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Bursting the Notre Dame bubble

| Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A few days ago as I was coming back into town on the South Shore Line, I met one of the most entertaining Uber drivers I have ridden with. For the first half of the ride he went on and on about his childhood memories growing up with sixteen other siblings. He told us about all the mischief they partook in together and how their dominant mother could perfectly control the whole household. After some humorous stories, he began to ask about my roommate and I and if we studied at Notre Dame. “It’s good my brother’s not here, because he would not have liked you.” Because he had been talking in a comic tone the whole ride, I at first thought he was joking, but nevertheless asked him what he meant. He explained how one of his oldest brothers was a child before the civil rights movement and that, for a long time, Notre Dame practiced segregation against people of color, like many peer institutions. While this might not have been the experience of all people of color in relation to the University, this discrimination caused his initial hostile feelings towards Notre Dame. However, the difference is that even though segregation is not active on campus, people at Notre Dame do not take advantage of the University’s potential and resources to make an impact in the local community where most of us do not realize there is a lot of need.  

I wanted to defend myself and the University, but realized he was right, we have so much potential to make a difference in our surrounding impoverished communities and even though there are some initiatives, there are not nearly as many people and resources invested as is necessary. I realized I am part of the problem, as I have done community service here, but honestly not as much as I could. I know as students, many of us do not exactly have much time to spare or we feel like there are just not enough hours in the day. However, there are many projects that require only a few hours a week or do not necessarily have to be every week. In one of my classes, “God and the Good Life,” one of our assignments is to identify a philosophical issue that can be addressed on campus and act on it — this is one of the biggest issues we found. It is not only that the students do not go out of their way to do community service, but also that the University does not make it accessible and easy enough for students running on tight schedules to search for opportunities. Therefore, it is important for both the University and its students to change the way in which they address this issue. In my group, we are moving to make it easier for students to be aware of current opportunities and create new initiatives. In conclusion, as Notre Dame students we not only have the obligation to excel academically and provide a good example in our internships and careers, but also to fight to create positive impact everywhere we go and during our time here to the communities that surround us and step out of the comfortable bubble Notre Dame provides.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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