05 September 2008

Guess what didn't happen at Notre Dame yesterday?

The Dillon Pep Rally.

Read here to find out more details at a blog run by three recent Dillon alumni. The official word is that Dillon's rector, Paul Doyle, decided that the men of Dillon wouldn't be ready to host it on time, and so it was summarily canceled last Sunday night. There seems to be no actual evidence that they were unprepared as everything was proceeding apace, with the script complete and guest speakers already booked. Apparently Doyle has allowed much less prepared productions to proceed in years past. Further belying this obviously bullshit excuse is the fact that it was outright canceled rather than postponed. As the author of the above postdelicately and eloquently puts it this story is "logic conveniently propped up without much explanation in order to mask somebody else's agenda."

From what I know of Fr Doyle he's a nice man and well respected, but a real go-along-to-get-along kind of guy. Not much of a desire to question the status quo or to challenge perceived wisdom. The author above shows more deference to Doyle. I would expect no less, since you don't serve as a rector's RA if you don't already respect him. (Unless you are really strapped for cash, and even then you need to pretend like you respect them.) From my point of view no one who praises Tracy Coyne has an overabundance of good sense, so I'm seriously disinclined to trust Doyle's judgement.
What we find very troubling is how the decision was dropped on the Men of Dillon without warning and with absolute finality, despite offers from our fellow Dillonites to perform their due diligence in order to pull the rally off on another weekend.
That should not be surprising. Almost every decision I saw made at Notre Dame on this type of matter was made without prior discussion and with absolute finality. Anyone who's attended a Kangaroo trial with Res Life should realize this. The letters announcing your punishment have already been printed up before your hearing begins.
It appears to us that this is another in a long chain of actions taken by ResLife and Student Activities to reign in and dumb-down things that once made Notre Dame special, lest anybody find it offensive or uncomfortable.
That is the obvious conclusion, and the correct one.

However the author and commenters put too much emphasis, I believe, on the administration's desire to reign in these activities so as not to offend anyone. I think a parallel, and more powerful, motivation is that they do not want any activity that is not directly under their aegis. There is a desire for control in the administration that outstrips the need to minimize liability. ResLife and Student Activities are run like any petty bureaucratic domain: every required seal of approval makes the administrator's domain just a tad bit bigger, and so nothing must allowed without explicit authorization and control.

If Notre Dame has seen the last of the Dillon Pep Rally then it has taken another step in the direction of blandness and mediocrity, a road its administrators have been unwittingly marching it down for the last several years. You can not squash these sorts of irreverent and exuberant events and expect enthusiasm not to suffer.

(Via Blue-Gray Sky)

1 comment:

  1. Amen.

    Good thing you didn't go into girls dorms... that's just opening up a HUGE can of worms there...