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Do you see any ivy?

| Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thank you Stephen Dick, for informing me that “Notre Dame is more than its football program” and that the world will not end if we keep losing. I can finally sleep well at night.

I’ve read all the Viewpoint letters to the editor about the football team, but Stephen Dick’s letter in the Nov. 18 Observer made it impossible for me to bite my tongue.

First and foremost I will admit that I grew up with a Notre Dame blanket in my crib, and have been a Notre Dame Football fanatic for as long as I can remember. I am the product of an alumni upbringing, and I warmly embrace that fact. That being said, I don’t even want to talk about the football team, the coaching staff, our recruiting, or the athletes. I just want to address the school I love.

While I agree that Notre Dame has outstanding academics and an excellent faculty, this is not what the school was built on. Many of us have heard Notre Dame termed as one of the “Ivy’s of the Midwest.” What you may fail to realize, is that this is not what Notre Dame has always been. I have spoken with many alumni who openly admit that if admissions were this tough when they were in high school, they never would have been able to attend Notre Dame. An enormous growth in the applicant pool has allowed the administration to make admissions at Notre Dame as tough as an Ivy League.

The bottom line is the University would not be what is today if it weren’t for the football program. It is the football program and the spirit of Notre Dame that has always attracted students. “Ivy League” academics are a relatively new development.

Here’s the thing: Notre Dame is not an Ivy League school. I did not choose to, nor did I want to go to an Ivy League. Many of the students here could have attended a Northwestern, Yale, Princeton or any number of schools with academics just as good as Notre Dame’s. But Notre Dame is different.

Dick expressed his disappointment with some students’ obsession with football and said that he would expect that of a state school because football is all they will ever have. He added “But I don’t expect that from us. By getting sucked into the hype, we merely bring ourselves down to their level.” It is this mentality that makes me sick. This attitude is typical of an Ivy League student: to think all other schools, especially state schools, are in some way inferior. It is this attitude I precisely wanted to avoid when coming to Notre Dame.

What makes Notre Dame different is that the students come together in a united love for the school, and with that, a love for the legacy of Notre Dame Football. Notre Dame students are not concerned with our school being viewed as one of the most academically challenging schools in the country or being ranked among the Ivy’s. Or perhaps I should say, the students never used to be concerned with that. Instead, the campus has always become a home and the student body a family, with weekly fall outings to the stadium that fills us with a sense of pride, excitement and belonging.

I fear the mentality Dick has is shared by too many ND students. Alumni feel such an intense tie to the school because of the experiences they shared here, which are almost all closely tied to football. I have heard from too many alumni the disgust they share when students leave the football games early, do not stay for the alma mater, or even don’t purchase tickets. This school relies on the alumni, but I fear the student body is changing in a way that will cause alumni support to dwindle.

People will always love Notre Dame, I don’t deny that. But what will the school become with an increasing proportion of the students not caring about the football program or the legacy of Notre Dame? An Ivy League? No thanks.

If you don’t care at all about the football program, fine. If you think the rest of us should not care about it or ignore the losses, and you cannot recognize or acknowledge that the school is where it is because of the football program, then you should have gone to an Ivy League. That’s not what Notre Dame ever was, and it’s not what it should be.

Kim Fortelka


Lyons Hall

Nov. 18