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Res Life: In memoriam

Matt Miklavic | Sunday, September 15, 2013

It is a reality, if not also a cliché, that we believe ourselves to be invincible. We find it hard, if not impossible, to imagine that at any point in time, something could be taken from us or that our lives could be shattered. I remember vividly the moment I found out what had happened. It was only a few hours after my return to campus when I was told. The foundation of Notre Dame, the Office of Residential Life, was gone. Res Life was no more.
The preeminent author of our time – Dr. Seuss – once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
While I’m pretty sure no one feels like crying, there are plenty of Res Life memories to smile about. Succumbing after a courageous battle with the satanic forces of sex, drugs and rock and roll, Res Life will no longer be there for us. Its lessons, however, may ring forth for eternity.
We’ll remember the hours of mandatory Frosh-O meetings on the dangers of college that neglected any semblance of reality. We’ll remember that nagging feeling we all got that the university policies on alcohol and gender relations were written by the physical education teacher from “Mean Girls.” We’ll remember the allegory of Michael Floyd: As far as Notre Dame is concerned, it’s apparently better to blow a 0.19 while behind the wheel than smoke anything other than tobacco. Sounds safe.
We can never forget the Res Life stories passed from class to class and generation to generation. We’ll remember hearing the story of the Knott Hall resident who found out that Pasquerilla West’s identical layout didn’t give him sleeping privileges in the corresponding Pasquerilla West quad. We’ll remember the saga of a girls’ hockey student coach being Res-Lifed for “breaking” into the hockey locker room. We’ll remember inebriated band members wearing their uniforms inside out on game day. We’ll remember the tale of the kid who, undoubtedly sober, decided it was prudent to flip off a Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) car on Saint Mary’s Road. We’ll carry with us the countless stories of close calls, bad decisions and 40-yard dashes to freedom during parietals.
For those already mourning Res Life’s departure, worry not. Res Life is survived not only by the bevy of employees looking out for your moral and personal development, but by a new office as well. Replacing the most cherished of Notre Dame institutions is the newly formed and unfortunately titled Office of Community Standards, a name so laden with irony that it’s rivaled only by politician Anthony Weiner.
As with the passing of any icon, there is a certain amount of uncertainty about what to expect. Now that Res Life has bequeathed its responsibility to Community Standards, it seems as though no one knows what will happen.
“No one knows what will happen,” said one Siegfried Resident Assistant.
Indeed, many are waiting to see what, if any, changes occur. So before you start rolling in the kegs and declaring a return to the long-rumored debauchery of Notre Dame’s “good old days,” keep in mind that the administration is still on the prowl. A recent Observer article on the changes suggested that little would be different, though fines were no more and first offenses would be handled at the discretion of dorm rectors rather than the Main Building.
So perhaps the switch is really nothing more than a little relabeling. Sometimes all it takes is some quick rebranding to rehabilitate an image, like when Kobe Bryant switched from No. 8 to No. 24 and all was suddenly forgiven. But even if the swap is purely a matter of semantics, some students are happy to see the change.
A student speaking on the condition of anonymity – we’ll call him “Patrick O’Shea from Chicago” – volunteered his sentiments about the late Office of Residential Life.
“They didn’t get me. They didn’t know me. They were probably Cubs fans,” said O’Shea while lamenting the time NDSP stirred him from his quiet slumber on God Quad at 4 a.m.
One student seemed prepared for whatever rules the Main Building tossed his way this year, noting he had shed a few pounds during the summer and that there was no chance Sister Chris would be able to run him down again on West Quad. Yet another celebrated the elimination of fines, saying they had put him farther in debt than tuition had. Regardless of opinion, Res Life was indisputably an institution so integral to our Notre Dame lives that we will carry it with us forever.
And so, as we bring this eulogy to a close, it is with a heavy heart that we both remember and celebrate the life – and death – of Res Life. Perpetually present, occasionally hilarious and frequently uninvited, Res Life was truly the Kimmy Gibler of life at Notre Dame. It will be remembered, cherished and something resembling missed. So rest in peace, Res Life and bring on the “Comm Stands.”

Matt Miklavic is a junior studying political science and finance from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He enjoys
romantic comedies and long walks on the beach. He can be contacted at mmiklavi@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.