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Panel addressed Notre Dame dating culture

| Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday’s panel, “Ring by Spring, Hooking Up & Opting Out: Redefining Notre Dating,” set out to better understand the various aspects and stereotypes of “Notre Dating,” and all relationships at the college level.

“Ring by Spring remains this part of Notre Dame culture that combats the overwhelming desire to overcome the hookup culture because there is a long history of this ring by spring culture,” professor of sociology Jessica Collet said. “Many of the students I’ve taught over the years are legacy students and many of [their] parents went to Notre Dame and met at Notre Dame so it makes sense that this ring by spring idea stays here.”

In addition to Professor Collet, the panel featured professor of sociology Christian Smith and two students, junior Nora Williamson and sophomore Faisal Shariff, who are both involved in the Gender Relations program. The panel focused on how the three aspects of the panel’s title relate to the Notre Dame community, what influences these extremes, and what makes a happy, healthy relationship.

“I’m really in it to form friendships, and then I’ll go on from there,” Shariff said. “I think that’s what is important to me, and I think that’s what should be important to a lot of people. The focus should be on forming lasting relationships.”

The group also discussed how the University’s Catholic identity impacts the way students view and approach college relationships.

“I feel like it does play a part, that we go to a Catholic university,” Williamson said. “I go to Mass every Sunday, and it’s always full, so there are a lot of people who are active in their faith. So that does play a role in people’s decisions.”

When the discussion moved to parietals’ role in relationships, Cavanaugh Hall rector Lauren Donahue said the the true intent of the rules is to promote community.

“Parietals exist for the community of residents to feel comfortable and safe,” she said. “Our focus is always on the well-being and security of our residents. It is like when your family members come over for Thanksgiving; there comes a point in the evening when it’s time for everyone to go home and for everyone to end their day, and that’s how parietals also work.”

Smith moved the conversation away from “intentionally ambiguous” casual relationships that are so common to college students and left the group with parting words of advice, stressing the importance of meaningful relationships — both romantic and friendly.

“Romantic relationships have lots of intentionality, whereas friends just happen,” she said. “If I suddenly became 18 again but still had what I know and my maturity, I would invest a lot more effort into non-romantic significant, serious relationships with the kind of people, who, for the rest of my life, at reunions, I would love to spend time with.”

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