Like swallows to Capistrano, our Alumni and Alumnae have come back to the roost. In the evolutionary scheme of things, the bumbling, moon-eyed freshmen who get lost in the Dining Hall every August gradually develop into perpetually nostalgic and virulently protective Alums…and stay that way for the rest of their lives. I spend a fair amount of time instructing, chiding, scolding, and lecturing our students. It’s why I became a priest. But just because we gave you a diploma and threw you out, doesn’t mean you can’t take a few lessons, too. For instance, yesterday I was asked whether parietals extend to Alums visiting campus. The answer is: those joined in the sanctity of marriage may share the same room; but they must sleep in separate beds – this is Notre Dame, not Babylon. And you still have to hide your beer if a CSC walks by.
You may have been a wallflower, or you may have been one of the cool kids; you may have been the captain of the football team, or you may have been captain of your dorm’s drinking society; you may have been a brilliant scholar, or you may have been a business major. No matter what, the great leveling has occurred, and you are all Alums now – no more and no less. So the following advice applies to each of you equally.
How to Be a Good Notre Dame Alum
When you return for football games, you may visit your old dorm room only if you follow the Magi Rule – you must bring gifts. The fermented kind is preferable. However, if your hall has undergone a population shift from one gender to the other, just be satisfied with the view from outside. Lads tend to be ritually unclean and they don’t like walking around in their skivvies with middle-aged women having a good cry over the good old days. And no middle-aged man has any business hanging around the sleeping quarters of young ladies.
Don’t pick the flowers. The groundskeepers count them all before they put them out.
If you are visiting a son or daughter, give ample advance warning of your movements and meet in the lobby. It’s not that you don’t want to know what your child is doing, it’s those derelict roommates (and just keep telling yourself that).
Stories about your four years are like wine: they are only good after a loooong time. So don’t uncork them until they’ve aged a while. If you graduated during the Holtz, Devine, or Parseghian regimes, you may tell stories whenever you want. If you graduated during the Leahy years, please tell stories of any length or duration as often as they spring to mind. If you graduated under Rockne, let one of the archivists follow you around taking notes – you have become living history.
Put your wallet in your front pocket and keep your hand on it at all times. There are Development people lurking behind every tree and bush and down every corridor.
Don’t complain. Truly, no one cares about what really chaps your hide “with all these changes, and none for the better…” The only person who gets to complain about anything is Rev. Theodore Martin Hesburgh, CSC. And he’s pretty happy with how everything has turned out. So you should be, too.
Giraffes may look hapless and gentle, but don’t be fooled – they have a mean streak.
There are a lot of new buildings, and more going up seemingly every week. If you get lost, pretend you know where you are, look for the cross on Sacred Heart or the BVM, and home-in.
Have a few cocktails in the stacks of the Library. All the students do.
Don’t marvel at how much better the Dining Hall food is as compared to when you were here. It’s an elaborate ruse. Do you really think we serve the good stuff to the captive audience from August to May?
Good luck trying to find your favorite bar in town. Odds are it closed, burned down, or was bought by the University and demolished. Just pick a new one and learn to love it.
Make a visit to the Grotto. Your Blessed Mother knows you’re here and expects to see you.
Swim in the reflecting pool and cavort in the big stone fountain. Both activities seem to have become regular pastimes.
Buy lots of things at the Bookstore. Ever since they shut down the farm and the brick factory, that’s the only way this place stays in business.
Rejoice. Reminisce. Repeat.
Son, in 199 years of religious study, I have only come up with two hard, incontrovertible facts: There is a God, and I'm pretty tight with Him.
Now I’m going to tell you a whole lot of things I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew me. I was along before your time, but you all know what a tradition I am at Notre Dame. And one of the most important things I ever said was, “Friends, sometime when my University is up against it and the breaks are beating the students, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win at everything for Padre. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be then, friends,” I said, “but I’ll be looking right over your shoulder.”