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Express some humility

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, March 26, 2009

Last Friday’s Observer featured a column by Bob Kessler about the “hookup culture” in which he made a comment about “our state school counterparts” that implied that they have lower moral standards than our own student body. I don’t know Bob, but I’m sure he’s a nice guy and that his comment was merely a light-hearted attempt at levity. Nevertheless, I believe this is worth mentioning because in my semester and a half here at Notre Dame, I’ve noticed that it is a consistent practice among a segment of the student body to pat themselves on the back by pretending to be superior to people at state schools. This past week alone I probably heard about a half dozen such comments from my fellow Domers.

I offer a word of caution to my peers who may think this is witty, or makes you appear more sophisticated than those mere peasants at state institutions: you sound like morons, and would be wise to kick this habit before leaving the Notre Dame bubble. I realize most of the time these remarks are made in jest, but given the frequency with which they can be heard here on campus or at a weekend party, they show a very real flaw in the character of those who say them. None of us are better than anyone else just because we go to Notre Dame. True, maybe some of us are smarter, maybe some of us worked harder. Though, maybe some of us just got lucky and struck the right chord with a particular admissions official in our personal statements, or maybe your family name is on one of the buildings here. Or, maybe you worked just as hard to get here as a kid at a state school who made the decision on where to attend based on what he or she could reasonably afford.

Regardless of how we got here, one thing is certain, we are all incredibly fortunate. I love this school, and all the amazing people I’ve met here, with all my heart. We should all be grateful for the opportunity to attend such a prestigious institution, and upon graduation, go forth into the world with humility and respect for one another regardless of our various backgrounds or alma maters. As a Notre Dame student who transferred from not merely a state school, but a community college at that, and who earns excellent grades (better grades than the drunk who stood in front of him at a party this past week slurring his words as he quipped about those poor kids at state institutions, I might add), I would just like to offer a reminder that you never know who you’re talking to and what your words might say to them about your own character.

Allow me to end with a dose of inspiration for my fellow public school alums, and fans of the Wes Anderson film, “Rushmore.” I offer you the words of Bill Murray’s character, Herman Blume, as he addresses the prestigious Rushmore Academy: “Now, for some of you it doesn’t matter. You were born rich and you’re going to stay rich. But here’s my advice to the rest of you: Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can’t buy backbone. Don’t let them forget it. Thank you.”

Brendan McPhillips


off campus

March 25