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The campus evolution of walking

News Production Editor | Thursday, February 24, 2011

Aerosmith and Run DMC once sang, “Walk this Way.” John Mellencamp sang, “Walk Tall.” Even Unk once sang, “Walk It Out.”

As I walk back from class, headphones in, I feel like these men are speaking to me. My bike has been buried under a South Bend snowstorm yet again, and much of the past three gray months have been spent trudging to exotic locales like DeBart, Rolfs and the Pasquerilla Center.

Over the past year, I’ve felt as if more and more of my life has been defined by this mode of travel, from when I began walking the links as a caddy last summer, to the New York-paced speed at which I blow by my more “chill” California friends on late-night Reckers runs. It seems as if it was almost destiny last summer when the “random” process of room assignments landed me in Carroll Hall (“We’re worth the walk!”), leaving me with plenty of path to cover.

Looking now, walking seems to be something that defines the Notre Dame experience. We have places we want to walk (the forbidden steam tunnels), places we refuse to walk (front steps of the Main Building) and places to walk with caution (Lyons Arch, or downtown South Bend). Walking around the lakes can cement a relationship with that special someone, and could even lead to a walk down the aisle in the distant future.

Walks at Notre Dame have many speeds, ranging from the stumble to a Friday night cab, to the late-for-my-orgo-test-that-will-define-the-next-thirty-years-of-my-life power walk, to the near sprint from the football student section to South Dining Hall candlelit dinners.

Many of the best moments in my short sprint at Notre Dame have been while walking, whether it be while barefoot, savoring a beautiful Friday on South Quad or yelling myself hoarse while walking off the field after Utah, with Touchdown Jesus smiling down on us. I still find myself looking sideways when I walk by Main Circle, and when I see the All-Stars of Notre Dame (Mary and Jesus and Sorin) align, it reminds me of pictures I’ve seen since I was little, and I still can’t believe it: I go to Notre Dame.

And in the end, what’s the goal of every single student on campus? To walk across a stage at commencement, diploma in hand.

The celebration of graduation may appear to be constantly marching towards us, often at a pace far too fast for our liking. But until then, as U2 once sang, walk on.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu