Wednesday, July 28, 2010

#91: The Idea of Marriage

Being the overly Catholic and family-oriented people that they are, Notre Dame Students all have a strong innate desire to quickly get married and have children.  Very few Notre Dame Students actively want to be single, and almost none aspire to be womanizing bachelors who have trophy girlfriends late in life (or the other way around).  

This obsession that Notre Dame Students have with the idea that they will get married soon after they graduate is embodied in the tradition of “ring by spring.”  Ostensibly the goal of every Notre Dame Student, “ring by spring” is the objective of Notre Dame women to get proposed to by the man of their dreams and of Notre Dame men to propose to the woman of their dreams by the time they graduate. 

In order to obtain or present a “ring by spring,” a person usually must have met their future husband or wife by the end of their freshman year, be dating this person by the end of their sophomore year, and regularly be breaking parietals together by the end of their junior year.  This well-worn path puts the Notre Dame couple right on course for spring engagement at the Grotto (see #61) during their senior year, and the ideal Basilica wedding the summer after that.

The problem with this tradition is that very few people actually participate in it any more.  While Notre Dame Students still love to talk about “ring by spring,” and they certainly talk at length about anybody they know that achieves the goal, most Notre Dame Students are in no position to actually participate in the tradition.  This is not only because many Notre Dame Students move on to grad school, med school, or law school after graduation, but also because the modern world sends graduates to all parts of the country in search of jobs and service opportunities.

Despite “ring by spring” being barely feasible for modern Notre Dame Students, these students continue to talk about it because they are obsessed with the idea of marriage.  They like to talk about the weddings of older siblings and of the potential of friends’ future weddings because the modern idea of weddings brings together religion and drinking in order to celebrate the final result of a long-term relationship (see #99).  So even if students aren’t getting married (or even engaged) very often as students any more, the idea of marriage is never far from the mind of a Notre Dame Student.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#90: Looking down on locals

Notre Dame Students hail from all regions of the country, but most of them come from similar suburban areas.  When they first arrive at Notre Dame, students don’t really notice the major differences between their hometowns and South Bend because as freshmen they don’t have many reasons or avenues to stray too far outside the Notre Dame Bubble.  As they get older and bring cars to school, have more meals away from the dining halls (see #53), go to local bars, get jobs or volunteer positions, and move out of the dorms, Notre Dame Students spend a lot more of their time off-campus.  As a result, they also spend more time interacting with the local residents of South Bend, and usually formulate negative opinions of the residents they not so flatteringly refer to as “townies.”

The relationship between Notre Dame Students and local residents is a tense one that goes back a lifetime for the locals, and less than four years for the students.  Local residents often become upset with students for a variety of reasons usually related to collegiate debauchery.  Residents complain about loud noise at parties, they complain when students urinate on their property, and they complain that students take up too much space at their favorite bars like The View. 

However, the biggest complaint that locals have of students is the Notre Dame Students’ immense sense of self-importance.  Notre Dame Students take one look at the city of South Bend and immediately think they are better than everybody who lives there.  The students come from wealthier families, they wear nicer clothing (see #5), and they drive more expensive cars.  Students see the quality of their expensive education (see #3) and believe that they already have more success than the majority of South Bend residents will ever have.

These opinions of the students are somewhat justified.  South Bend is a dying rust-belt city that is rampant with crime and poverty.  Students rarely feel safe walking home at night from bars, and off-campus students become accustomed to hearing sirens in their neighborhood.  With the University and its football weekends serving as the singular force behind the local economy, Notre Dame Students believe they are more important than the typical South Bend resident and this gives them a sense of entitlement.

Because of this attitude, South Bend residents sometimes go out of their way to be hostile towards Notre Dame Students.  They report the loud parties that are simply collections of Notre Dame Students trying to be SO College (see #11), they strictly enforce drinking laws in the area, and a few residents even get dangerous and violent towards students.

For their part, the students do try to use the dire economic situation in South Bend as a way to quench their thirst for helping people and making themselves feel like better people.  Notre Dame Students take it upon themselves to seek out service opportunities throughout the city by volunteering to tutor and mentor local youth and constantly raising money for the Center for the Homeless (among other institutions).  While these certainly are noble causes, these volunteer opportunities simply do more to show at least some South Bend residents that Notre Dame Students are arrogant, and confirm Notre Dame Students’ beliefs that they are better than the townies of South Bend.