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Spooky Season for Cinephiles

Today is the first day of fall and spooky season is upon us! What better way to get into the mood than to put on a good halloween movie. From Hocus Pocus to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, halloween classics range a variety of genres. And while these classics are mentioned on every list, I thought I would create my own. This time, of the more forgotten Spooky Season films. 

Practical Magic 

This movie is the most slept on Halloween movie out there. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as witch sisters? What could get better than that? Don’t be turned off from the 23% on rotten tomatoes, critics don’t know anything; the audience score for this movie is 73%! I watched this movie for the first time years ago, and I can not listen to crickets the same way again. The movie follows two estranged sisters as they navigate the world of romance with magical powers. 

While there are definitely some dark themes (i.e. abusive boyfriends and necromancy), the overall movie is not scary, although I would not recommend it for a super young audience. 

Spookiness Scale 6/10

Fall Vibes 9/10

Over the Garden Wall 

I know, this is not technically a movie. But, this limited series is the perfect thing to watch to get into the Halloween spirit. This animated show follows two brothers as they go on a journey through a mysterious forest. The brothers (voiced by Elijah Wood and Collin Dean) find a plethora of funky creatures along the way. While it is not as spooky as some of the other films on this list, this series is the definition of Autumn Vibes. If you are the type of person who likes more lighthearted films, but still want a hint of spookiness, I would most definitely recommend this. 

Spookiness Scale 2/10 

Fall Vibes 10/10 

The Invisible Man (2020) 

If I’m being honest, I am not the biggest fan of Elisabeth Moss. However, she killed it in this role. The Invisible Man is based off of the H.G. Wells novel of the same name, however, there is a more modern twist to it. If you enjoy thrillers, this would be my top pick for you. I was on the edge of my seat for the entirety of this movie. While The Invisible Man does not have as many fall vibes as the other ones on this list, the spookiness scale definitely is highly. This movie is not for the faint of heart, there is domestic abuse and violence sprinkled throughout, but overall this movie is definitely worth the watch. 

Spookiness Scale 8/10 

Fall Vibes 1/10

Murder Party 

I have never heard anyone else talk about this film. Originally, I put it on as a background to doing work, but quickly I could not stop watching. The premise is just genius. A man with no friends picks up an invitation to a “murder party” on the side of the road. Believing it to just be a quirky halloween invite, the man attends, only to find out that the party is in fact to murder their guest list. I know, it sounds grim. However, Jeremy Saulnier somehow finds the perfect combination of seriousness and comedy to make this film work. 

Spookiness Scale 11/10 

Fall Vibes 8/10 

Spirited Away 


The entire Studio Ghibli collection deserves a spot on this list. Spirited Away was my favorite film growing up. It follows a young girl, Chihiro Ogino, as she travels through the spirit world to save her parents. For a grown adult, this movie is not scary. But, as a young girl I had to cover my eyes for a good portion of this film. With ghosts, witches and dragons, this movie is two hours of fantasticism.

It is animated, but don’t let that turn you away! Studio Ghibli puts out some of the best movies of all time, and Spirited Away deserves a spot on that list. 

Spookiness Scale 8/10 

Fall Vibes 7/10

Hereditary 

There are hundreds of true horror movies I could have included on my list. The Conjuring and Insidious are go-tos, The Shining is just a classic or maybe I should have chosen the Cabin in The Woods, which I think has one of the best premises of all horror movies. But no, I decided on Hereditary. Yes, Hereditary is a well known horror movie, but I love this film so much that I can’t help but hype it up even more. While in the theaters, I saw this movie 6 times. Since then, I have watched it ten more times. And each time, I notice a new detail Ari Aster included. 

There are so many iconic scenes in this film, and the last 15 minutes will have you screaming the entire time. I don’t even think I can tell you too much about the premise without spoiling the mastery of this movie, but it follows a family after the death of their grandmother. There are classic jump scares, a ton of gore and ghosts and witches to top it off.  

Spookiness scale 9/10

Fall Vibes 2/10

So, as the season begins to shift, bundle up with a pumpkin spice candle and a bag of popcorn and turn on whatever flick best fits your vibe!

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Observer Editorial: Let’s create a safer campus

Being back on campus means getting back into the swing of things. Whether that means getting used to school work routines, friend groups or even drinking and going out, it’s not always easy. In addition to a list of resources from our rolodex last week, we want to not forget general reminders that can go a long way in keeping you and your friends safe.

Have each others’ backs

Going out to a bar, a party or even dinner can be fun. Unfortunately, what can start as a great night can take a turn for the worse if we aren’t there for each other. When you go out, make sure you go with friends you trust. Watch out for over-consumption, and respect each other when someone says they’ve had enough to drink, or simply don’t want to. And, help enforce that answer if someone else won’t respect it. 

If a friend finds themselves in a dangerous situation, call the authorities for help — even if people in the group have been drinking underage. Indiana’s Lifeline Law provides immunity for anyone seeking help from law enforcement for a friend who needs medical attention due to alcohol. Don’t let the fear of getting in trouble keep you from protecting — or saving — your friends. 

