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Farley Hall builds on 72 years of tradition

| Friday, October 5, 2018

Editor’s note: This article is one in a series profiling the dorms. Previous articles have covered dorms built before Farley Hall.

The women of Farley Hall pride themselves in promoting individuality and acceptance, while tradition and history binds them together.

Established in 1946, Farley Hall was named after Fr. John “Pop” Farley, who served as rector of Sorin and Walsh Halls. Farley Hall transitioned from a men’s to a women’s dorm in 1973, which residents recognize as a unique aspect of Farley, junior and hall president Molly Melican said.

Anna Mason | The Observer
Founded in 1946, Farley Hall’s mascot is “the Finest.” Residents say they are most proud of their history and inclusive environment.

Every year Farley holds an open house on a game day weekend to welcome back alumni, Melican said. She considers the event a unifying experience where generations gather to share memories.

“Last year we had an alum come talk to us about how he proposed to his wife on the fourth floor of Farley. … Overall, Farley has a lot of character,” Melican said.

Farley Hall was also one of the first women’s dorms to re-establish women’s food sales in the form of Cafe Far-Far, located in the basement of the hall.

Farley rector Elaine DeBassige said she was inspired to initiate Cafe Far-Far six years ago when she first became rector after a conversation she had with a resident assistant (RA) regarding the lack of food sales in women’s dorms.

“I believe that women should be able to own their own businesses, and [Cafe Far-Far] is a great opportunity for the women of Farley to refine that entrepreneurial side of them,” DeBassige said.

Converting a storage space in their basement, Farley women helped decorate the room and paint the walls for the cafe which is open to all Sunday through Wednesday. 

“We serve waffles, and this year we are adding milkshakes to the menu,” junior and hall vice president Katie Liebscher said. “We have brownie, red velvet, churro and pizza waffles, and monthly specials.”

De Bassige said Farley’s signature event, “Be Fine Day,” also showcases the passion of the residents of Farley Hall. The event encourages women to be confident and positive about themselves everyday and benefits the YWCA Women’s Shelter.

“I think when we are at our finest we are realizing all of the strengths that we are blessed with, and we’re using them to the best of our ability,” DeBassige said. “There’s something really attractive about strong people with perseverance, fortitude, determination and fire, who go for it in life, and that’s the finest.”

The signature event’s name and slogan, “Today I am at my finest,” also refer to Farley’s mascot “the Finest.”

“Farley’s mascot is the Finest,” Liebscher said. “We tend to go with angel’s wings or halos; it’s an abstract idea, and everyone can kind of take it as they will.”

With “Be Fine Day” and Cafe Far-Far taking hold only a few years ago, Farley combines the old with the new, as residents often look back to recognize and appreciate their history. DeBassige said Farley names their yearly student awards and some of their rooms after previous leaders of Farley, including Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, Fr. Joe Barry and Sister Jean Lenz to honor them.

Hesburgh is often credited to have served as the hall’s first rector, but DeBassige said Barry was actually Farley’s first rector. Residents affectionately refer to Barry as “Papa Bear,” and believe Papa Bear’s ghost still resides on the fourth floor.

DeBassige said residents have reported doors closing without wind, random objects moving from place to place, lights turning off erratically and mysterious shadows appearing on walls. 

“He’s a gentle ghost … we believe he just needed some attention,” DeBassige said. 

The manner in which Farley embraces their history and honors their traditions, while cultivating modern practices and strengthening bonds among residents allows the hall to thrive, Melican said.

“I think our community is unmatched; we have a great groups of girls who support and genuinely care about each other,” Melican said. “Our motto is ‘Come Share Life,’ and that’s really what happens here.”

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About Serena Zacharias

Serena is a member of the class of 2021 majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior and minoring in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She hails from the great cheese state of Wisconsin and is a former ND News Editor for The Observer.

Contact Serena