Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#97: Hating the other dining hall

When it comes to eating meals, Notre Dame Students like to do what is fastest and easiest.  Even though plenty of them have cars on campus, they rarely go to off-campus restaurants to eat, and even though there are two dining halls on campus, Notre Dame Students rarely switch between the two. 

Most students typically go to the dining hall that is closest to their dorm because it is most convenient.  They can walk there for lunch on their way to class, and they can get there quickly and without hassle for dinner.  In the winter, Notre Dame Students do this because they also like to walk through the snow from their dorms to the dining hall in athletic shorts, just to show how little the weather affects them (even though it does).

By only going to one dining hall, students grow accustomed to sitting in the same area and seeing the same people.  Students from West Quad and South Quad consistently go to South Dining Hall (referred to by saying “South” or “SDH”).  These students yell out either “right-right” or “right-left” to tell their friends where they will be sitting, and before long groups of friends know exactly what side of what aisle to look to and walk down in order to find their friends.  These groups will instinctively know second and third choice seating areas in case their chosen area is occupied or closed. 

Students from North Quad and Mod Quad consistently go to North Dining Hall (referred to by saying “North” or “NDH”).  These students will determine where to sit before they get their food, and will leave coats, flip up chairs, and place IDs on their chosen table in order to mark their territory.  While both halves of campus have their different customs in their chosen dining hall, the one thing all Notre Dame Students share is a hatred for the dining hall in which they do not regularly eat.

Students who regularly eat at South complain constantly about the “modernism” that exists at North.  They hate the fact that the dining hall has multiple levels almost as much as the televisions that exist inside it.  Furthermore, South regulars hate the fact that they can never find their friends when they eat at North.  Why, they wonder, would you waste time saving a seat with your ID, when long lines are forming in the food distribution areas?  South regulars spend inordinate amounts of time looking for their friends when they eat at North.

The biggest complaint that South regulars have about North, however, is the food distribution system.  Food stations at North are seemingly spread throughout the dining hall in a maze of doorways that is akin to a funhouse.  South patrons are used to the single room in their dining hall where they can quickly make a loop and see what the options are for dinner.  At North, most students know what they are going to get before they enter the building and make a beeline towards the room of their choice.  Because it is impossible for Southies to find food in North, they pretty much only go there when they are looking for two specific menu items unique to North: pasta stir fry and make-your-own-pizza.

North patrons have similar complaints about SDH.  They find it impossible to find their friends in the large crowded rooms of tables that all look the same (see #36), and since they aren’t regular Southies, they don’t have a proper system in place to find their friends.  Their biggest complaint, however, is the abomination that is the SDH food distribution system.  When Northies enter the center part of SDH (where the food is distributed), they see a crowded and congested mess of confusion.  There are people EVERYWHERE, with lines pushing into other lines, and people waiting in two lines at similar times.  If peppered flank steak is the meat entrĂ©e, the salad bars become engulfed in the line of steak-eaters.  If there is a particularly enticing pasta dish, there will be an impenetrable line preventing hungry eaters from getting to the pizza or waffle-making sections.  Making matters worse are the indecisive Southies who don’t intricately plan their meals ahead of time by checking the menu online.  They add to the congestion by wandering around the food area looking through all of the options before they make a choice.  If NDH is overly organized with rooms for different food, SDH is an underorganized mess of confusion that Northies will never be able to understand.

The ironic thing about dining hall loyalty at Notre Dame is that both dining halls generally serve the same food.  Sure there are some notable differences like make-your-own-pizza, but when push comes to shove, students can pretty much get the same food at either dining hall.  Because of this, while Notre Dame Students will always loathe eating in the dining hall they don’t frequent, eventually all Notre Dame Students will come to hate the repetition at BOTH dining halls, and will begin to have more trips off-campus to places like Rocco’s, Bruno’s, Chili’s, and even Red Lobster.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

#96: Getting indignant

Notre Dame Students spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing issues that impact their campus, country, and world.  In their thoughts and discussions about these issues, Notre Dame Students grow to care deeply about them (or, they at least pretend to care deeply about them).  Not only do they care about these issues, but Notre Dame Students formulate strong opinions about them and usually try to convince their fellow students to share their opinions.  Yet when something happens that goes against a student’s opinion on an issue, they will get indignant.

On campus, Notre Dame Students get indignant about a lot of issues ranging from the comical to the serious.  Many of these issues are based in Catholic social teaching and students' attempts to show they are more Catholic than other students (see #4).  Notre Dame Students get indignant about Barack Obama’s commencement speech and the issue of abortion (2009), they get indignant about the Gay Film Festival (2006-2007), they get indignant about Christopher Hitchins (2010), and they constantly get indignant about the University’s refusal to pay dining hall workers a living wage (1990-2050, and probably longer).

To deal with their indignation, Notre Dame Students do everything that they possibly can do while only minimizing their time investment in such efforts.  Students will write strongly worded Viewpoint letters (see #71) that attack the University or the offending party for doing something they deem to be incredibly offensive and insulting.  To protest, they will join Facebook groups that have no power or influence whatsoever.  If they want to show that they are strongly indignant about something, they might even organize protests or demand to meet with Fr. Jenkins (a demand that is rarely met).

Students also get indignant about campus issues that aren’t as serious as those based in Catholic social teaching, but are rather based in a student’s personal convictions about societal norms and what Notre Dame means to them.  Students get indignant about how The Shirt fits them (see #2), they get indignant about police using horses at tailgates, they get indignant about the lack of $5 footlongs at the campus Subway, and they get indignant about the musical stylings of Freekbass.  While none of these things have their genesis in religion or a moral system, they are still important sources of indignation for Notre Dame Students.

Beyond the Notre Dame Bubble, there are a lot of things that Notre Dame Students have an opportunity to get indignant about.  While many of these things are similar to the campus issues that cause indignation stemming from Catholic social teaching, Notre Dame Students get even more indignant about things that happen on a national or international scale.  By far, the area that creates the most indignation amongst Notre Dame Students is the continent of Africa (see #1).  Notre Dame Students get indignant about the problems in Darfur, they get indignant about the prevalence of AIDS across the continent, and they get indignant about the simple lack of development and infrastructure in various countries.  To soothe their indignation about these issues, Notre Dame Students travel to Africa and do research for their theses.

Overall, Notre Dame Students' indignation shows how much they care about important issues on campus and around the world (or, at the very least, how much they pretend to care about these issues).  These issues will change from year to year, and the students’ methods of response might change, but the indignation will always remain the same.  Even after graduation, Notre Dame Students will continue to get indignant, because the only people who get more indignant than Notre Dame Students are Notre Dame Alumni.