Thursday, November 18, 2010

#100: Notre Dame

Notre Dame Students like a lot of things.  They like things that are related to their religion and how they are always using Catholicism to guide their actions (even if just for the sake of appearing to be more Catholic than they really are).  They like things that pertain to their academic plight and how they firmly believe that Notre Dame is one of the most prestigious schools in the world (and how each of them is personally the smartest and most clever person one could ever meet).  They like things that have to do with their dorms and the crazy things that happen when a random collection of individuals is brought together to create a long-lasting community.  Notre Dame Students like things that are related to drinking and how, no matter how hard they work, they still know how to party hard.  And they like football.  Notre Dame Students like their football and the tradition-filled Saturdays that made the school what it is today.  Most of all, and this might seem a bit obvious, but they like what happens when all of these things come together: they like Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Students like the feeling they get when they walk to class across South Quad on a sunny day, when the shining Golden Dome catches their eye.  They like the feeling they get when they’re driving back to campus after a break and see that billboard for The Bookstore on I-80 coming from Chicago, and know they are almost there.  They like the feeling they get when they’re recognized as a Notre Dame Student because they’re wearing a monogrammed hat in a bar far from campus.  They love how it feels when they’re standing in a crowd of their peers, trying to enter the Notre Dame Stadium before kickoff and yelling at the top of their lungs:

Goooooooooooo IRISH, Beeeeeeeeeeeat TROJANS!!
Goooooooooooo IRISH, Beeeeeeeeeeeat TROJANS!!

Notre Dame Students like all of these things and more, but most of all they like knowing that of all the colleges they could have chosen at which to spend their four years, they came to a place with a tradition of excellence where the past meets the present, and the future isn’t too far behind.  They love the fact that they wound up at a place that truly is unique, where every day presents an opportunity for them to be a part of something special, and they love the fact that of all the students that still dream of going there, they were chosen by the University to make Notre Dame their home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#99: Long-term relationships

The problem of gender relations at Notre Dame is one of the biggest complaints people have about student life at the school.  Students complain that the combination of single-sex dorms and parietals is a system of the past that discourages friendship between the sexes (see #63).  The continuance of dorm parties being informally restricted to men’s halls (see #98) even further separates the genders on a day-to-day basis and leads to awkwardness at all turns. 

The result of these things is that men and women at Notre Dame do not often foster actual friendships with each other or even really go on informal dates with one another.  Instead, men and women at Notre Dame consistently find their sole interaction in long-term relationships.

Notre Dame does not have a significant dating culture.  One day, Notre Dame Students are hooking up together, and the next day sees them turning around Claddagh rings (see #6) and changing Facebook statuses to show and tell the world that they have entered into a relationship.  The lack of dating at Notre Dame stems not only from the complete lack of avenues to develop rich friendships between the sexes, but it also is caused by the lack of nearby dating options.  Although this could be changing with the recently opened Eddy Street Commons, the fact that Notre Dame exists in its own little bubble, distinctly separated from the outside, leaves students with few places to go on dates beyond the dining halls.  While “dining hall dates” are certainly popular, their awkwardness is a further detractor from a dating culture in general.

However, the lack of a dating culture does not mean a lack of relationships.  Notre Dame Students love entering into long-term relationships primarily because they love the idea of marriage (see #91), but also because they love all of the things that go along with long-term relationships. 

Notre Dame men like long-term relationships because they sometimes grant them an opportunity to go beyond the Notre Dame Hook-Up and into a new territory of intimacy (see #21).  These men have a person to consistently break parietals with, and this gives them an opportunity to show their friends and hallmates how awesome they are (even if they are not awesome at all).

Notre Dame women like long-term relationships for reasons beyond the direction of their Claddagh rings.  For women, a long-term relationship gives them a strong group of friends to hang out with that they might not have if they only hang out with other girls.  It’s no secret that Notre Dame men form stronger groups and have a more intense level of brotherhood between them than Notre Dame women, and so they are happy to allow girls into their groups when their friends begin a relationship.  Because of this, many Notre Dame women end up being better friends with their boyfriends’ hallmates than they ever were with their own hallmates.  The relationship, therefore, allows a Notre Dame woman to become a part of all the things that make men’s halls great, like room pick drama (see #80), playing video games, and the weekly hugfest known as the Rite of Peace during Sunday night dorm Mass (see #10).

Once they come together in their long- term relationships, Notre Dame Couples like all of the things that make a relationship great.  They like spooning on couches where everybody can see them (see #27), wearing each others sweatpants (see #49), and playing footsy while “studying” together in LaFortune (see #68).  They like watching Love, Actually together and arguing about how justified Mark’s actions are (see #69).  They like walking around the lakes, actual dates at Papa Vino’s, and staying in on weekend nights because they no longer need to look for dance-floor makeouts at dorm parties and Finny’s. 

