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Redirect Crossroads

| Thursday, February 13, 2014

Observer staff, ND administration, Holy Cross brothers, and current and future Domers:

I’m just hoping Notre Dame really goes nuts with this Campus Crossroads Project and holds nothing back. Hot-tub seating areas in the end zones, cheerleaders with stripper poles and a tropical forest-themed seating area, two to four Jumbotrons (just one is for the poor schools), a 7-Eleven, a Chuck-E-Cheese for the kids and a rollercoaster built around the stadium complex. Maybe a giant eight- to 10-story leprechaun to juxtapose Touchdown Jesus would complete the experience. Oh, and some classrooms, too.
On an added note, I wonder what Pope Francis, the Brothers of the Holy Cross and the pencil sharpeners under the Dome (those concerned with excessive elitism/excessiveness, education affordability for all and help for the poor) were thinking when this ridiculous $400-million idea was hatched.

$400 million could hypothetically pay for one year of tuition ($50,000 range) for every single undergraduate on that campus (approximately 8,000) for one year. $50,000 is above the average individual mean income of the entire western world, yet we need to create the monstrosity of a “crossroads” of classrooms with a football field? Spend it, because we are Notre Dame and we can.

Is that the right message to send to old and new alums or Catholics alike? Is that the social message to send around the world from the most recognized Catholic university in that world? What is Notre Dame saying here? “Whatever happens in South Bend stays in South Bend?” Is this the carnivalization of one of the most beautiful institutions in the world? Is this ND-ocracy (idiocracy)?

What is this “vision”? The practicality — aside from the architectural controversy — left me scratching my head. What’s the goal? Classrooms “with a view”? Ridiculous.

My second-generation uncle just gave $1 million two years ago to Notre Dame’s general fund, and I am going to enlighten him on the details. The University does not need many more buildings or monuments to its own glory. It needs great students from all walks of life, sitting in desks, learning great things and exploring challenging ideas at an affordable price.

The rest will follow, including beautiful, historic football games each fall for decades to come, amongst Our Lady’s other traditions.

Colin Fleming
class of ’92
Feb. 12

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  • James

    You forgot “and stay off my lawn you punk kids!!”

  • Callahan

    I want to commend you for speaking to power . I am a 1969 graduate of Notre Dame . I have two children who are alums . During the late 90’s the University I love disappeared right in front of my eyes . Jenkins and Affleck-Graves fancy themselves as Madison Ave Execs rather than caretakers of Our Lady’s University . The faculty ( which I assure you is behind this project ) is anti catholic and openly hostile to alumni and students who protest their actions . The Notre Dame family as I knew it is gone . It’s all about money now and how ” elite ” we are .
    Jenkins is a fraud . Where in the hell is The Board of Fellows ??????????????????

  • uncle max

    FYI – I went to ND in the early 60s but did not graduate.

    IMO Notre Dame forfeited its claim to being the flagship Catholic University in this country when it awarded a degree to President Obama in 2009.

    What to me was worse than that, however, occurred at ND about 15 years ago. I cannot remember the specific year – late 90s, early ought, but this is what happened: At that time the play ‘The Vagina Monologues’ was a fixture on the Notre Dame campus in the winter months and in this particular year opening night was scheduled at Washington Hall on Ash Wednesday – next to Easter the most solemn day on the Catholic calendar.

    Some friends and I had small cards made up to protest this, which we considered blasphemous and we went to Mass at the Basilica and put them in the pews. We were told – politely but firmly – that that was NOT permitted. We wound up going to the campus radio station and tried to get some air time to explain our position, but we were refused there too.

    But to me the saddest part of that was that the people at the station didn’t understand why we were upset.

    Notre Dame does most things really well, but they don’t do humble at all, and they don’t seem to be too concerned about Catholic as they should be.

