People like to say that Notre Dame’s dorm life incorporates all the best aspects of Greek life, while eliminating the downsides.
This might not be a hot take among the Notre Dame student body (because we’ve experienced it and know it’s true), but prospective students are sometimes a bit skeptical - especially because no other school has a dorm system like ours.
Right from the start, students are welcomed into their dorm community. Even before move-in, resident assistants and Welcome Weekend ambassadors - upperclassmen in the dorms - reach out to the first years to congratulate them and serve a resource as they transition to college.
There are no extra fees or dues required to be a part of your dorm community. You don’t have to go through rounds of interviews or put forth a certain version of yourself in order to fit in. And people who are indecisive like me, rejoice: there’s no ranking or decision-making involved! Students are randomly assigned their dorm the summer before freshman year. Although dorm assignments are random, somehow the personalities of the residents perfectly match the overall vibe of the dorm - or is it that the characteristics of the dorm shape its students? (A classic Notre Dame chicken-or-the-egg dilemma).
Each dorm has their own colors, mascot, and traditions - which is why our intern team decided to write blogs about the unique character of all 33 dorms. Many of our residence halls have bigs and littles, just like in Greek life. Forming these relationships is a great way to build community with people of other grades, majors, and backgrounds within your dorm. Some residence halls have their own unofficial Greek letters too - my dorm, Badin, is BΔN.
All of our dorms adopt or support charities, just like sororities and fraternities often do. Residence halls hold a wide range of fundraisers - from Lewis’s Hall of Pancakes (a late-night breakfast buffet for the local food bank) to Howard’s Totter for Water (students ride a see-saw in the middle of South Quad to raise money for clean water initiatives) to Siegfried’s Day of Man (in the middle of winter, Siegfried residents wear t-shirts - outside in the freezing cold - and collect money for the South Bend Center for the Homeless). In addition to these fundraisers, many dorms also engage in service, such as tutoring local children.
Many signature dorm events are held for all members of the campus community, like the popular Keenan Revue comedy show held each year. Sometimes in sororities or fraternities, you can’t bring friends to events if they’re not also in the chapter. At Notre Dame, dorm life isn’t restrictive like Greek life is - I’ve really enjoyed attending formals and SYRs (themed dances) with my friends from other dorms.
Dorm life is such a big part of Notre Dame that sometimes I forget that at other colleges, residence halls are just buildings. But here, our halls become our homes - and that’s what makes dorm life best of all.