Smallish Badin shines big-time in '99
By MOLLY McSHANE
Editor's note: Scene will feature the dorms of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's throughout the fall and spring semesters. Anyone interested in writing a feature of a dorm should e-mail Scene at Scene@nd.edu.
When people think of "college life," they think of movies. "Animal House" and "The Revenge of the Nerds" all too often serve as a definition of what college is supposed to be like. That is why some people are so surprised to learn that a large university like Notre Dame has no sororities or fraternities. They cannot imagine a college without initiations and Greek letters on everyone's shirts.
But Notre Dame makes up for this serious deficiency with its residence halls. Students here will, in most cases, live in the same dorm as long as they are on campus, unlike most schools where each hall is designated for students of a particular year. This characteristic of Notre Dame housing — along with the ever-popular single sex living arrangements — makes the dorms here on campus much like living in a fraternity or sorority. There are traditions and songs and even some initiations that give each hall a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood.
This is why students here at Notre Dame tend to be quite partial to their dorm. They defend it. They love it. They cheer for it at pep rallies. Upon meeting fellow students, the common preliminary question is "Where do you live?" And the answer given will usually lead to certain preconceptions and/or questions about that particular hall. Sometimes, however, after answering this question, a student is asked, "Where is that?" When this happens, he or she tends to get a little frustrated.
The women of Badin Hall often feel this particular irritation. Because of its small size and peculiar position facing a large construction pit rather than a quad like all the other dorms, Badin is frequently overlooked.
Those who are unaware of Badin, and even some who are aware of the dorm, are also oblivious to its rich history. Badin was one of the first residence halls, dating back to 1897. The initial use of Badin Hall was not to house Notre Dame students, but to teach and house young men training to be blacksmiths, carpenters, bricklayers, tailors and farmers.
Now how many other halls can brag that their building used to be a school for manual labor? Not many, and that's for darn sure.
It wasn't until 1918 that "St. Joseph's School" became a residence hall and had its name changed to honor Father Stephen Badin, who provided the land for the University and built the original log cabin.
For the next 52 years, Badin Hall was home to young men attending the University. These men gave Badin its history. Its traditions. The little quirks that make what would otherwise be a bleak old building a home. Of course, all of these special memories had been long forgotten. That is, until now.
Surprisingly enough, Badin Hall used to be a happening spot back in the day. Even before the old bookstore's demolition, the large space of open grass in front of the dorm got its name — "Badin Bog" — from the always-efficient draining system here at Notre Dame and its effects on the field during the rainy months. The bog was used for many intramural sport competitions, including "bog ball," as well as everyday holly-gaggling and high jinks.
During this time, the first floor of Badin was used for many different purposes, including the barber shop and the bookstore. But as the need for books and overpriced Notre Dame merchandise increased, it was decided that the bookstore be moved out of Badin and into the bog. And so it was.
From 1967 on, Badinites took it upon themselves to entertain those coming and going from the bookstore by taking advantage of their prestigious balcony. They would hire bands to play there as they danced on the roof. On football weekends, a banner would be hung reading "BADIN BIDS:" and then an ill-wish for that week's opponent, such as "BURY THE BOILERMAKERS."
The popularity of Badin increased. Slips that had to be filled out whenever a student was planning on staying out for the night began to consistently read "Badin Hall" in the space provided for destination. Badin was known, officially, as "where it's at, where it's at." There were two turntables and a microphone, or so the stories say.
And then, in 1972, there was a drastic change. Badin and Walsh Halls were offered up as sacrifice to the incoming Saint Mary's women. It was a sad, sad day for many Badinites. A wreath was hung on the front door in mourning, and a letter was written to The Observer expressing their disappointment and sadness. But what was done was done, and the Badinites moved on.
On Feb. 14, 1972, a new tradition was started for the new residents of Badin Hall: complaining and moaning. An article was printed in The Observer by a Saint Mary's student explaining why Badin was a "pit." Apparently, the termites were a problem with the new inhabitants, and the rooms were cramped compared to the spacious living at Saint Mary's.
Complications such as these ended up simply adding to the spirit of living in Badin Hall, and they still do today. When outsiders visit Badin, they comment on its nice, old architecture. They like the look of the old sinks and the wooden paneling. What these people don't know is that just last month, the nice sink in room 218 fell out of the wall. Another sink decided to purge itself of its contents, and those of sinks from floors above it, all over an unsuspecting tooth-brusher.
Despite all of this and more, the Badin Bullfrogs remain in high spirits and continue to be proud of where they live. During freshmen orientation, the first-year women of Badin could be seen marching around campus cheering for their hall just like any dorm with sinks that stay in the wall.
Signs above freshmen rooms 244 and 243 proudly read "Born to be Badin," and a popular motto among the 130 or so Bullfrogs is "good things come in small packages."
This year, Badin's hall staff consists of rector Nancy Cook, assistant rector Gail Navarro and resident assistants Katy Fallon, Cheryl Asci and Loubel Cruz. The dorm presidents are Theresa Bresnahan, Priscilla Clements and Zesha Holyfield. Hall council meets every Tuesday night to work on making Badin an even better place to live, and just before fall break, there was an exciting decision to get an ice machine in the laundry room.
It also seems that Badin is on the verge of a comeback. The flag football team made it to the playoffs for the first time in as long as anyone can remember with a 2-2-2 record. Second floor RA Katy Fallon lead the non-football players in starting the first-ever Badin Hall cheerleading squad for the big game last Sunday against Welsh.
Their complicated stunts were said to have been so good, that there is talk of some "reorganization" of the Fighting Irish football cheerleaders for the Boston College game.
Little by little, Badin is making its way into the spotlight. Soon there will be no more uncertainties as to where exactly Badin Hall is. It will simply be known as "where it's at."
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, November 3, 1999