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Squatters’ displays diversity

Conor Kelly | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Before I begin, here is a caveat. My idea for what would eventually become this column began about a month ago at Reckers at 2 a.m. on a Wednesday night. It was an essay on diversity for Contemporary Topics, and, never one to take a Contemporary Topics assignment lightly, I bet my friends that I could finish it in the fifteen minutes it took them to finish their food. The instance that I wrote about, however, I still find quite interesting and quite indicative of a certain part of the Notre Dame experience.

The genesis of my paper had been about a month before this fated Reckers trip when, having left my seat on the couch in my room to use the vending machine downstairs, I returned to find a fellow freshman audaciously planted in the seat I had occupied just moments before. I, of course, asserted that I had called “fives” on the seat, which I foolishly assumed was universally understood as meaning that I had that seat saved for five minutes. I always thought it was a well-known fact that everybody said “fives.” Apparently this was not the case as my geographically diverse group of friends told me that there was no such word as “fives” and then preceded to rattle off a list of possible substitutes that made my head spin.

While we eventually ascertained upon taking a spontaneous survey of anyone in Carroll Hall awake at 1 a.m. on a Monday night that “fives” was acceptable on the east coast, we learned that “seat check” was the thing to say in California, while the Midwest consisted of everything from “scoobies” to “quack-quack-seat-back” (don’t ask me how either of those two make any sense). In Ecuador, apparently there is some mysterious ritual involving the removal of one’s shoe.

While this might seem somewhat trite or, some might say, downright stupid, I feel it is an interesting snapshot into our experience of diversity at Notre Dame. I will be the first to admit that we are not the most diverse campus in the world, but there are instances like the one above that make you appreciate the different types of people around you. Diversity, or the lack thereof, is a buzzword that is often bandied about as some sort of goal, and in some sense it is. My experience, however, has been enriched by hearing all the different ways one can save a seat. Maybe this does not “count” as diversity, but it is an example of a phenomenon that has helped to make my experience of Notre Dame. I hope it speaks to someone as much as it did my Contemporary Topics teacher.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Conor Kelly at [email protected]