Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#59:Hating Rectresses

One aspect of student life that sets the University of Notre Dame apart from other institutions of higher learning is the importance of dorm life for the students.  There are many unique aspects of dorm life at Notre Dame ranging from drinking traditions to dorm masses, but no aspect of dorm life affects the students more than the rectors and rectresses that live in and are in charge of the dorms.

Rectors and rectresses at Notre Dame are tasked with a myriad of responsibilities to ensure that the residence halls run smoothly and remain places that students want to live.  They assist their halls’ councils in order to plan events that the residents want to make dorm life interesting.  They promote faith in their dorms by encouraging residents to go to hall mass (and oftentimes saying mass if they are a priest).  They also serve as advisors to residents that are there to help them through personal issues of all kinds.

The most prominent responsibility of rectors and rectresses, however, is their position as the leader of the hall staffs of their respective dorms.  This position not only allows them to hand pick assistant rectors and resident assistants, but it also allows them to determine the degree to which university rules are enforced within their dorms.  Parietals might be in effect, liquor and drinking games might be banned, and parties might be limited, but all of these university rules impact students to varying degrees based on how severely their rector or rectress enforces them.

For the most part, the rectors in men’s halls are fairly lenient with the rules.  Alcohol flows freely (if not openly) in the men’s halls as dorm parties are a commonplace, beer pong and 40s are never far away, and liquor is sometimes seen at unnecessarily high levels.  Many rectors seemingly understand that the residents of their halls are college students and will act like college students regardless of the rules.  For their leniencies in enforcing the rules (while managing to keep the dorms incredibly safe) these rectors are beloved by their students and oftentimes form strong relationships with them.

However, women’s halls do not have the same luxuries because rectresses at Notre Dame are not nearly as lenient as rectors.  In fact, rectresses are so stringent with the enforcement of their rules that there is an enormous disparity between life in a men’s dorm and life in a women’s dorm.  While most men’s dorms play host to parties each weekend, women’s dorms never host parties.  While some Notre Dame men feel comfortable building bars in their dorm rooms, women must go to elaborate measure to bring even small amounts of beer, liquor, or wine into their rooms (and when they turn 21, they’re constantly accused of supplying alcohol to younger residents). 

These disparities have resulted in Notre Dame Women having fairly negative relationships with their rectresses.  While rectors might be seen as mentors, advisors, or friends in men’s dorms; rectresses are seen as judge, jury, and executioner.  Likewise, rectresses oftentimes develop hostile relationships with males who happen to enter their dorms.  Friends, boyfriends, and even brothers are not seen by rectresses as the well-intending Notre Dame Students they usually are, but as binge drinking heathens that force feed girls so much alcohol that they turn up passed out in shrubberies in front of Welsh Fam or Lyons. 

Rectresses run their dorms like convents where even the slightest infraction is seen as a truly troubling character flaw.  They try to be mothers to their residents but have no idea how to actually be mothers.  They treat their residents like children and are seemingly incapable of giving them the benefit of the doubt.  They are overly judgmental and overbearing, and many of them need to be replaced.  Because of this, rectresses across campus are unfortunately hated strongly disliked by Notre Dame Students.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

#58: Going to Appalachia for Fall Break

 At the midpoint of the fall semester, Notre Dame Students get a week off for all of their hard work.  Students use this break to do a variety of things such as relax at home, visit their friends at state schools, work on their thesis and other large projects, interview for jobs, or even to stay at school and drink excessively.  However, the most common thing that Notre Dame Students do with their fall break is go to Appalachia to do service work.

For those who don’t know, Appalachia is a cultural region that stretches across the eastern United States in the Appalachian Mountains.  The residents of Appalachia are widely seen as backward hillbilly types that are incredibly poor and uneducated (shockingly, the only state that is entirely within the Appalachian region is West Virginia).   Because of the poor economic conditions within Appalachia, Notre Dame Students take it upon themselves to make things better in this region by doing all the good work that can possibly be contained within one October week.

Students that go to Appalachia do a variety of things for the people there.  Some students work on construction and home repairs.  Other students work to promote recycling and the importance of organic farming; with further students working on issues ranging from health care to daycare.  Overall, when Notre Dame Students go to Appalachia, they make sure that they do as much good as possible in as little time as possible. 

Depending on the football schedule, Notre Dame Students are able to spend anywhere between 6 and 9 days in Appalachia each fall (and spring as well, if they do not like #11) and these Students need to do their good for several reasons.  Notre Dame Students feel the need to have the most well-rounded transcript and resume as possible.  Some know that their trip to Appalachia will look good on med school applications while others feel like it will be a nice anecdotal story to tell in future job interviews.  Other Notre Dame Students have a desire to prove how righteous they are to their friends and family by spending as much time as possible doing service work (and one week is not enough time to fly to and from Uganda).

At the end of the week, however, Notre Dame Students will return to campus with a good feeling in their heart knowing that they attempted to do good, and if given several more weeks they might have actually made a lasting impact.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

#57: Confusion About Cheering for Rivals

One of the defining parts of Notre Dame Culture is the devotion that students have to following the football team.  Students will spend hours reading message boards, they will intently listen to press conferences, they will drive and fly to away games at every end of the country, and they will cheer for the team through thick and thin.

