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Bars, satellites prohibited in dorms

Eileen Duffy | Friday, August 25, 2006

Imagine Norm from “Cheers” sitting in a beanbag. Could Tom Cruise spin bottles “Cocktail”-style behind a futon? Would seniors still gather at The Oyster … Coffee Table?

Some students think so.

The 2006 edition of duLac: A Guide to Student Life reintroduces a rule – absent since 2000-01 – prohibiting from dorm rooms “any structure which has by its appearance the function of serving alcohol.” However, you can’t judge an item of furniture by its cover, junior Matt Barcus said.

“[A bar] is something that’s in essence a table,” said Barcus, who lives in Dillon. “Just by looking at it you can’t assume it’s being used for drinking.

“I don’t see how it encourages drinking in the room any more than someone who just has a party in their room with a table.”

But bars do just that, according to Keenan rector Father Mark Thesing. He described bar structures, along with alcoholic signs, as “items that glorify drinking, especially abusive drinking.” And Father Dan Parrish, rector of Zahm Hall, said he believes bar structures interfere with the goals of the University.

“Notre Dame is a Christian community and our job is ‘creating citizens for heaven,'” Parrish said, quoting the founder of the Holy Cross Brothers, Father Moreau. “I don’t think bars really add a lot to that mission.”

The 25 remaining rectors and the Office of Residence Life and Housing agreed with Parrish and Thesing when they met last spring, ultimately deciding to include the former rule.

Kathleen Brannock, assistant director of Residence Life and Housing, said changes in the “Housing” section of duLac stem from “trends in resident halls.”

“It wasn’t an issue [during its five-year absence from the book],” Brannock said. “Then it was brought up through various rectors last spring and it was decided that we would put it back in … as further instruction for students.”

There were no cases involving bar structures in dormitories last year, Brannock said.

Perhaps the inclusion of the rule will clear up some ambiguity, though. While Alumni rector Father George Rozum said bars had not been allowed since the 1970’s – no exceptions – Parrish had a more complex understanding of the matter.

“Technically they weren’t allowed,” he said, “but because there was no duLac policy in place we didn’t enforce it.”

Many students remain ambiguous despite the reinstated policy. While rector Father John Conley sent Siegfried residents an e-mail in mid-August, other rectors relied on their hall staff members – who received information on the change during their training – to pass on the information.

“I did not specifically notify Keenan residents of this change to duLac,” Thesing said.

Dillon rector Father Paul Doyle did not notify residents early – so when Barcus got to school, he wasn’t aware. Nor was his quadmate, another junior who prefers to remain anonymous, who spent 16 hours and $200 constructing a bar with his grandfather this summer.

The juniors, who turn 21 shortly, have been told to dismantle the bar.

“We just really wish they’d let us known beforehand that there were going to be changes,” Barcus said.

The quadmate called the situation “a big mess.”

Juniors Mike Reilly of Fisher and Mike Hazelback of Keough and sophomore Sarah Ponto of Welsh Family Hall were all in the dark as well.

“This is the first I’ve heard of this,” Hazelback said. Ponto bluntly asked, “I’m sorry, what is this about?”

Their obliviousness underscores Thesing’s view that “the change is really not noteworthy.”

Students, faculty and staff agreed on the other main change to duLac: the prohibition of individual satellites.

Not only did the satellites “do terrible damage to the dorms,” according to Parrish, but Reilly said “they looked kind of crummy on campus.” Farley rector Sister Carrine Etheridge, who witnessed lightning strike a tree in front of Farley this summer, worried about electrical hazards.

With the exception of a few Zahm men who still miss their NFL Sunday Ticket channel, Parrish said, the installation of cable does provide students the opportunity to watch what they want – especially if they choose to upgrade to the premium cable package.

Should bars or satellites appear in a dorm, hall staffs work as the first level of the enforcement of duLac, Brannock said. They then make reports of violations to ResLife.

“I don’t think it’s too hard,” Parrish said. “If we see a bar, we take it out. I don’t anticipate there being any problems.”