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 epee 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