If you see someone outside of your friend group who might need help, reach out to them. Make sure they are okay and invite them to come home with your group if they seem alone or in an uncomfortable situation. You may not be comfortable with this yet, and that’s okay. One great way to become more comfortable with helping others is to complete GreeNDot training. Bystander intervention is an important resource — the more people who know how to use it, the safer our community can be.

Watch out for yourself, too

No one knows your limits better than you do. If you haven’t drank before, pace yourself. If you have, still pace yourself and listen to your body. It’s not the same every time, and other factors can have an effect on how your night goes. Be careful not to put your drink down, leave it with anyone else or place it out of your sight for too long. If you think you see someone else’s drink tampered with, tell them. 

Don’t walk alone at night 

When you’re in unfamiliar places, travel in packs. Walking home with friends can be convenient, but it’s also important to make sure you’re careful. Even if you Uber to different dorms a few feet from each other, make sure you have a system to let friends know you’re home. Send a quick text saying “Made it!” or even something as simple as “Home.” If you have to be alone, call someone. You don’t have to talk. They can just continue whatever they are doing while you stay alert for what’s going on around you. If that doesn’t work for you, set up some kind of system that will. Another option to help you make it home safely is the new ND Safe App. There you can find several resources including safety options like a virtual walkhome. 

For students heading to Saint Mary’s, Blinkie is always a safe and reliable option. Blinkie runs Sunday through Thursday 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Friday and Saturday 9 p.m. to 4 a. m. Times will be adjusted as it becomes darker out earlier. For Saint Mary’s students heading back to campus after Blinkie’s hours SMCurity (Saint Mary’s Campus Safety) can always be called. They are able to pick students up from the Grotto bus stop and drive them back to Saint Mary’s.     

These preventative measures are especially important this time of year. The start of fall semester through Thanksgiving break has been dubbed “the Red Zone” by the MeToo Movement. More than 50% of sexual assault instances on college campuses occur in that window, and it is especially unsafe for women — even those who know their campus well. Walking home with a group and having friends you trust to check-in with are two ways to make your evenings feel a little safer and a bit more manageable. 

You don’t have to drink alcohol

The social pressure to drink, while more monitored in some ways than other college cultures, is still present. Whether at dissos, a house party or a pregame, drinking is often a big part of people’s evening plans. But it doesn’t have to be. If you want to go out, meet new people and hit different events throughout the year, try FlipSide, a Notre Dame club that provides activity alternatives without the social pressures of drinking. You can also go out to dinner, bowl or see a movie. Or even if you’re at one of those dissos or weekend parties with friends, you still don’t have to drink. Bring a water bottle and have fun with your friends anyways. Drinking is not a requirement at these events, and if anyone makes it seem like it is, that’s a good time to leave. 

On the other hand, a night in can be one of your most memorable and fun nights on campus. Order a pizza, decompress, do a face mask, paint your nails — anything that isn’t homework — and just relax for the evening. It’s a great way to spend time with friends, catch up about your week and take a moment to take care of yourself. 

Look out for your mental and physical wellness

Getting a reasonable amount of sleep is a game-changer. Studies show that sleep deprivation has profound effects on human health in many different facets of life. It may seem like a pipe dream to get seven hours of sleep every night, but repeated sleep loss can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety, hypertension and diabetes. It may even take longer for you to recover from your case of the freshman plague.

Anxiety and depression mixed with sleep deprivation can create a positive feedback loop of worsening mental health. When you are feeling anxious or depressed, you may get less sleep, and less sleep will worsen your symptoms.

When we start to neglect little acts of self-care like getting enough sleep, taking care of friends, drinking water and spending time with loved ones, our overall wellness is impacted. Checking in on each other shouldn’t stop at the edge of your social circles. If you see someone struggling, whether it be on a night out or just because of a bad day, offer a hand. 

Now that we are a third of the way through the semester, classes are in full swing and football season fatigue is kicking in. Keep taking care of yourself and others. Small acts make a difference.

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Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone

“Do not fear, for I am with you, be not afraid, for I am your God.” (Isaiah 41:10)

These words echo in the hearts of many of us in the Notre Dame family. The past few years have been strenuous, to say the least, both for our school and our country. We students have never before experienced such unrest, turmoil and division. In the challenges and hardships of our everyday lives, it is so easy to forget that our Lord God is with us in all things.

We as a nation overturned an immense court decision that will have an effect on the lives of our families, our friends and our peers. In a world filled with death, we have truly taken the first step toward building a culture of life. For those unaware of the existent networks of support, protection, dependence, radical hospitality and abundant love for women in crisis, this decision understandably evokes a lot of fear.

In a post-Roe world, our society must remember the responsibility we have to each other: to support and protect the dignity and value of every human life, mother and child. We as human beings are intrinsically dependent on one another. We must rely on others for support and care, providing them the same in return.

We must learn to be not afraid. We must embrace the understanding that we are not alone. We must embrace the call to abundantly love and serve one another. In the words of the Gospel, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (John 4:18).

We see the division on our campus, and in our nation, on the issue of abortion. We understand the fear and anxiety of those who are uncertain of what the future holds. It is with all this in mind that we call each and every one of you to join us in reflecting upon our role in creating a society with respect and support for all human life.

