Every college has its cliques and clichés, and Notre Dame is no exception.
Before we lovingly poke fun at the different Notre Dame stereotypes, I just want to make it clear that I know people from every one of these groups, and they’re all wonderful people. The reason I love Notre Dame is that across the board, pretty much everyone there is friendly and genuinely cares, the kind of people who wouldn’t hesitate to help out a total stranger even if they’re in a rush. Mushy school pride out of the way, let’s jump right in, shall we?
There’s Mendoza College of Business, and there’s Menbroza College of Not Caring And Being Preemptively Smug About Your Starting Salary After Graduation. They are distinct.
Not everyone in Mendoza is a Menbroza person. Mendoza is an academic choice, Menbroza is a lifestyle. I once heard someone describe that lifestyle as “like a mullet: business in the front, party in the back.” That’s basically what it is: the culture of business majors who party all the time and call it “networking.” Menbrozas either don’t study very much, or pretend they don’t study very much. When they’re not doing a keg stand, you can find them rushing the Career Fair like it’s an actual carnival.
Pretty much everyone, actually. 80% of the current student population is Catholic, so the Catholic culture of the school is really strong. There are plenty of non-Catholics who call the golden Dome their home, from all religions and areligious sensibilities. But there is a definite majority, enough that you can start to see subgroupings emerge.
You’ve got your trad Catholics (short for “traditional Catholics”). These Catholics are generally conservative, both politically and religiously. They like Mass in Latin and read The Irish Rover, ND’s conservative newspaper. They’re likely to be involved with service work on campus and in the community, especially through Campus Ministry or the Knights of Columbus. They favor Basilica Mass, and the Liturgical Choir and Women’s Liturgical Choir.
There are also liberal Catholics. These Catholics won’t stop talking about social justice, and they really, really like “Canticle of the Turning.” You can identify these Catholics by the Pope Francis stickers on their laptops and water bottles or by the rainbow ALLY buttons on their backpacks. You can find these Catholics at Milkshake Mass on Thursday nights in Dillon Hall, and they prefer the Folk Choir and Chorale. They are also likely to be involved with service work on campus and in the community, especially through the Center for Social Concerns.
Last but certainly not least are your everyday Catholics. These Catholics enjoy the ease with which they can practice their faith at Notre Dame. They can be found in their pajamas at late-night Mass in their home dorm, always happy to give you a hug during the sign of peace and stay afterward to chat for a bit before heading back upstairs to study.
Notre Dame has its very own undergraduate seminary college for young men who are discerning a vocation to become Holy Cross priests. These guys live together in Old College, a tiny dorm located next to the Log Chapel, where they pray together every morning before class.
Academically and socially, they mingle freely with the rest of the student body. If there’s a cute, nice guy in your 8-am wearing a simple-but-prominent Holy Cross anchor necklace…I hate to dash your dreams, but that’s a baby priest.
Some of them “discern out” of Old College before graduation, meaning they decide the priesthood isn’t for them. If that happens, they move out of Old College and into one of the other boys’ dorms and continue their march toward graduation as just another Notre Dame student.
That girl over there who’s been staring at her computer for hours, looking like she wants to fling herself into the sun? That’s a STEM major. Academically, they have it the hardest here. I certainly don’t envy them their workload and labs, not to mention the horror stories I’ve heard about exams.
But with every line of code they write and hours-long problem set they complete, they get more powerful, like Mario collecting those tiny coins in Super Mario Bros. They can be found working late in Niewland or Stinson-Remick, or writing dizzying equations on the whiteboards in Hes while drinking a worrying amount of coffee.
5. PLS Majors
They live among us. They look like the rest of us, party like the rest of us, get Quarter Dogs at the Huddle like the rest of us. It’s impossible to tell them apart from innocent, ordinary people like you and me. You think you’re safe, until you notice that your roommate just read all of War and Peace in three days. Chills run down your spine as you slowly take in the massive stack of books on her desk, noticing for the first time that none of them are from this century. Your roommate is a PLS major.
PLS stands for the Program of Liberal Studies, and it’s Notre Dame’s way of keeping alive the traditional classical education. PLS majors read every major work in the Western canon in 3 years, from Homer to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” PLS is low-key one of the coolest majors at ND, but most people don’t figure that out until it’s too late to take it. You can find them in LaFun at 2 am talking about their “Sems” while they avoid their assigned reading on Malthus or Anselm or Euclidian geometry.
