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Campus Rant

Ellie Hall | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Notre Dame is not the same school it was when I visited campus for the first time three years ago. My first impression of the University was disbelief at the splendor of the grounds, the number of trees and the wide expanses of grass. Now, Notre Dame’s natural beauty is being sacrificed in a quest founded on a principle of space efficiency. In the past year alone, we’ve seen the renovation of the Law School, the beginnings of the new CSC building, the completion of one new residence hall and the quick construction of another. Paths from one side of campus to another are re-routed to avoid fenced-off areas, and it is impossible to go anywhere without hearing the rumble of workers and machines. The most obvious example of this trend can be seen behind Welsh Family Hall. Instead of Ryan Hall, the nearly-completed new women’s dormitory, the land next to the bookstore used to have a large, majestic tree, underneath which sat a statue of Jesus the teacher. More trees lined the pathway from the bookstore to McGlinn Hall, and the open area in between was a place for games, quiet study, sunbathing or simple reflection on an unobstructed sky. Last year, students from all over campus flocked to this spot to observe a lunar eclipse for this very reason. The University is apparently running out of room for anything but architectural beauty. Some University officials are apparently attempting to ameliorate this trend by planting new trees all over campus and creating grassy areas where there were none (the new space in front of Reckers, for example). Although this is commendable and speaks well of Notre Dame’s environmental consciousness, the planting of a new tree does not replace the loss of a 20-year-old oak and a small expanse of grass cannot compare to the large field that disappeared. Dr. Seuss’s Lorax spoke for the trees, but I speak for the trees, the grass and the sky. The students who chose to come to this University shouldn’t be forced to watch as buildings replace running paths and slowly consume the untreated greenery on campus. Notre Dame needs to preserve the natural beauty of the campus as it expands.

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The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.

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Campus Rant

Observer Scene | Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The University of Notre Dame is a premier university, with ample opportunities for success available to young people of all backgrounds. Arguably, no other institution offers the variety in academics, athletics, arts and leisure that is so accessible here on our campus. Notre Dame boasts the capacity to turn nearly any interest into regular practice with its wide array of facilities, faculty and student leadership.

Why then, is there a significant shortage of casual performance of popular music by Notre Dame’s students? In comparison with many other colleges of varying sizes, Notre Dame lacks notably in this department.

This statement is not meant to be taken as a criticism of the musical inclinations of Notre Dame’s student population. The talent is clearly there, evident in any special performances, talent shows, and the rare sunny-day drum circle. Rather, the claim is that there is a scarcity of opportunities and venues for Notre Dame musicians to display the soul, the chillness and the flow that is characteristic of college-age music.

Now, when compared to other student bodies, Notre Dame students may be slightly more preoccupied with their academic endeavors than with publicly mellowing out with an acoustic guitar strapped to their shoulders. The claim can be made that between difficult classes, the environmental club, applying for mission work in Uganda, and the co-rec ultimate Frisbee team (note the Notre Dame manifestation of the Jack Johnson stereotype), casual “jamming” is unfortunately pushed to the back burner.

Students, however, seem to have little difficulty involving themselves in ways that tailor to their interests and talents; go see any Notre Dame stage production and it is clear that students are willing and capable of producing performance masterpieces. The problem may then lie in the availability of casual performance opportunities, both on campus and in South Bend.

Weekly Acousticafé performances display the talent being discussed. But these unplugged sessions don’t guarantee a full bill and thirst for a larger commitment. And how often do Notre Dame student performers climb onstage at Legends for exclusive shows, or even as opening acts for the many touring bands that pass through? Unless it’s the case of very poor advertising, there exist virtually no student performances anywhere off campus.

What Notre Dame and South Bend need are more venues and opportunities to kick out a few jams. We’re talking coffee shops, cafes, restaurants, nightclubs and other locations that would allow a college student to sit down, with or without accompaniment, and bust out a few popular covers, or even introduce the community to some original songwriting.Talented student musicians always seem to seep out of the woodwork at one-and-done events like talent shows or some of the various cultural festivals that sweep quickly across campus. Why not have a place where these valuable talents can stick around for a while.

Hopefully, what we as students will see, or more appropriately, hear, in the near future is the mellow musings of musicians during the quieter hours at Reckers. Perhaps a fellow student will preempt a touring artist with his own tunes at Legends. Maybe soon posters alerting passing students of upcoming off-campus performances will also adorn the walls of O’Shag.

Opportunities abound for students at Notre Dame. It’s time that students’ music was given the same chance.