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Notre Dame steps do have tradition

Observer Viewpoint | Friday, August 26, 2005

This past weekend, I brought my son back to Notre Dame. I read Pat Leonard’s Viewpoint column (“Maturity will come, but it can wait,” Aug. 20). I feel he misrepresented the Main Building “steps” story. It is not a “silly legend” or “stupid superstition.” It is a tradition.

I believe its history dates back to the early years of Notre Dame when students lived in the Main Building and entered and exited on the ground floor. They were “allowed” to walk the “main steps” only at graduation. Thus, a tradition was born.

Traditions sometimes don’t make sense, but typically are good and provide the “mortar between the bricks” of life. But some traditions do become debatable.

I mentioned the “steps” tradition to my older children when they came to Notre Dame. I explained that I walked “the steps” for the first time when I graduated in 1972. They bought into the idea. For me, and I think for them, one of the high points of their graduation weekend, was walking “the steps” for the first time. As we stood in line, before the Main Building, watching the graduates there, taking their turn to walk up and down, we witnessed in each an ineffable excitement, or perhaps relief, as they walked those steps.

Notre Dame has many traditions. For those students who would perhaps like to be part of one of the smaller traditions, I would suggest not to “walk the steps,” until graduation day.

Jim RycynaalumnusAug. 25