As stated by Professor O. Carter Snead, Director of the Notre Dame De Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, in a post-Roe America, it has never been more important to ensure the “intrinsic equal dignity and value of every human life and to create a society where every child (born and unborn), mother and family is welcomed into a network of support and protection and loved unconditionally, from conception throughout the human lifespan.”

In accordance with the mission of the University and the Catholic Church, we embrace the fact that “appropriate and effective programs of support for new life must be implemented, with special closeness to mothers who, even without the help of the father, are not afraid to bring their child into the world” (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae).

By supporting local and national organizations and initiatives, maternity leave policies, childcare benefits, adoption and foster care, education, housing, employment and health care, we are prepared to show women that they need not be afraid and that they will never be alone. We reflect this sentiment in our theme for this year’s Respect Life Week programming: Be Not Afraid: You Are Not Alone.

This Respect Life Week will feature prayer, service and educational initiatives as we remind one another to trust in God, remain peaceful in uncertainty and support one another in our needs both big and small. Supporting each person’s unique and intrinsic dignity begins with recognizing the gift that your life is to others. God is with you in all things, He has a plan for you and He will never leave you alone.

We invite you to join us in welcoming Robin Sertell, author of Miracles Happen in the Wilderness and known for her story of surviving three separate abortion attempts while in her mother’s womb. Her keynote address, Abortion Isn’t Final: Exposing the secrets that the abortion industry doesn’t want you to know, will be held in the LaFortune Ballroom on September 29th at 7 pm.

Gather with us after 10 am Basilica Mass on Sunday, September 25th for brunch and fellowship in the LaFortune Ballroom. Partner with us in supporting mothers in a post-Roe world as we hold a week-long maternity clothing drive for the Family Resource Center and volunteer at the Women’s Care Center. Pray with us for the lives lost to abortion as we hold a memorial for the unborn on Wednesday, September 28th. A full schedule of the week’s events can be found here.

We invite you to join us on our mission this year, to abundantly and joyfully love and support others and to discover in return the fruits of a society that understands the nature of the human condition: we are dependent on one another, we support one another and no one, truly, is alone.

In life and love,

Merlot Fogarty
President Notre Dame Right to Life

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Religion is for Democrats too, not just Republicans

You wouldn’t be alone in associating religion with the Republican Party and secularism with the Democratic Party. Over the last several decades, the rise of the Religious Right has cemented the fact that the Republican Party is dominated by white evangelicals inserting religious views into the party platform. Today, that sentiment is only reinforced as Republican candidates infuse Christianity into their campaign strategy. At Republican rallies this year, we’ve witnessed praise music, prayer, and other practices typically associated with religious worship. These religious practices at campaign events aren’t superfluous either, as Republican candidates call to end the separation between church and state and declare the United States a Christian nation. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has struggled with religion due to the diverse religious and non-religious portions of its membership. In an effort to not alienate voters, Democrats have avoided religious rhetoric, often joined by criticism that they aren’t doing enough outreach to religious voters. 

However, that appears to be changing. During the 2020 election, a significant number of Democrats engaged in religious outreach. During the primary campaign, then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg routinely referenced his faith to demonstrate that Democrats can be religious too. In one debate, Buttigieg employed a religious offensive against the Republican Party for hypocrisy between its platform and profession of Christianity. Other presidential hopefuls like Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and then-Senator Kamala Harris also utilized religious rhetoric, speaking about their connection to G-d and specifically Christianity. President Joe Biden worked on extensive outreach to white Catholic and white evangelical voters, reducing former President Donald Trump’s performance among those groups enough to help solidify his victory. 

Religion also made an appearance with both Democratic candidates for the two seats in the 2020-2021 U.S. Senate elections in Georgia. Senators Warnock and Ossoff’s election was a pivotal moment for the Democratic Party, securing a majority in the Senate. The infusion of his progressive views and background as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King preached, was a key factor in Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory. Although more hesitant to mention religion during the campaign, Senator Jon Ossoff referenced the Jewish values that informed his political views and became the first Jewish candidate to win statewide office in the South since 1974.

Additionally, we’re witnessing candidates in the 2022 midterm elections build off the religious momentum over the last several years. Warnock has made religion a central message of his reelection campaign, emphasizing the joint nature of devotion to faith and commitment to social justice. His messaging routinely references his religious work and how it informs his political views. Just like it delivered him for his initial election, Warnock is hoping Georgia voters will be drawn to his religious fervor. 

Also in Georgia, the Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, uses religion, but in a different way. As abortion becomes a pressing issue in all elections after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Abrams has discussed the role her faith has played in shaping her views on the subject. She’s openly discussed how her upbringing by Methodist preachers informed her initial stance against abortion, but she’s since changed her beliefs after viewing it as a health issue, not a moral one. Her approach to abortion opens a new vantage point for Democrats to reach voters who may be personally opposed to abortion, but are hesitant to attempts throughout the country to reduce access to it. 

In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor openly as a Jew and refusing to cede religious voters to his opponent, Doug Mastriano, a state senator. Shapiro has used his devout faith to reach out to religious voters, especially Black Protestants in the state by attending worship services and speaking from the pulpit. He’s routinely referenced his faith during campaign events, hoping that some voters who typically vote Republican on religious grounds consider switching. Among other Democratic candidates who employ religious rhetoric, he’s especially notable for attacking Christian nationalism as an assault on religious liberty, especially for religious minorities.

