Monday, November 23, 2009

#63: Parietals (although they refuse to admit it)

Of all the unique intricacies of dorm life at Notre Dame, or Notre Dame Student culture in general, the most influential aspect is the rule that seemingly infuriates students ensuring that dorms remain single-sex; a rule called Parietals.

The rule of parietals means that at midnight or 2:00 AM (depending on if it’s a weeknight or a weekend) students must remove themselves from dorms of the opposite sex until the next morning.  This means that students (or outside friends and relatives) are not allowed to sleep in dorms of the opposite sex, and they are not allowed to stay later no matter what they are doing.

The majority of Notre Dame Students talk negatively about parietals.  They blame the rule for treating the students like children.  They use the rule as an excuse for poor gender relations amongst students, and they criticize the rule for being too old-fashioned.  If you listen to what they say in public, one might think that Notre Dame Students hate parietals.

Deep down, however, most Notre Dame Students actually like parietals. 

Parietals are a necessary check on Notre Dame Student’s drunken decision making.  They take away the pressure that Notre Dame Students feel about potentially sleeping together, and give Notre Dame Students an excuse not to sleep together (and limit themselves to Notre Dame Hookups at earlier hours, see #21). 

Furthermore, because of the sometimes lackadaisical way that the rule is enforced, students that are in long term relationships are able to break parietals fairly easily without trouble.  These students like to break parietals not only because it allows them to sleep with their significant other, but also because it makes them think that they are completely badass [or awesome].

Parietals force parties to end at reasonable times, giving Notre Dame Students an excuse not to stay awake late into the night.  While Students might sometimes consider staying up late to party, deep down they actually want to get to bed before 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday nights so that they can wake up early and study on the weekends.  Parietals facilitate the innate desire that Notre Dame Students have to work hard and party hard.

Most importantly, parietals allow students to build strong relationships with the friends in their own dorm.  The most significant times of bonding occur amongst students after parietals when they play video games, participate in single-sex drinking games, and talk about every possible topic that could come up.  Camaraderie is built amongst students after parietals in ways that would be impossible if the other sex was present.

Despite all this, Notre Dame Students will rarely admit to actually liking parietals.  Not only is it very easy to blame poor gender relations on the rule, but it would also be very uncool to champion the rule.  Ultimately, liking parietals is completely counter to being SO college (see #11), and because of this Notre Dame Students will continue to steadfastly pretend that they hate the rule.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

#62: Tailgating at Actual Tailgates (as opposed to houses or frats)

Notre Dame Students love football and they love drinking.  Therefore Notre Dame Students love tailgating.  However, tailgating at Notre Dame is different than at most schools because students rarely tailgate at off-campus houses and there are no fraternities to host game day parties.

Students at schools across the country enjoy the pageantry of college football with tailgates.  Most of these tailgates occur within a system of houses and Greek life, however, and rarely involve a vehicle with a legitimate “tailgate.”  Students at these schools wear dress clothing that can’t be comfortable for the games, they play beer pong on porches, they do multistory beer bongs, and they yell obscenities at any fans of the opposing team that happen to walk past their house or fraternity.  Ironically, most of these students will never actually make it anywhere close to the stadium as game time approaches. 

At Notre Dame, however, students enjoy tailgating at actual tailgates where they can complain about the shirt while wearing it (see #2), claim to have inside information about the football team (see #8), be nice to opposing fans (see #13), form small circles (see #24), complain about the weather (see #43), network with alums (see #85), and of course, do things that are SO College (see #11)

As freshmen they like to wander the Joyce and Stadium parking lots hoping that random alums will offer them free food and stories about the good old days.  As sophomores they will seek out tailgates hosted by distant relatives of minor acquaintances where they will get free food and potentially sneak a beer or two.  As juniors, Notre Dame Students will now be friends with these distant relatives of minor acquaintances and they will confidently go to the tailgates knowing that they will be offered plenty of free food and alcohol. 

As seniors, some students host their own tailgates.  While some of these students live close enough to campus where they can attempt to throw a state-school-style house party before the game, other students obtain parking passes and throw tailgates in parking lots such as the infamous Radio Tower (or X) Lot. 

Students who throw these tailgates do everything that they can to make sure that their tailgate is the best tailgate.  They get ridiculous amounts of beer and meat.  They play terrifying drinking games such as full beer flip cup, and they shotgun beers at regularly scheduled intervals.  These students will try to convince underclassmen to come to their tailgates, but the underclassmen will be too scared to show up.

