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 entrée, 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.


  1. This is genius! I'm a military guy and I cannot stress the relationship one has towards one of the two facilities on base. Most I know won't even think of stepping foot in the opposing hall. I enjoyed this piece very much... I laughed out loud noting that Notre Dame students identify seating by "right-right" or "right-left", we do the exact same. Well done... this was a goody!

  2. This man speaks truth. North is an abomination.

  3. This post is so hilarious and so true! I'm an SMC student, so I like to think that I'm somewhat unbiased, but I usually end up eating at SDH regularly anyway... so of course I have a preference in that direction. ^_^

  4. I was a rare exception who enjoyed both - I lived on South and then West Quad, but my boyfriend (now husband) lived on North Quad and my classes were pretty evenly distributed so that either worked well for me. HOWEVER, despite the fact that seniors eventually get sick of the food and search elsewhere, there comes a point very quickly after graduation, where you would give just about anything to have either DH as an option! I think that you should also write an article about people's loyalty to either Rolf's or The Rock as the work out location of choice...

  5. south actually now has pasta stir fry on occasion instead of regular stir fry

  6. Significant reasons why South is better than North:
    The vegetables at North are terrible
    The fruit at North is always bad
    The grilled chicken at north is dry as sand
    The milk is always out around dinner time in North
    And most of all, at South you can make friends with the omelette station workers, who, if you visit with enough regularity, will already be preparing your eggs as soon as you get into line w/o your having to ask.

  7. Navigating South during rush hour is a horrific nightmare.

  8. South sucks - NDH for life! I can also see where this author spent the majority of his time consuming daily meals. 3 paragraphs on why Southers dislike North and 1 jumbled paragraph on why Northers dislike South which doesn't convey why it's truly inferior?!

    Let me expound:

    1) What's up with the 2 sides? In each of the 6 instances I went to South dining hall the one side was chained off. But the kicker is you don't realize it until you've got a full tray and head in the opposite direction. Just demolish it if you don't use it.

    2) The beverage stations are the worst things about the place. There's a huge line of people with trays and all I want to do is get some Cranberry juice. At north you can put your tray down and walk the 1.5 feet to get your beverages - no lines, no fuss, no trying to manuever through the madness with sloshing drinks on your tray.

    3) The distance b/t seating food. God forbid you forget a spoon, or find your apple is bad and you now have to get up and take the 30 minute commute back to crazytown. And that's just half the battle...when you come back with that spoon you're now staring at a mass of people and you don't remember where you were sitting.

    4) People watching. this is non existant at South because you're at a table that seats 100 people and there's only 2 aisle ways. At North you see everything and everyone (especially upstairs). If someone goes in to get some Fro-Yo and tries to hide it they're out of luck because as soon as you step out through those double doors everyone sees your overflowing chocolate sauce/sprinkle concoction -- and don't try to hide it by pretending it's an empty bowl!

    People get lost in all the hubbub that is South. The best thing about North is seeing that rando every single meal - you feel like you know them even though you've never even met/spoken to each other.

    5) Fajita fridays, make your own pizza = speaks for itself. i'm quite upset i didn't discover pasta stirfry until senior year (chicago and alfredo sauce!).

    Overall, North embodies everything Domers love most about Notre Dame: the people, the good food, the stalking, the ability to sit at round tables.

  9. Kristin (Farley Hall '03)February 11, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    I graduated in 2003 and I can't believe it took me so long to find this blog. Hysterical, insightful and thoughtful all rolled into one. Your DH observations were my favorite. I went to North, my now-husband went to South. Reading it was like reliving our time at ND. Well done!

  10. Hello
    I like this post, and loved that certain regards for organizing. You are amazing! Thanks!

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