The Notre Dame admissions homepage proudly boasts that “there are no ordinary students at Notre Dame, only extraordinary ones.” The website claims that “students chart paths through labs and libraries…on campus and beyond.”
Is this an impression shared by the broader South Bend community? The answer is not as clear-cut as one might expect.
The Rover sought out local community members who come into frequent contact with the student body. Taxi drivers, for instance, have to deal with various hordes of students doing their utmost to recreate scenes from the American Pie series every weekend, so one can safely assume that these drivers have an interesting perspective on the complex nature of the Notre Dame student.
What the taxi drivers shared was not an overly-ringing endorsement. Mike and Albert, two drivers who spoke with the Rover, recounted tales of various groups of female students crying over petty things, and male students mocking friends who have had too much to drink. Mike and Albert noted, in defense of the young men, that they could have been trying to do more than mock; sadly, what started out as an amusing conversation quickly degenerated into incomprehensible laughter with the odd bit of profanity mixed in.
Notre Dame housekeepers also spoke to students’ reputations in the local community. “I know one guy who helps down at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club on weekends,” said Debbie, of the Dillon Hall custodial staff. “Oh, and when the leaves fall I know a bunch of y’all go and help rake ‘em up,” her friend Crystal chimed in.
The Rover’s investigation turned up a couple of party stories and appreciation for leaf-rakers. This can hardly be considered “extraordinary.”
Ada Oliver and Carla Haynes, both of whom work at the Hammes Bookstore, provided examples of Domers surpassing expectations of what standard college students do. Haynes spoke of “a business downtown that [students] are trying to set up,” while Oliver praised the “football players helping kids at the Kroc Community Center.”
The testimony of the aforementioned local community members demonstrates that at least some students’ work is noticed by members of the community, but that by and large, the community’s general impressions of students can be underwhelming.
When asked if they had heard of the work done by St. Jude’s, which raised over $2,000 for children’s cancer wards, and the Knights of Columbus Council #1477, which raises over $50,000 for Corvilla homes for the disabled each fall, the South Bend community members responded with blank faces. Those organizations, in both of which members of this student body are heavily involved, and their efforts were practically unknown to the community.
How can the student body change for the better the impression they give to the South Bend community?
Even though some members of the community perceive what makes some of the Notre Dame student body “extraordinary,” much of students’ good work goes unnoticed.
Should Notre Dame be perceived in the same light as any party school between South Bend and the Pacific, or is there something special about her that ought to be brought to light? And if so, how can students bring it to light?
Dylan Stevenson forgot his byline. Reprimand him at email@example.com.