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Each Zahm resident unique

Letter to the Editor | Monday, December 4, 2006

I would like to compliment The Observer for running the two-part series of stories investigating some of the changes which have taken place in Zahm Hall over the past couple years.

Before I attended Notre Dame, an aged alumnus told me, “The only thing better than going to Notre Dame is having graduated from Notre Dame!” And despite all of the illicit fun I had there as an undergrad, despite all of the playful jibe I received as a Zahm resident and despite all of the times I had to just stand in front of the Office of Residence Life and Housing and shake my head in bewilderment, I grew from the experience and now can enjoy the best part – being a Notre Dame graduate.

Alums of Zahm or any other dorm gather and shoot the bull about how “wild” or “crazy” their college days were – right up to the often touted Regis Philbin. I recall his visit to campus clearly, when I was a freshman in Zahm in fall 2001, when, in front of all the lights and cameras, he barged into his former room, 222, jumped in the loft and told all those present what a “crazy” time he had in that room, breaking all the old, silly rules.

People love to reminisce and tell stories about old traditions or “how things used to be done,” mostly because it’s a way of reliving those moments without actually having to do them again. Here are two suggestions regarding “stories”: 1) they are probably exaggerations, and 2) nothing in the present, in reality, can top those memories.

So what does this mean for the current men of Zahm? Enjoy the elevated status which goes with being a resident in the House. Some will call it a “bad boy” or “whipping boy” image or claim that “it really worries the parents.” If you actually believe those things, then you are taking college, and the whole living situation at Notre Dame, way too seriously. Guys living with guys, girls living with girls – the two allegedly not enjoying each other and staying the night together – now that is a joke the rest of the young people in America laugh at (and are extremely puzzled by, all the same).

So if Zahm’s image counters who you are, fight it; if it doesn’t have anything to do with you, ignore it; if it is everything you think you want out of college, embrace it. My point is this: anyone who lives in, or has lived in, Zahm makes choices about who they want to become. Some try to destroy its image, and some have worked very hard to perpetuate it.

To assume that every resident should align with one ideology and not be uniquely creative is outlandish. To force every resident to align with one ideology is not only repressive, but also counterproductive to the educational process. After reviewing The Observer’s articles on the changes within Zahm Hall, it appears that the hall’s administrative figure, the rector, believes that he should dictate its direction, like a surrogate parent.

Perhaps what is misunderstood here is that the urge some of the men of Zahm feel to be fraternal, and at the same time be set apart from the typical Notre Dame community, is a normal male attitude during formative years, as is the appeal of bucking authority. I know it exists, because I have been there. The last time I checked, though, college was supposed to be an educational experience for the students, without all of the coddling mentality.

But that’s the way it goes at Notre Dame. So love it while you can, lead it where you will and leave it when you’re ready (or get kicked off campus!). Either way, you will have enough stories to tell all of those freshmen when you are a senior, and hopefully half of them are true.

And picture this, men of Zahm: life only gets better after you graduate from Notre Dame.

Drew Updike


Class of 2005

Dec. 1