Campus Rant: Delusional dining hall
Kara King | Friday, September 18, 2009
“Harry Potter” is not based on anything ND-related. Shocking, I know. But I have heard (on more than a few occasions) students baselessly claiming that our own South Dining Hall provided the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Hogwartian Great Hall. To whichever tour guide tried to fool unsuspecting tourists with this little false factoid: You’re an idiot.
For starters, Rowling has, to the best of my knowledge, never visited Notre Dame. And, given her selection of Christchurch College, Oxford, as the setting and her love for all things British, I think her true inspiration for the magical eatery lies somewhere across the pond. I very much doubt that she was somehow inspired by the glimpse of South in “Rudy.”
And, while I hope it is only a select few students dumb enough to believe Notre Dame really has enough influence to show up in “Harry Potter” (although I’ve received word that admissions encourages spreading this rumor) the rest of the student body is just as culpable in overusing this far-from-adequate comparison.
Just because one dining hall is slightly more Potter-esque than another does not mean “Harry Potter” is a suitable means of description. Like, OMG! A large room with high ceilings and tables. It’s JUST like in “Harry Potter!!”
How ever did people describe the inside of South before the first movie came out? Maybe by comparing it to any other collegiate dining hall at any older U.S. universities? Or any school in the U.K. for that matter? You all were smart enough to get in here, come up with a better comparison without resorting to children’s literature.
I get that Harry Potter is a global phenomenon, and maybe people are just trying to give our visitors a visual, albeit a faulty one. But utilizing this description highlights the underlying fact that a child’s novel is the sole point of reference to anything British for most on campus (Given the number of you who studied in London, this is more than a little embarrassing). I can’t begin to count the inane questions people ask me on a regular basis – Your school had houses? (Why would I make that up?) Were you in Gryffindor? (No moron, our houses were named after the conquerors of Britain rather than imaginary dead wizards. I was a Norman). You were a prefect? Those things are real? But it just suits Percy so well!
News flash – Rowling did not invent British boarding schools, she just inserted the magic.
I know Notre Dame can find references to itself everywhere – from Rascall Flatts songs to “Shrek” to virtually any movie starring Vince Vaughn. We don’t need to seek them out where they don’t exist. As a student body we’re already perceived as arrogant, why do we feel the need to perpetuate this aura of self-importance by forcing ourselves into the Harry Potter world?
I’m fighting a losing battle here, I know. Comparing South to the Great Hall is becoming as ND as complaining about the winters in South Bend and losing winnable football games. But it’s about time to stop it now.