Clusterfuck at The University of Notre Dame

Tuesday, 28 February 2006

I had a brief chance to check out my old university newspaper during a break in the directing over the weekend. I jumped right to the Viewpoint section to see if the same old was still the same old. And it is. I read a letter from two of my favorite professors that frankly and succintly illuminates the central problem at ND: a student social life retarded by a reactionary institution wielding an obsolete morality.

Most of the people who ask me about Notre Dame seem surprised to hear that I hated it there. The only thing that kept me from transferring to another school where I could have received an equivalently excellent education was the fencing team. My main reason for wanting to leave was the immature and unconstructive social life led by the students. The pitfalls of binge drinking have been discussed to death, including the spectre of date rapel; but the causes of binge drinking itself are rarely touched upon. I’d like to offer my own suppositions on this matter.

I was amazed at the sheer number of Domers who had spent their entire lives ensconced within the Catholic school system. Even more amazing to a country boy like me was the fact that many of these same Domers has spent their entire lives ensconced in single-​sex Catholic schools. Twelve years of segregation and indoctrination in sexual repression by sexually repressed priests and nuns. I’m not advocating free love, here. Everyone is allowed to be as sexually repressed as they want to be; but I see an obvious bias and fundamental disconnect with allowing the celibate to tell us how and when we should pork. It should be no surprise then, that when young men and women who have had little to no uncodified interaction with the opposite sex and a lifetime of sexual repression finally come into everyday contact with each other that they have no knowledge of healthy mechanisms with which to comport themselves.

Enter the hookup cycle. The main reason my college social life sucked. The weekend hits and everyone gets shitfaced and hooks up and pretends nothing happened come Monday. Girls who have had 12+ years of nun-​warnings about protecting their virginity have a couple very bad first weekends their freshman year when Boys who have had 12+ years of priest-​admonitions finally let their pent up sexual energy go wild. Social life at ND reminded me more of Connersville Junior High School than one of the top 25 Universities in the nation.

And now the new President of the University, Fr. Tim Jenkins, probably as a result of his Bishop’s directives, is furthering and broadening the scope of sexual repression on campus.

Of all things there are for a priest to get his panties in a twist about, The Vagina Monologues of all things, should be low on the list. For a brief time in college I dated a stripper. Who attended the University of Notre Dame. Who was smart as yeah. Who participated in a packed house [in DeBartolo 101] performance of The Vagina Monologues. I was a member of the campus Knights of Columbus at the time, and the Grand Knight tried to organize a praying of the rosary outside of the room during the performance. I ran into one of my anthro professors, Fr. Gaffney on the way to the monologues and discovered that he was going to the performance as well. The Grand Knight saw us coming and assumed we were there for the rosary. Woops. As a play I think the Vagina Monologues is crap, but its usefulness in empowering both women and men in an examination of the network of relations between sex and gender roles is extremely important. Especially in a repressive environment like Notre Dame.

Similarly, the University’s pantytwist about a GLBT Film Festival is just as stupid. For a bunch of [seemingly] powerful celibate old men, wigging out over a movie or two is ridiculous. Yet all I have to do is think back to other things that have been wigged out about at ND [The Last Temptation of Christ, that penis video at the student film fest, the VM every goddamn year, others I’m sure I’ve repressed by now] and I realize that the more things stay the same, the more they suck.

If the University aims to teach holistic and catholic values, it needs to stop focusing on the worldly interpretations of Catholic doctrine, the imperfect human interpretations of God’s love for us, and realize that appreciative inquiry and dialogue can do more to foster Christ-​like living than ostracism and close-​minded tradition. I’m still working my way through a reconciliation between the good that the Church does and the harm it has done to me in terms of my own development, my own relationships and my own understanding of the importance of sex in my life. These are all personal choices, and while the Church has every right to provide its own guidance it shouldn’t restrict the expression of dissenting opinions. The University always hears the rustle of money over reasoned attempts at dialogue, so until the students and faculty of the University take organized action on their own, or figure out a way to make ND’s policies hurt its pocketbook I expect few things will change. I do know that whenever I have children, I’ll encourage them to attend a University that will provide them with an open and welcoming environment in which to educate themselves both mentally and socially. If ND keeps on as it has been keeping on, it definitely won’t be on the list.