Although religion may appear to be a new winning strategy for Democrats, it isn’t risk-free. In the last two decades, Democrats themselves have become less religious in their membership. This isn’t to say that non-religious Democrats would vote Republican, but it does risk alienation and low voter turnout. These candidates are wagering that religious rhetoric will either deliver more voters or drive voters away from Republicans, but the threat of alienation will always be present for a party as religiously diverse as the Democratic Party. This isn’t to argue that Democrats who reference religion will lose (we’ve seen that’s not always the case), but to point out there’s a reason why Democrats have been cautious about religious rhetoric in the past. Even if elected, the division in the Democratic Party between the religious and non-religious suggests that while religious rhetoric may contribute to electoral victory, it doesn’t necessarily translate to religious influence in policymaking. 

This column is not an endorsement of religion as a political tool for Democrats or Republicans. The question of religion’s role in politics is separate from my observations of the trends in the Democratic Party. The last few years are a demonstration that Democrats can successfully utilize religion as an outreach method on the campaign trail. Although religion may still be tied heavily to the Republican Party, we’re beginning to see pushback from the Democratic Party and a potential shift in the way that religion operates in the political sphere. 

Blake Ziegler is a senior at Notre Dame studying political science, philosophy and constitutional studies. He enjoys writing about Judaism, the good life, pressing political issues and more. Outside of The Observer, Blake serves as president of the Jewish Club and a teaching assistant for God and the Good Life. He can be reached at @NewsWithZig on Twitter or bziegler@nd.edu.

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

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Business is not a game

“In recent years, we have grown accustomed to the use of games as models for understanding institutional behavior,” observes Peter French, Director of the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics at Arizona State University. The business as a game metaphor has undeniably become ubiquitous in the language and culture of business. Even though this linguistic device can be useful in clarifying multiple business concepts like competition, hierarchical structures and goal achievement, the business as a game metaphor is not always morally neutral and can be quite ethically problematic. In fact, I largely believe that this metaphor also sets up a flagrant fallacy. 

The business as a game metaphor overlooks a critical difference between the tenor and vehicle of the metaphor. While games are quite self-contained, business cannot be a self-contained activity as it connects deeply to the rest of society. A game is quite simply an isolated bubble that people can voluntarily choose to enter knowing what rules apply there, and more often than not people take part in games for personal enjoyment. More importantly, if one doesn’t like or doesn’t agree with the rules of the game, he or she has the power to just sit the game out. But opting out of the economic system is not as easy. Business and commerce are undeniable parts of everyone’s life. There is not as much voluntarism associated with it because opting out means completely isolating oneself and opting for a radical disconnect from modern corporate practices. 

Another important consideration is how using the business as a game metaphor dramatically trivializes what’s really at stake. In any game, from poker to football, almost always, the only stakeholders that will be heavily affected by the outcome of the game are the players themselves who chose to be there and understood the cost and risks of the game. In business, however, the narrative is much more complex. With the business as a game metaphor, it is easy to forget that, in the process of seeking victory or outmaneuvering an opponent, business actually has much greater stakes than most people’s conception of games. These higher stakes can heavily impact the health, safety and quality of life of numerous constituencies. Take, for instance, the Bhopal disaster. A couple of misguided decisions by a single corporation’s officials resulted in 40 tons of toxic gas being spewed from the factory and scorching the lives of thousands of people outside these walls. Thirty-seven years after the incident, the 70-acre site in Bhopal has remained mostly unchanged and still contains hundreds of tons of contaminated waste that continue to put the health of nearby villagers in grave danger. Businesses are “fully situated in the realm of humanity” and affect a much broader spectrum of real, complex human lives than a game ever could.  

Another concern is that the business as a game metaphor falsely paints the nature of business as temporary. Games cannot be never-ending; they have clear beginnings, middles and ends. Business practices, however, can not be so clearly delineated. Professionals in a corporate community may focus on short-term wins, but the success of a positive quarterly return may have been achieved at the expense of other social or ethical interests. Game-like, short-term thinking that’s rewarded in the marketplace is not always in the best interest of the larger community or even the corporation’s own long-term interests. Business activity has no clear end, yet the game metaphor artificially implies that a conclusion exists. 

Moving forward, a critical downfall of the business as a game metaphor is that it attempts to separate moral spheres by implying that there exists a different set of ethics for business than the set of ethics practiced in everyday social life. By making the morality of business self-referential, like the rules of a game, corporations become less morally accountable to sources of normative ethics in society. Once business is nominally understood as an institution made up of a separate class of “business professionals” who are less morally accountable than everyone else, the overlay of a strong metaphoric understanding that business is a game actually solidifies the differentiation and the compartmentalization of moral spheres

All in all, this deep dive into the structural differences between business and games has revealed that the business as a game metaphor can be ethically problematic if not completely inadequate. Games are fun, have intelligible rules, and hold out the promise of glorious victory. But as businesses attempt to communicate their identity through visions and mission statements, ethically aligned practices will demand more than what normally constitutes game playing. As the French philosopher Roger Caillois comments in his work, “Man, Plan, and Games,” “The true problem starts here. For it must not be forgotten that adults themselves continue to play complicated, varied, and sometimes dangerous games, which are still viewed as games. Although fate and life may involve one in comparable activities, nevertheless play differs from these even when the player takes life less seriously than the game to which he is addicted. For the game remains separate, closed off, and in principle, without any important repercussions on the stability and continuity of collective and institutional existence.” 

