The Rev. John I. Jenkins, [Notre Dame’s] president and a 66-year-old Catholic priest with degrees in philosophy and divinity, was among the first to invite students back for dorm life, intercollegiate sports and face-to-face classes, arguing in a New York Times Op-Ed in May that the college had a moral obligation to not be crippled by fear.
But all the humility in the world might not have spared Father Jenkins from the storm of protest he now faces over the latest news from South Bend: that he not only violated his own health rules — appearing without a mask at a White House reception last month for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Supreme Court nominee and former Notre Dame Law School professor — but also is infected with the coronavirus himself.
Students have petitioned for his resignation, angry over what they consider his hypocrisy as well as the rising tide of infections on campus. Others have reported him to a coronavirus hotline for violating his own mask mandate. The student newspaper called the affair “embarrassing” in an editorial. And the faculty senate stopped one vote short on [October 6] of considering a vote of no confidence in his leadership.
“I haven’t seen people this outraged in my whole career and I’ve been here since 2001,” Eileen Hunt Botting, a political science professor, said.