Wednesday, January 27, 2010

#71: Viewpoint Wars

The Observer is one of the most loved or hated things at Notre Dame.  Some students make sure to read it every day, always checking the Question of the Day (see #46), the Viewpoint section, the front page, and (of course) the comics.  Other students almost never pick up the paper, instead opting to read the complimentary national newspapers with their dining hall meals.

However, if there is one thing that can get every Notre Dame Student to pick up and read The Observer, it is raging Viewpoint war about a controversial issue.  While some of these issues come up for a short while (such as Barack Obama speaking at commencement) and will probably never appear in the Viewpoint section again, many issues that create Viewpoint wars appear in the section on an almost annual basis.

Issues such as the unique relationship between Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (see #43.5), the disappointing nature of the football team, bookstore basketball team names, violence off-campus, single-sex dorms, and the acceptance of LGBT students at Notre Dame appear quite frequently in the pages of the viewpoint section.  Nearly every year an incident will happen that will again bring these issues to the forefront and cause even the most reluctant Notre Dame Student to pick up The Observer and read the next level of rhetorical sparring.

When The Observer is in the midst of a Viewpoint War, their e-mail inbox is flooded with letters and comments about the controversy.  Even the most passive Notre Dame Student wants to get their two cents in and takes to their laptop to pen the most passionate (and usually predictable) argument possible.  The section becomes dominated by the single topic for days and weeks (or, in the case of Obama, months), and columns or letters not pertaining to the war simply fall by the wayside.

Viewpoint Wars are important because they depict Notre Dame Students at their best (or, more often, at their worst).  While they are always overblown, they depict the issues that are important to the student body, and the ones that are most controversial amongst the student body.  They get the students actively talking about topics, and they throw the most troublesome issues into the limelight.  Because of this, Notre Dame Students love Viewpoint Wars.


  1. the absolute best was when melissa budde (is that name right?) sparked the infamous hookup culture/notre dating war

  2. Today at my job interview with a non-ND guy, I was asked: "So, as a woman that attended Notre Dame, do you hate St. Mary's girls?"