In the shadow of tragedy, Notre Dame does the right thing …..

November 06, 2010 |

On that fateful day, Notre Dame student and videographer, Declan Sullivan, died when the scissor-jack lift he was using toppled over, amid high wind gusts. We know the story – gusts topped 50 mph, and a frightened Sullivan even conveyed his concerns/fears via Twitter.

There is really no need to delve further into the incident, itself. We’ve all heard about it and read or seen the coverage. It’s just an awfully sad situation; a horrible accident that has left a school body mourning, and a family immeasurably devestated.

The memorial services, public remembrances and informal gatherings have happened …..

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 30: A player for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish wears a decal on his helmut honoring Declan Sullivan, a student who was killed while videotaping a Notre Dame practice in high winds this past week, before a game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Notre Dame Stadium on October 30, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Declan Sullivan was laid to rest, on Monday. And, while his family continues to grieve, an investigation into the actual circumstances of the incident is underway.

Yesterday, Notre Dame’s President, Reverend John Jenkins, took an opportunity to help everyone involved and impacted in this sad situation. In an email to students, faculty, staff and alumni, he accepted responsibility on behalf of the university.

I fully realize this acknowledgement will not change what happened; a mother and father have lost their son and this reality is assured.

Yet, Reverend Jenkins has done something many folks avoid, resist or deny. He knows Notre Dame is responsible for what happened, and regardless of what his admission might yield, he’s owning up to it.

He doesn’t deserve recognition of any sort. But, he should be acknowledged for DOING THE RIGHT THING.

We exist in a society where culpability, responsibility and guilt are rarely admitted, especially if legal consequences are involved. Whether the situation regards someone being accused of criminal misconduct, or a party is alleged to be civilly accountable for negligence, the guilty rarely acknowledge their misdeed without a fight or defense.