    • Sam Pwaddly

      I’m glad my university, Notre Dame, is not afraid to shy away from the controversial issues like Obama. Bring him to campus and voice our views. You cross waiving moral majority would rather stifle any discussions and listening to opposing views. The opposition is the V Monologues is laughable. Many view this production as a rallying against violence to women. Time to take a chill pill and get off your moral, catholic, high horses. Students today need to hear all sides and see every aspect of today’s issues. It’s not 1940-50 anymore where you stick your heads in the sand. Not a very good view down there is it?

    • nephew min

      The Vagina Monologues were banned from the campus and were replaced with Loyal Daughters and Sons, a more ‘Notre Dame’ take on the Vagina Monologues. While my personal opinion is that the Vagina Monologues should have been allowed to continue, as an activist, I’m sure you’re aware that Vagina Monologues was replaced as a part of specific action by the administration. As such, I’m curious why you chose to use it as an example.

  • Dick Mattie

    As a ’77 graduate I am thrilled that the Administration has the vision to continue to invest in the future ensuring our place as one of the truly great university’s in the world.

    • Jay Jay

      As a ’72 grad and father of three ND grads, I must say I have not found one ND alum in Buffalo area who thinks the Crossroads project is a good idea. Take the 400 Million and lower tuition costs for the students and their parents.

      • Dick Mattie

        As the father of a current Senior at ND I can tell you there is great excitement on campus about this project. The money is coming from private donations. The University will continue to guarantee any student accepted will be able to attend regardless of financial need. Needs blind admission.

        • Colin F.

          Dick, the university has not finalized whether Crossroads will be funded publicly or privately or a mix of both. Bond issuance (with interest costs) is a possibility. So any “guarantees” you are claiming, is conjecture at this point

          Colin F.

  • Keb

    This is a brilliant Viewpoint and I couldn’t agree more with the absurdity and wastefulness of this Campus Crossroads monstrosity. I’m very disappointed in the university. I, too, am an ND grad (Class of ’92) and this ridiculous proposal sure makes me reconsider my annual contributions to Notre Dame.

  • Joan Reacher

    U.S. government wastes money on much worse “stimulus projects.” Keep in mind, this is helping the economy while also benefiting the University (and most of the money will come from wealthy alumni.) As for tuition costs at any college, that is a separate debate. I graduated in 80’s, love Notre Dame but would never send my kids there (nor any private school.) Cost/Benefit analysis says not worth it. Go Irish!

    • Bill McVeigh

      I respect your views and comments but if my child wants to go to ND and live their dream then I would definitely move heaven and earth to see that they have that opportunity. It’s more than being a bean counter and calculating cost/benefit analysis using some income potential projections. I bet your glad your parents did not use the same analysis paralysis criteria to determine where you would be allowed to go. ND offers tremendous values that cannot be quantified by some mathematical formula.

  • Brandon

    I graduated in 2010 and really, I wish all of the new facilities they now have were there then. I have a hard time understanding so many alums’ opposition to…a recreation center…faculty offices…recital halls…club seating…a new ballroom for student events (hell imagine how much that could make off of wedding receptions alone). I mean really, what is there to object to? I think some folks find this objectionable just because it’s such a massive project covering so many bases at once. That’s a good thing! Compared to the cost of constructing those facilities individually (not to mention the environmental costs) this is probably a bargain. I think alums of an older generation should also understand that the sticker price of tuition doesn’t mean that much to prospective students (a great campus environment does), and not to mention lowering tuition would cost the University money

    • Colin F.

      Brandon, ( I am the writer of this piece) not to be rude. But many Alums, that paid good money to go to ND, or for their children, do not feel your generation deserves/needs a rock climbing wall ( yes, thats in the works), or needs a “campus environment” suitable to student needs. Thats the entire core of the argument…. You (your generation) needs a good education, experience, job prospects afterwards, and not saddled with debt ( for many students) You really think that students need a “ballroom” to have a successful educational experience?
      And of course, students of your generation, do not understand the “sticker price” of tuition. as many are not paying for it upfront. Like leasing a car. Ask the students who graduate, get saddled with debt, come to the realization that they actually have to pay for it, and the 10 or 20 years they have to pay it off with increasingly diffiuclt chances of getting a job that pays well, even with a Notre Dame degree.