6. People Running For Student Government
You can’t escape the posters. The posters are everywhere. You’re pretty sure that once planted, multiply on their own. In the dining hall, in O’Shag, in the elevators and stairwells of your dorm, there are campaign posters for what seems like dozens of positions in various student government bodies. You’ve already told two different people you’ll vote for their ticket for Student Body President, and pretty much every girl in your hall running for Senate thinks she has your vote, too. As for the intra-hall government of commissioners, you have only a vague understanding of what the positions are and who to vote for, despite the fact that you yourself hold some kind of hall position.
Possibly because they’re always on campaign, these student gov politicians are always super friendly whenever you run into them on their way to or from one of their many extracurricular commitments. For such a friendly group of people, there’s a surprising amount of political intrigue surrounding student elections.
7. People Who Have Beef With Notre Dame
On game days, when everyone is wearing The Shirt and screaming out cheers in tandem, it’s easy to think that the entire student body is equally in love with Notre Dame. But that simply isn’t true. There are lots of people who have serious beef with Notre Dame.
There are lots of complaints, from outrage that the University hasn’t made good on its promise to take down the Columbus murals to disgust with the lack of adequate direct action to combat systemic problems with racism, homophobia, and sexual assault. Lots of students feel that the university is more talk than walk, too busy worrying about donors to actually carry forward Fr. Hesburgh’s legacy into the 21st century.
That’s not to say that everyone who speaks out against the University’s failings hates Notre Dame–although some do, and with good reason. But many of the same people who have problems with Notre Dame speak out precisely because they love Notre Dame. We want our campus to be the best, safest, and most welcoming version of itself it can be, so that we can fully take pride in calling Notre Dame “our mother.”
8. Holy Cross and St. Mary’s Students
The Notre Dame community is bigger than just the student body of Notre Dame itself. Students of Holy Cross College and St. Mary’s College may not be Notre Dame students in theory, but they are in practice. Holy Cross and St. Mary’s students can take classes at Notre Dame, participate in Notre Dame clubs and student organizations, and hang out in LaFun, Hesburgh Library, and Duncan Student Center just like Notre Dame students. We’re all one big Holy Cross family, and we’re all stuck weathering out South Bend winters together, so do yourself a favor and get to know the super cool kids at Holy Cross and St. Mary’s.
When most people think of Notre Dame, they think immediately of football. And while we do love a good football Saturday, that’s not all there is to Notre Dame sports. Notre Dame has twenty D-1 sports, ten men’s and ten women’s (some, like fencing, are co-ed). There isn’t a dorm on campus that isn’t home to at least a handful of athletes.
Notre Dame sets high standards for academics and athletics alike, so the rest of us plebs are continually impressed by students who have the discipline and determination to manage both. You can always spot athletes by the their standard-issue backpacks, complete with a tag that says “Athlete,” just in case you didn’t know.
10. That Kid From Moreau Whose Name You’ve Forgotten
Let’s face it: freshman year was a blur. There was Domerfest, and huge lecture halls, and that awful week when homesickness and the freshman flu hit at the same time. And on top of it all, you had to spend your precious time making memes for your Moreau ePortfolio, for credit.
So we don’t blame you when you’re making the trek from DPAC to DeBart and you see that kid, the one with the curly hair, and her name is right on the tip of your tongue…something basic, right? Jessica? Amy? Maybe it’s Grace, there’s a lot of Graces here. She kind of looks like a Grace, right? Oh no, she’s making eye contact. She walks right up to you and says your name confidently, engaging you in a conversation you only half hear over the sound of shame. You spent an entire year talking to this girl in your 8 am Moreau, and you can’t remember her name. Thanks to that inclusivity exercise your Moreau prof assigned, you know everything about this girl’s ethnic, sexual, religious, and socioeconomic identities, but you can’t for the life of you remember her name.
She walks away, and later, you ask your roommate–whom you met in Moreau–what the girl’s name is.
It’s Katie. From Chicago.
What are the kinds of people you’ve met around your college? Share your stories in the comments below!
Featured Image Source via pinterest.com.
A. A. Ford is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a student majoring in English and Theology at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to her articles for Society 19, Ford is known for her poetry and fiction, which can be found at https://aafordstories.wordpress.com/. In her free time, she loves directing stage theater, spending time with her friends and family, and trying her best to glorify God by her life.