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The murder of LaFun

| Thursday, April 5, 2018

“A gift from Joseph A. LaFortune, the Student Center is the most visited building on Notre Dame’s campus.” At least, this is what the University’s website says. This claim may have been true before the start of second semester, but with the opening of the Duncan Student Center, LaFun is effectively dead.

On my trek home to Mod Quad, I frequently cut through LaFun for the brief comfort of warmth and the aroma of Subway bread. I can personally vouch that, yes, some people do still take up residence in the 12th-oldest building on campus. However, what once was swarms of students crowded in LaFun is now reduced to intimate groups of people who possibly haven’t heard of DuStu, or the Disc, or Jenkins’ Imperial Palace or whatever people are calling it these days.

The LaFortune Student Center is a classic, and I am not here to say that it will be torn down anytime soon. But I am here to say that, although the Duncan Student Center is great, it murdered a Notre Dame favorite. This violent act will result in the changing of traditions that have enriched the lives of so many students. The tradition of Thursday-night Acousticafe in the dimly-lit LaFun basement is no more. The basement sits desolate now on Thursday evenings. And dances. The Notre Dame experience is incomplete without a sweaty, cramped LaFun Ballroom formal. The glitzy Dahnke ballroom instead usurps the honor of hosting these events, depriving students of a long-established custom. Future students will never understand the euphoria when certain flavors of Ben & Jerry’s enter the Huddle’s freezer doors. If they want an exotic dessert, they will just wander to the Duncan Student Center and purchase Hagerty Family Cafe’s gelato. Yes, OK, the gelato is good. But nothing can top Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Nothing. The battle for a booth in LaFun no longer exists as many booths lie empty, longing to be occupied. The new student center eliminates the feeling of victory one gets when finally acquiring one of these highly sought-after spots. Who knows what’s next? Will they run The Huddle out of business by attaching the Duncan Student Center to DeBart with a fancy supermarket? Will they relocate all student clubs, leaving the upper floors of LaFun even more barren? Will they transfer Starbucks to DuStu because they suddenly care about how long the line gets and the traffic it creates? Will they move quarter dogs to Modern Market? Where does it end?

Imagine 10 years from now: On a campus tour, the guide proclaims, “And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the LaFortune Student Center.” Parents might reply, “Another student center? I thought we already went through your student center. What is this?” An alumni parent may chirp in, “This is LaFun, our old student center. I satisfied my late-night taco craving here. I stayed up all night to finish papers here. It was here, sitting at tables pushed together with my friends, that I realized these were some of the best days of my life. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but LaFun is a classic and we should appreciate it for what it is.”

Shannon Wolfe


April 3

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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