Members consider revamping graffiti dance
By HELENA RAYAM
The Campus Life Council tackled freshman orientation concerns and passed three resolutions during Monday's meeting.
"We have to not put ourselves in the position of the upperclassmen, but the position of the freshmen," said student body secretary Luciana Reali referring to the freshman orientation events.
The CLC gender relations committee members met with representatives from the Office of Student Activities to discuss freshman orientation activities with an emphasis on the graffiti dance. Student Activities is considering changing this culminating orientation event for first-year students because of issues surrounding the presence of upperclassmen, alcohol and the discomfort of introverted students.
"When [freshmen] first come [to Notre Dame], they learn how to party in the wrong manner," said Ross Kerr, Student Union Board manager. "We learned that [Student Activities was] trying to put an end to the graffiti dance.
"The graffiti dance at least forces you to talk to the other gender, but there are some people who are afraid of that. I can see both sides," said Kerr.
"I don't like the idea that my virility is going to be measured by the number of signatures I got on a T-shirt," said Faculty Senate representative Edward Manier, expressing his opinion on how some students might feel about the dance. "You want to have as little stigmatization as possible."
CLC members discussed ways to change the structure of the dance or incorporate different activities into it so those students do not feel pressured to obtain signatures.
Kerr said that Student Activities might consider having a video dance party as an alternative to steer away from the signature element of the dance. Suggestions from CLC members included keeping the dance but not allowing students to specify preferences by markers. Another suggestion was to change the theme.
St. Edward's Hall rector Father Dave Scheidler recommended having a fiesta with Latin music, a luau or another ethnic theme, which Coalition Council representative Michael Fierro said would attract more minority students.
"[A theme is] something that draws them more than just scribbling on someone's shirt," said Scheidler.
He said that encouraging students to get numbers from students of the opposite sex misses the point that the dance is supposed to acquaint people with one another and help them adjust during the first week.
"It turns the mentality into not meeting people, but getting a date," Scheidler said.
He recalled that before the graffiti dance became an event, students used to have sockhops in the Joyce Center that put less emphasis on meeting the opposite sex.
"I met a lot of my lifelong friends at that dance," Scheidler said.
Once the freshman orientation dance changed to an outdoor luau, the dance began to take on a new form, he said. The dance also became more accessible to people other than freshman students.
Now the event has turned into a "meat market," Scheidler said.
"What happens a lot of times is that freshmen, sophomores and juniors come to the dance a little intoxicated and use it as an opportunity to meet freshman girls," said Reali, who serves on Lewis Hall's freshman orientation committee.
Reali said that some of the shyer girls and international students in her dorm did not have a good experience at the dance. Fierro said that many ethnic students also feel "out of the loop" because of cultural adjustments during the first week.
"There is a meat market mentality, but no one gets rejected," said Keough Hall senator and student body president-elect Brian O'Donoghue. "You need something to force the students to get involved. There's going to be culture shock regardless."
Manier said he wanted to see some graffiti dance adjustments.
"The idea that majority attitudes are going to be enshrined institutionally is like saying, `We're never going to change,'" Manier said.
The CLC discussed switching the time of the graffiti dance from Saturday night, and also possibly having two smaller North and South Quad dances instead.
"Freshmen orientation is one of the only weekends when you can approach anyone and that's why we should have a campus-wide event," said student body vice president-elect Brooke Norton.
"Keep the graffiti dance, but add an alternative," said current student body president Micah Murphy.
Kerr is going to discuss the freshman orientation activities with the gender relations committee and draft a resolution.
In other CLC news:
u The diversity committee drafted a resolution to make the diversity education program mandatory for transfer students.
"It's so that students don't fall through the cracks," Fierro said.
If approved, the program, which is mandatory for first-year students, will be given to all transfer students before mid-semester break each semester.
u Members passed another resolution to stop parking on outdoor basketball courts. Currently some parking lots are used until 5 p.m., but this rule is not always enforced. Because of the upcoming Bookstore Basketball tournament, students will be using the outdoor courts more frequently and CLC members wanted to see that courts are available to the student body.
"By getting this done early, we're avoiding a conflict that I can definitely see right away," said Brian Rigney, co-chair of the Hall President's Council.
u An additional resolution to have a student member on the University Committee for the First Year of Studies was also passed by the CLC.
All News Stories for Tuesday, March 7, 2000