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Slam Duncan

James Dechant | Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The construction work on Duncan Hall has progressed steadily throughout last semester and over Winter Break. The new residence should certainly do its part to help ease the overload in male housing. Before that happens, however, a few unsettled issues need to be addressed by the administration and the greater Notre Dame community.

The biggest question mark surrounding the new dorm is the identity of its mascot. With “Duncan” in the title, a whole host of options are available. One of my favorites is the Duncan Donuts. That probably has the most flair out of any choice, as well as the most potential for corporate sponsorship. The popular donut company could join Coca-Cola and Adidas in the proud pantheon of Irish sponsors, and maybe we could get a Dunkin’ Donuts in the Huddle. That would be pretty sweet.

Then again, the donut is not the most inspiring of mascots. While it would hardly be the campus’s weakest logo (no offense, BP and Farley), we can probably do better. Something like the Duncan Hunters would conjure up a fiercer and stronger sense of dorm unity, a more rousing battle standard. The hall could enlist the patronage of congressman Duncan Hunter himself, proud representative of California’s 52nd district. There is a danger, however, that Hunter would try to fence off the dorm’s ethnic minorities, in line with his support for a border fence in southern California. That, and possible entanglements with campus security when Hunter tries to convert the putting greens near Duncan into an NRA shooting range.

On second thought, maybe we should be more selective about government relations. Notre Dame already catches enough flak from those damned dirty liberals who like to criticize our Master’s Degree alumna and current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Sure, she does have a record of doing things like amicably chatting with the dictator of the oil-rich, corruption-ridden African nation Equatorial Guinea and calling him a “good friend” of the United States a month after our State Department reports on his country’s torture, child labor and restricted freedoms – but who are we to judge? All that oil could help our school’s energy concerns, or fund Duncan Hall, if we ask Rice to say a few words for the new dormitory.

We’ll have to be sure not to mention to her our own nuclear Radiation Research building, of course – she might not be too keen on that. But don’t let me slander her – after all, Rice does have a softer side. She’s played piano accompaniment with Yo-Yo Ma. Speaking of which, what about the Duncan Yo-Yos as a mascot? That sponsorship could rival donuts for the coolest free giveaways.

But I digress. If we really want to find a good energy policy for Duncan Hall, as well as a politically conscious mascot (and when do those two concerns not go hand-in-hand?), perhaps we could consult Charles Duncan, former Secretary of Energy for President Carter. He might be able to find an energy plan for Duncan that does not draw power from a facility which pumps warm water into St. Joseph’s Lake and keeps it from freezing even in sub-zero weather. Charles Duncan could spearhead a bold new campus energy initiative.

With Charles in charge of our – wait! Pardon the interruption, but I just reminded myself of the hit 1980s family sitcom, “Charles In Charge,” starring Scott Baio. You remember – “Charles in charge, of our days, and our nights.” And remember how Charles’ basement room had that cool wall bed that could fold up and create extra space when he needed it? Duncan Hall should really look into those – folding beds would be a huge space-saver, and they could even credit Charles In Charge for the idea. Of course, that show also starred James Widdoes, who we all remember played Robert Hoover in Animal House earlier in his career. Connect the dots. No disrespect intended to Widdoes, but I feel the administration might fear sending the wrong message to dorm residents by installing beds inspired by a prop piece featured on a television show starring a former cast member of a raucous college comedy. (Of course, that might just be me.)

If Notre Dame really wants a more appealing image, Duncan Hall should be christened Duncan’s Toy Chest. You know, after the giant FAO Schwarz-modeled toy store featured in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” It’s what Marv and Harry plan to rob and where the old toy store guy gives young protagonist Kevin McCallister a turtle dove ornament for a tree. (Kevin later gives one of the doves to the homeless pigeon lady.) That was a pretty good movie in 1992, but I don’t know if it has stood the test of time.

Oh, right – Duncan Hall. I can’t really offer any more advice than that. It really comes down to one simple question: donuts or yo-yos? In the spirit of Secretary Rice: The choice is yours. But choose what we want you to choose, or we’ll blow you up.

James Dechant hopes you could follow his convoluted train of thought and would like to place blame on Wikipedia and the Internet in general. You can complain about his rambling diatribe by writing him at jdechant@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.