Alumni residents, president discuss tradition and community
Nicole Simon | Friday, August 31, 2018
Editor’s note: This article is one in a series profiling the dorms. Previous articles have covered dorms built before Alumni Hall.
Alumni Hall was built in 1931 to house returning alumni on campus before being converted into a men’s dorm. Its Gothic architecture, fit with gargoyle-esque statues and elaborate stone carvings, hints at the deeply tradition-oriented dorm inside.
An integral aspect of that tradition is Fr. George Rozum, Alumni’s time-honored rector, who is currently serving his 40th year as leader of Alumni’s pack of “Dawgs.” Rozum is Notre Dame’s longest-serving rector, which creates a uniquely interesting dynamic within the hall, said senior Matthew Bartilotti, Alumni resident, former hall president and current RA.
“Since [we] have a rector who’s been here for 40 years, there’s many generations of Notre Dame students who have been under Fr. George. Notre Dame already has such a high legacy rate, and in Alumni, there’s so many kids who had a brother, dad, or uncle who lived under Fr. George,” Bartilotti said. “So many guys come into the dorm already passionate about Alumni because of stories they’ve heard about Fr. George from their dad, their brother, their uncle. That’s something that’s unique.”
Since 1978, Rozum has cultivated a strong community in Alumni Hall focused on fraternity, which is fitting with the dorm’s iconic Greek letters, Delta Omega Gamma.
“I think to define the Alumni Hall community, I would say it’s a community predicated on everybody treating each other like brothers and like family and genuinely caring about each other, and that all stems from Fr. George,” Bartilotti said. “Fr. George addresses all his emails ‘Dear Blessed Men and Brothers of Alumni Hall,’ and he truly follows up on that and truly does care about each and every one of us like we were a son or a brother of his. So that really trickles down.”
That sense of community allows for a strong dorm identity to form, full of longstanding traditions. In the fall, Alumni hosts its annual Rivalry Week with Dillon Hall that culminates in the Big Red Dawg Dance, the two dorms’ joint SYR.
The dorm also celebrates an annual spirit week, referred to as Wake Week. The week’s events, according to Alumni’s website, “remain shrouded in mystery.”
All the tradition and mystery doesn’t stop the Dawgs from some rather unconventional practices, however.
“We have plenty of commissioners,” Bartilotti said. “We have a milk commissioner. We have an off-campus East Asian cuisine commissioner. On the application, you can select which spot you want or create your own. We have a bunch of really silly and fun things like that.”
A new tradition in the works this year is called “Dawgtoberfest.” Junior Adam Hellinghausen, current hall president, is working on bringing this new potential signature event to life.
“Some guys went abroad last year and said that Oktoberfest in Europe was the coolest thing they’d ever done,” Hellinghausen said. “They want to bring it back here. We could have charity events, like hot dog eating contest or something to raise money. And then beyond that, it’d be sort of just a festival to celebrate our dorm and our guys and just promote community and stuff like that.”
The community is what Hellinghausen is most passionate about, he said.
“What I’m looking forward to most, I’d say, about the presidency is not so much doing anything in particular, but more just getting to know the people of Alumni and really striving to listen to what they have to say, and just continuing the things that we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’re not just hanging out to have fun, we’re not just partying together, we’re not just studying together, we’re not just praying together. It’s all of those things in their time and place.”