Notre Dame Hall Council to select Hall of the Year
Matthew McKenna | Friday, March 20, 2015
Hall of the Year presentations, which give hall presidents and vice presidents the chance to summarize the activities and condition of their dorm, begin next week. These presentations make up more than half the criteria for the Hall of the Year selection.
Senior Michael Wajda, co-chair of Hall Presidents Council, said 65 percent of Hall of the Year deliberations are based on next week’s presentations, in which hall presidents recap their dorm’s activities over the last year with respect to three categories: heart, mind and body.
“Over the course of the next week, all of the dorms are going to be giving their presentations, and they’ll be graded on the mind, heart and body categories, but they will also be graded on how they have worked to grow as a community holistically,” he said. “We’ll judge how they’ve worked to include all members of the community, and what sort of sustained unique impact they’ve had this year.”
Wajda said 5 percent of the deliberations is based on the dorm’s signature event, which is hosted by the dorm and open to all of campus. The remaining 30 percent is based on monthly Rockne presentations.
“These presentations are snapshots that the presidents provide each month, just a listing of what they’ve done which includes events and a couple of pictures,” Wadja said.
“We really look for four things in the Rockne presentations,” he said. “We look for how they’ve advanced the mental aspect of dorm life, which can be anything from cultural events, academic events and sustainability events. We also look at how they advance the body of the dorm, so that includes inter-hall athletics and social events.
“Finally, we look at how they advance the heart of dorm community that include the service and liturgical aspects,” he said. “There’s a reflection and goals aspect of the presentation where we ask them to see where they want to go from here in the next month.”
Kathleen Clark, Hall Presidents Council co-chair, said it is impossible to judge each dorm in a vacuum.
“Each of the 29 halls is Hall of the Year in some way,” she said. “So really what we’re looking for is to see that each residence hall has been the best possible version of itself.”
Michael Wajda said the Hall of the Year selection is made by a group of nine judges.
“These nine judges are the two Hall Presidents Council co-chairs, the council finance chair, the two HPC social chairs, the athletic chair, one senior member of judicial council and two senators.
“The judges represent a really diverse group of people,” he said. “We have a good mix of all the quads, all the grades and both genders. It’s a really fun mix of people and we’ve really enjoyed working together.”
Wajda said the senators do not have to judge their own dorms.
“One of the things we’ve changed is the institution of a recusal process,” Wajda said. “If I felt like I couldn’t be fair in judging Duncan, I could recuse myself without hurting their overall grade.”
Clark said Notre Dame residential life holds a special place in her heart.
“I showed up for freshman orientation at 2011 and I knew I wanted to be a part of hall council,” Clark said. “I had the good fortune of being on hall presidents council last year and, while I really love and cherish the Farley community, I relished the opportunity to work with each of the 29 communities on campus.”
Clark said the most rewarding aspect of her position as Hall Presidents Council co-chair is seeing the hard work the presidents and vice presidents put in to improve student life for those who live in their dorm.
“As co-chair you get a glimpse into each community, and that has been a tremendous gift,” she said. “It has made me cherish my Notre Dame education even more because the quality of residential life here is so special.”
Wajda said there are several concrete prizes for winning Hall of the Year, including a plaque for the winning dorms, a dome dance and a monetary prize. Two dome dances are given out, one to the overall Hall of the Year and one to either the Women’s Hall of the Year or the Men’s Hall of the Year — whichever is the opposite sex of the overall winner.
Clark said the biggest and most meaningful prize for winning Hall of the Year is the title and recognition.
“It’s something special to be able to put Hall of the Year on the banner outside your dorm,” Clark said. “It’s all about the bragging rights.”
Clark said the selection process is difficult because every dorm is worthy of Hall of the Year.
“We recognize there are 29 outstanding communities on campus that are lead by 29 outstanding presidents, vice presidents, and communities,” Clark said.
“I think what is valuable in having Hall of the Year awards is that it continues to affirm the importance of residence life here at Notre Dame,” she said. “It is worth celebrating a good, strong community. That’s one of the things that makes Notre Dame different. You hear constantly that people come here for the residential structure, and we have a role in perpetuating that importance and strengthening our communities into families.”
Wajda said Notre Dame residential life is unique in that students of all years are living and learning together.
“You’re a senior living next to freshman and across from sophomores, and you’re all called Highlanders or Vermin, or Lions, or The Finest,” he said. “It’s a system that most other colleges don’t have, and having Hall of the Year lets us say that Notre Dame residential life is something special, something unique and something meaningful.”