Krista Akiki is a senior majoring in business analytics and minoring in computing and digital technologies. She grew up in Beirut, Lebanon and moved back to the U.S. to pursue her undergraduate degree. She loves learning new languages, traveling and of course trying new foods. She craves adventure and new experiences and hopes to share these with readers through her writing. She can be reached at kakiki@nd.edu or @kristalourdesakiki via Twitter.

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

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Try a little tenderness

I first allowed myself to consider the fact that I was asexual in the winter of 2020, with the assistance of a friend. They asked about my sexuality — I told them I identified as queer, but I hadn’t fully defined what queer was for me. We then proceeded to discard one sexuality after another until we landed on asexuality. The following definition of asexuality, which I resonate with most, was published in “The Asexual Manifesto” by Lisa Orlando in 1972

“‘Asexual’ as we use it, does not mean ‘without sex’ but ‘relating sexually to no one.’ This does not of course exclude masturbation, but implies that if one has sexual feelings, they do not require another person for their expression. Asexuality is, simply, self-contained sexuality,” Orlando stated.

However, the asexuality element of my queerness bothered me, as its most recognized definition is simply being “without sex” or unable to feel arousal.  After years of jokes and off-handed comments from friends, family and strangers that I “didn’t feel anything,” I had amassed insecurities over my ability to be expressive as a person and affectionate in my relationships. I felt that this newly discovered aspect of my sexuality affirmed my inability to connect with others on a broad spectrum. Especially given that I had developed a notable aversion to physical intimacy growing up. 

Physical intimacy — touch — had never been an asset in my life. I struggled to conceive it as a connector between myself and others. I found it to be an invasion of my senses, an obligatory form of greeting among familiars — a form of counsel. I would befriend people who felt the same and often had adverse responses to physical intimacy. The only downside to this was that when I was finally ready to open myself up to physical intimacy, there was no one there to embrace. 

While I couldn’t change my sexuality, I could change the way I interacted with people. In fall 2021, I embarked on a journey of cultivating intimacy in new and existing relationships. During this journey, I faced challenges with setting physical boundaries in my new relationships. For my existing relationships, I simply had to ask who was comfortable incorporating physical touch into our communication style. For example, I would offer or ask for hugs, and my friends would politely decline. They showed me what it was like to set physical boundaries.  In my new relationships, I gravitated toward people who embraced me as a greeting. At the same time, I worked on managing the anxiety that came with engaging in physical touch. I was making progress. Physical intimacy began to feel less scary.

Yet, I struggled to manage the extent to which I allowed others into my physical space. This usually meant that I wasn’t imitating physical contact, just accepting it.  In one instance, cuddles turned into fondling, which turned into kisses, which turned into ‘I’m not used to physical touch, ’ ‘can you slow down?’  ‘This is an overwhelming amount of physical interaction for me.’ For this relationship, I would eventually dismiss my limited physical needs and redirect my energy towards regulating my nervous system every time it was disrupted — all while remaining in a position that met my new companion’s needs. 

Instead of progressing into action, my language transformed back into silence. I would exert my physical and sexual boundaries until doing so exhausted me. I would fail to remove myself from traumatic sexual situations with the thought that “I couldn’t feel anything anyway,” which made doing so unnecessary. As the autonomy I held over my body was denounced by others, my agency dwindled. My mind and body returned to the feeling that physical engagement was obligatory, with the newly developed thought that sex was compulsory. Compulsory sexuality “is a belief system that eschews consent and preaches instant gratification for people who want sex, but cares not for the safety, comfort, health, or autonomy, of people who do not. It doesn’t just ask us to comply. It makes way for others to demand, manipulate, coerce, and force us into situations in which we are expected to disregard our own well-being for the sake of ‘normality,’” according to Sherronda J. Brown in her book “Refusing Compulsory Sexuality: A Black Asexual Lens on Our Sex-Obsessed Culture.”

I had initially opened myself up to physical intimacy for the sake of normality. However, I learned that my opposition came from never having developed the voice to assert my physical boundaries, regardless of the person or physical space in concern. I had already lacked the agency needed to protect my space — my peace — before I set out on a conquest to feel something. To embrace feeling with others. On this journey, I experienced a gradual expansion of physical intimacy in pre-existing relationships. I underwent sexual trauma. I began to practice setting physical boundaries and felt what it was like to have these boundaries challenged. In the future, I hope to remain open to physical intimacy with others and to further explore my self-contained physical intimacy. As it turns out, I was the first person I needed to embrace.

You can contact Kylie Henry at khenry01@saintmarys.edu.

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

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A deep hunger

I hopped on the Manhattan-bound “L” train at 10 a.m., late for work. I overslept and took my sweet time getting up. That’s what summer internships are for messing up, right? The car was lightly filled. Most of the people had already made it to their resting places for the day.

