Monday, March 29, 2010

#79: Explaining to people from other schools how dorms function as Quasi-Frats

Probably the most unique aspect of student life at Notre Dame is the Residence Hall system.  This system is unique not only because 80% of the students live in the dorms, or that these buildings are single-sex, but because the system also necessitates that there is no Greek life at Notre Dame.

The popularity of the dorms combines with the lack of Greek life to create a system that is utterly confounding to students from other schools around the country.  When Notre Dame Students tell their friends about student life, these friends can’t possibly understand why anybody would want to live in a dorm for four years—especially when the dorms operate under the archaic rules of parietals (see #63).

Because of this disconnect, Notre Dame Students use the idea of Fraternities and Sororities to describe the residence hall system at Notre Dame.  The students talk about the camaraderie within the dorms and how students are proud of their dorm.  They talk about interhall sports and other competitions between dorms, and they describe the intense rivalries between dorms.  Notre Dame Students then use these descriptions to describe the dorms at Notre Dame unlike those at most schools, but more akin to Quasi-Fraternities and Sororities.

The irony in this is that Notre Dame Students actually want their dorms to function as Quasi-Frats. 

Notre Dame Students throw dorm parties that aren’t remarkably different from Frat parties with their loud music, crowds of people, and floors covered in beer (but more on those later).  They attempt to haze freshmen with Dis-O rituals that could be found in a Greek System; and they refer to groups of people by the name of their dorm in the same way that students at large state schools describe each other by the name of their Fraternity or Sorority (see #16).  Like fraternities and sororities, a person’s dorm stays with them much longer than they live in it, and Notre Dame Students see the camaraderie and brotherhood in the dorms as the greatest similarity with Greek life at other schools. 

However, while students might describe the dorm system as similar to a Greek one, they ultimately prefer it because of the differences from a Greek system.  While dorm parties might get loud and messy, they are also firmly entrenched in the culture of the Notre Dame Hook-up (see #21).  While some Notre Dame Students participate in something that could be construed as hazing, most Dis-O activities come nowhere close to actually making students do anything embarrassing, unsanitary, or demeaning.  Dorms might get loud and raucous, but unlike Frats they become quiet and controlled when most students need to study.

Notre Dame Students might like to describe dorms as being like Frats, but the reality is that most of the students probably wouldn’t even be involved with Greek life had they ended up at a state school.  The dorm system is uniquely perfect for the students at the school, and it is for this reason that people who aren’t from Notre Dame will never be able to understand it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

#78: Feeling Strongly About New Jersey

 One of the best things about Notre Dame is the school’s unique ability to draw students from a variety of regions and states around the country.  As a well-known national university, students don’t just come from nearby Chicago (despite #47), but from places as far away as California, Texas, and Florida.  None of these home states, however, is as infamous amongst students as the Garden State of New Jersey.

As a group within the student body, those from New Jersey are proud of where they hail from and the reputation that comes with it.  They’re dedicated fans of The Boss and The Sopranos and proudly cheer for either of the two NFL teams that call their state home.  They have trouble pumping their own gasoline, but easily distinguish themselves by their exit on the New Jersey turnpike.  Students from New Jersey are proud of all these things.

To a certain extent, the pride and loyalty that New Jerseyans have for their state stems from the negative impression and reputation that is perpetuated by students from other states.  These students have their own strong opinions about the state, and convey these opinions by touting stereotypes that everybody has heard and pointing out when their friends from New Jersey meet these stereotypes from time to time (or all the time). 

Because of this process, students from New Jersey will embrace the good things about their state, and the successes that have come from their state, while those from the rest of the country will only use this to focus their jokes and criticism. 

These feelings about New Jersey were exemplified last fall when students embraced MTV’s Jersey Shore as a way to not only quench their thirst for high-quality non-scripted television, but to also bond over their strong feelings about the state and the stereotypes that are associated with it.

For those not from the New Jersey, the show helped to reinforce their perceptions of the state, and give them more fodder for jokes.  Meanwhile, those from New Jersey were actually proud of the show and hail the characters as heroes of their state (ironically despite the fact that only one member of the show’s cast is actually from the state of New Jersey).  One way or another, Notre Dame Students liked the show because of their strong feelings about the state; and while Notre Dame Students come from a lot of places, New Jersey is the only one that creates feelings this strong and divisive.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

#77: Celtic Rock

It doesn’t have to be Saint Patrick’s Day (see #11) for Notre Dame Students to be enamored with all things of and (even tangentially) related to Ireland and Irish people because Notre Dame Students love these things throughout the year.  Along with Claddaugh Rings (see #6), Irish Flags (see #55), Guinness, Jameson, and Bailey’s; Notre Dame Students oftentimes like to play Celtic Rock music to make their get-togethers even more Irish.

