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Pangborn Hall returns as permanent men’s residential hall once again, starts traditions

| Friday, December 3, 2021

A sign in the foyer of Pangborn Hall reads “Go and Do Likewise” in the style of the iconic “Play like a Champion Today” sign located inside Notre Dame Stadium. Fr. Bill Dailey, the rector of Pangborn, said he put the sign up to establish a motto and mission for the newly re-established dorm. 

“Once a tradition is begun at Notre Dame, it can feel just as much a part of tradition as the lady on the dome,” he said. 

After more than five years of serving as transitional housing, Pangborn Hall is once again a permanent fixture of residential life. This past semester has seen the residents, hall staff and hall council of the re-founded men’s residence hall come together to build a Notre Dame dorm identity and start their own traditions. 

Griffin Laszlo, a sophomore computer science major and president of Pangborn Hall, said there was a sense of uncertainty at the beginning of the year before the residents began forming floor identity and hall council committees. Since then, he has seen a significant change in attitude in the residents that are now a tight-knit community.

“Seeing kids proud to be in the dorm couldn’t satisfy me any more,” Laszlo said. “Originally, it was all Joe and I. The biggest thing was that turning point where kids were able to see us getting so excited about it that it made them want to be excited about it.”

A former member of the Gateway Program from Sea Girt, New Jersey, Laszlo said he and vice president Joe Oberlies decided to run to “make an impact” on the dorm’s residential culture and the larger perception of Pangborn on campus.

“I want an excited reaction when I tell people what dorm I’m in,” Laszlo said. “We are the underdog on campus.” 

A major factor in building the dorm’s sense of community this year was the large number of Gateway students and Driscoll Scholars that transferred into Pangborn, Dailey said.

Attending the Moreau First Year Experience class and sharing the Gateway program experience gave Pangborn residents “a little bit of a head start … they were plugged into Notre Dame academically and socially,” Dailey said, who was a resident of Pangborn Hall during his first undergraduate year in 1990.

Isabella Volmert | The Observer
The Pangborn Royals are approaching the end of their first semester as a permanent resident hall once again.

Dailey said he has never “sugar coated” to the residents that Pangborn has a reputation for being an older, cinderblock building dorm. However, he said their attitude was what could change that. Hence, he started the tradition of hitting the sign by the front door. 

“‘Go and do likewise’ is a theme of neighborliness and community and is our rallying theme individually and collectively as a dorm,” he said.

Isabella Volmert | The Observer
Residents often tap the “Go and Do Likewise” sign which hangs in Pangborn’s entrance before leaving the dorm, much like the tradition of Notre Dame football’s locker room “Play like a Champion Today” sign.

Laszlo said Dailey’s commitment to Pangborn’s community has made a significant impact on the success of the hall council and culture in the dorm.

The dorm’s current makeup of 115 residents consists of a majority of first-years, with less than 20 upperclassmen. With the capacity to hold 171 residents, Dailey expects the dorm to be filled next year. 

How to create tradition

Laszlo said he faced the task of building a new dorm community, a prominent feature of life at Notre Dame, through “listening to the opinions of others” and then “following through.” 

To begin their mission, Laszlo and Oberlies started researching old traditions. They found in the 1960s, the dorm hung large comedic banners on the building in support of the football team on game days. The hall council quickly took up this tradition and it became a staple of this year’s football season.

Laszlo and other members of Pangborn’s newly established hall council found this picture from 1967 on the Notre Dame Class of 1969’s photo blog website. It depicts members of the dorm with the banner they made ahead of the USC football matchup against the Irish.
Courtesy of @pangbornhallnd on Instagram
Pangborn’s first gameday banner was featured on the @fightingirish Instagram page.

The banner committee’s first work was featured on the @fightingirish official Instagram account.  While hanging banners is an old tradition, game days have also quickly become the rallying space for making new traditions. The residents started practices of jumping in the lake before the first home game and partially shaving their heads.

Both Dailey and Laszlo were proud of the growth of the hall council and the events they have hosted this year, such as cookouts and Saturday’s upcoming SYR, especially since they built the hall government a few weeks into the fall semester. Typical hall elections at Notre Dame take place in the spring semester.

First-year Quinn Kurland, a finance major from Libertyville, Illinois, said his experience in Pangborn has been different than it would be in other residence halls, considering there are few upperclassmen. 

“But we’ve all come together so well,” he said. “There’s such a strong sense of community and that’s the best thing about it for sure.” 

Kurland spoke highly of the hall’s recently formed government and its successful efforts to raise money through its game day concession stand. 

“Everyone has leadership roles, everyone is super involved,” he said. “We started traditions and everyone’s just super proud to be in Pangborn.” 

History

Built in 1955, Pangborn was the University’s 15th residence hall and was converted into a women’s dorm in 1992. In 2016, the Pangborn community moved into newly constructed Flaherty Hall and Pangborn became a “swing dorm,” where residents stayed for a year while their home dorms were renovated. 

Walsh Hall was the first to temporarily occupy Pangborn, followed by Badin Hall and Morissey Manor. From 2019 to 2020, Pangborn served as interim housing for female students who were then given priority housing in newly constructed Johnson Family Hall

During the 2020-2021 school year, Pangborn served as a home for female transfer students and students who could not go abroad due to the pandemic. In early May 2021, the University announced the closure of Zahm Hall’s community and its changed status to swing dorm. It was then announced that Pangborn was to become a permanent men’s residence hall

Dailey said he looks forward to seeing how the students bond even more next year when the traditions will be in their second year.

As the newly revived dorm’s first semester concludes, Laszlo said he is looking forward to hosting alumni guest speaker events — including basketball star and former Chicago Bulls president of basketball operations John Paxson — next semester, in addition to building an online Pangborn alumni network and choosing a signature dorm event. 

“I’m really looking forward to next year and seeing another freshman class in there,” Laszlo said. “For them to be able to see what we built … I can’t wait to see the place packed. It’s going to be a lot of fun.” 

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About Isabella Volmert

Isabella "Issy" Volmert is a senior majoring in English and minoring in theology and journalism, ethics and democracy at the University of Notre Dame. She currently serves The Observer as assistant managing editor. Follow her @ivolmertnews for niche JED Twitter content.

Contact Isabella