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Keenan Hall staff, president discuss events, history

| Friday, January 18, 2019

Not many college residencies can claim there is an Instagram account devoted solely to documenting the dorm’s nightly battles over who claims the leftover pizza.

“It’s almost like we’ve got our own ‘finsta,’” Keenan president and junior Tom Walsh said. “Every dorm has social media, but we’re the only dorm with a burner account.”

When you look past the facade of Italian food brawls, however, you discover a brotherhood built strongly on the foundations of loyalty, service and stripteasing for the amusement of peers. Welcome to Keenan Hall.

Built in 1957, the dorm was named after Notre Dame alumnus James Keenan and dedicated to his son, who died shortly before starting his freshman year of college.

Almost as well-known as the dorm itself, of course, is Keenan’s hotly anticipated signature event — the Keenan Revue, a comedy, music and stripping extravaganza that allows the humor and creativity of Knights to be exhibited to the student body every February.

The Revue, which Walsh said drew around 5,000 attendees last year, was started as an alternative to college drinking events and has continued this tradition of light-hearted, culturally relevant humor since its inception in 1976.

Observer File Photo

Keenan residents perform in the 41st annual Keenan Revue: State of the Revuenion.

“Nobody escapes criticism,” law student and assistant rector Jonathan Schall said. “Everybody gets poked fun at a little bit, and I think when the entire campus community can come together and have a good laugh, even at ourselves, I think people like that, and I think that’s a big draw.”

In light of the Revue’s success, however, Walsh has made it one of his goals as president to aid in giving Keenan a stronger presence on campus beyond the Revue.

“[The Revue is] a 43-year-old tradition now, which is older than a lot of the dorms on campus, so we felt like we needed something to really give ourselves identity,” Walsh said. “We wanted something to really help Keenan guys find that sense of what it means to be a Knight.”

The answer to this question, it turns out, came in the form of a Keenan Spirit Week last October, which consisted of events ranging anywhere from a .5K race on North Quad to a joint talk with Stanford Hall about modern chivalry, all culminating with Keenan’s annual Disco Roll.

Helping shape this new identity is rector Jimmy Tull, who joined the Keenan community in 2017.

“[Tull] said there might be the perception that Keenan loves Keenan,” Schall said. “A path that he charted for us that I think everyone’s really bought into is we want the reputation that Keenan loves. Period.”

The Knights have championed this mission through their continued relationship with Dismas House, a sporting equipment drive benefiting the local Boys & Girls Club and its “Muddy Sunday” volleyball tournament, which raises money to support Habitat for Humanity.

However, after the last slice of pizza has been claimed and the lights fade on another Revue season, what makes these residents truly proud to call themselves Knights is the community they form between one another within “the cinder palace.”

“Even if all the events stopped, nothing happened … if there was no Revue, if there was no Muddy Sunday, if there [were] no trips to Dismas House, if there was no Keenan-Stanford game … I would still have 250 best friends,” Walsh said. “The most amazing people in my life are the guys I met in Keenan.”

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