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Saturday, June 15, 2024
The Observer

To the neighbor with over 25 years of experience living near student party houses

First of all, I wanted to tell you thank you for your Letter to the Editor. It was incredible. Incredibly tone-deaf, incredibly out-of-touch, and incredibly unhelpful. Let’s start with the incident that supposedly put you over the edge: the shooting on E. Washington Street. You gave a number of inflammatory quotes to area media outlets trying to tie this shooting to the larger Notre Dame off-campus party culture. This shooting didn’t involve any Notre Dame students, was a tragic but targeted homicide, and wouldn’t have been stopped by any of the measures you suggested. Random acts of violence will sadly always occur. They are, of course, more likely to occur when you reside in a city with a murder rate per capita that has been more than twice the national average since 2000. But, of course, you don’t live in South Bend because of the high murder rate. You also don’t live in South Bend because of the great weather either. You live in South Bend because of Notre Dame, so for you to have the audacity to complain about the inconvenience of dealing with raucous college students for 24 nights a year is quite astounding. You describe the experience of living in the vicinity of these party houses as “intolerable.” But is it really? Because you’ve lived there for 25 years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard of someone choosing to do something for 25 years that they supposedly find “intolerable.” But even this is beside the point. The more striking problem with your letter is your clear desire to reap all the benefits of living next to the greatest University in the world without any consideration for why so many people love it. It is quite revealing what you think of the students that live around you when you are quoted in the South Bend Tribune saying that “good people don’t want to live [in this neighborhood] anymore.” Students who live off-campus aren’t good enough people to be your neighbors, I suppose. Notre Dame is unabashedly a “work hard, play hard” institution. The students are brilliant and dedicated individuals who also like to have a good time. We love our football teams, tailgating, and cutting loose a little after a long week of rigorous classes. Given the realities of parietals, single-sex dorms, and alcohol violations, off-campus parties are a core part of the Notre Dame social experience. You, as a Notre Dame graduate, should know this better than anyone. But instead of embracing the community that you have CHOSEN to remain in for the last quarter-century, you want to completely stifle this experience, all under the laughable guise of “student well-being.” Hiding behind this ridiculous and baseless facade only underscores that you are aware both of the triviality of your woes, and how curmudgeonly you sound complaining about them. It is abundantly clear to anyone reading your letter that it is your own vaunted sleep schedule and not the safety of the not-so-good off-campus students that you care about. You blithely claim that “students are in grave danger of alcohol poisoning, injuries connected to drunkenness, rape connected to drunkenness and more shootings” right after you fret about “nuisance” students who participate in “rude off-campus party behavior” and keep you and wife up past the ghastly hour of 11 p.m. a few nights per year. You advocate for ordinances against people on roofs because “it’s only a matter of time” before someone dies, and yet, in your 25 years, you can’t name an example? You chose to live near a major university and are upset that people dare party near you? Perhaps most laughably of all, you condemn the University for facilitating a “dangerous, unhealthy year for students” and the “degradation of our neighborhoods,” without any actual basis for either of these claims. In fact, your house has a far higher property value than that of the average South Bend property, and the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Notre Dame have the highest appreciation rate of any in the city since 2000, due in no small part to the university and students you so callously deride. Instead of “solutions” that involve changing the behavior of your entire neighborhood, the social culture of an entire University and the policies of an entire police force, you should look in the mirror and realize that the solution here is obvious: MOVE. There’s a really quaint retirement home right across the highway from Notre Dame that would be a much more suitable home for you. Just don’t complain about bingo night once you get there.  

William “Liam” Finn

Notre Dame Class of 2020

                                                                                                                                                          Sept. 24

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.