Overall, Notre Dame Students like long-term relationships because they like to love and be loved.  They like the consistency that comes with a relationship, and hate having to resort to the hook- up culture.  They like to think that the person they are dating is the one they will be with for the rest of their life, that they will get married to each other in the Basilica, watch their kids become Notre Dame Students in their own right, and that they will grow old together and live happily ever after.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

#98: Dorm parties

Without a Greek system at Notre Dame (see #79), students have to rely on different ways than the stereotypical frat party to have their fun.  With a relatively small number of students living off-campus, part of this desire for large raging parties is quenched by the occasional house party, and part of it is satisfied by the even rarer multi-house bonanza (like PigTostal or St. Patrick’s Day).  However, the most common form of partying (that is incredibly unique to Notre Dame) are the dorm parties that ring out across campus every Friday and Saturday night.

Dorm parties are made possible by the incredibly relaxed rules on drinking in many of the men’s residence halls.  While underage drinking is technically not allowed by the rules of ResLife and the Notre Dame Administration, many of the rectors and hall staffs usually turn a blind eye to the consumption of beer within the walls of their hall (but do not extend the same courtesy to hard alcohol).  These rectors believe that since the students are going to act like college students no matter what they do, it is best for them to make their “poor” decisions in a somewhat safe environment within the dorms.  Likewise, because rectresses are usually irrational and crazy (see #59), dorm parties are de facto restricted to men’s dorms.

Dorm parties are a unique type of party which involves a lot of planning and teamwork (see #25).  The first hurdle in planning a dorm party is getting the beer in the dorm.  While hall staff will turn a blind eye to an actual party, they will confiscate beer if they see it.  This means that students must get a 21-year-old to purchase the beer, and then meet him at a discreet location such as Main Circle where the students (almost always freshmen) pick up the beer in duffle bags and carry it back to the dorm.  If a student is caught by police during this process, things will probably end up poorly for him and “pourly” for the beer. 

Once students have obtained beer and secured it in their rooms, the next step in planning a party is to publicize it.  While usually achieved by creating incredibly clever themes (even though almost nobody dresses to the theme), Notre Dame dorm parties usually have a corresponding Facebook event so that their organizers can invite all of the girls they know (men are not invited to dorm parties in another dorm). 

On the day of the party, students clear out all of the small furniture from one or two rooms in their section and make sure that any bars in nearby rooms are well-stocked.  After emptying small furniture and valuables from the rooms, plastic is used to wrap any dressers, desks or beds that might be remaining to prevent them from getting spilled or vomited on.  Notre Dame Students then set up sound systems with the perfect Notre Dame Playlist for the occasion.  Finally, beer is put on ice in a plethora of trash cans in any party room so that it can be easily accessible and cold when people arrive.

Once the party begins, Notre Dame Students turn off the lights in the party rooms (aside from some accent lighting like Christmas lights, strobe lights, or blacklights) and watch as the room fills until it is overflowing with people.  Inside the party room, Notre Dame Students “dance” and “drink” in near- complete darkness while things get really hot and people sweat profusely.  Outside the party room, RAs and rectors monitor the halls, but turn a blind eye to the debauchery happening within the party room.  As long as the doors stay closed, people stay out of the hallway, and nobody is found vomiting in the bathroom, hall staffs in most of the men’s dorms don’t care about what is occurring..  Once the clock strikes 2 A.M., dorm parties are promptly brought to a close by parietals and students drunkenly spill out of the parties and into the friendly confines of Reckers or LaFortune (see #14).

Notre Dame Students like dorm parties because they are a uniquely weird and dorky way of drinking that can  be found only at a school like Notre Dame.  They also like dorm parties for other reasons.  The men who host dorm parties like them because they give girls a reason to come to their rooms, and these parties make it so that the men don’t even have to go outside into the harsh South Bend weather (see #43) for a fun and eventful night of drinking.  Students also love dorm parties because their dark and crowded nature leads to plenty of dance floor makeouts (sometimes even accidentally), which always lends itself to the possibility of a Notre Dame Hook-Up only a few doors down in the man’s bedroom (see #21).  Furthermore, Notre Dame Students love dorm parties because underclassmen can host them on their own, and can avoid having to go to house parties hosted by people they don’t even know.  

However, the biggest reason Notre Dame Students like dorm parties is that they give them an opportunity to drink without risking their stellar reputations with ridiculous arrests.  Since police and NDSP don’t normally come in the dorms, the only people that can get a dorm party patron in trouble are the hall staff, and even when hall staff intervene in out-of-control parties, they usually don’t do much more than send people stumbling off to Reckers.  Notre Dame Students like the safety from arrest that dorm parties provide, and this is the primary reason they have such an affinity for dorm parties.