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Are we really that different?

| Monday, October 26, 2020

In April 2019, I submitted my deposit to commit to attending Saint Mary’s College. 

I loved my time at SMC. Walking around campus, I felt like I belonged. I loved being able to come to Notre Dame and then return to my quiet sanctuary in Regina Hall. There were professors at Saint Mary’s that changed my life, like Professor Sayre. I made friends with other women who were passionate, intelligent and inspiring. I would have gladly spent the rest of my college career as a Saint Mary’s girl. 

But I always had a dream of attending Notre Dame. I applied to transfer after a little over one semester at SMC. This past summer, I made the switch and committed to ND’s sophomore class. 

Throughout this semester, I’ve already visited Saint Mary’s at least four times. I love Notre Dame, but Saint Mary’s will always hold a special place in my heart. In fact, I firmly believe that I will always be a Belle. That’s why I was extremely disappointed when I woke up this past Wednesday to a few of my Saint Mary’s friends sending me a post created by the @ndchicks Instagram page. 

The post was a part of a series where the account assigned characters from a few various television series to Notre Dame dorms based on their personalities. On the most recent post from the series, the Instagram account assigned a character from the Vampire Diaries to “SMC” instead of a Notre Dame dorm. The description beside the character’s photo said “reformed party girl that wants to find a husband.” This is how the @ndchicks Instagram page portrays Saint Mary’s girls to their over 8000 followers. 

I’m not going to pass judgement on the account or the account owner(s), because I think that this post was just a symptom of a larger issue: Belles are looked at as women who only chose Saint Mary’s so that they could marry a Notre Dame boy. I can tell you first hand, that isn’t why I chose Saint Mary’s as a high school senior. 

I chose Saint Mary’s after attending their Meet Me at The Avenue event, where I saw the tight-knit sisterhood between not only current students, but faculty and alumnae as well. I remember being separated from my family during a prospective students’ activity. When I finally returned, I told them that this is the place I wanted to go. I knew I wanted to be a Belle. 

Furthermore, I knew that Saint Mary’s would allow me to participate in clubs, organizations and activities at Notre Dame, like mock trial and even The Observer. I never wanted to attend Saint Mary’s to “find a husband,” and even after I transferred, my education is still my priority, just like it is to every Belle I’ve ever met. 

Attending Notre Dame doesn’t inherently make us any smarter, cooler or better than our sisters across the street. As a Notre Dame girl, I’m willing to take the first step to end the “ND chick vs. Belle” rivalry, and that’s to admit that the only thing that makes me different from a Belle is the place I sleep at night. I encourage all Notre Dame women to take a trip to The Avenue and maybe even have a meal from the Noble Family Dining Hall. Smile at a Belle and ask her what she’s majoring in. Don’t cut yourself off from an entire campus full of amazing young women just because you’ve been told to. 

ND chicks, let’s do better. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Veronica Navarro

Veronica Navarro is a junior at Notre Dame from South Bend, IN currently serving as The Observer's Social Media Editor. Navarro is also a member of the Notre Dame Mock Trial team and a resident of Flaherty Hall.

Contact Veronica