Archaic double standards
Letter to the Editor | Monday, February 29, 2016
Perhaps the most unique, yet dismaying, thing about the Notre Dame is the horribly archaic way in which it treats men and women differently in its dorms. Unlike many universities, Notre Dame is Catholic. Unlike many universities, Notre Dame leans conservatively in its student body and certain decisions. Unlike many universities, almost all students remain in their freshman year dorm until at least the end of their junior years. Notre Dame is determined to be unique in ways unthinkable by many other top universities, and in many cases, this is a good thing. Many love the community of their dorm, or the spiritual nature of Notre Dame, or how quiet it gets after midnight. How differently Notre Dame treats its men’s and women’s dorms, however, cannot be endorsed.
Almost universally on Notre Dame’s campus, men’s dorms are much more lax in enforcement of rules than women’s dorms. In particular, alcohol consumption and parietals are rarely enforced in most male dorms and enforced almost to a fault in female dorms.
If someone is found drinking alcohol in a men’s dorm, the worst that will happen will probably be loss of alcohol. Parties are routinely held in the male dorms and can sometimes host hundreds of people. Sections become flooded with people and booming music. In contrast, most women at Notre Dame are almost afraid to throw even moderate sized parties in their dorms, and heaven help you if an RA finds you drinking liquor.
Similarly, parietals are almost nonexistent in most men’s dorms. Hall staff deliberately tries not to find women staying past parietals. If a woman is found staying hours after the forbidden deadline, there likely won’t be punishment for the parties involved. Meanwhile, if a man is found walking down the stairwell to exit a women’s dorm at 12:05 a.m., there almost certainly will be repercussions, sometimes severe. The staff of women’s dorms are known to track women who come in with men and then subsequently check their rooms to make sure that the guy has left after parietals.
Everyone can argue all day about whether parietals actually “build community,” as the University states. We can try to ignore that how differently men and women are treated in their respective dorms contributes to the horrid gender relations on campus. We can argue whether it is even worth it to argue about parietals or alcohol consumption in dorms; with how incredibly easy it is to get away with breaking the rules in guy’s dorms, why does it matter? And obviously there are exceptions; some male dorms are very strict, and some female dorms even slightly avoid the rules! And if it bothers someone that much, they can just move off campus!
It doesn’t matter that women can move off campus to avoid the incredibly unfair enforcement in their dorms. It doesn’t matter whether the university’s rules on parietals or dorm alcohol consumption build community. The problem is that the University’s administration is systematically declaring that men should act one way with regards to alcohol and sex, while women should act in another. I have gradually become more and more alarmed by this revelation as I have realized the full extent of it; that my school is so horribly backwards in one aspect of its thinking that it cannot bring itself to treat men and women the same way on the topics of alcohol and sex.
This revelation should be unacceptable to any student, any alumni, any faculty member, anyone even remotely associated with the University. For a university which strives to follow Catholic ideology, a religion which prides itself on doing unto others as you would have others do unto you, it is certainly treating its very own Notre Dame women extremely poorly. I certainly hope that any women at Notre Dame does not feel slighted by the way she is treated by the University, but I cannot possibly expect this of any woman here; I, a male, am livid. I can hardly imagine actually living in a women’s dorm.
The University can fix this. It will take a concentrated effort, however, from administration, current students and alumni. As a community, we must realize that women deserve to be treated the exact same way as their male peers. We must push this on the University. Domers cannot give the administration a free pass on this issue. We must hold the administration accountable for changing how parietals and alcohol consumption are handled in Notre Dame’s dorms. If that occurs, Notre Dame will destroy one of the few negative features about it. Notre Dame will retain its amazing and unique features: it will still be the same University we all love, but it will also be home to a happier and more comfortable community.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.