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Zahm losing respect

Letter to the editor | Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I wanted to respond to the first part in The Observer’s two-part series on the changes in Zahm Hall (“Zahm struggles with culture shift”, Nov. 29). I am a former Zahm resident, now living off campus. While I now recognize the triviality of dorm rivalries and the importance placed on which dorm one ends up in, I do believe that every dorm is unique and offers its residents a special place and atmosphere in which to live, learn, and grow. That is perhaps why I was so excited upon receiving that package from the Office of Residence Life and Housing prior to my freshman year, indicating that I would be joining the ranks of illustrious Zahm residents.

Things have changed, and as the first article indicated, we only hear the stories of times past, of all the crazy things that went down and all the fun that was had. Sure, we had our own fun, but my time in Zahm has left a bitter taste in my mouth and a resentful feeling toward dorm life. I disagree with Joe Cussen’s comments that “visiting” and “paneling” were not really that bad. I participated in those activities too, and am by no means a saint. They are behaviors that are both physically destructive to the dorm and emotionally damaging to some of the residents, and I see why the University wanted to stop them.

However, Cussen alluded to the quintessential aspect of Zahm – respect. This one word embodies all that was Zahm, and is the most regrettable aspect of the drastic changes that have taken place in the past three and a half years. The problem is that Parrish never showed (and still does not show) the respect needed to foster good relations in the dorm. He dictates his policies without making an effort to reach out to the students. I was both a Frosh-O commissioner and dance commissioner during my time at Zahm, but I made one poor decision during spring break, inappropriately calling Parrish and sharing my thoughts with him. I did not use inappropriate language nor did I personally attack Parrish; I simply shared my thoughts. Upon returning to campus, I immediately apologized to Parrish, but did not hear back from him until a week later when I received my letter from ResLife. Despite my otherwise exemplary record in the dorm, helping plan and coordinate functions, South Bend volunteer work and being active on both the Interhall soccer and hockey teams, Parrish recommended my removal from Zahm, and so it was. That is simply a lack of respect. To this day, Parrish has still not even formally accepted my apology.

All Zahm residents wanted from Parrish was respect. There were certain things about Zahm that certainly needed to change – I have no quarrel with that. But changes could have occurred in much better ways, and in the end the residents of the dorm are worse off because of what has happened. Instead of treating us like adults, Parrish treats us like children. The community is gone and what is left is just another building on campus, and that is just a shame.

Zachary Jara



Dec. 4