The subways are a unique way to be in a forced community with one another from very different walks of life. Our lives collide in extraordinary and soulful ways as we attempt to get to work, friends and our daily chores. Sometimes that means having a woman yell at you about God or having a stranger’s armpit right in your face.

On this particular ride, I collided with Natasha. A young woman who couldn’t be much older than I, in her early 20s, just beginning her journey with life. With a bandana wrapped around her head, dark brown hair outlining her face and giant reusable bags in her hands.

My face was stuck deep within my book. I didn’t even notice her when she sat next to me.

My grandma and grandpa live in a small cul-de-sac on county road 18 in the middle of nowhere California. They’ve lived there in the same house for 50 years, blossoming into a sprawling family full of love. Every Christmas Eve-eve making tamales with my grandma’s sisters and then having another giant feast on Christmas Eve.

Christmas is always a multigenerational, multi-family extravaganza.

My dad describes how every Christmas he can be found sitting next to his “ex-step mother in law’s ex-husband’s stepson’s wife” and how she is the most wonderful woman you could ever meet on the planet. Love palpably oozes out of every crack, corner and crevice. 

We’ve had just about everything happen within our family that might be considered anti-catholic by some of today’s loudest Catholic voices: divorce, suicide, gay marriage, babies out of wedlock, alcoholism, drug use, immigration from Mexico, prison sentences—you name it, it’s probably happened in our family. 

Life in our family can sometimes be really messy, with that many people and big personalities there are always squabbles, somebody is mad at somebody else or someone has too much to drink. 

However, given all this, I’ve never experienced more love and grace than when I’m around those five tables pushed together to make room for everyone.

Natasha looked over my shoulder and asked me what book I was reading. I was re-reading my favorite book from middle school, “The Secret Life of Bees,” by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s about a young girl in the South that finds community with her former housekeeper and three black honey farmers in the middle of South Carolina. It touches on community, race, faith and loss in really beautiful ways.

This gradually led into a conversation about our own communities, what we were doing on this Manhattan-bound train and who we were. Natasha and her family moved to New York when she was about five and she’s lived there ever since. 

She, like I, has experienced death and addiction in our families. Both of us lost two parents before we got to high school and both of us were raised Catholic. We found ourselves within and of each other in ways we would never have expected.

A lot of times when I go out to a party I have so much fun, but end up feeling unsatisfied. Or, when I repeat my majors introduction for the eight billionth time in a day. It’s similar to when I go to the dining hall and eat a burger or two. It provides me with filling, but not satisfaction. 

Talking with Natasha provided something new: connection with other people in a really substantive way. New York is enormous and often times felt overwhelming in the number of people around with connections sometimes fleeting or nonexistent. 

Social intimacy and commitment are often a lot harder to come by and less prevalent than most of us think it is in our lives. We have fewer close friends than ever before. Reported loneliness at record high levels. Deaths of despair are higher than ever in our history.

Earlier this week, I picked up Mitch Albom’s “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” A book where Eddie, a grizzled war veteran who dies a terrible death, meets five people who illuminate the unseen connections of his life. Albom’s premise is his version of heaven is a wish to have “people who felt unimportant here on earth- realize, finally, how much they are loved.”

In the book, Eddie meets someone who’s life he didn’t even know he had impacted so deeply and is told, “strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.”

I’ve never felt more holy or more Catholic than being around the table with the communion of saints on earth. Filling my soul with the deeper hunger that I have, that we all have. 

This table can be different for each of us, for some it might literally be saint-like figures in our lives, for some it might be playing a video game in a quad with dear friends or around a charcuterie board talking about our deepest worries. 

For me, it’s when I’m around those five tables pushed together to fit everyone in. I think about Natasha joining us at that table. A task that might even require pulling up a sixth table. So that my cousin one day might say, “I was sitting next to my step mom’s, step dad’s, grandson’s friend from a subway.” 

In my opinion, filling this deeper hunger requires two things, (1) being more intentional about the ways we connect with others and (2) being more open to the unknown gifts of others. 

Natasha and I accomplished something on the short subway ride this summer. We filled a deeper hunger. Something that can’t always be accomplished with an all-you-can-eat buffet or a 300-person party.

Dane Sherman is a junior at Notre Dame studying American Studies, Peace Studies, Philosophy and Gender Studies. Dane enjoys good company, good books, good food, and talking about faith in public life. Outside of The Observer, Dane can be found exploring Erasmus books with friends, researching philosophy, with folks from Prism, reading NYTs op-eds from David Brooks/Ezra Klein/Michelle Goldberg or at the Purple Porch getting some food. Dane ALWAYS want to chat and can be reach at @danesherm on twitter or lsherma2@nd.edu.

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

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The contradictory road to November

In just over a month and a half, the United States of America has a very important date to keep: the 2022 midterm elections. Since the winter of 2021, every instance of significance that has dominated the news cycle at one point or another has come to be judged through midterm lenses, as political analysts, strategists and commentators weigh in how anything that happens may or may not have an impact on the decision the country makes later on this fall. Contrary to previous midterms, this year’s contests are much more of a head scratcher, as the leadup to them has been a complex minefield that can befuddle even the most devoted followers of the chaos that is contemporary American politics. Throughout the course of the summer, the consensus on how November was going to look has been constantly changing, and many races remain anybody’s guess. 

