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Reasons behind cancellation should be revealed

Staff Editorial | Friday, September 5, 2008

Recently, Dillon Hall rector Fr. Paul Doyle cancelled the Dillon Pep Rally, the dorm’s signature event. Fr. Doyle was vague in his reasoning and emphatic about his decision, but did not give what many residents of the dorm felt was sufficient reasoning for abandoning the pep rally so definitively. Because of the abrupt nature and the lack of clear rationales of the cancellation, The Observer believes that it was unfair to the students of the dorm to cancel their event.

In an interview with The Observer, Fr. Doyle explained his decision by saying that things were not coming together in a “timely fashion.” However, by Sunday – the day pep rally tryouts normally begin – a crowd of 30 students gathered in Dillon Hall with a 25 page script ready to begin rehearsals.

Moreover, those in charge of the pep rally already had confirmed guests of Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis, new Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and two Notre Dame football players. After announcing to the dorm that the pep rally was cancelled, Fr. Doyle had to call these guests and inform them that they did not need to attend.

Fr. Doyle also mentioned the lack of an approved t-shirt design as a reason behind cancelling the event, and took the blame for that. However, the t-shirt is an ancillary part of the pep rally; the important parts (guests, a script and actors) were already taken care of.

The issue of the “timely fashion” in which the pep rally must be completed is also suspect. Fr. Doyle denied requests to postpone the pep rally to later in the football season, saying that instead planning for the pep rally must begin in April and continue throughout the summer. However, with a script fully written by Sunday night, the pep rally was on the same timeline it had been in previous years.

The University has been mum on the issue. Both the Student Activities Office and the Office of News and Information denied involvement, claiming that the cancellation was done entirely by Dillon Hall’s staff with no outside pressure.

In a meeting with Dillon Hall residents interested in performing in the Dillon Pep Rally, Fr. Doyle expanded on his reasons for cancelling the dorm’s signature event, mentioning complaints he received after last year’s pep rally about the vulgarity in the skits. However, Fr. Doyle did not read this year’s script’s first draft to see if that same level of crudeness that had been present in previous years was used this year.

Overall, the Dillon Pep Rally is an annual event not just for that dorm, but for the University as well. It does not stand for the vulgar jokes Fr. Doyle wants to suppress, but instead for bringing Notre Dame football fans together to get ready for the season.

Fr. Doyle singlehandedly undid 30 years of tradition over, according, to his reasoning, a t-shirt and a few complaints – clearly not important enough to deprive a dorm of a key part of its identity.