Claire Heininger | Monday, February 16, 2004
I know what’s down there. I’ve now seen the inside of Notre Dame’s worst-and-best-kept secret: the tunnels. Worst-kept: you’d have to be oblivious not to notice the selective snow-melting that streaks across South Quad and snakes past Stonehenge. Best-kept: they’ve been sealed off for years, leaving students with only speculation about what lies beneath-until now.Let’s start at the middle of it all: the tunnel more than 400 feet below the Golden Dome. Here we find the ghosts of alcohol policies past, from a pyramid stacked high with the kegs that satiated the student sections of the 1970’s to the lingering stash of hard alcohol forced to depart the dorms only two years ago. Head down the branch towards the Stadium, and you’ll uncover the football team’s A-list recruits, right next to Leprechaun Mike’s coordination. And if you look hard enough, you might glimpse the charred remnants of a green jersey or two.Take a right over to North Quad, and you’ve hit the tunnel jackpot: leather couches, music, soft lighting, and thousands of those utterly seductive Lion King valentines from Knott Hall. It’s the anti-dorm lounge, the ultimate 24-hour space, the pit where parietals come to perish – let the digging begin.Straight past the den of sin lies LaFortune underground, where Starbucks is bottomless and quarter dogs cost a nickel. The feast just keeps getting better when you round the corner into Grab n’ Go gourmet, with a selection that puts Willy Wonka to shame.The gluttony comes to a sobering halt, however, when you reach the final stop on our tunnel tour: Big Brother. It’s the above-ground e-mail censoring we’ve all been warned about times a hundred, with bugged microphone links to every salt shaker, every showerhead, and of course, every post-ResLife hearing, sorrows-drowning commiserating session. Got a dirty little secret? No you don’t. Big Brother knows. Notre Dame knows. And the tunnels let them keep it that way.Leaving the headquarters – feeling pretty violated, I might add – you’ll pass the four people who remember in-hall SYRs and the three people who still care about student government. You’ll find half the cabs in the city of South Bend, and maybe even that freshman hookup you left in one. You’ll stumble upon motivation, positive gender relations, sunny skies, and all those phrases we toss around that up here, don’t really exist. If you’re lucky, you might even find a computer cluster stapler.Given the uproar surrounding that idea lately, maybe it’s better that the tunnels stayed shut.