Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Two weeks ago, The Observer ran a series of articles discussing residence life infractions and punishments at Notre Dame (“Crime and Punishment,” Nov. 11-18). One of the issues that seemed to be addressed, both directly and indirectly, was the role of a rector in students’ lives.
It’s hard to define the role of a rector because they are disciplinarians, but they are not the cops. Rectors play a much more integral role in our lives than the cops. They know us better than the cops. They’re there for us when we need someone to talk to about big issues or emotional distress – definitely not like the cops.
The problem is, that ambiguity makes it very tempting to think of a rector like a mother or a father. But rectors are not mothers and fathers, either. Thinking of a rector in that way is what can cause people to get so angry when their rector “doesn’t trust” them or “doesn’t forgive” them or “doesn’t let something slide.” Maybe our moms forgive us for having hard alcohol in the dorm, but our rectors don’t.
This is something that has been really hard for me personally to deal with: Defining my rector’s role in my own life. When she responds to things that I do, it is hard for me to understand her responses, because she doesn’t treat me like the cops do, but she doesn’t treat me like my mom does, either. I guess the important thing to keep in mind is, if I’m having trouble defining my rector’s role in my life, think of how much harder it must be for her to play that ambiguous role. I realize more and more: A rector is a role that deserves just as much respect as a cop – and just as much gratitude as a mother.
Kathryn KemnetzjuniorLewis HallNov. 29