In November of 2021, the Republican Party managed to pull off an upset victory in the Virginia gubernatorial election, and came very close to winning New Jersey’s governorship as well. Considering both states had given Joe Biden comfortable, 10 plus point victories back in 2020, the shift in these states’ political mood strongly implied the American electorate was souring on Joe Biden’s administration. Commentators characterized the strong Republican performance in parts of the country that have leaned towards Democrats in recent years as a backlash against the Biden White House’s policies, wokeism and a stalled legislative agenda. Regardless of what one’s political leanings may be, there is no denying the opening act of the 2022 campaign showed the wind was blowing behind the Republican Party’s back. As the new year rolled in and inflation began heating up, sticker shock further buoyed the GOP’s standing as the Biden administration was handed a barrage of challenges to deal with. Multiple polls indicated that Republicans were far more motivated than their Democratic counterparts to turn out and vote in the fall, and found Biden’s approval rating among independent voters was also deeply underwater. Back in the late spring, I would have joined the chorus of commentators that collectively agreed a red wave was inevitable, and Republicans were poised to sweep control of both chambers of Congress. 

However, a tumultuous summer sent that prediction tumbling down, as the American political world was rattled by events that threaten to upend whatever consensus — fragile as it may have been — and send it down the drain. This June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution does not confer the right to an abortion. Dobbs v. Jackson overturned five decades of precedent, in what was the biggest victory for the American Christian right. Overturning Roe v. Wade transformed the playing field for the midterms, as it gave Democrats a good talking point to use to their advantage, as opinion polls showed most Americans disagreed with the landmark Supreme Court decision. Polls immediately saw blue poll numbers shoot up, and the enthusiasm gap between both parties significantly narrowed as well. Evidently, more Democrats are now motivated to turn out and vote this November, which endangers the GOP’s triumphant optimism regarding its chances later this year. The best example showcasing how consequential Dobbs v Jackson was to politics came later on in the summer, when voters in ruby red Kansas voted to reject an amendment to the state constitution that removed protections for abortion rights by nearly 20 points, a margin higher than the one former president Trump beat president Biden in 2020. 

On another note, the results of primaries in some competitive states weakens Republicans in what would otherwise be easy strong showings for them. In state after state, Republican primary voters chose to nominate candidates with former president Trump’s endorsement to the general election ballot, often picking candidates that hail from the most aggressively hard right and Trumpian wings of the GOP. In safe Republican states like Wyoming, this would usually not be an issue. However, the Republican primary choices in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire provide purple states with choices that are far more assertive in their right wing positions than their decisive pool of swing voters would prefer. These choices have caused plentiful amounts of worry among Republican leaders and strategists, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell going on the record saying “I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different—they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.” The Republican base’s willing choice to favor candidates willing to echo every Trump talking point over their overall electability in a general election undercuts the party’s chances at retaking control of the Senate, but at flipping many House seats and governorships as well. 

As we head into November, it is impossible to predict the election’s end result with total accuracy. The leadup to America’s collective appointment at the ballot box has certainly proven itself to be confusing and chaotic, and has given us more mixed signals than the male lead in a cheesy rom-com from the 1990s. The highest inflation in the last four decades, soaring gas prices, the incumbent administration’s lagging poll numbers, the FBI raid on former president Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the overturning of Roe v. Wade and a rambunctious primary season are all flashing contradictory signals as to how America will vote in seven weeks. However crazy things may appear to be, the civic duty remains, and it is still everyone’s imperative to make sure they make their voices heard come Nov. 8. As the date draws nearer, make sure to make a plan to vote, and either vote early while home for fall break or request to vote absentee before it’s too late! As corny and cliche as it sounds, it’s on all of us. 

Pablo Lacayo is a senior at Notre Dame, majoring in Finance while minoring in Chinese. He enjoys discussing current affairs, giving out bowl plates at the dining hall, walking around the lakes, and karaoke. You can reach him at placayo@nd.edu.

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

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A response to ‘Not a serious program’

I read Ryan Peters’ “Not a serious program” column that appeared the week after the Marshall game. As an attendee at that game, I would like to make a couple comments relative to what is happening in the stadium during games. I agree with him that ND Stadium IS NOT INTIMIDATING.  It once was. I am a 1970 graduate. I have been in the stadium many years since. I believe it was in 1967 that legendary Southern California coach, John McKay, stated that Notre Dame Stadium was the worst place to play because of the noise level. That noise was created by human voices. We didn’t have a loudspeaker blaring electronic noise between plays. We were so loud the opposing team couldn’t run plays. As another example, several years ago I was sitting in the lower level in the southeast part of the stadium mixed in amongst Pitt fans. As the teams were warming up, a number of Pitt fans were having a great time carrying on about how Pitt was going to maul us. With the “kickoff cheer” and the subsequent roar from the student body and fans in the stadium, they looked shocked and surprised. They sat down, and there was hardly a whimper out of them for the rest of the game.

