Bob Kessler ’09 knows how to show gratitude. “For my parents: who worked incredibly hard so that I could attend a school like Notre Dame,” he writes in the dedication to Things Notre Dame Students Like (Corby Books).
The former Observer columnist also knows how to be funny. “Unfortunately for them,” he continues, “these are the things I learned there.”
Here are excerpts from the book’s 100 “insightful and delightful, serious and satirical” entries on ND culture.
Because Notre Dame Students were all considered “leaders” in high school, they all became accustomed to being followed by their peers in whatever they did. These students were used to planning events for student groups, classes, and social activities. When many of these identical personalities are brought together, it results not in perfectly planned events but in overly planned events. These events and activities can range from trivial things like dinner at the dining hall, to complicated ones such as traveling in Europe over spring break, and even unnecessarily complicated events like dorm parties. No matter what the event is, there are usually multiple students in the group that want to take up the mantle of leader and do more planning than would ever be necessary for any event.
Planning events for Notre Dame Students has become an even more complicated task because of technology. Even a low-key night might involve scores of text messages, emails and Facebook wall posts. A party (whether it be in a dorm or off-campus) will certainly involve several meetings, multiple “epic-length” emails, a money collection process, debate over playlist options, and the creation of a Facebook event.
While football weekend and special events bring out some fairly elaborate plans, the most over-planned times of the year are the weeks at the end of each semester. In the winter everybody feels the need to throw some sort of Christmas-themed event. Usually this entails cheesy sweaters, egg nog, peppermint schnapps, and sometimes caroling and Christmas movies. Off-campus students especially must be prepared to attend between four and eight Christmas parties just because each and every house or apartment that their friends live in will need to plan a party of their own (despite the fact that each of these parties will be the same).
However, the ultimate overly planned time of the year is the end of Spring Semester when everybody wants to throw their own “Last Party of the Year.” This planning reaches its climax at the end of Senior Week when each and every senior needs to plan an event for their friends and family. Because these seniors know the tendency of Notre Dame Students to overly plan events, they are sure to get their event on the calendar early (possibly as early as January) so that all of their friends will commit to it before other events are planned. This inevitably ends with Notre Dame Seniors shuffling their parents from event to event the nights before commencement just so all of their friends are happy (on the plus side, they get really drunk in the process).
While it’s difficult to make the claim that planning can ever be a bad thing, for Notre Dame Students it usually is. Notre Dame Students get so accustomed to their plans and routines that they have trouble going with the flow. Every once in a while Notre Dame Students need to stop planning and be surprised by “wherever the wind takes them.”
Finding inventive ways to procrastinate
When finals week descends on the University of Notre Dame, so too do the litany of things that Notre Dame Students do to procrastinate on their work that has been building up all semester. While there are some students who are focused on the task at hand (pre-meds), most Notre Dame Students see study days and exam week as a welcome chance to screw around as much as possible until work really must be done.
During the winter study days, these events are completely based in celebrations of Christmas such as parties, drunken caroling, and movie marathons. At the end of the spring semester, study days correspond with the one week of truly comfortable South Bend weather, so students take their debauchery outside. Many students also procrastinate on their work by leaving town to go to the Kentucky Derby, because there is no better way to prepare for exams than by drinking mint juleps and betting on horses.
While it is relatively easy for students to find fun and interesting ways to procrastinate during study days, their options begin to dwindle if they wish to continue procrastinating throughout exams week. Since every student wants to give the appearance that they are being productive with all the hours of work they claim to have, most students will pack up their books, notes, and laptops and find a spot with all of their friends on the second floor of the library or somewhere in LaFortune. After taking everything out of their backpack and spreading books and notes across a table or desk, Notre Dame Students will then take out their laptops and let the real procrastination begin.
Notre Dame Students are adept at finding online diversions to keep themselves occupied while feigning the appearance that work is being done. They will religiously update their Facebook statuses to make sure that everybody knows how many exams they still have, and how many hours it is until they are DONE. They will learn more than they did during any class throughout the semester by playing games such as Family Feud, Funny Farm, and Sporcle, and by the time exams are over they will finally be able to identify every country, name every sitting U.S. Senator, and list every book of the Bible. Notre Dame Students will also read more than they did for any class all semester. They will read more articles on ESPN.com and more message boards on Rivals and ND Nation. They will find blogs about Notre Dame Student life, and read about how they can procrastinate.
Notre Dame Students will do all of these things, and then just when it looks like they have run out of time, they actually will cram for exams and pull all-nighters writing papers. Shockingly, Notre Dame Students will do well on these things because the truth behind their procrastination is that they don’t require much effort to do an amazing job on their schoolwork. They procrastinate because they want people to think that their classes are really challenging and require working really hard, even if they don’t.
Standing at football games (but not really)
Notre Dame Students love standing during the football games. They love drunkenly standing on the bleachers, wearing shirts that they hate, cheering out of sync, and making crazy arm and hand motions when the band plays menacing sound bites. Notre Dame Students love to act in solidarity with the football team by never sitting down.
Or do they?
As a collective, the Notre Dame student body loves to stand during the football games, but Notre Dame Students individually do not like to stand at football games. Whether you call it a collective action problem or blatant peer pressure, Notre Dame Students secretly hate to stand at football games and only do it because everybody else is doing it.
Notre Dame Students’ hatred of standing at football games is most frequently seen at halftime. It is not evidenced by the students actually sitting down (because this would obviously happen) but in the swift and decisive way that students lower themselves into the bleacher seats. As soon as the halftime whistle blows, students sit down as if their legs are giving out. Students will then remain sitting throughout halftime, unless the band happens to play a song they like.
The most obvious proof that Notre Dame Students actually prefer sitting down during football games can be seen once these students graduate and become alums. If the individuals who make up the Notre Dame student body really loved to stand, then the alums who have graduated would also love to stand. However, most of Notre Dame Stadium is filled with alums who like to sit, and students who look forward to the day when they will graduate and finally be able to sit at football games.
Things Notre Dame Alumni like
1. Complaining about the football team, regardless of what happens on the field
2. Threatening to halt donations
3. Hiring ND Students
4. Reminiscing about the bars at five corners
5. Complaining about Tom Hammond and Pat Haden (especially in HD)
6. Getting indignant about losing Catholic identity
7. Using the word “draconian” to describe University policies
8. Dorm Mass after football games
9. The Sorin Society and other donation-based organizations
10. Talking about how they couldn’t get into ND if they applied today
11. Ara Parseghian
12. Knowing the lyrics to now-obscure school songs
13. Buying property in South Bend
14. Anonymously sponsoring parties in their old dorm room or house
15. Complaining about the football schedule
16. Vanity license plates
17. Being quiet during football games while complaining about a lack of noise in the stadium
18. Having a full bar at their family tailgate
19. Pep Rallies (both talking about how awesome they used to be in the old Fieldhouse and actively contributing to the modern incarnation being significantly less awesome)
20. Monogram sweater-vests
21. Hoping their local city hosts an off-site game, and then complaining about the existence of the off-site games
22. Playing catch with their children on South Quad
23. Lamenting the loss of the University Club
24. Being randomly generous to current students
25. Having their kids attend the University of Notre Dame