Ben Testani | Thursday, March 5, 2020
When this week concludes, I will have a mere one-sixteenth of my time as an undergraduate remaining. The temperature has crept above 40° for consecutive days. The blinds in my house are open to let in precious sunlight. St. Patrick’s Day looms large, as Irish across campus prepare to celebrate the holiday on campus for the first time in years. My Friday class was made optional, meaning I have required class only twice a week. All of these factors signify just one thing — it is senior spring.
There are many sentimental feelings and thoughts to process. What did my time at Notre Dame mean to me? Did I get everything out of it that I could have? Do I regret choosing this University out of the thousands around the world? After graduation, will I see my friends again? But March of senior year is not the time for this level of emotional depth. With academics on cruise control for most seniors and job offers or graduate school acceptances largely secured, it is victory lap time. We made it. And now it is time to have fun. Without further ado, I present my defining guide on what the class of 2020 should attempt to accomplish before May 17.
Never set foot in Hesburgh Library again
Let’s face it, you are not doing homework. You might tell your mom you have homework when she calls at 8:30 p.m. on a Thursday night, but you and I both know you are racing your lab partners to see who can get to Brothers first. I posit if you are not doing any homework in the first place, Duncan Student Center is better than Hesburgh in every way. It is closer to the parking lot, Mendoza and DeBartolo. There are more friends around to distract you. The people working the restaurants in Duncan have yet to be charged with fraud for stealing our credit card information. You can lie and tell your crush that you are on the way to work out if you run into them in Duncan. None of this is possible in Hesburgh.
Pool party on South Quad
Freshman year, when it was unseasonably warm in late March, one of my good friends in Alumni ordered two kiddie pools from Amazon and set them up on South Quad. I designed a filter for Snapchat, and we dubbed ourselves the South Quad Pool Squad. It was fun but has potential for greatness. First off, now almost every senior is of legal drinking age. Imagine a designated kiddie pool for adult refreshments. Secondly, with more hall involvement, this pool party could be a serious event. Morrissey Manor men mixing it up with the women of Howard, while Alumni rocks their Hawaiian shirts and Badin shows off the innate connection with water that earned them the nickname the Frogs. Dillon, however, is not invited. Baumer is not South Quad.
Use the bathroom in a building you have never been inside
I have only had class in a select few buildings on campus. Having never attended another university, I have no idea if this is normal at other colleges, but to me it seems weird. If you are in Arts and Letters, you spend your time in O’Shag and DeBart trying to convince your parents your major is relevant. If you are in Mendoza, you look down on the rest of campus from Mendoza. If you are in the College of Science, enjoy walking to Jordan in January. There are buildings I have walked by hundreds of times and never stepped foot inside. That chemistry building by the library, either hall of architecture and the Eck Visitors Center near the bookstore are a few examples. What better way to get to know a building than to find its most secluded bathroom? Next time you walk by a building and realize you have never been inside of it, pop in and use the bathroom. Whatever you do, however, do not try to visit your old roommate who stayed on campus in your former hall because you cannot swipe in anymore.
Get something wrong on a homework assignment
Notre Dame students are nerds. This is not a hot take. Our school is slowly climbing up the national university rankings. Admissions standards are already to the point where I question if I would still be accepted. Students voluntarily seek permission from their deans to overload on courses each semester. We are a nerdy school. I fear at times this nerdiness is distracting from potential senior year shenanigans. I challenge my fellow seniors to let themselves get less than an A on a homework assignment at some point in the last eight weeks. I promise Deloitte, Goldman Sachs or Yale Law will not revoke your place this fall because you get one question wrong on your senior-elective finance course problem set.
Write a letter to the editor of The Observer
The best part of The Observer is the Viewpoint section. That is a scientific fact. But what might surprise my loyal readers it that the best part of Viewpoint is not the featured columnists such as myself but rather the Letters to the Editor. We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the leggings letter. Last month, a letter to the editor going unpublished led to a candidate for student body president impermissibly accessing the paper’s website. Another letter called Father John I. Jenkins a disgrace, which even I think is a little harsh. Letters to the Editor have consequences and power. Do you have reason to believe your psychology professor rides to school in a UFO? What about 500 words about why the music selection at Newf’s is responsible for the rise of Bernie Sanders? Maybe you read about the lack of pizza in South Bend compared to “New York City” and were inspired to write about how you visited Tokyo once and it is downright unacceptable how many more sushi options there were in Japan compared to Indiana. The more ridiculous your opinion is, the better. Sign your name to your ramblings and send it in. I am sure Nelisha Silva will thank you!
Maybe all of these ideas sound horrible to you. The secret — that is fine too. Make your own fun for the last eight weeks. Whether you are traveling to India or Indianapolis next week (or staying here, as I have done for past breaks), remember how it feels to be completely and totally relaxed and devoid of responsibility. In two quick months, we graduate. You will soon be responsible for paying your cell phone bill, making your own doctor’s appointments and cooking something besides Kraft each night. After those two months are over, you may not see fellow members of the class of 2020 until a football game in October, until your sister’s graduation in three years or until we have a class reunion in 10 years. So do not hold back. Ask out that cute guy from your senior seminar. Run the Holy Half, even if it takes you four hours. Stop going to the library. And please, write a Letter to the Editor. It will all be worth it.
Ben Testani is a senior studying international economics, Arabic and Spanish. He comes to Notre Dame via Central New York and while currently residing off campus, will always be a proud Alumni Dawg. He welcomes feedback at [email protected] or @BenTestani on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.