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The Gauntlet: Stories over standards

Matt Miklavic | Thursday, October 31, 2013

There are undoubtedly many stressful moments when applying to colleges. Many more follow when deciding where to attend, filling out paperwork, and getting ready to head to school. For Notre Dame students, applying for housing is not one of these moments. In contrast to the questionnaires and requests at other schools, Notre Dame asks a single question: Do you wish to accept on-campus housing?     
Facing that question the summer before freshman year, I hit yes and thought nothing more of it. Sometime later, I logged in to see my housing assignment: SG-241. My first thought was something along the lines of “What in the world is SG?” After I looked it up, my thoughts morphed into some combination of “Thank god it’s not Carroll,” “It’s not Zahm either!” and “Where is Siegfried?” Soon enough I stumbled upon the Siegfried freshmen Facebook group. Among the comments that awaited was one from a now Siegfried RA welcoming everyone in section 2B to the ‘Gauntlet,’ a place that would provide “all studying and no fun as your parents require.” We were lied to.
As fifteen of us wide-eyed freshmen entered the section, we were immediately indoctrinated into a section that can only be described as fifty percent planned chaos, fifty percent unplanned debauchery, and one hundred percent brotherhood. In case there was any confusion about the expected ratio of studying to activities that definitively did not constitute studying, we were informed that the study lounge had been converted to a freshman triple. And so began my life in the Gauntlet.
In the time since, I’ve witnessed a section that has become closer than I ever imagined 40-50 college guys could become. We’ve seen a bevy of party ideas that descended into full-blown shenanigans. We’ve seen post-party trips to Steak n’ Shake and Five Guys that ended up with the majority of the section asleep at the table, and a few others stuck in the bathroom. And the bushes. And a trash can or three. We’ve seen a past RA slap the bag with his former freshmen, and maybe once while they were still his freshmen, at a Wine Mixer.
We’ve watched our section spend its allotted section funds on a scooter, as well as a two-person camel costume (coming to a Hump Day near you!). We’ve watched the section go caroling across campus with spirits buoyed by Christmas cheer among other things. We’ve seen two years worth of Secret Santa exchanges, the contents of which the Observer cannot print. We’ve seen seniors and freshmen alike bond as they do on no other campus, and perhaps in no other section. I’ve watched stolen bags of chips be punted across the room at 3 a.m. by a section member in his birthday suit. We’ve ventured en masse to LaFortune wearing just boxers. We’re still working on the whole ‘pants’ thing.
We’ve seen hundreds of hours spent, but never wasted, talking aimlessly in the lounge. Inexplicably, we’ve seen a heated four and a half hour gay marriage debate. We’ve seen a section collectively decide that 11 p.m. on Sunday is as good a time as any to drink away a football loss and rally to the cry of “Empty the fridge!” well into Monday morning. It’s been described by others as a section that values “stories over standards” and a place where you’re encouraged to “come as you are.” In the words of another section’s RA, it’s the “closest bunch of idiots ever.”
We’ve seen guys graduate as others have entered, and yet managed to have everyone keep in touch. We’ve produced engineers, naval officers, businessmen and a learned doctor or two. We even sent a kid to the seminary for all of a month and a half. We’ve seen a few punches thrown, a few shoves tossed, and ultimately, a few bonds strengthened. We have rallied around one another in triumph and tragedy. We’ve stood forty strong with shaved heads in unison with a cancer-stricken ‘Gauntleteer.’ We’ve had too many laughs to count, too many tears for anyone’s good, and far more utilization of the phrase “clothing optional” than anyone needed. Seriously, no one wears pants. It’s a problem.
In surveying my fellow residents on how they would describe the Gauntlet, I received a variety of replies. “Perfect.” “Raucous.” “Hawt.” “Oh dear.” “Home.” “Drunk.” “Family.” One said a pejorative loosely rhyming with ‘tassels.’ Another said “chivalrous,” but I think we all know that’s a lie. Regardless of the description, I can think of no place on earth I would rather live. I came to Notre Dame for college, and found a few dozen more brothers. I came here for an education, and found a second family. There are stories that will be told at weddings, others best saved for bachelor parties, and others still best never told again. There are friendships that have been forged that will never be lost. So here’s to you guys, the best section anyone could ask for. For the memories, for tonight, and for the many tomorrows, I thank you. If I know anything about you all, it’s that you’ll drink to that.
Oh, and the section also wanted to apologize to the girl in the Virginia Tech sweatshirt and her friend. We didn’t mean to awkwardly surround you guys at the dining hall table a few days ago, or the other two people we surrounded again later that night. It wasn’t intentional. There were open seats, and it just sort of happened. Our bad.     

Matt Miklavic is a junior studying finance and political science from Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He’ll be celebrating the World Series well into the weekend. He can be reached at mmiklavi@nd.edu.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.