Lewis chicks embrace community, events
Christopher Parker | Friday, January 25, 2019
When asked about their first memory of their dorm, freshmen Katie Lane and Emma Gran both answered resoundingly, “everyone was dressed in chicken suits.” Welcome to Lewis Hall.
Built in 1965 through a donation by Julia Lewis in honor of her husband Frank, Lewis is the oldest women’s hall that has only ever housed women.
Senior Alexandra O’Connor, a resident assistant (RA) in Lewis, said that the dorm was originally built to house Sisters of the Holy Cross seeking degrees. The dorm was subsequently opened up to graduate laywomen, and eventually the first women admitted to Notre Dame called Lewis home in 1972.
“The graduate women lived on the top two floors, and the nuns continued to live on the bottom two floors. So it was like half convent, half apartment building,” she said.
Lewis’ courtyard overlooking the lake was a place of quiet reflection for the nuns living there. This focus on faith remains strong in Lewis Hall. Rector Rachelle Simon said the dorm has a unique tradition of Lucenarium, a candlelit evening prayer for reflecting on the Gospel.
Dorm vice president and junior Amanda Bono said Lewis is also unique because its size has no adverse impact on the sense of community.
“Even though we are a super big girls’ dorm, we’re close-knit like a small dorm would be. We’re really good at being welcoming and sharing life together,” she said.
Assistant rector (AR) Megan Ball echoed this point, saying that Lewis’ larger size does not discourage, but rather builds community.
“Lewis is like living in a big city — lots of people doing lots of different things. There’s something for everyone to do,” Ball said. “We can foster a lot of individual interests while still being part of a big community.”
Junior and hall president Marissa Brennan said that Lewis is a dorm steeped in fun student traditions, from its week-long spirit celebration to the famous Lewis House of Pancakes, known colloquially as LHOP.
“We have Crush Week every year, which is a week of celebrating Lewis women. We go around serenading all of our dates for a dance on Saturday,” she said. “For LHOP, every floor makes a different breakfast food, and all the proceeds go to a local food bank. That’s something that everyone’s involved it. It’s a great way to bond.”
This year, LHOP raised $5,500 in one night for charity. Over 1,100 people came through the building. In fact, because of this year’s massive success, Brennan discussed another idea in the works.
“On April 12, there will be an LHOP 2.0 with desserts instead: cookies, brownies, much, much more. We’re hoping to get dorms more engaged,” she said.
For O’Connor, the best part of being a member of hall staff is community.
“Because we are one of the largest, there’s 8 RAs and two ARs and a rector. It can seem intimidating, but the friendship and the fellowship we develop within the staff is so genuine and fun,” O’Connor said. “It’s translated very well to the residents of the building.”
The mascot that made such an impact on those two freshmen was unofficially started by a student in the 1980s who called all of her Lewis friends “chickens.” The name stuck, and over 30 years later, the ladies of Lewis are still proud to be called chicks.