaking hand with attendees.

Jenkins also apologized to students and faculty for that in a message Monday. He said he had a rapid COVID-19 tested before the event and that it came back negative.

“I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,” the message says. “I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so. I especially regret my mistake in light of the sacrifices made on a daily basis by many, particularly our students, in adjusting their lives to observe our health protocols.”

Jenkins’ diagnosis comes to light as President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump tested positive and shared the results early Friday.

Jenkins has been quarantining since Saturday.

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