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Don’t stereotype ND students

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Those of you who know me on campus, know I do not fit in to the mold that Emily Howald described in her Nov. 10 column “What we wear.” I do not wear Abercrombie or J. Crew or even various Notre Dame apparel. Howald has never seen my dinner table (first table on the left as you walk into North Dining Hall) because if she did she would find a table where no one wears Notre Dame apparel on any day. My friends and I tend to wear vintage clothing, thrift store finds, band T-shirts or even homemade clothes. But all of these reasons are not why I was appalled by the column in The Observer.

I recognize that I dress and have different interests than most of the students at Notre Dame and I was dismayed about the fact that Howald said, “it is funny how people comment on about our lack of diversity in fashion.” The column had nothing to do with fashion but everything to do with economic diversity of Notre Dame. Have you ever considered that “the odd man out” normally cannot afford to shop at Banana Republic and J. Crew? The homogenous community that Howald spoke so lovingly about is actually a united front with which you pit the people that can afford to dress that way against those that cannot.

Howald formed a homogenous Notre Dame community, and it leaves a lot of people out. I always thought that everyone who went to Notre Dame was a part of the larger community and it had nothing to do with how they dressed. I always considered myself a part of the community, but apparently I am not.

Now I am not ignorant enough to believe that everyone at this school who does not wear a certain brand cannot afford it; there are many people who can afford it and chose to express themselves in ways other than with the pages of the J. Crew catalog. But does she not think that her article will further detach the students at our University who do not have the economic resources to dress “preppy?” I mean, these students are only the ones who were so academically gifted that they were awarded enough financial aid to go here; surely they are not what Notre Dame is all about.

Howald says “although the campus lacks fashion diversity, the mix appears to work for most students. No one appears extremely out of place, and it appears as though most students understood what they were getting into when arriving on Notre Dame’s campus.” Don’t we need difference at our school? Don’t we need dissenters from the mold? Are not nonconformists the ones who eventually enact change or even just merely start conversation?

I am not attacking the students who dress this way, in fact, they have as much right to dress the way they want as I do. Clothing can be a very personal expression of your personality or ideas. I would just argue that you should not choose the fact that a large majority of our student body has a lot of money and spend it similarly to be a defining factor with which we draw pride in our school. I love Notre Dame as much as the next student, but it is attitudes like Howald’s that are prevalent on our campus, which in turn makes me question my place in this University.

Anne MorrisonsophomoreCavanaugh HallNov. 11