Four years in review: 2018-2022
Observer Staff Report | Friday, May 13, 2022
Six students lost in four years
In 2019, Notre Dame lost one student. Shortly after he graduated, Chris Westdyk died June 3 after a long battle with cancer. Westdyk was very involved in his dorm, Stanford Hall, serving as a two-time Welcome Weekend ambassador, designer of the Stanford flag and a resident assistant. His friends remember his strong sense of humility and his hardworking nature. In 2022, Stanford Hall hosted a 5k race in his honor.
In 2020, the tri-campus community lost four students. On Jan. 24, senior Annrose Jerry was found dead in St. Mary’s Lake after she had been reported missing three days prior. A member of the Folk Choir, her friends remember Jerry for her love of music and her selflessness.
On March 12, Saint Mary’s senior Isabelle Melchor died. Melchor was a global studies major who was deeply involved at the College. A professor remembered her as inspirational, saying Melchor was always quick to smile despite her health struggles.
On Oct. 24, two Notre Dame first-year students were killed and one sophomore was injured after being struck by a car on Ironwood Rd. shortly after 4 a.m. The two first-years were Valeria Espinel of Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Olivia Laura Rojas of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Espinel was a resident of Badin Hall and friends fondly remembered how she took advantage of every day. Rojas lived in Cavanaugh Hall and was remembered for being a loyal friend above all else.
In 2021, Notre Dame lost one student. In an email sent April 2, the University announced the death of graduate student Majd “Jude Ash” al-Shoufi. A native of the United Arab Emirates and a doctoral candidate in the psychology and peace studies departments, al-Shoufi was also a peace and human rights activist with experience working with trauma-inflicted communities and refugees.
Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli resigns — October 5, 2018
In October 2018, Saint Mary’s President Jan Cervelli suddenly resigned from her position. Cervelli had served as College president for two years. She later filed a civil lawsuit against the College, alleging members of the Board of Trustees pressured her to resign and violated their settlement agreement with her. Cervelli returned to Saint Mary’s in spring 2020 to teach courses in art and environmental studies.
Garth Brooks performs first concert in Notre Dame Stadium history — October 20, 2018
In October 2018, Garth Brooks performed the first full concert in Notre Dame Stadium history. Brooks, the No. 1-selling artist in U.S. history, held a free soundcheck for students before performing for over 84,000 fans. The completion of the Campus Crossroads project inspired the University to begin using the football stadium for events outside of home football games and commencement.
Leggings op-ed spurs protests — March 27, 2019
A controversial letter to the editor from a Catholic mother of four sons sparked controversy on campus. The letter urged Notre Dame women to avoid wearing leggings, claiming they attract inappropriate attention from men. The letter garnered national attention and resulted in a protest on campus for which 1,300 students signed up.
Student Affairs announces new off-campus housing policies — April 11, 2019
In April 2019, the Division of Student Affairs announced off-campus students would lose access to dorm dances and interhall sports teams in an attempt to keep students on campus. Additionally, the University also stripped student ID cards of campus-wide dorm access for safety purposes. Off-campus students reacted strongly, arguing that the policies would fracture the Notre Dame community.
Tri-campus suspends in-person classes due to COVID-19 pandemic — March 11, 2020
On March 11, Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross announced the suspension of all in-person classes until at least April 13, replacing all courses with virtual teaching and other alternative learning options. All University and College-sponsored international programs were also canceled, and students and U.S.-based faculty were directed to return home as soon as possible. By March 18, Notre Dame extended the cancellation of classes to the end of the spring semester, pro-rating students for room and board. Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross followed on March 19.
Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to Supreme Court — October 26, 2020
On October 26, the U.S. Senate confirmed Notre Dame Law School alumna and professor Amy Coney Barrett as an associate justice on the Supreme Court. Justice Barrett’s confirmation sparked on-campus demonstrations both in support and opposition. Further buzz arose from the confirmation after University President Fr. John Jenkins appeared to violate University health and safety protocols when he failed to wear a mask in the White House Rose Garden at a ceremony for Justice Barrett.
University disbands Zahm House — March 15, 2021
On the evening of March 15, residents of Zahm House were informed through a Zoom and email that the dorm would be disbanded. University administrators cited lack of adherence to COVID testing protocols, incidents of vandalism and concerns about the dorm’s culture and conduct. The former Zahm building continues to serve as transitional housing for other dorms, hosting Sorin College residents in the 2021-22 year.
University announces return of full capacity football games — May 26, 2021
Following the conclusion of the 2020-2021 academic year, the University announced Notre Dame Stadium would operate at full capacity for home football games in the fall. The announcement came after a year full of pandemic restrictions that were gradually lifted as the University began administering the vaccine on campus.