Monday, 27 February 2006

— thanks to Joseph Campbell

Through me; the way to the woeful city;“1

a hero
with a thousand faces;2
a story you
always wanted to hear.

We continue
though we know we continue

A desolation of hope.
That is the story.

and I say: This
must be
a prophetic life-

Why else cry to the deserted places?
Why seek wisdom on mountains?

2 The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

I think this one is going to remain in pieces; appropriate I suppose. The main ideas are there, but I think the tone is wrong and that is why I can’t get them to bind. Any suggestions?

Email Blacklist Spam Madness

If you’ve sent an email in the past three days to my email account on this domain you need to send it again. The blacklist on my webmail isn’t the most intelligent and spammers are ever devious, so when I ran my blacklist over the 70+ emails I had waiting for me this morning all 100 or so of my emails were summarily deleted and purged. This is because one of the email addresses on the blacklist ended with an @, and the blacklist then decides to delete mail from any domain after the @. Argh. Mr. Rijks, I know you sent me mail, [hola!] so please send it again, if you please. Please. That goes for the rest of you too.

Notre Dame Invitational Day 2

Men's EpeeDay 2 was the team event, which went much faster than the individual stuff. I was dressed slightly warmer and with more comfortable shoes and was this time complimented on both my corduroy blazer [2 sizes too small, for that ill-​fitting euro-​chic] and my shoes. There was a little bit of fuss from the Northwestern coaches on a couple of my calls during a bout, but I got it all straightened out, although I don’t think the NW coaches were completely satisfied. Then I hauled ass back home and passed out at around 9pm.

Directing Dogs

Saturday, 25 February 2006

ND Fencing InvitationalAfter 10 hours on my feet directing épée fencers of all shapes, sizes and levels of attractiveness, my knees are small novas of pain. It is fascinating how much nicer fencers are when you’re a director. Especially the females. Today I was complimented on my scarf [mom-​knitted!], my style [what!?], my pronunciation of Dumas [although I initially mispronounce Slutz due to a missing umlaut], and my glasses [wtf?]. That’s not including all the smoky looks and shy smiles as well. Fencer girls…

I probably just had something on my face the whole time.

I ran into so many old fencers from my time on the team, it was great to visit with them and trade old war stories. The last remnants of people that I knew are graduating this year. I’m already long forgotten. Glory is fleeting. [Even though I didn’t provide much of it.]

Tomorrow is the team competition, which goes a bit faster and won’t provide me with as many temptations to let flirting with a pretty redhead from IU or a raven-​haired blue-​eyed ND fencer influence my decisions. Like I’d ever let that happen.


Friday, 24 February 2006

This weekend I’m going to be directing at the Notre Dame Fencing Invitational. It’s an easy way to make a couple hundred dollars and an excuse to eat at CJ’s. I’m doing some serious brushing up on my USFA rules, since I’ve not actually fenced since I’ve graduated. [I can’t believe it.] The Invite is two long long days of fencing, starting at 8 and usually ending 8 or more hours later, so I’ll definitely earn my cash. Since I’m leaving after work today, I had to accomplish all the normal stuff I do on the weekend last night. So I did my laundry, got my car serviced, et cetera. But the Lube Stop broke the valve stem in one of my tires, so I ended up having to put on the donut in the sleeting rain and drive to NTB in Lakewood for a replacement stem. The guy that fixed my car goes to the Greek Orthodox Church in Tremont, and another guy who was there waiting has a daughter around my age that lives there.

I’m going to send a complaint to Lube Stop, and maybe next time I’ll get a free oil change. The whole affair killed about two hours of my time. Tremont West gave me a call because they’d like to send me to a leadership conference in Nashville in May that is sponsored by Neighbor Works. I stopped in to check out their new offices and explained that I’d like to go, but since my status in the Cleveland is now unstable that they should continue asking people, but to keep me in mind and that I’d keep them updated.

I finally made it back to my apartment at about 7:45 and was able to shove some clothes in my overnight pack and snarf some leftover vegetable stew before I had to meet up with Des and Steve at the Lit to discuss the logistics of installing webcams in tactical spots in Tremont. Busiest Thursday I’ve had in a long time, I didn’t even have a chance to think about running.

we wrote love poems

Thursday, 23 February 2006

we wrote love poems
before pomo.

now, all must

not just
 your body
under mine
but also,
 a hand;
 under the