The Class of 2013 will graduate from Notre Dame this weekend as years of study culminate in 19 diploma ceremonies and more than 100 events celebrating the accomplishments of the University’s youngest alumni.
The 2012 season was not supposed to go this way for Notre Dame. The Irish were facing one of the toughest schedules in the country, breaking in a new quarterback and waving goodbye to their all-time leading receiver. Notre Dame was never supposed to have a Heisman Trophy finalist or win 12 games on its way to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the national title game — but that is what happened.
The Class of 2013 first arrived on campus Aug. 21, 2009. The world was still in shock nearly two months after the unexpected death of Michael Jackson. Twilight was still popular and Miley Cyrus looked nothing like Draco Malfoy. No one had heard of Tinder, Lulu, Snapchat, Instagram or Pinterest, and Twitter was used solely to stalk celebrities. Since then, “tweet” has been added to the dictionary, taking pictures of yourself in public has become perfectly acceptable, you can get an iPhone for a penny and Snooki is a mom. Clearly a lot can change in four years and the world today is a very different place than it was in 2009. Oh, and we survived the Mayan Apocalypse.
I’ve been dreading writing this column for a long time, because it seems like an impossible task. “How,” I’ve asked myself countless times, “could I ever hope to capture four years of Notre Dame in 500 to 600 words?”
The answer, of course, is that I can’t — because the last four years have been filled with experiences that simply defy description.
I am a terrible storyteller.
My friends will vouch for that. They have listened to my ramblings for four years, nodding along with patient interest and sometimes even laughing at the punch line when I finally get there. I actually find $5 at the end of all my stories now without their prompts.
In the four years that my friends have listened to those long-winded stories, they have also starred in the stories that I will someday tell my coworkers and kids (as we sit around the TV watching the Irish crush some inconsequential team for a national championship and then celebrate my firstborn child’s acceptance into Notre Dame).
We have no regrets. We booked our hotels after the Pittsburgh game. We booked our flights after USC. We prayed we would win tickets in the lottery. 99 percent of us didn’t. We appealed to our spouses and better sensibilities that this was a once in a lifetime event. They submitted. And then we paid way too much for tickets. We begged our parents to take the grandkids for a few days. They couldn’t say no. We had used up our fun tickets for the year by Jan. 7. We flew from places like R.I., S.D., Idaho and Texas. We arrived in South Florida to eternal sun and optimism. We may have had a cocktail (or two). We saw dear friends we haven’t seen in 10, 15 or 20 years. We felt an energy, a passion and a part of something that we haven’t felt in a long, long time. It felt like home. We tailgated like champions. The blues and greens outnumbered the reds at least three-to-one. Of the 55,000 Domers in the stadium, we were the 40,000 who stayed until the clock hit 0:00. We have no regrets. We would do it all over again, even if we already knew the ending. We thank you.
As a recent alumnus and member of the 2006-07 Student Senate, it is disheartening to witness the actions — or, rather, inaction on the part of this administration — taking place on Our Lady’s campus.
The Student Senate passed a resolution in March, 2007 requesting the University add “sexual orientation” to its non-discrimination clause. While I do not personally identify as GLBTQ, I remember strongly supporting the Social Concerns committee chair during Senate proceedings. I was shocked such wording did not already exist. And I remember being a part of the 25-1-1 majority that voted to pass the resolution.
This publication, The Observer, reported at the time that both the Student Senate and Faculty Senate had passed similar language in 1998. Two Holy Cross schools, King’s College in Pa. and Holy Cross College in Ind., already included the language at the time. I recall students on campus having civilized and intelligent debate regarding the issue.
Yet, three years later, we have not progressed.
I have, from time to time, lost faith in my Notre Dame community. I have loved this school for my entire life, so take the former statement as all the more profound. I have felt that our campus is divided against itself in 80 different ways. I have felt that our campus is at war with itself. I have felt that the people on this campus care more about the lack of success that plagues our football team than they do about issues of humanity that affect the world every day. I feel that we are slowly slipping away from the ideals that Notre Dame was built upon, survived on and currently promotes as the true spirit of our student body.
Two hours ago, all of that changed. Two hours ago, the memorial service for Mr. Declan Sullivan commenced. As the entire campus knows, the student body flooded the Basilica, overflowed into the Lafun Ballroom and even had to listen outside. Others, like myself, watched the memorial service from the live feed online. For an hour, the entire campus stood still as we all came together to celebrate the life of Declan Sullivan and to help his family and friends begin the mourning process.
I am a Roman-Catholic, pro-life and middle-upper class citizen with strong leanings toward the Republican Party. Oh, and one more thing: I am ecstatic that the President of the United States is coming to speak at my graduation Commencement.
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