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The topic of all topics

Kevin Kimberly | Monday, March 7, 2011

In pondering the next Notre Dame issue I would tackle for this week’s column, I could not help but realize that I had yet to enlighten the campus on my thoughts concerning the ultimate topic at Notre Dame — gender relations. Now, there are several facets of this topic that I could touch upon — freshman-year relationships, the supposed hook up culture, long-distance relationships, the incorrect definition many have of a feminist, the incessant need for a relationship versus the incessant need to avoid relationships, the hypocrisy with which many men treat women and so on. But if I have learned one thing from my professors here, it is to be concise and narrowly focused when writing.

I believe the area of concern that is the greatest in the gender relations category is the awkwardness which numerous Notre Dame students exhibit when communicating with the opposite sex; granted, there are those who display the same awkwardness communicating with just about anyone, but let’s work in baby steps here.

I had always believed that a situation is only as awkward as you make it; boy, was I mistaken. Maybe I am just expecting too much from 18- to 22-year-olds, but I feel like the ability to communicate is something every college student should be decent at. There is no better place to start than Frosh-O to find these moments. I was amazed at the inability of many females to carry a simple conversation upon meeting me during some forced interaction event. Is it really that difficult to maintain a 10-minute, if that, talk with someone with whom you already have one huge thing in common? The answer is no. Likewise, I found it as amazing the amount of nonsense my male counterparts would spew about the females on campus and about how great they were at x or how much game they had, yet around females, the walk did not line up with the talk. Even as a senior, I still witness these moments today. I legitimately think I am in high school at times; it is absolutely crazy.

The reason I focus on this topic of awkwardness is that it permeates and advances every other gender issue on campus. Freshman-year relationships are born out of awkwardness. Awkward person meets awkward person (or those who somehow find awkwardness attractive), which then births a relationship where the two only hang out with each other and no one else. Two problems — restrictive relationship and freshman-year relationship period — summed up by the major issue at hand. The hookup culture is a prime example of awkwardness being a problem, for I could never soberly do the things I suddenly have the power (i.e. liquid courage) to do now! The list goes on and on.

As you can see and probably have noticed already, this is a great area of concern for future (and present) generations of Notre Dame students. That is why the proposition I am about to make must be taken seriously on the account that it will seek to fix three problems. That proposition is to replace the ill-advised Contemporary Topics with a semester-long course on Gender Relations and Social Awkwardness. Instead of a thick binder, most of which is never read, real-life scenarios and learning would be more effective. We all come to Notre Dame to make the world a better place, right? How in the world are we supposed to do that when we graduate the same social being as we were when we entered? And besides, think of the hilarity that would ensue during these classes. Problems with attendance would be minimal during these sessions of P.E.

The implementation of this suggestion would put Notre Dame on the path to righting two huge wrongs — gender relation issues and the ineffectiveness of Contemporary Topics. A third wrong — me currently having no job, program or schooling lined up post-graduation — could also be righted as I would gladly take on the coordinator position for this important program. Then I could be “that” graduate who seems to go to Feve, Finny’s and the Backer more so than actual students.

The possibilities are endless. Just think of how better of a place Notre Dame would be, particularly during your first year, if males knew how to speak to females and vice versa; you know, past the whole 30-second “what is your name and where are you from” conversation. We all know that Contemporary Topics leaves a lot to be desired, so why not actually teach students things that are relevant. The food pyramid and the drink equivalencies of shots to beers is old news. I expect a prompt response from the Department of Physical Education and Wellness Instruction; this opportunity is too great to pass up.

Kevin Kimberly is a senior majoring in psychology and political science. He is eligible to run for president in 2024 and welcomes campaign slogans and ideas at kkimberl@nd.edu

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