What is different? I submit that the use of electronic noise and piped in “cheering” has taken the student body, the fans and the band out of the game. I was at the Marshall game and was appalled at the lack of noise support from Notre Dame fans. I don’t believe the fault lies totally with them, however. The electronic noise took them out of the game from the start. While I like the lead up to the opening kickoff with Kathy Richardson and the Dropkick Murphy’s, it needs to be timed effectively so that the student body can let the opposition know it is a force. From the opening kickoff on, it seemed that the electronic noise was piped in between every play. It not only took the student body and fan cheers out of the game, the electronic noise also stepped on the announcer and the referees. In short, it became the game.

If Notre Dame wants to have an intimidating stadium, it needs to put the noise back into the student body, the band and its fans. We were constantly reminded in the weekly run-up to a home game that we were a part of the Notre Dame “team,” and that we needed to let the opponents know we were there. We believed our participation had an effect. I think it did. Opposing teams were intimidated. Our players told us that and thanked us.

If Notre Dame wants to fix the noise in the stadium, fix the electronics.

On another matter, we had first time guests with us. I was honored and excited to show them the campus, traditions such as the “Trumpets in the Dome” and take them to the Convo to the upper-level sports history displays. Even though both activities were promoted in pre-game materials and the game program, “Trumpets under the Dome” was a whimper by the statute of Sacred Heart, and the Condo was locked down so that no athletic displays could be visited. An attendant told us it was by order of the University.  So much for that.

David A. Redle

class of 1970

Sept. 20

The views in this letter to the editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Apply extreme ownership

In 2006, SEAL Team 3’s Task Unit Bruiser entered Ramadi with one goal in mind: drive insurgents out of the city and build up the Iraqi forces to create stability in one of the most violent areas in the world. On the first major operation, Jocko Willink commanded his SEAL forces alongside U.S. Army and Marine men and women and inexperienced Iraqi soldiers.

Almost immediately, trouble struck the operation. Iraqi soldiers had been shot at by what appeared to be enemy forces upon entering a building and had called in for backup. One Iraqi soldier was killed in the battle and air fire was being set up to rain down on the enemy’s position. After hearing the news, Jocko came over to the building’s vicinity. With men and women on the ground ready to engage, Jocko realized his team of snipers were in this area and had recently moved buildings for a better vantage point.

With that in mind, he and some of his men entered the building to find his sniper unit holed up. This was a SEAL commander’s worst nightmare. Fratricide. Blue-on-Blue. A man killed at the hands of his own teammate. In the throes of battle, the group of Iraqi soldiers had gotten confused and entered a building they were supposed to never be near. This resulted in the sniper unit mistaking them for the enemy and engaging in back and forth shooting. A man was dead and one was injured. An airstrike was almost called on his own men. Jocko was soon contacted by upper level military and an investigation would be conducted as soon as possible.

With so many variables leading to this tragic result, Jocko had to come up with an explanation for what happened. The Iraqi soldiers should have never been there. His men should have positively identified them as the enemy before engaging. Movement of the sniper unit should have been better communicated across the board.

When the time came to talk to the investigators, Jocko had come to a decision on who to blame: himself. As the leader of the operation and these individuals, it could be no one’s fault but his own. Even with his back against the wall, Jocko stuck to a crucial leadership principle: extreme ownership. No matter what situation arises, you must take responsibility for your actions and of those you are tasked to lead. Luckily, Jocko stayed on as leader of Task Unit Bruiser and the mission was a raging success. The city was brought to relative peace and stability thought to be nearly impossible.

This excerpt was taken from the first chapter of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s New York Times Bestseller, “Extreme Ownership”, a book detailing the leadership principles they applied in Ramadi when facing a nearly insurmountable enemy on their home turf and how each principle applies to everyday life.

When reading this story, what stood out to me most was the decision to take complete ownership for a situation which seemed to be out of his hands. There were so many factors that led to the shooting making it easy to blame the situation on the men under him. However, as the head of his unit, Jocko stood tall and let the blame fall on himself.

He then explained to his bosses what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how he would ensure it would never happen again. This principle is incredibly difficult to apply to your life. It is so easy to blame failures on situations around you. I do it all the time.

When a test question is not clear to me, I think about how the teacher did not teach it well enough. Or even when I play a video game with my friends, a bad performance immediately falls on the random player I was given. The biggest problem with this mindset is that you cannot grow if you live by it.

If the teacher is at fault for a complex problem, then it’s not my responsibility to address the problem and get it right next time. If the random player caused my poor performance, then I should not change my strategy to do better next time. While I don’t think video game performance actually matters, the principle stands true.

As students, we may not be leading Navy SEALs into war, but I think there’s immense value in applying extreme ownership to our lesser leadership roles and our individual decisions. If you want to grow and become better in all your pursuits, the first step is taking responsibility for your actions and their results, good or bad, and determining how to improve upon your next go around. As Notre Dame students, we all saw a great example of this in Marcus Freeman after losing to Marshall.

In his press conference, he answered reporters saying, “It starts with me, it starts with me as a head coach.” Through individuals like Jocko Willink and Marcus Freeman, it is clear that leadership starts with the willingness to own one’s decisions and the results which follow. With that said, I believe that applying extreme ownership is a crucial step in growing as a leader and individual and is a principle that we should all strive to live up to, no matter how difficult it may be.

Mikey Colgan is a sophomore from Boston, MA majoring in Finance and ACMS. He can be reached at mcolgan2@nd.edu

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