Because of this devotion, Notre Dame Students also closely follow the games of other teams on the schedule so that they know more about their opponents and have a way to gauge how good the Irish team actually is compared to other teams around the country.  However, Notre Dame Students also have a difficult time watching these games because they are confused about what team to support.

The Notre Dame Football program has many rivals.  Some are friendly rivalries like Navy and Stanford (aside from their band).  Others are bitter rivalries like Boston College and Michigan State.  There are rivalries that are relatively new (Michigan) and old (Penn State) and some even have cool names like Catholics vs. Convicts (Miami).  However, no rivalry game is as important or as anticipated as the games against hated arch-rival USC. 

While Notre Dame Students undeniably hate the teams from these schools, they are incredibly confused about what team to root for when they watch their rivals play other games.  One might think that Notre Dame Students would root against teams like USC and Michigan at all costs because of the rivalries, but this is oftentimes not the way Notre Dame Students watch games.

In fact, many students actually root for USC and Michigan to win the rest of the games on their schedule.  These students want their rivals to win every other game so that Notre Dame’s wins against them look better to pundits.  Many students will vocally root for USC to win every game of the season just so they are undefeated when they play Notre Dame.  “If we’re going to beat USC, I want them to be the best team in the country,” Notre Dame Students will say.  While this logic makes sense in some ways, as the students are hoping that they serve as witness to history, in other ways this logic is completely insane.

Notre Dame Students should hate USC at all costs.  They should root for their players to ___________________*.  While they can secretly hope that USC is highly regarded when Notre Dame plays them, they should never root for the Trojans (or any other rival) to win under any circumstances because it is utterly impossible to hate a team and cheer for them at the same time. 

*joke omitted because it would have been classless and USC-like

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#56: Father Hesburgh

There are a lot of priests that live and work at the University of Notre Dame.  While some live in the dorms, others live in Corby Hall.  While some teach classes, others work as rectors and administrators.  While some are loathed by students, others are beloved; but no Holy Cross priest is as cherished and revered as the legendary University President emeritus Rev. Theodore M Hesburgh, C.S.C.

Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he is a living legend.  They dream of opportunities to make their way into his library penthouse, and oftentimes ride the elevators needlessly up and down hoping for a brief chat with him.  They crowd in dorm lounges to hear his stories of American Presidents and Civil Rights leaders and they cherish the pictures they are able to take with him at these events. 

Why, however, do Notre Dame Students love a man whose greatest achievements (besides all of those honorary degrees) occurred before they were even born?  While some Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he is a really old and influential priest that vividly shares many of his fascinating stories with them, the majority of Notre Dame Students hold such high regards for Father Hesburgh because of his effortless superiority to his successors.

Since Father Hesburgh retired, the Notre Dame community has had the privilege of being led by two men that could never be able to match up to the lofty standards set by their predecessor.  While these men tried (and have been trying) admirably, the Notre Dame Student body longs for the days when SYRs were permitted, liquor could be consumed, controversies were at a minimum, and the football team managed to at least come close to expectations.

Notre Dame Students love Father Hesburgh because he made the university the excellent place that it is today.  Under his leadership, Notre Dame was transformed into a top flight academic school that still managed to field a top flight football team.  He is a great man who used his position as University President to impact change not merely within the Notre Dame bubble, but across the entire country; and Notre Dame Students understand that they are privileged whenever they get a chance to encounter this living legend.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

#55: Hanging Irish Flags

Almost all Notre Dame Students like to claim they have some sort of Irish heritage no matter where their family actually comes from.  These students live for St. Patrick’s Day (well, who doesn’t), they have several albums by Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly (even though those bands come from Boston and LA respectively), they care deeply about the direction of their Claddagh Rings (see #6), they sip Baileys to help them fall asleep, and they do whatever it takes to get into the Dublin study abroad program (or they enter the Saint Mary’s program).  The one thing that all of these students are sure to do, however, is hang an Irish Flag in their dorm room or apartment.

While there is nothing wrong with hanging Irish Flags, these flags are as ubiquitous in Notre Dame Student’s rooms as sweatpants, Rudy posters, and spooning (see #49, #30, and #27).  It would be nearly impossible to walk down a hall of any dorm on campus and not see several of these flags draped across the walls of rooms.

Many students take the flag craze to the next level and work to complement their Irish flag with other flags.  Some rooms will have flags of their state next to an Irish flag.  Other rooms will have Notre Dame Flags next to their Irish Flag.  While the types of flags may vary (including Cubs W flags, Premiere League team flags, and unfortunately some Confederate flags), most students use some sort of flag combination to decorate their rooms because the flags are somewhat easy to hang, take up a lot of space, and don’t show wear and tear in the same way that posters do.

Whatever the case may be, Notre Dame Students love to hang their Irish flags so that everybody can know how Irish they are (or wish that they were), and so that the walls will have more clutter and character (similar to a Bennigan’s) that clearly defines the occupants of the room as one thing: a Notre Dame Student.