One of the most high-profile Catholic universities in the country may host a drag symposium and performance later this fall, a new report claims.
The University of Notre Dame, located near South Bend, Indiana, is nationally recognized for its football players who wear shiny, gold helmets that mirror the iconic Golden Dome atop the Main Building on campus. Founded as an all-male school by the religious community the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1842 but co-ed since the early 1970s, Notre Dame was originally intended to establish a Catholic presence in the area and to encourage men to commit themselves to religious practice and academic rigor.
At least one course taught at Notre Dame this fall, however, seems to run counter to that founding vision. Professor Pamela Robertson Wojcik, the chair of the Department of Film, Television and Theatre, is teaching a course entitled "What a Drag: Drag on Screen - Variations and Meanings."
As part of the one-credit course, students will be required to attend "a symposium on drag and performance" on November 3, the course description stated. Wojcik later confirmed to the Irish Rover, a student publication dedicated "to preserving the Catholic identity of Notre Dame," that the symposium will be held on campus and will also include a drag performance.
Wojcik told the outlet that she hopes to "give students knowledge about an art form that has been misdescribed." She also insisted that "drag won’t turn kids gay" and that banning it would be "dangerous."
Wojcik said that organizers had not yet determined whether the drag event will be open to the public and to attendees of all ages. However, she has already arranged for security at the event "for the foreseen protests."
Wojcik's theater and film department is not the only department on campus that is sponsoring the event. There are at least three other co-sponsors: the Department of Gender Studies, Department of Music, Department of American Studies, and the Initiative on Race and Resilience.
Of those, only a spokesperson from the Department of Music responded to the Irish Rover's request for comment. "Drag performance has been part of musical culture in the West and around the world, so it’s been the subject of scholarly research in musicology and ethnomusicology," said Prof. Berthold Hoeckner, the department chair. "Having a class and a symposium is a great opportunity for interested students to learn about this subject."
Notre Dame's Office of the President did not comment on the allegedly scheduled drag show on campus, but there are some indications that the drag performance may not happen after all. For one thing, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, the campus building that is supposedly hosting the event, currently has no event listed on November 3, "suggesting that scheduling, the ticketing plan, or some other aspect of the event has not been finalized," the Irish Rover claimed.
In addition, the Mendoza College of Business MBA students at Notre Dame tried to have a drag queen speak at their Diversity and Heritage Ball last March, but the university refused to allow it. "Notre Dame values the LGBTQ members of our campus and works closely with the undergraduate and post-baccalaureate student groups on a wide array of events," the university said in a statement at the time. "Any programming sponsored by a student club must align with the group’s mission. That was not the case in this instance."
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