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Senior marshmallow tradition thwarted by NDSP, ushers

Tae Andrews | Monday, October 15, 2007

In recent years, Notre Dame seniors turned the student section into a flurry of flying confections during halftime marshmallow fights. Now, the debate over the seemingly innocuous bite-sized treats rages on off the field and out of the stadium.

Since 2002, Notre Dame Security/Police (NDSP) and stadium security have cracked down on marshmallow fights because some of the marshmallows, when embedded with coin or rocks, have made their way onto the field or caused injury.

“It’s not so much marshmallow throwing, but throwing in general [that concerns us],” Coordinator of Stadium Personnel Cappy Gagnon said in a Sept. 20, 2005 Observer article. “We can’t tolerate it.”

“It escalated when people started putting substances in the marshmallows to make them go farther,” Gagnon said at the time. “It ended up hurting other people, so we’ve drawn the line at throwing things.”

NDSP has effectively skewered the marshmallow practice, causing a dearth of mallows and the death of a tradition. The so-called “Marshmallow Curtain” has since descended due to tighter enforcement.

In this football season, which many consider Notre Dame’s worst ever, student morale has suffered as the losses pile up, particularly among seniors who do not have the luxury of retaining additional years of eligibility to watch home games from the student section.

“I definitely think enthusiasm is down because we haven’t done as well as in past years,” senior Caitlin Soule said.

Reinstating the marshmallow fights, she said, might reinvigorate student interest and boost sagging spirits.

“I think it would help by giving students something fun to look forward to,” she said. “I definitely miss the tradition. I thought it looked like a lot of fun.”

In the past, seniors attempted to avoid NDSP and get around the ban – often unsuccessfully – by concealing the marshmallow packages in their shirtsleeves and under their coats.

NDSP considers possession of concealed marshmallows grounds for confiscating the offending student’s ticket booklet, denying them admission for all subsequent football games.

“Of course I miss the marshmallow tradition,” off-campus senior Jordy Brooks said. When asked if she would consider participating in a mallow battle, Brooks replied: “I haven’t as of yet because I haven’t been a senior [prior to this year], but I have considered it this year and will continue to do so.” Brooks also cited “the possibility of getting kicked out of the game for the rest of the season” as the primary deterrent to her launching mallows.

Off-campus senior Sarah Corral, who describes herself as “pro-marshmallow,” said the marshmallow fight is “absolutely” a tradition worth keeping and plans on participating in potential marshmallow fights in upcoming home games.

At a school that prides itself on tradition, the debate over whether or not to wage marshmallow fights rages on, regardless of consequences.

Soule said future potential for mallow action remains promising, ban or no ban. “I think there’s a better chance for games that it’s colder,” she said, “because people wear jackets and have more opportunities to pack marshmallows.”

“Now that we’re finally seniors I feel that we should continue that tradition.”