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Make it an outdoorsy girl semester

| Thursday, October 1, 2020

Not to be dramatic, but I would literally die for Library Lawn. Every inch of campus’ newest installation brings me immeasurable joy — the lush, green lawns, dotted with fire-pits and cornhole boards; the tall, pleasant pergolas, housing safe student gatherings and serving major cottagecore vibes; and the dazzling hanging lights, casting the quad in a heavenly, golden glow. My faith in the University might be at an all-time low this semester, but when I lay my eyes on this revolutionary outdoor student gathering space, I can almost muster up enough school spirit to buy a blue and gold bumper sticker.

But Library Lawn isn’t the only new outdoor area on campus that restores my faith in Notre Dame and the world at large — if you pay close attention, you might catch glimpses of our quads transforming before your very eyes. Chairs, tables, fire-pits, umbrellas, those strange-looking two-person rocking chair fortresses on South Quad — slowly but surely, our campus’ quads are being colonized. Furniture? On my quads? It’s more likely than you think.

COVID-19, our formidable foe during these unprecedented times, has transformed most of this semester’s on-campus gatherings into outside events, and our formerly barren (but still beautiful) quads into furnished and fully functional living spaces. So, I have a proposition. Bear with me, please.

We celebrated hot girl summer in 2019, immediately followed by an adventurous hot girl semester, a studious smart girl semester and a contentious Christian girl autumn. Now, as the world begins to emerge from quarantine, the human race is met with a crucial question: What comes next? 

Fear not, human race, for I have the answer: outdoorsy girl semester.

“What in the strange-looking, two-person rocking chair fortress is outdoorsy girl semester?” you may ask. “Do I have to sign up somewhere?” No. “Is any prior experience required?” No — newcomers welcomed. “Can only women participate?” No — all genders welcomed. “Isn’t it too cold to be outdoorsy in South Bend?” No, of course not — throw on a parka.

But in order to fully comprehend the essence of outdoorsy girl semester, we must first understand the cultural significance of its predecessor: hot girl summer. Rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who created and popularized the term, explained that hot girl summer is about “women — and men — just being unapologetically them,” hyping each other up, having fun and paying no mind to others’ opinions.

Now, if you want to picture outdoorsy girl semester, just picture all that, but instead of beaches and poolsides, you’re in the wonderful city of South Bend, on a sunny, temperate Indiana day — laying on a blanket with your roommate in the middle of North Quad, swaying back and forth in rocking chairs as you laugh with your friends on South Quad, hanging out in an Eno on the shore of St. Joseph’s Lake. Outdoorsy girl semester is already all around us — we just have to welcome it.

And I know what you’re thinking: “Evan, it’s already October! The leaves are starting to fall! There still aren’t space heaters in the dining hall tents! I wish you could’ve told us about this revolutionary cultural phenomenon sooner!” 

To which I respond: Chill. Take it easy. All this worrying isn’t very outdoorsy girl semester of you.

In actuality, I think now is the perfect time to start. Don’t let this lateness hold you back. The peak of hot girl summer came surprisingly late, actually — Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Hot Girl Summer” featuring Nicki Minaj and Ty Dolla $ign wasn’t released until the beginning of August 2019, and the music video dropped in September. It’s never too late to begin your outdoorsy girl semester.

So climb that tree. Rock in that rocking chair. Lay out that blanket on the quad. Savor these last few weeks of warm-ish South Bend weather. And hey, it doesn’t have to stop there — make it another outdoorsy girl semester when we come back for the spring semester in February. Just remember one thing: If they try to take away Library Lawn, we riot.

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

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About Evan McKenna

Evan is a senior at Notre Dame from Morristown, Tennessee majoring in psychology and English with a concentration in creative writing. He is currently serving as the Managing Editor of The Observer and believes in the immutable power of a well-placed em dash. Reach him at [email protected] or @evanjmckenna on Twitter.

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