Monday, April 7, 2008

The Physical Future of Notre Dame

This morning I was awoken by the harsh sounds of construction: the beeping of trucks backing up, engines roaring, dirt being moved (yes, it does make a sound), etc. I live in Keough Hall, located on West Quad, once the outer ranges of the school, now the hottest neighborhood for growth. With Duncan's bay windows having just been installed, the law school's steel skeleton obscuring my view of Notre Dame Stadium, the big dig of the new engineering building, and the utter destruction of the field and trees which separated my home from the bookstore for the newest dorm, construction is a topic of conversation betwixt me and most of my companions. We bemoan the loss of our field, our open expanses are being lost. McGlinn Shamrocks already despise the loss of their volleyball and basketball courts. This newest construction is necessary, indeed welcomed in many cases, but will it continued unbridled as our (and our Lady's) University continues to keep up with the Ivies?

We are continually fighting against the loss of what makes Notre Dame unique, what makes Notre Dame our Notre Dame. These issues are all alive and its a multifaceted discussion: the Catholic nature of our faculty, the loss of an arts/letters focus, the growth of research interests, the Vagina Monologues, even the commercialization of our football schedule are all topics which address the fears of our alumni, of our students, and of our fans.

For now, I may be peeved by the roar of backhoes and bulldozers awakening me at 8am, however, this is merely a visible sign of a deeper and fundamental discussion over the future of Notre Dame as THE Catholic institution of higher learning.


Tom said...

Perhaps the best way to think of Notre Dame is on the model of America's Catholic immigrants. With rare exceptions, they entered at the bottom of the social and cultural scale, and their history is one of a slow descent to respectability and affluence, during which they were measured—and measured themselves—by standards not so much secular at first as non- and anti-Catholic. In the course of the past 150 years the ambience has gradually changed from non-Catholic, more or less WASP, to secular.
-Ralph McInerny

The rest of the article is here. It's a good read:

Brandon said...

I would be fine with any construction, if they did it on parking lots instead of taking away green space. It makes no sense to tear out that grove of trees, when you could build a parking garage then rip out the asphalt and put in a shiny new building while enhancing the greenery of the campus

Kevin said...

Eh, change happens. When I graduated in '86 the area I think you're describing was the golf course and most of the area between the football stadium and ND avenue was green field - aka football parking.

The bookstore was on the north side of the south quad, between Howard and the KoC.

The orginal bookstore basketball courts were behind the bookstore (and walsh).

ROTC was in the old building northwest of the Rock. (I think it's campus PD now?)

Digger and Gerry were the coaches.

North Dining hall had 1 floor, and there was a restaurant (The Oak Room) between the wings of the S dining hall.

Stonehenge was brand new and ground for Rolfs was being broken.

No food court in LaFortune.

We had 300 baud modems if we were lucky, went to the labs and used acoustic telecouplers if we weren't.

There was a north/south road that ran between the ACC and the stadium (I think it's gone now) and there really wasn't much north of the ACC except parking lots.

And of course, the stadium was about 20K seats smaller.

Anyways, my point is ND keeps changing - (except for parietals and single-sex dorms). I heard stories like the above from my roommate's father. He had curfews, power cuts at bedtime, bed checks, mandatory mass, no women (obviously), fewer buildings etc etc.

If you graduate and only get to go back every 5 years or so you'll be just as surprised as I am when I get the chance to go back. (I'm in the navy so it's tough to get time to return).

Enjoy your time there and always remember that ND - as you said - is a business and the students are transitional.

Anonymous said...

Might want to check out St Thomas on Powerline's blog. They, also a Catholic place, have actual policies (They don't like Ann Coulter). They also have content policies and if so, the VM probably would not pass muster.

Anonymous said...

Poor baby, the university thought of its own future and the genuine need of its law school and RUINED your view of the stadium. God forbid that the university think of something (ie, graduate students and research) other than FOOTBALL and the needs of its undergraduates.

Anonymous said...

All they're doing is building more buildings, highly necessary buildings at that. This doesn't mean we're turning into some secular bastion of all that is liberal and evil.

Anonymous said...

Dude, chill out, they're plenty of green space they're going to keep at the university.