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Hobbes on room picks

Dan Brombach | Wednesday, April 6, 2011

In his famous philosophical work “Leviathan,” Thomas Hobbes outlines what he calls a “State of nature,” an anarchic situation characterized by a war of all against all with each person struggling for survival. Having recently experienced room picks here at Notre Dame, I can’t help but feel like Hobbes somehow had the room selection process in mind when came up with this idea.

Room picks are, in essence, a survival of the fittest; some of the country’s most intelligent young men and women fighting for the best rooms and best roommates, leaving behind a wake of bruised egos and shattered self-esteem wider than Rush Limbaugh’s waistband. In a way, room picks and Chicago politics are eerily similar. One of them is characterized by bribery, intimidation, shady dealings, and a blatant disregard for rules or common human decency, and Chicago politics are pretty bad too. Just last week I overheard two kids discussing how some juniors in their dorm would likely accept their offer of $800 to pass over the room that they wanted. I can think of a better way that a college student could spend $800, but maybe it would be best if I left that topic unaddressed.

Room picks can be particularly brutal for those students who, when everybody seems to have paired up with someone, are left out in the cold. Many of these kids are left with no other choice than to room with other students who find themselves in a similar predicament, leading to one of the biggest pairings of lonely people since the invention of online dating.

I realize that Notre Dame tries to prevent much of this behavior from happening, and for the most part it does a good job, but as long as this University continues to attract the nation’s brightest and most competitive students, these students will always find a way to bend the rules, creating a situation that Hobbes, if he were alive today and attending Notre Dame, would proudly call a “State of nature.” Too bad nobody would want to room with Hobbes anyway.

Dan Brombach


Siegfried Hall

Apr. 5