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A cry for the original Viewpoint

Tom Raaf | Monday, February 2, 2004

I come to you today, my dear friends, to bring to light the dire situation we are facing concerning The Observer Viewpoint section. Many people turn to the Viewpoint section in order to explore the various perspectives of fellow students and faculty, hoping to gain insight on current issues that are relevant to the student body and in our world. This, after all, is why the section exists. I have noticed, however, that the scope of the issues covered in The Observer by the student body has become increasingly narrow. In fact, on any given day, there’s a pretty good chance that most students can name two or three of the articles that are published before even opening the paper. Because of this, I have decided to layout for you a quick list of what I believe to be the most played-out Viewpoint articles of all time. First of all, I must point out the “obscure political reference that no one cares about” article. This is typically a full-page article that attempts to turn the student body towards either tree-hugging liberalism or “ostracize everyone but the upper-middle class” conservatism. Thanks for the effort guys, but if I were looking for an article like this I would’ve picked up copies of “Common Sense” or the “Irish Rover.” Second, there’s the typical “Cherish your time at ND” article that someone is sure to send in once a week. This usually comes from a senior who is lamenting over their experiences at Notre Dame and talking about anything from what they think to be a funny Frosh-O experience to the last time they got drunk at the Linebacker. On occasion, these articles can be tolerable, giving the student body a chance to reflect on their experiences here, but after awhile they start to sound like an NBC “the more you know” commercial. This type of article can also easily be coupled with the “thank God I’m finally 21” article, which generally recounts close calls with bar busts or fake ID stories.Then, of course, there is the “I’m ultra-sensitive and everything offends me” article, carrying the tone of the movie PCU throughout. This article rants about different events going on around campus that “don’t fit in with the Catholic nature of the University” and usually tries to stifle much of the creative thinking that goes on here. Two of the usual suspects that are attacked here are the Vagina Monologues and the Keenan Review. I must say, if you’re going to object to something about the Keenan Review then you should go off about the annoying girls in the crowd that sing all of the songs between skits. They are simply unbearable. Oh, and that awful head-bobbing that accompanies the singing…Lord, please make it stop.On a related note to the previous article, there is the “offended person’s response to the offended person.” This is when someone writes a Viewpoint about something that offended them and the next day another article comes out about how offensive the previous article was to another person. These articles can get a little ridiculous and are at times hilarious because the writer often ends up looking like a total crackpot. Does anyone remember that girl who was fuming about clothing styles on campus? If not, you can find her at the first table on the left in North Dining hall, according her instructions.I consulted a classmate of mine, fellow women’s studies major Dan Block, for a reaction to lack of diversity in the Viewpoint’s students are submitting and he had this to say; “I’m just surprised that no one has written on the plight of the three-toed Sri Lankan tree lemur. This rare species travels the forests in fear of his life while heartless poachers chase him like they’re playing some kind of game. It’s a damn shame, Jenkins, a damn shame.” Upon hearing this, I shed a tear then quickly reminded him that my name was in fact Tom, not Jenkins.I would continue on my little ramblings about the common Viewpoint themes, but then my article would look really long on the page and everyone would skip over it. So, in closing, I must say this; if anything I have said hurt your feelings or offended you, I’ll see you in the Viewpoint section tomorrow.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. Contact Tom Raaf at traaf@nd.edu.