Fisher Hall traditions promote service, tight-knit community
Morgan Johnson | Monday, November 12, 2018
Editor’s note: This article is one in a series profiling the dorms. Previous articles have covered dorms built before Fisher Hall.
Since 1952, the friendly fishermen of Fisher Hall have lived out their motto of “All are welcome in this place.”
“There’s a real spirit of brotherhood in the hall,” Fisher Rector Rick Mazzei said. “We stress that all are welcome here and we really mean that. It’s a diverse community and we all bring wonderful gifts to this community.”
Fisher Hall was the gift of Sally Fisher in honor of her late husband Fred Fisher. It initially opened as a residence building for graduate students and seniors but has expanded since then to house approximately 180 students, two priests-in-residence and one rector. Fisher Hall received new additions in summer 2017.
“We think that Fisher has a very vibrant community and the people in it are great but one thing we are certainly lacking in is our general appearance so the refresh was really nice,” Fisher co-president and junior Frank Dijak said. “To walk into Fisher as a parent, alumni or even as a student for the first time, you want them to feel that this is a nice place where you can live for four years.”
Each April, Fisher’s signature event, the Fisher Regatta, draws participants and crowds from across campus to compete in a handmade boat racing competition. Since Mazzei — nicknamed “Mazz’ —became rector in 2014, the Fishermen have stressed the fundraising component of the event.
“It’s one of the biggest campus-wide events,” Mazzei said. “I’m sure Keenan would argue with that with the Revue. Starting in 2015 we decided to adopt St. Adalbert’s Catholic School. We met with the pastor and the principal and they brought us over to the gym. It was awful. Nails were coming out of the floor, the backboards were broken and it was not well lit. We raised $5,000 dollars that year and redid the gym.”
Since then, Fisher has raised more money each year in order to renovate the computer labs and the library. Over the course of five years, Fisher has given a total of $30,000 dollars to the school.
In addition to financial support, Fisher partners with McGlinn Hall to tutor students at St. Adalbert’s and host a spirit day in the spring.
“[Mazzei] is big on spending face time with the kids and bringing them on campus so we can be role models and influences on them,” Fisher co-president junior Owen Harte said.
In addition to the Regatta, trademark Fisher events include its SYR, entitled “The Funk,” and the annual car smash on Fieldhouse Mall.
“The guys buy into working hard on the car smash, the Regatta and tutoring,” Dijak said. “It’s not for a resume. Once they go once, they understand.”
Since the beginning of the school year, a main focus for Fisher’s Hall Council has been sustainability.
“We have a couple of guys who care a lot about that,” Dijak said. “Their plan is to try different strategies in Fisher. They want to get them enough off the ground to take to other halls and to promote environmental consciousness.”
Harte explained that Fisher’s tight-knit sense of community is what makes it stand out among other residence halls at Notre Dame.
“It’s the culture that’s been around for a few years because of Mazz,” Harte said. “He focuses on a culture of helping one’s brother. All guys that live here know that and a supportive community like that is cool. We might not have the nicest or newest dorm but guys wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
Mazzei highlighted Sunday night mass in Fisher as a positive start to the week where residents can grow and dwell in faith together.
“Being a rector is everything I’ve done in Catholic education rolled into one and I love the guys,” Mazzei said. “I share life with them everyday. I don’t have many bad days.”
Both Harte and Dijak emphasized that Fisher’s smaller traditions, such as section football or Ellie’s Deli, are what make Fisher home.
“My favorite small event that’s only within the dorm is Fisher Christmas,” Dijak said. “We don’t like to encroach on Carroll’s big thing. It’s only about an hour but Mazz gets food, there’s a competition to see who can get to the lights first and we decorate each floor.”
As hall president, Harte relishes in deepening community with underclassmen and fostering a brotherhood of support.
“People on the outside look at us and say ‘How can people live there,’” Harte said. “When you step inside it’s what we are in community. We’re not bricks on the outside. It’s what we are on the inside. I love Fisher and everything it has. We are the Cadillac and we are the Cadillac of spirit. Then you know why we live here and why we’re so loyal.”