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It’s still Notre Dame to me

Joey King | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

&Notre Dame is a great place. It’s a place where mentally and/or athletically and/or parentally gifted high school grads can learn and grow a lot in four short years. Less interestingly, it’s a place where I learned and grew a lot in four short years.

One of the important lessons was not to come across as such a ba**ard, so maybe my second sentence was a little much. But I could have learned this lesson at any university, or perhaps by just spending four years in the world beyond high school … realizing that making good grades in high school does not necessarily imply a significant degree of worldly wisdom.

Some lessons, though, can only be learned at Notre Dame, which is why our “competitive; tuition increases may actually be a wonderful discount.

1. “Gender Relations” is a legitimate sociological term.

I never heard “gender relations” before coming to Notre Dame, but from day one on campus, this phrase was tossed around like it was a normal, everyday collegiate concern. Part of me believes that other colleges have a much racier name and definition for “gender relations.” I think they call it “getting laid,” and no one writes Letters to the Editor complaining about it.

2. Gay people don’t go to college.

Notre Dame’s recognition of this fact offers the only explanation of its continued failure to amend the non-discrimination clause or give any degree of recognition to an on-campus club. The board of trustees should pat themselves on the back for having a level of insight that will one day be recognized for being as embarrassingly misguided as, say, geocentricism, or torturing people for translating the Bible into languages other than Latin.

3. Sexual assault can be stopped by asking people to promise not to do it.

Back to the intrepid work in gender relating going on right now under Our Lady’s sponsorship – I remember a few dining hall trips being interrupted by someone asking me to sign off on my intention not to rape anybody. It worked.

4. The class average is always a B+.

Because we’re all too special to be average. And we’re paying too much.

Okay, the sarcasm stops here. I want to be perfectly clear that I loved my four years at Notre Dame. I really did learn a lot, even if most of it had to be gained by reflecting on the bad decisions. To be honest, I don’t really feel there is a better way to learn (within reason). Notre Dame (this means you Pasquerilla West) likes to tell people not to make bad decisions. I feel that, within reason, this is misguided.

I also learned a lot in my two years as editor of the Viewpoint section. There are plenty of “big deals” – things that are important to write about, editorialize on, et cetera. Then there are several non-issues that become perennial favorites for letter-writers. After seeing numerous arguments in both camps (at one time I was forced to create three separate folders for different flavors of Saint Mary’s complaints), I’d like to make a bold suggestion. – nothing is offensive unless it is directly responsible for physical violence.

I know this isn’t perfect and is subject to many exceptions. But these exceptions absolutely do not include “The Vagina Monologues,” any comic strip or parietals.

I also humbly submit a campus action I think could be a force for good.

I’m generally skeptical about petitions. They’re too complicated. Sometimes it’s likely that not every signatory completely read what was signed.

But I think the University might react favorably if someone could get some signatures on a short, unambiguous declaration. “I don’t hate gay people,” for example, would be a great one. I can only imagine the shock in that boardroom if they were informed that this was true for many Notre Dame students. Some policies would have to change.

Reflecting on everything over the last four years, the dining halls will be my most missed establishment under the Dome. However economically uninformed the living wage movement may be, I think it would be easy to make a case for such superinflationary salaries for all those responsible for feeding us over the last four years. I recommend making and grilling quesadillas at the Mexican section.

When I review columnist applications, I always emphasize that every column needs to have one central theme, and that everything else in the column should serve to support that theme. In a reflective piece such as this one, even selecting a theme can be a challenge (a good reason I was never a columnist). If I had to pick one, I would say be nice to the employees at Sbarro.

Joey King is a mechanical engineer from Houston, Texas. He received cheers from the Irish Rover for “paraphrasing (sic) a dialogue from Plato’s Republic,” and would like to cordially remind the Rover of the difference between

paraphrase and parody. He feels that Taco Bell offers the best combination of both delicious and competitively priced food, in addition to a surefire cure for even the worst hangover. He can be contacted at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.