Ultimately, Notre Dame Students love tailgating.  Unlike their peers from other schools across the country however, when the game starts the tailgates end.  Nothing is more important than the game.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

#61: The Grotto

“Every university has a place where students hang out for their social life, libraries where they study, and playing fields where they play sports, but how many have a praying place?” –Fr. Hesburgh (see #56)

There are many places on campus that are important to many students.  While students have special connections with their dorms, favorite classroom buildings, study spaces, or dining halls; all Notre Dame Students have an affinity for The Grotto making it one of the most sacred and beloved places on campus.

Tucked away behind the Basilica and facing out towards St. Mary’s Lake, The Grotto is far from being the most prominent or central location on campus.  Built with rocks and adorned with candles and statues, there is nothing immensely impressive about The Grotto.  But as the Stadium is loved for its traditions and grandiosity, and the Dome for being an icon; The Grotto is beloved because of its tranquility and simplicity.

There are no ancillary usages or purposes of The Grotto.  No statues mixing religious iconography with that of football.  No traditions of shotgunning beers or trying to hook up.  Notre Dame Students use it for prayer, not to prove how religious they are, but just to pray because they want or need to.

The Grotto is the place where Students go when they most need it, or when they don’t need it at all.  They go there when they are feeling homesick.  They go there when a relative is sick or has died.  They go there when they have lost their way.  Some students go there regularly to pray, while other students go there more infrequently.  All spend at least a little time there over the course of their four years to think in silent reflection and maybe light a candle [although they rarely leave an offering for said candle, see #3].

Notre Dame Students love The Grotto not because of its beauty or history, but because it is there for them when they need it most.  They love The Grotto because it is theirs, and they love The Grotto because it is one of the many things that are truly unique about Notre Dame.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

#60: Staying on One Level of Club Fever

On Thursday nights throughout the school year many Notre Dame Students (some that are over 21 . . . some that aren’t) like to frequent “Michiana’s most versatile night club” for drinking, dancing, and everything a person could ever want from the largest nightclub in northern Indiana.  When they go to Club Fever, however, they refuse to take advantage of all the 16,000 square feet of space it has and instead act like squatters on their level of choice.

When some students enter Club Fever, they immediately retreat to the basement where they can find pool and shuffleboard tables, regular lighting, and a decidedly more rock based playlist.  The basement of Fever is frequented by students that typically go to Finny’s on Thursday nights, but go to Fever because somebody in their group suggested that they need a ‘change of pace’ or are ‘getting into a rut.’ 

Many of these patrons will drunkenly make their way outside and down the alley to Finny’s before 1 AM.

[One important aspect of the Club Fever basement is the bathrooms.  Because the basement is attached to a very mediocre restaurant, the bathrooms are the nicest that can be found at any South Bend drinking establishment.  Ultimately this is unimportant.]

The main level of Club Fever is probably one of the most diverse places in South Bend.  There are drunk girls with the mindset of “F*** guys, I just want to dance” dancing with their girlfriends.  There are local residents who will oftentimes interrupt their dancing for unexpected fist fighting.  There are creepy guys walking around the dance floor trying to act cool but knowing that their best move is to come up at a girl from behind and begin dancing with her before she sees them.  There are also Notre Dame Basketball players.

These people love the main level because the darkness, occasional smoke, incessant strobe lights, and tightly packed crowd create an excellent opportunity for Dance Floor Makeouts.  The $1 Natural Lights also make this one of the least expensive public drinking locations . . . anywhere.

While the main level of Club Fever is one of the most diverse, the upstairs is probably the least diverse.  More open than the basement and better lit than the main level, the upstairs of the bar is enjoyed by the Notre Dame Students that wish they had attended state schools.  These students tend to go out every night of the week and see Thursday nights at Fever as the best of them all.  They kind of know each other well (but kind of don’t); they live off-campus as juniors; they’ve had fake IDs since freshmen year; they’ll spend lots of money on mixed drinks, but they probably won’t get too drunk.  People come to the upstairs of Club Fever to pick up girls/guys and go home with them, something students on the other levels are just not interested in.

All three levels combine to make Club Fever one of the most out of place bars in the entire South Bend area.  With three distinct areas (and stairs between them where people are rarely seen) Club Fever is a place that Notre Dame Students love, but for a variety of reasons, and a place where they will continue to go on Thursday nights (at least until it inevitably gets shut down).