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St. Edward’s Hall continues to build on traditions

| Friday, September 14, 2018

Editor’s note: This article is one in a series profiling the dorms of Notre Dame.

In 1882, St. Edward’s Hall was originally built by the Brothers of the Holy Cross using clay bricks that were made out of the clay from Saint Mary’s Lake and St. Joseph’s Lake. At the time, the hall served as a dormitory for children at the Notre Dame Grammar School, remaining so until 1928. After a massive fire in 1980, the hall was rebuilt into its current structure. Named after Notre Dame founder Fr. Edward Sorin’s patron saint, St. Edward’s is the oldest building presently used as a dorm.

Juniors Cole Edwards and Brendan O’Donnell — who serve as hall president and vice president, respectively — said the size and culture of the dorm provides the foundation for its community.

“The dorm is very tight-knit, very small … everybody knows each other,” Edwards said. “[The freshmen] know a lot of the sophomores, they’re starting to get to know the juniors and seniors a little better. I’m trying hard to meet as many as I can, as fast as I can.”

The traditions of St. Ed’s are shaped by the history of the dorm. Its spring formal — also known as Yacht Dance — takes place on the last day of classes, when Stedsmen and their dates cruise around Lake Michigan after enjoying dinner in downtown Chicago.

According to the dorm’s official website, St. Ed’s began its Mullets Against Malaria event in 2013, in which participants don a mullet in order to raise money for Nothing But Nets, a charitable organization which provides mosquito nets to those living in areas with high risk for malaria transmission. In recent years, the dorm has reported over $8,300 in charitable fundraising due to this event alone.

These dorm traditions have continued to change with time. During a past Founder’s Week, which contains week-long dorm programming in the fall semester, former St. Edward’s commissioner Kurt Roemer organized a badminton tournament in which Stedsmen compete against each other for the championship of the “Steds Shuttlecock Showdown.”

Alumni heavily contribute to the funding of St. Edward’s Hall’s traditions, with 2018 Notre Dame Day contributions totaling around $13,100, in addition to a challenge pool share of around $35,300. 

O’Donnell gave credit to Fr. Ralph Haag, the rector of St. Edward’s Hall, for helping to form a welcoming community.

“Our rector, Fr. Ralph, is a really good guy,” O’Donnell said. “He looks out for all the kids — he’s a big part of St. Ed’s.” 

“I don’t know any other dorms that have that kind of relationship, and he has really been the foundation of St. Ed’s for however long he’s been here,” Edwards added. “Without that, everything we do and continue to do and, you know, issues that we work through, he makes sure that everything that makes St. Ed’s what it is stays what it is — and that’s huge for us.”

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