Notre Dame is a school based on traditions.
Longstanding customs provide some of our university’s most compelling selling points to prospective students and families, and are heralded by alumni. One of the most communal of these conventions, of course, is residential life: the stay-hall system put in place under Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. that is such a pivotal part of the “Notre Dame introduction” and identity within this community.
As we see in this issue’s cover story, however, traditions sometimes change with time.
This fact has been thrown into light and contention recently, as Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. and his administration announced changes to the residential life policy to the student body and school community. In response to a growing number of upperclassmen moving on-campus, Fr. Jenkins is implementing a mandatory rule requiring students to live on campus for six semesters, beginning with the Class of 2022.
Immediately, this policy change has been meant with questions. Is this meant to be a remedy to students in their fourth years moving off-campus at a growing rate? What about students who move off-campus for reasons including discomfort with sexual orientation and previous cases of sexual harassment and assault? What is the administration doing to address the concerns of those students who did leave their residential communities — and who were, in many cases, part of focus group discussions with the administration about this very topic?
This issue is not going to directly impact any of the students currently making up Notre Dame’s student body. Yet many of them see the need to voice their concerns and compliments regarding a residential system that makes up so much of the Notre Dame tradition and “family.”
Scholastic asked these pressing questions of administrators and students alike.
Today, questions of memory and tradition appear to be on the minds of the nation’s collective conscience. Notre Dame is experiencing its own microcosm of this phenomenon. Dorm communities have come and gone during the stay-hall system’s lifetime, yet, as a whole, they have never lost their place as touchstones of the campus community.
For this reason, this current conversation touches on the very essence of a Notre Dame student’s time here. In this issue, we seek to respect that importance and interconnectedness, while covering all sides of this decision.
The conversation continues.