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Give Zahm Hall a chance

Kim Fortelka | Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Zahm Hall, or “Zaam House” as its residents would prefer, is a very special place on campus. Being ever so conscious of the environment, Zahm is doing their part with the unparalleled number of beer cans it recycles in any given week. They provide a quiet haven for both Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s girls who, because of the cold, just could not make it all the way to Turtle Creek. They look out for their fellow students by testing dining hall cups to assure they will not break if tossed down the stairs at NDH. Zahm is just looking out for our community here at Notre Dame.Let us be blunt about this. Zahm is disliked. They are disliked by other male dorms and especially by the administration. I must admit, many of the displays Zahm makes are crude, even offensive. But I challenge you now to look past those for a minute, and try to imagine the spirit and community that is Zaam House. The Zahm interhall hockey team “Fear” recently lost the championship game to Morrissey. An employee of Rec Sports came to the Zahm section during the game, and threatened to throw out the next person who picked up a parking cone to lead a cheer. He came back many times to check on the Zahm crowd. As the score grew in favor of Morrissey, the Morrissey crowd became increasingly rowdy, shaking the glass and yelling at the Zahm crowd, yes, through parking cones. Rec Sports was nowhere to be found. The fact is, Zahm residents accept the fact that they are as a unit disliked, and they indeed feed on it. The men of Zahm walked out of the JACC after losing the game chanting, “We’re number two! We’re number two!” Nowhere but Zahm have I seen such dorm unity and spirit, no matter the circumstances. They pack the stands at interhall games, stocked with cowbells, props and cheers galore.The men of Zahm feel family ties to their dorm. They regard each other as brothers, and continually give each other unwavering support. At the preliminary rounds of Bengal Bouts, it seemed as if all of Zahm came out to see each Zahmbie fight. Every member of the Zahm crowd stood for the duration of each Zahmbie’s fight. Win or lose, each fighter received never-ending cheers, yells and support from his dorm. But Zahm does not revolve around sports and parties. They participate in many service projects, most of which go overlooked. Zahm has donated the most coats for Project Warmth two years in a row. This Thursday, Zahm residents will cook dinner for ex-convicts who are trying to reenter society at Dismus House, a service project the dorm is active in. Zahm is also active with the Robinson Community Learning Center and “There are Children Here,” two after-school programs for local children. The residence conditions at Notre Dame are truly unique from almost every major university in the United States, and many students have objections to Notre Dame’s policies. Many people would like to see the University develop co-ed dorms or change the parietals policy. Whether or not this will happen in the future is beyond me. But the fact is, administrators have held strong with their policies because they believe they are essential to the University’s current mission, both as a Catholic institution and an academic and social community. The University wants each dorm to become a community in itself, a place for each student to regard as their both their home and neighborhood. Dorm spirit is encouraged, and the University takes great pride in the spirit the students show for both their dorm and school. And yet the administration seems to have it out for Zahm. The fact is, Zahm is exactly what the administration claims it wants. They have unparalleled dorm spirit, they are not only a community but a family, and they are active in numerous charities and service projects. No amount of dissent or ResLife letters can change the spirit and essence that is Zaam House. The administration and a wealth of students will continue to dislike Zahm. But it will only add fuel to the fire. Zahm will only cheer louder, party longer and work harder. Go ahead and dislike Zahm, just do not write them off.

Kim FortelkafreshmanLyons HallFeb. 28