      As far as Crossroads, I’d like to hear more about what a “bargain”it is, if you have the info avalilable. No, YOU will not pay for it, some donors will pay most in 2017 but there is a thing called “opportunity costs”. So, those donors, may fund rock climbing walls and
      “ballrooms”, they are not ( the funds) funding scholarships, cost reductions and so on, and thus a future Notre Dame student will bear those increases in costs.

      Dallas, TX

      • Brandon

        Maybe when I’m in my 40s I’ll start to think so rigidly that student activity space for cultivating social, athletic, spiritual and musical endeavors are not essential to a good education. But as it stands, I don’t yet feel that way. In fact I think that all of these things ENHANCE education (would you not rather send your children to an elementary school that had a music program and physical education?). While you might think that a rock wall is a sybaritic feature for a student rec center, you really haven’t been on many college campuses lately. Notre Dame is already a generation behind. They’ve admitted for years that they don’t have adequate student activity space. In terms of being efficient, I don’t have the numbers, but if I look at a map of campus and try to figure out where to put the equivalent amount of space it’s pretty much impossible. You would need the Compton Ice Arena, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, Legends, Stayer Center for Executive Education, Mendoza College of Business. And Stinson-Remick Hall. Look at that on a map and tell me where you are going to put all those new buildings.

        In terms of providing students with experience for a brighter future I think this versus anything else is probably neutral.

        Job prospects? I thought that expanding the career center (yes, that’s in the works) would probably be a boon. Perhaps you could explain why you see it differently?

        Not saddled with debt! Oh if only it were so easy. I mean, like every millennial, I wish this were a thing! But it won’t happen at Notre Dame (or anywhere else) until the bubble pops. But if you’re upset about that, I suggest you take it up with the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who have created this environment beyond the Golden Dome.

        Now I do have an MA in political economy so I have heard of opportunity costs. And while I would be really worried about donors’ attention being pulled away from funding scholarships, I also see so much indignation among alumni that I’m sure all of you will donate specifically to the general scholarship fund so that the Dome can continue to guarantee “any student accepted will be able to attend regardless of financial need” as Dick Mattie wrote above.

        • Colin F.

          Brandon, great insight and thoughts, really appreciate you taking the time to help educate me and others here on some of the collegiate issues at hand/stake, in this discussion ( I hope you consider it a discussion)

          Being old ( like me!), doesn’t necessarily mean wiser, but Alums’ may have a different perspective of course than the Millenials and current students or new graduates.

          I can’t address your well-written points one by one just now, but I will sort of restate my position and throw the questions out on the article in slightly different ways.

