After years of planning and construction, the Duncan Student Center opened to the public on Jan. 15. A ribbon cutting ceremony, led by Erin Hoffmann Harding and Rev. Pete McCormick, C.S.C. marked the student center’s official opening. Fr. McCormick prayed for the student center’s benefactors, the laborers who created it and the students who will use it. Hoffmann Harding, citing the date of the ribbon cutting (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day), tied Duncan’s inauguration to Notre Dame’s support for tolerance and diversity, encouraging students to “make this place [their] own.”
The university has pulled out every stop in regard to student enrichment. The new student center, mixing sleek modern architecture and traditional stadium decor, boasts a variety of new amenities. Among these are three new restaurants, a rock climbing wall, several lounge areas and — as the new home of RecSports — a fitness center spanning two floors. Glassy meeting rooms and public performance spaces abound, and pool and shuffleboard tables fill up empty spaces in the hallways. Duncan’s diverse collection of tables and booths offers a conducive environment for studying and socializing. “I love studying on the second floor because the chairs are comfortable enough to sit in for long study sessions and the tables are big enough to spread out homework, books and snacks,” sophomore Kathy Casillas says.
Although students tend not to frequent Duncan’s top floors as often, several dances, guest speaker events and student activities have already taken place in the elegant Dahnke Ballroom. Notre Dame celebrities, including Lou Holtz and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have already graced the proverbial stage. Junior Parents Weekend featured a social and brunch held in Dahnke, as well as several other JPW events held throughout the building. Student government has also taken advantage of Duncan’s new venues, holding everything from photo shoots to debates in Duncan’s vast public spaces. Numerous other student events, including a casino night, the Collegiate Jazz Festival and a laser tag tournament, have also taken place in Duncan within the first few weeks of the spring semester.
Students, heeding Hoffmann Harding’s advice, flock not only to these events but also to Duncan’s restaurants and study spaces. “I think it’s easily one of the most modern and impressive buildings on campus,” sophomore Laura McKernan says. “It has already proven to be both a great event space and study spot, and has quickly become a favorite amongst students.”