Duncan Hall emphasizes community, wins Men’s Hall of the Year
Kay Bontempo | Monday, April 29, 2019
Founded in 2008, Duncan Hall occupies West Quad near McGlinn, Keough and Ryan Halls. Home to 232 Highlanders, Duncan is one of the newest dorms on campus and is known to some for its large rooms and pleasant accommodations. The hall recently distinguished itself by winning 2019 Men’s Hall of the Year, something many Highlanders amount to its strong sense of community.
This year is not the first time Duncan has been recognized with an award.
“In 2016, [the Hall Presidents Council] recognized Duncan Hall as the ‘Men’s Hall 7% Award for Inclusion,’” rector Nhat Nguyen said. “It was not the Men’s Hall of the Year … but for me, the most inclusive dorm award is one of the greatest accomplishments we could receive.”
Junior and outgoing hall vice president Chris Florimonte agreed that inclusivity has always been important in the dorm.
“We made it our priority to build programming that would promote inclusivity and organically build a community,” Florimonte said.
Duncan residents can be spotted around campus by their bright green blazers, a custom begun in 2013 to combat the misconception that Duncan — as a brand-new dorm — lacked traditions or community, Nguyen said. The men of Duncan often wear the blazers Fridays or for hall events, as well as during the Duncan Classic, a campus-wide golf competition taking place every April. All proceeds from the Classic go to St. Baldrick’s, the same cancer research charity which sponsors The Bald and the Beautiful head-shaving events.
“The infamous Duncan Hall green blazer is obviously something that Duncan has and the other halls do not,” Nguyen said. “Nonetheless, we are not exclusive; University Ushers wear green blazers on home football weekend. As for who wears it better, I’ll let the readers decide.”
Duncan Hall is also known for its signature formal dance, the Highlander Highrise. The men of Duncan share the annual experience of a formal dance in Chicago’s elegant Willis Tower, formerly the Sears Tower), something many residents cite as a special event which distinguishes the dorm from other halls. Duncan rents out the 103rd floor SkyDeck for the night, allowing guests to dance above the Chicago skyline. To top off the night, the formal includes the Dunkies, a series of humorous awards in the style of the Dundies from TV series “The Office” which are given to outstanding hall residents.
Overall, Nguyen cited the hall motto of “Community, Brotherhood and Respect” as a driving force behind his work with Duncan Hall residents.
“It is the people in the hall that makes it a great place to live and serve,” Nguyen said. “Sharing life with the men of Duncan is the reason and purpose of my ministry here at Notre Dame. The guys are kind, generous, energetic, creative, service-oriented [and] smart.”
The Men’s Hall of the Year 2019 award came as a surprise, Florimonte said.
“We realized we were definitely in the running, but it was never expected,” Florimonte said. “Our hall government didn’t go out of its way to make events to increase our chances of Hall of the Year.”
Instead, Florimonte said they focused on making the dorm a pleasant and welcoming place for all its residents.
“Duncan wouldn’t be Duncan without all 232 residents,” he said. “This award is something our entire dorm can take pride in.”
Nguyen said he recognizes the value of the awards and the role the the hall staff and council played in earning them.
“To be recognized for our efforts in the way we build community in Duncan Hall is a great honor and privilege,” Nguyen said. “The staff and hall council deserve all the credit.”