Celtic Rock music (at least the kind that’s popular amongst Notre Dame Students) is essentially rock or punk music that includes an Irish accented singer and sometimes other instruments such as a fiddle.  Celtic Rock songs often include references to Ireland, the Catholic Church, drinking alcohol, and (strangely) the city of Boston.

While Notre Dame Students appreciate a variety of artists, their go-to Celtic Rock group is Flogging Molly.  With songs such as Drunken Lullabies and Rebels of the Sacred Heart, this band’s music can not only be heard at many student parties, but they also appear at Legend’s from time to time.  Notre Dame Students also utilize the music of Dropkick Murphy’s, as well as the soundtrack to the film The Boondock Saints.

Notre Dame Students like Celtic Rock because it helps them to pretend like they are more Irish than they really are, even if the music is made by people that aren’t really Irish (like most of Flogging Molly and all of Dropkick Murphy’s) and isn’t something that is actually enjoyed by Irish people.  Students like the style of music because it is acceptable in a variety of situations and is always great music for parties.  Because of these things Celtic Rock songs are oftentimes featured on the prototypical Notre Dame Playlist.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

#76: Any Type of Basketball that is not watching the Notre Dame Men’s Team

Notre Dame Students have a reputation (at least amongst themselves) for being incredibly athletic.  They enjoy playing intramural sports regularly, and staying in shape by working out and running constantly.  Of all the sports and activities that they like, however, basketball is the most predominant across campus.

Throughout the winter many Notre Dame Students actively participate in pick-up basketball games at The Rock or Rolfs.  Some students spend an amazing number of hours ‘balling’ in these places and sharpening their game in an attempt to get to the round of 32 in the Bookstore Tournament.  When springtime comes, nearly every student participates on a bookstore basketball team on some level.  While the serious players and teams (that usually include varsity Football players) compete to win, other players take it as an opportunity to drink during the day and engage in wild and raucous behavior (see #11).

Despite many Notre Dame Students love for playing basketball, they oddly do not enjoy supporting the Notre Dame Men’s Basketball team as much as would be expected.  The Leprechaun Legion student section is usually far from full (see picture) and it is rarely difficult to find tickets to basketball games on short notice.  The students that do go to games oftentimes come late and leave early and would rather sit down and relax than make enough noise to discomfort the opposing team (except, or course, those that live in Keough Hall).

What is even stranger about the inconsistent enthusiasm for Mike Brey’s team is that many Notre Dame Students are actually huge fans of college basketball.  Throughout the winter months, plenty of games can be seen on televisions in dorms and apartments and most students continue the great American pastime of entering into March Madness pools.  Some Notre Dame Students even remain fervent fans of teams from their home states like Louisville or Kansas even when the Irish are playing well.

Overall, most students at Notre Dame love basketball.  They love playing the sport and they love watching the sport, but when it comes to enthusiastically attending games in the Joyce Center Purcell Pavilion, most students have trouble mustering the energy to put forth the effort.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

#75: Carl Ackermann

Every major and department at Notre Dame is filled with professors that students love and professors that students loathe, but few majors are as lucky as those students in the College of Business that have the opportunity to take class with and learn from Professor Carl Ackermann (or Carl, as he insists his students call him).

Carl is hailed by his students as the best professor at the University because of what he does both inside and outside of the classroom.  Inside the classroom, students love the meticulous and interesting way in which he explains the material.  He engages his students in ways that aren’t forced or awkward and makes sure that each student understands every topic before moving on.  He makes class fun by joking with or about the students, and he brings an unparalleled enthusiasm to every class he teaches.

Even more remarkable than his teaching ability is his capacity to get to know each and every one of his students.  Despite the fact that he teaches over 600 students in a semester, Carl makes sure to know each one of their names and even something about them.  He develops personal relationships with his students that go beyond his ability to help them learn finance or how to plan their personal finances.

Carl’s students all have personal stories about their relationship with the teacher and the things he’s done for them.  Whether it be postponing a test for a student whose favorite sports team has a big game the night before, driving a student to the bus station as he is leaving campus at the end of the semester, attending a student’s bookstore basketball game, or calling a student to tell them that they did a great job on his exam, Carl goes out of his way to foster relationships with students and know how he can help them.

Carl Ackermann might be a great finance professor to his students, but he is certainly a great friend and mentor that cares about his students far more than most professors.  He teaches students how to accumulate wealth, and also encourages them to think about ways to use that wealth to give back to others.  He understands Notre Dame Students, and helps his students, and it is because of these things that he is beloved by his students years after they have taken his class.