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Building a better future

| Thursday, March 27, 2014

With news of the Campus Crossroads Project and University President Fr. John Jenkins’s plans to add two new residence halls and a research facility to campus, it is clear that changes are upon the University as we know it. How Notre Dame will look when we visit as alumni, which residence halls we may call our own and perhaps even where our graduation ceremonies will be held will undoubtedly be altered in the near future. We students may be wary of the impending changes, but we must also remind ourselves of the positive consequences of these improvements, even if we don’t see them just yet.
We strive to have the picture-perfect college experience during our four years at Notre Dame, but in the backgrounds of those pictures are landscapes of construction, indications of a transforming campus. At a place where tradition is deeply valued, it is no surprise the student body may feel hesitant about the addition of new residence halls.
However, while it is important for students to critically evaluate these projects, we also must consider the numerous benefits of the University’s expansion.
As residence halls struggle with overcrowding and disappearing common rooms, the addition of two halls will create much-needed space. Though the immediate reaction to expansion may be to wonder – or even fear – what will happen to the community in each of our own residence halls, it is important to consider what good the new halls will to bring residence life across campus. Fr. Jenkins cited issues of overcrowding when presenting the project, which means that while no single hall is directly targeted, the administration is and interested in accommodating more students comfortably on campus and alleviating pressure on existing halls as a whole.
Though physical expansion of campus may generally spark some anxiety within the current student body, we can benefit from this growth even after our time at Notre Dame. When we leave the University, we will have nothing but our memories and our diploma — the reputation of Notre Dame that we will carry with us into our careers and future challenges. As Notre Dame grows, then, with a new research facility and additional academic programs, so too will its reputation as a top-notch institution.
Additionally, we can consider the changes that we cannot see but that nonetheless affect us as students right now. The addition of new study abroad programs will bring students to new places, and more research facilities will give more students the opportunity to hone investigative skills.
The Notre Dame family we all value includes thousands of future students as well. While looking back on the changes the University has seen over time, we know that its growth, both physically and institutionally, has drawn us here. Future students will have more opportunities, better facilities, new places to make memories and new residence halls to call their own.
Our time on this campus is temporary. Though we may wish to return to find the same Notre Dame we discovered on our first days of orientation, it is clear that expansion in all directions will make for a changed and improved university. It is important that we question these changes in order to advocate for our residence halls, students — both present and future — and the University. But we must remember that growth made Notre Dame the place it is now — the University that accepted us — and perhaps we should return the favor by supporting its endeavors.


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