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Mardi Gras: Latest Victim

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, February 23, 2004

How far will it go? In light of yet another restriction on social behavior, I see no slowing in this destructive trend. Please read on as I describe how another dorm tradition is being executed for a fascist ideal that is creating a social environment at Notre Dame totally contradictory to the ideal’s purpose. For years, the signature event of O’Neill Family Hall has been a Mardi Gras celebration. An SYR dance used to mark the event, as well as a parade around campus to pick up dates and an all out night of partying. Everyone on campus looked forward to the event, and it was a highlight of Notre Dame social tradition.

After the new alcohol and SYR restrictions were imposed two years ago to kill such highly anticipated student events such as Mardi Gras, O’Neill has remained steadfast. Last year, without official dorm sponsorship or funding, the men of O’Neill organized a Mardi Gras party for the whole campus to enjoy. The night included all of the costumes, beads and music of years past, but there was no dance, parade or any comparison to the amount of alcohol abuse that previous years had experienced. The night was as perfectly permissible as any other dorm party, any night, and would have even been in line with the atmosphere that the Dome was trying to dictate by imposing its policies a year prior. But listen to this.

As the week of Mardi Gras is upon us, O’Neill Family Hall has been commanded by the social engineers of this University that: “Mardi Gras activities at O’Neill, or sponsored by O’Neill, are not allowed in any form, under any name, in any semblance, with any costumes or decorations, at any hall gathering at any time.” This information was passed on by e-mail to the residents of O’Neill by our hall staff who, in looking out for our best interests, concluded by warning, “We fear that the punishment for defying the decision about Mardi Gras will be swift and severe.”

Please stop to swallow this. The Dome has just conditioned what you may wear, when you can celebrate, how you should decorate your walls, where you are allowed to party and for what causes you are permitted to enjoy your life as a college student. Fascism: A one party system of government marked by a centralized dictatorship, severe social regimentation and forcible suppression of opposition.

This decree is enraging. The interpretation of this policy can be as loose and self-serving as needed. Any party, of any size, in O’Neill this weekend could be identified as Mardi Gras motivated with its holders being sent to ResLife. Furthermore, any future party that O’Neill coordinates can be declared a Mardi Gras substitution and equally punished.

For those of you that write this off as merely a worthless attempt to save this weekend’s party, guess again, because Mardi Gras will march on and that is precisely the point here. What do you think happened to the students who remember the glory days of Mardi Gras? They moved off campus and they are not about to see tradition die. Mardi Gras will no doubt be celebrated this year with lots of hard alcohol, long past 2 a.m., with zero hired security and far from home. The girls will be drunker than last year and instead of having South Quad between them and their bed, they will have miles. Oh, that is if they make it home at all.

Congratulations to the engineers of our social environment, employing a method that is 100 percent contradictory to their ideal. The attempt to slaughter a non-existent Notre Dame drinking problem (in comparison to every other school in the country) is making our students increasingly less safe.

I cautiously, but nonetheless, stamp my name on this letter to the editor in fear that the next beer I crack open will blow up in my face. “Freedom? Yeah right.”

Nick StahlschmidtsophomoreO’Neill HallFeb. 21