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The iced coffee manifesto

| Friday, March 2, 2018

Those unacquainted with O’Shag likely don’t know of the tiny cafe nestled by the building’s DeBart-side entrance. It’s called Waddick’s, and its carpeted interior and rustic oak furniture give off an aura befitting the lovechild of a library and a hunting lodge. At any given point there are probably a handful of Arts and Letters students with their noses in books and their hands on coffees. Speaking of, it is undoubtedly the best coffee spot for your buck on campus, and pairing one with their famous bacon, egg and cheese croissant is a breakfast fit for a king — or at the very least a history major looking to burn some flex points. It is also in danger of being disgracefully stripped down from a full cafe to a one-machine, one-cashier operation.

Waddick’s is much more than a coffee shop; it is the embodiment of Arts and Letters. You are bound to bump into one of your friends, classmates or professors there, and the genial atmosphere ensures the type of banter that builds genuine investment in each other’s academic endeavors and personal lives. Intellectually stimulating or not, the face time Waddick’s fosters as an Arts and Letters hub deepens both the college’s and Notre Dame’s senses of community. Of course, people can (and do) gather at other establishments. However, when the time comes for all of us to sit our kids down and indoctrinate them into the cult of Notre Dame, I doubt any of us will recount fondly our time spent at Modern Market or Starbucks. Certainly we enjoy these places, but subconsciously we understand that they are transactional, merely a means to an end.

The things that really imbue our Notre Dame experiences with color and meaning are our local, homey hangouts, from Nick’s Patio to the Backer. Waddick’s is no different. You’re greeted and served by one of your fellow students or the amiable Vicky. If you’re there as often as I am (unlikely), they might even assign you a title (Iced Coffee Guy over here). With familiar faces behind the counter, folky-pop playing over the radio and quirky decor, Waddick’s just feels like a slice of home. Sure, I’m biased because living in Carroll means it’s usually not worth trekking back between classes. But I’m willing to bet that the 451 people who have signed the “Save Waddick’s!” petition thus far feel that same bit of home as well.

The proposed changes ultimately amount to reducing Waddick’s to something like the cold, impersonal a la Descartes stand in Jordan because Decio and Duncan make it redundant. With the petition’s hundreds of signatures and an ungodly line into the Great Hall between every class period, it is hard to believe that Waddick’s has suffered much from the alleged competition. I do think everyone agrees that putting additional seating where the art gallery is would be a welcome change, but eliminating most of the offerings and staff save for the absolute bare minimum is an unnecessary degradation of an adored hole-in-the-wall.

With another tuition hike this week, it seems that Our Lady’s University is cash-strapped yet again. It would be shameful for the administration to dismantle a cherished student haunt while simultaneously asking for even more from us. Every year, our campus plays witness to the establishment of a new, palatial institute bearing the name of one of our dynastic families. In light of such prolific development, that funky cafe in O’Shag stands as a poignant testament to late Assistant Dean Waddick’s dedication to his students and as a tiny reminder that Notre Dame is a school, not a corporation.

Francis Hagan


Feb. 28

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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