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Pasquerilla West rector, president discuss female empowerment through community

| Friday, February 8, 2019

In 1972, Notre Dame began accepting female undergraduates. However, these women lived in dorms that had originally housed men. This continued until Pasquerilla West Hall was established in 1981.

Donated by Frank and Sylvia Pasquerilla, the Mod Quad hall — nicknamed PW or “P-Dub” — was the first created for the purpose of housing women and the first to feature air conditioning.

The dorm’s mascot has changed over the years, with brief stints as the Plaid Wave and the Pink Wizards, but it has most recently been settled as the Purple Weasel. The hall’s current president, sophomore Carolyn Cleary, said she is unsure why the Purple Weasel was selected, but that the mascot is fitting for the hall’s community.

Anna Mason | The Observer
Pasquerilla West was established in 1981 as the first residence hall built specifically to house women and the first dorm with air conditioning.

“I think Purple Weasel is great,” she said. “Also, a pack of weasels is called a confusion, which I think embodies some of our personality. … We are a very strong-personality dorm and sometimes we find ourselves in that confusion, but always seem to break out of it, and that’s through our extremely strong community.”

The community experienced change when PW’s former rector, Sister Mary Jane Hahner, retired last year after 10 years of service. Before leaving, she crowned the ladies of PW “The Powerful Women of the Dub,” which has been modified into the hall’s new motto, “Powerful Women.”

“Our new rector, Emily Orsini, is a feminist through and through … so it was a very easy transition from rector to rector,” Cleary said.

Orsini echoed Cleary’s sentiment, saying female empowerment is something she tries to encourage in her job as rector.

“For me, that’s a personal value … empowering not only women, but others,” she said. “How are we empowering women to not compare [themselves] to others … to live in a society where [they] feel supported and loved?”

She noted her first months as rector have been met with excitement from the women of PW to embrace their new motto.

Cleary explained this excitement and said during her term as president, she plans to focus on bringing the PW women together.

“My goal this year was to build community from the inside out,” Cleary said.

She said she felt the hall community grow through Queen Week, one of the hall’s signature events, which ended last week. During Queen Week, PW hosts intra-hall competitions and service events, which raised over $500 this year. The week ends with a formal, where a PW freshman is named the hall’s “queen.” This year’s queen was Maggie Murdock of the 2B section.

In March, PW will be celebrating Women’s History Month with its new signature event, “Women Empowerment Month.”

Cleary said PW will be collaborating with every women’s dorm, and Orsini added men’s dorms will also be included in the festivities.

“I think this Women Empowerment Month idea came from all of us [in PW] … this first year, it’s all about ‘what do we want this to look like?’ and there’s going to be a lot of growth and development, but I think the big ideas are … having speakers come in, having some key events and celebrating all the powerful women,” Orsini said.

As PW is newer to campus relative to dorms on God Quad and South Quad, Orsini said its traditions have been able to change with the residents.

“There’s so much love and spirit and energy here … I think the story and narrative of P-Dub is continuing,” Orsini said.

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About Ashton Weber

Ashton is a current Sophomore majoring in Economics and FTT, and minoring in the Gallivan Journalism Program. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but now resides in Flaherty Hall. Feel free to contact her about anything... literally, anything. She is often bored.

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