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What’s in a diploma?

My alma mater doesn’t make the news very often, so when it does, I take notice.

A group of students at Trinity University is lobbying trustees to drop a reference to “Our Lord” on their diplomas, arguing it does not respect the diversity of religions on campus.

“A diploma is a very personal item, and people want to proudly display it in their offices and homes,” said Sidra Qureshi, president of Trinity Diversity Connection. “By having the phrase ‘In the Year of Our Lord,’ it is directly referencing Jesus Christ, and not everyone believes in Jesus Christ.”

Qureshi, who is Muslim, has led the charge to tweak the wording, winning support from student government and a campus commencement committee. Trustees are expected to consider the students’ request at a May board meeting.


The debate started last year when Isaac Medina, a Muslim convert from Guadalajara, Mexico, noticed the wording while looking at pre-made diploma frames in the Trinity bookstore. When Medina applied to Trinity, university staff told him it wasn’t a religious institution and that it maintained only a historical bond to the Presbyterian Church.

So the godly reference “came as a big surprise,” said Medina, who graduated in December. “I felt I was a victim of a bait and switch.”

At first, Qureshi and Medina sought a change only for students who desired it. But university staff told them the school would not print custom diplomas, so they requested dropping the words “Our Lord” from all diplomas issued.

That sound you hear is millions of heads exploding. I can’t wait for this to become talk radio fodder, if it isn’t already. Nothing quite stirs pride in one’s old school like the prospect of it being turned into a caricature by a bunch of ignoramuses.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I looked at my diploma – it may have been five minutes after receiving it; I’m just not that sentimental – so I don’t really care if it says “in the year” or “in the year of Our Lord” in that fancy gothic font. Seems to me the obvious answer is to allow for a custom diploma for those who want it. I mean, if textbook publishers can handle special orders, so can whoever prints these things. My advice to the board of trustees is to recognize that sooner rather than later so the nattering nabobs can move on to the next outrage du jour before they get too attached to this one.

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One Comment

  1. Chris Newport says:

    Further proof of how dense the bubble can be near Stadium Drive.