Dear Notre Dame,
As we write this letter on St. Patrick’s Day, looking out onto our desolate campus, we cannot help but wonder, “Why?” Why is our world being consumed in a global pandemic that seems unstoppable? Why is senior year coming to an end like this? Why were we not prepared? For many of us, it has been difficult to make sense of this chaos and try to find some positives in a time of great darkness.
We have recently found solace in a quote from one of our childhood heroes, Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Over the past week we have challenged ourselves to try to find the “helpers,'' and our Notre Dame community is overflowing with them. First, the employees of the Office of Student Affairs and SAO are currently going dorm to dorm packing up students’ essential belongings and shipping them home. They have kept the dorms open for students who cannot go home for a myriad of reasons and are ensuring that they feel safe at home here. Another group is members of Notre Dame’s Emergency Operations Center who have not taken a break since the outbreak began, and have worked tirelessly to figure out a path forward for our campus community. Additionally, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C, Erin Hoffmann Harding and members of the President’s Leadership Council are working diligently to provide students support for our new online learning model, working to host commencement on campus and figuring out how to best care for students in this time.
Two groups who have really stood up and supported members of our Notre Dame family during this time, even though it is not in their job description, are students and faculty. Students have been informally collecting resources and providing support to other students who are struggling. One student in particular, Matthew Bisner, created a Google Sheet for the tri-campus community which lists resources for struggling students such as people who are providing free housing, free food and general assistance. We have also been impressed by the faculty and staff on campus. When the news broke last week about school closing down, Elizabeth was with a group of seven other Notre Dame students in Oman, half a world away and incredibly terrified. Their professor, Mahan Mirza, opened up his off-campus inn to all of them, offering to host the group for as long as they needed when they returned from their trip. It is this kind of selfless dedication to the well-being of those around us that sets Notre Dame apart.
As we look around the world at a global community in chaos, we cannot help but feel grateful for the way that our Notre Dame community has truly gone the extra mile to support one another. It has been the greatest honor to serve as your President and VicePresident this year. Though we did not expect our term to end this way, we are beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to lead the campus community and we thank you for putting your trust in us. Know that we are just an email, phone call or Facebook message away. Stay safe and we hope to see you back home under the dome very soon.
In Notre Dame,
Elizabeth & Pat