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Notre Dame is a “bro” school

Marisa Iati | Friday, September 30, 2011

Meeting someone new at Notre Dame is almost always accompanied by an obligatory string of “getting to know you” questions. Students ask each other where they’re from, what they want to study, what hall they live in and, if they’re really short on conversation topics, why they chose to attend Notre Dame.

I couldn’t tell you how many times someone has posed me that last question. I’ve subconsciously developed a cookie cutter response in which I explain that my first visit to campus was on a beautiful, warm spring day (clearly the exception to South Bend weather, not the rule) that also happened to be Holy Thursday. I relate how I was captivated by my brief sojourn and grew to love the school even more as I learned about it. And if I feel really comfortable with someone, I tell them that not long before that Holy Thursday visit, Notre Dame wasn’t even on my radar.

When I began the dreaded college application process, I compiled a list of a whopping 138 colleges that I could potentially be interested in — if the campus had Romanesque architecture and the theater professors taught Oscar Wilde and I visited on a partly sunny Wednesday in October. My dad looked over the list and told me to add one: the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. I raised a metaphorical eyebrow in confusion and distaste.

Wasn’t Notre Dame that football-crazed institution buried in the dense cornfields of the Midwest? How could my Jersey-bred self possibly fit in there?

I called Notre Dame a “bro school” and envisioned a student body made up entirely of 6 foot, 6 inch brawny males in Minnesota Vikings jerseys (No, I don’t know why I picked the Vikings. Maybe I just liked that they wear purple). I assumed that the only campus activities were attending football games and tailgates, interrupted by the occasional class. I imagined Indiana as a vast sea of virtual emptiness with Notre Dame as a giant football cult in the center, never mind that I was completely unaware of South Bend’s location within the state.

Needless to say, my dad convinced me to give Notre Dame a chance, and I’m now proud to have survived almost two and a half semesters here. I have to say, though, my initial perceptions of this school were not far off the mark.

Notre Dame is definitely a “bro school.” The student body as a whole is extremely athletic, most guys seem way taller than average, football is practically a religion and love for the Fighting Irish pervades virtually every aspect of campus life. But hey, I’m not complaining. I guess I’ve been indoctrinated.

Love thee, Irish football — I mean, Notre Dame.

Contact Marisa Iati at miati@nd.edu

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