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Behind the Irish Non-Athlete t-shirt

| Wednesday, September 3, 2014

You may have seen them around campus: the Irish Non-Athlete t-shirts. While the wording on the shirt is simple, the message is unclear for some. As the president of The Wabruda, the club behind the production of the Irish Non-Athlete t-shirts, I want to address the Notre Dame community on their history and meaning.

The Irish Non-Athlete t-shirts provide The Wabruda and the greater student body a means to address a historical social issue on our campus. First created to address the misconception that every minority student on campus plays a varsity sport, the shirt has evolved in meaning as time has progressed. This shirt has become a means by which all students on campus can display that, while they do not play a varsity sport on campus, they still play a major role in representing and bringing honor to Our Lady’s University.

The shirt is in no way meant to ostracize our university’s athletes. We appreciate and acknowledge the hard work and dedication that our athletes put into not only their studies, but also their athletic crafts. We encourage athletes to wear the shirt and invite them to partake in the intellectual elevation that The Wabruda aims to achieve. This problem is not one that is only faced by our “non-athletes,” but also by our athletes, as they are stereotyped as having less work ethic in the classroom because of their athletic pursuits. The shirt, coupled with athletes’ various assortment of team-issued shirts, could be used to show the multiple facets of the Notre Dame student-athlete. The Wabruda does not aim to offend, but looks to address this social problem and create a stimulating campus-wide dialogue. Once obtained, it is strongly encouraged that the message on the shirt is shared in a way that helps to spread awareness and cause for a more unified and inviting campus for all.

Some believe that the harsh wording “non-athlete” can be taken as a hostile attack against a specific group on Notre Dame’s campus. However, the wording is as it is in order to create no ambiguity in the primary social misconception that it aims to combat. With the progressive resolution and eradication of social problems such as these, we will all truly be able to proclaim that WE ARE ND.

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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