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Here’s to you

Staff Editorial | Friday, April 25, 2008

Seniors,

With each singing of the Alma Mater these past 4 years you’ve proudly proclaimed “Love thee Notre Dame!” and we know you do. When you look back on your life under the dome, you won’t be disappointed with the memories. But let’s face it, the “best-four-years-of-your-life” haven’t always been easy. The Class of 2008 has been through a lot together, and for The Observer’s final editorial of the 2007-08 year, we would like to reflect on some of those rougher moments. Because everyone knows “that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right?

First, football. Yes, we know you wince a little at the word. After all, Notre Dame football has treated you unkindly. You started out at one of its darkest hours, the firing of Tyrone Willingham after three short and uninspiring years. Charlie Weis came in, raising hopes and coaching the team to two BCS bowl games. Irish football had surely “returned to glory!”

Then, last season: crushing disappointment. Being shut out by Michigan and Southern Cal during a 3-9 season doesn’t leave a nice aftertaste as you graduate.

On the bright side, you saw the rise of Notre Dame hockey as they reached the national championship, a seemingly impossible feat for a team that had only won five games a few seasons earlier. Men’s basketball won every home game the last two seasons. Bookstore Basketball continues to be a huge success, with over 640 teams registered this past year. Not so bad after all.

Still, there’s more to life than just sports, even at Notre Dame, and you’ve dealt with issues both big and small.

You saw Fr. John Jenkins become the new University president – not something every Notre Dame student experiences. Along with Jenkins’ inauguration came the controversy over “The Vagina Monologues,” which, whether you’re for them or against them, assures you that the University will not cut corners in dealing with educational opportunities.

You’ve lived with endless cranes, backhoes and piles of dirt as the campus expands and upgrades so freshmen can get out of converted study lounges and into real rooms.

You’ve coped with the loss of Casa del Rio, whose absence leaves a gaping hole in South Bend’s Mexican dining repertoire.

You’ve scoffed at scores of students and alumni who have voiced their opinions in this Viewpoint section, creating arguments that were both nonsensical and of dire importance at the same time.

You’ve handled the revoking of one of your most self-evident liberties – your ability to serve yourself at the stir-fry line – with aplomb, and even turned it into an environmentally friendly act by allowing the food to be reused.

But for all that’s changed at Notre Dame during your four years here, you’ve most importantly helped to carry on the traditions of service and generosity that the University is famous for.

You were here when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf coast, and you collected donations and organized trips to the lower ninth ward to help people begin to rebuild their lives.

You have mourned the deaths of fellow students, both here at Notre Dame and across the country at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois. Though you may not have known them, your selfless sympathy and generosity in response was certainly appreciated by the families and friends who lost a loved one.

You have been leaders, mentors, tutors, R.A.’s, coaches, peers and friends, shaping the lives of those around you. You’ve helped organize and sponsor the Holy Half Marathon, as well as hundreds of other charity and fundraising events on campus, taking your Catholic values beyond the classroom and even into the future as you postpone potentially lucrative careers in the name of service through the ACE, Teach for America or overseas travel programs.

So, when you come back for football games and alumni weekends, look back on your college years with a sense of pride and security, knowing that you have a left an impressive legacy at Notre Dame, and it will always be intact.