Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#89: Dorm stereotypes

During the summer before students begin their freshmen year at Notre Dame, they are randomly assigned to a room in one of the 29 residence halls around campus by the Office of Residence Life and Housing (a.k.a. ResLife).  These hall and roommate assignments are based singularly on a person’s gender, and, unlike many schools, have nothing to do with the preferences of the individual students.  ResLife’s selection process doesn’t include surveys to match compatibility (something that some students might have to do on eHarmony if they fail to get a “Ring by Spring”) and it doesn’t allow the opportunity to room with high school friends or people that students previously met at ND summer programs.  At Notre Dame, freshmen year roommates are selected entirely at random.

These random collections of individuals are one of the main attributes that differentiate dorms from Greek systems at larger universities (see #79).  Not only are students not given a chance to choose the dorm in which they will live, but dorms are not given the opportunity to choose which incoming freshmen they want to live in their dorm.*  Whatever the computer assigns is what the students and halls are stuck with.  In fact, even the process to change dorms after a year is made to be overly difficult for students, meaning they rarely change dorms.

Despite the randomness associated with the system, and the somewhat diverse amount of personalities that exist within each dorm, many dorms have common stereotypes that are associated with them.  Alumni guys are arrogant, Sorin guys are pretentious, Howard girls are slutty.  According to Notre Dame Students, these collections of randomly-assigned individuals seemingly have a lot in common.

Regardless of whether or not these and other stereotypes are true, they spread by being consistently discussed across campus.  Roughly half of the Keenan Revue is dedicated to jokes about how BP girls are fat.  Comics in The Observer never fail to miss an opportunity about how nobody lives in Keough or how Carroll guys are weird.  Notre Dame Students love to group people together by dorm (see #16).

The most fascinating aspect of these ingrained subcultures manifests itself when members of a dorm embrace their particular stereotype to the point of creating a self-fulfilling, self-perpetuating “dormthink.”  This is most clearly demonstrated by the men of Zahm that seemingly take up the mantle of their fake-gayness as soon as they arrive on campus.  While individually these men might not act fake-gay at all, as a dorm they collectively perpetuate the stereotype and give the dorm a far different identity than other dorms.

Because of all this, Notre Dame Students love dorm stereotypes.  They love the idea that their halls have identities and traditions of their own (see #40), and they love being a part of these communities.  Even if individual members of halls don’t display the traits for which they are known, Notre Dame Students embrace the stereotypes to build and perpetuate the communities that they love.

*Generally this is true, but it should be noted that there is a double-secret process by which rectors can pull a handful of specific students (usually younger siblings) into their hall.  It is unclear how this process works and how often it is used.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

#88: NCAA Sanctions

Like all enjoyable games and sports, there are rules that must be followed in college football.  Off the field, there are restrictions on when coaches can recruit, there are limits to the number of scholarships a school can give out, and there are academic requirements that must be met by athletes in order to compete.  College athletes must (at least in theory) be student-athletes, and they ought to take these roles as seriously as they can.  When these rules are broken, schools and teams should ideally be punished by the NCAA with sanctions, and Notre Dame Students love when their rivals are sanctioned. 

Notre Dame Students love it when their rivals (such as USC and even Michigan) are “hit with” NCAA sanctions because it proves the long-running belief amongst Notre Dame Students that these teams are dirty, rotten, cheaters; and that they will do anything to win games.  NCAA sanctions help students to reconcile losing games to cheating teams, and they help students to justify poor outcomes on the field.  NCAA sanctions help to reaffirm the perpetual belief amongst Notre Dame Students that they are better than their opponents in ways that go beyond performance on the field.

NCAA sanctions help to demonstrate the moral superiority of Notre Dame Students and their University as a whole.  While it has been established that Notre Dame Students believe themselves to be more religious (see #4 and #21 among others), than their counterparts at other schools around the country, Notre Dame Students also believe that the honesty within their athletic department and administration shows that they are a part of an organization that is a greater beacon for what is good.*  Notre Dame Students want to think that they are better than everybody else, and sanctions prove it.

Notre Dame Students love it when their rivals are ousted as cheaters because it reinforces the notion that the athletes they cheer for on the field are held to higher standards.  Notre Dame Students want to believe that their football players are more dedicated to their studies and they want to believe that these players are not offered outside benefits to attend the school.  Notre Dame Students want to believe that their athletes are there because they love the school and because they have values that go beyond draft status and potential agents.

Most importantly, Notre Dame Students love sanctions because they strike at the heart of their rival’s teams without diminishing their strength of schedule (see #57).  Notre Dame Students take joy in the fact that a sanctioned USC victory will ultimately be meaningless, while a Notre Dame victory over a sanctioned USC will be joyful.  Because of these things, Notre Dame Students love it when sanctions are brought upon their rivals and they take joy in knowing that rivals will be taken down a couple levels and have to deal with the results of their nefarious ways.

*Ironically, Notre Dame Students conveniently forget the fact that their own football program was hit with sanctions in 1999 resulting from the final years of Lou Holtz (see #23).  It is unclear whether they forget this because of their love for the former coach or because they want to think their school is better than others.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

#87: Fist Pumps

There are many ways for people to show their excitement in times of happiness.  Some people laugh, some people cry, some people display crazily large smiles on their faces, and some people jump for joy.  For Notre Dame Students, however, happiness is oftentimes displayed at bars, sporting events, and dorm parties by the variety of fist pumping (both Mike Brey style and not) that they engage in.

At football games, Notre Dame Students engage in fist pumps almost as often as they complain about how their version of The Shirt is fitting (see #2) or tout the inside information that is almost certainly false (see #8).  Usually their directions for fist pumping are given by the marching band that has developed different types of fist pumps for different situations.  If something good could potentially happen on the field, and the team needs pumping up, the band cues the crowd to get really quiet and do an overly complicated fist pump routine that takes Notre Dame Students their entire freshmen year to actually comprehend.  Whether or not this helps the football team is unclear.

Likewise, Notre Dame Students augment and change their fist pumps for various other cheers and situations.  They make an initial of their coach’s name when the band plays the 1812 Overture.  They mock the FSU tomahawk chop when the band plays the Imperial March, and controversially say kill as if they really want somebody to be killed.  They even do a quick fist pump during the playing of the fight song.

Outside of football games, Notre Dame Students frequently engage in fist pumping to show their enthusiasm when different songs are played at bars and dorm parties.  While they are standing or even dancing in small circles (see #24) Notre Dame Students will begin to pump their fists based on musical cues that they hear throughout the night.  Songs that prompt this type of fist pumping include Livin’ on a Prayer (see #9), Rocky Top (despite the fact that it is essentially the fight song of another university), and pretty much any song that is played at the Finny’s and The Backer.  Notre Dame Students pump their fist in these situations not only because they are happy, but because they don’t really know an appropriate way to dance to these songs.

Despite the fact that they do it all the time, Notre Dame Students are pretty much oblivious to their rampant fist pumping.  Maybe it is because their fist pumping isn’t always the most useful or appropriate thing to be doing, or maybe because they secretly know that their fist pumping neither helps the football team nor makes them look cool at bars.  Regardless, Notre Dame Students pump their fists often because they really don’t know what else to do with their arms and hands.