          #1 Perhaps ND needs to upgrade student facilities, but at what price ( potentialy excessive), what locations, to what degree and so forth? Does Crossroads reflect CATHOLIC values, not just Notre Dame values. Is this project compatible with both?
          #2 Why the placement surrounding one of the most historic sports venues in the world? Are we ( ND family) trying to please donors, various academic departments, a political compromise with academics and athletics and other. You mentioned a lack of space. I lived in Grace Hall, 12-13 stories etc. Is there not somewhere to build a few Grace Halls to accomodate the same space needs being asked? And perhaps at a much lower cost..
          3) Although competition for great students is very high by many elite schools, does Notre Dame HAVE to be an elite school? Why can it not serve students with average/above average grades, upstanding values and their contributions to society? Why must ND cater to the best and brightest Catholics ( and non-Catholic) You are too young to likely know this, but until the late 70’s and 80’s, although still a beacon for the Catholic world, Notre Dame was not an elite academic university. It was above average. It was affordable. ( My Dad, in 1962, earned his tuition in a summer, as a plumbers apprentice) Can you imagine any summer job now that pays $50k in 2+ months? (Sort of another issue)
          4) I recently visited the campus for the first time since 1992, two years ago. I was blown away by the growth, new buildings, manicured lawns and gardening ( like country-club quality) It all looked great, and looked to me like the school increased its size bt 50% or so. I’m all for progress and growth, but how much more is needed and at what cost and at what message.
          5) At least for this old alum, Notre Dame is and should be a center for Catholic and social progress and learning and leadership . Not just a factory for CPA’s and MBA grads necessarily and great TV ratings……. When we speak of a Crossroads project, I think of the CENTER, or hub of the University being the Basilica, or perhaps underneath the Dome and Our Lady (perhaps impossible, that area is crowded!) . Yes, football has been a centerpiece of ND traditions for 100 years, but is ND football ( and I am a diehard, 3rd gen alum/fan), the centerpiece or “hub, the mixing of academics, Catholic faith, sports, arts, music etc.?
          ND’s hub, of academia, religious study, some other academic departments mixed in with some other needed faciilties is a 400mil
          facility at a legendary football stadium?
          6) In short, I am not completelyt anti-Crossroads, but I believe it deserves much greater scrutiny, by a larger pool of the Notre Dame community, and MUCH MORE thought into it or a revised project plan. Given Notre Dames’ stature, the dollar amount, the words and influences of Pope Francis and a refreshed direction of some Catholic ideas, I think this project needs to be re-examined (not necessarily killed off), but a Crossroads 2.0 re-examination

          Just my few additional cents

          Brandon, thanks for your insight and perspective, I agree with much of it, not all of it, and would be glad to discuss anytime. Appreciate it, much food for thought.

          Colin ’92

  • Joe

    Having been born and raised in the “shadow of the dome”, Notre Dame has and always will be part of me. It is indeed a special place. But somewhere, somehow, something has been lost. And the article comes very close to pinpointing what has been lost. What ND should be is the premiere Catholic university in the US at which young men and women will learn their Catholic Faith in its entirety and then go out into the world and conform it to the Catholic Faith in whatever discipline they choose. But sadly ND has failed miserably in this and actually is not even Catholic any more. There are true Catholics who attend and teach there, but they are few and far between. Hopefully someday ND will return to its rightful place.

  • Bernard Murray

    I had three children there from 1986 until 1996. For two years, I had 2 children in college.
    I know the phrase “who can pay” but I tell you it was difficult. I’m sure boxes are not needed to restucture the football stadium. I’m not sure at the inflation rates since 1996 that I could afford ND and that would short-change my family. If possible lower the tuition.

    • Mernard Burray

      Boxes are not needed. However, if they were not to include the boxes, the project would be much more expensive. The boxes are the only part of this project that pay for themselves (and then some).

      • Bernard Murray

        at least be honest and use your real name. Mernard you must be ashamed of what you wrote to prostitute my name

  • Colin F.

    Dick, honestly, I will defer to you on that topic, as I really don’t know the current economic situation of ND’s financial aid capabilities, its endowment and so forth. Would have to do some homework. I must state,that even as ’92 grad, most of that aid was in loans, (35k in 1992 dollars) which took me about 12 years to pay off, at THAT TIME.

    All I can say is, some/maybe most of fellow Alum friends from my era, now in the early stages of their prime earning years, are not as inclined to send their own kids to ND because of the costs ( cost/benefits in the current environment) And THERE IS, at least amongst my fellow classmates, a great deal of concern over wasteful spending, a percieved “commercialization” of the ND “brand”, and frankly, given our current Popes statements on excessiveness and focus on the poor and so forth, whether this project is in line with the guidance of the Church. let alone for one of its most prominent institutions and beacons for the Church.

    But good stuff. Good debate is healthy and I am learning quite a bit from most of the comments here. Feel free to shoot me an email @ colinfleming88@gmail.com if you have other info that you think would be beneficial etc, or post here. Thanks!
    Colin ’92