When applying to colleges, one of my favorite things to ask current college students about was the small college-specific cultural phenomena I could not read about in a magazine or admissions pamphlet. At Notre Dame, this could come in many different forms. It could be a dorm’s hilarious welcome-week traditions or the North vs. South Dining Hall debate. The character of Notre Dame is very much informed by the inside jokes and traditions that have lasted on this campus for generations.
One of the most meaningful cultural phenomena in my experience at Notre Dame has been the existence of dorm-specific tables in the dining hall. Going into the north or south dining halls, you might notice large groups of students sitting together at one or two tables. In North Dining Hall, the St. Edwards Hall crowd takes the high tables closest to the entrance, while Stanford Hall residents primarily eat at the high tables near the back drink dispenser. In South Dining Hall, O’Neil, Duncan, and Fisher Halls all occupy the furthest rows of tables on the side next to the dish drop-off station. These tables host a rotating crowd of residents in their dorm, some stopping in for a quick dinner, others engaging in lengthy, sometimes hour-long conversations.
In my dorm, Fisher Hall, the Fisher table in South Dining Hall has become one of the most important aspects of my experience living in a residence hall at Notre Dame. If I don’t have plans to meet friends from class or outside of my dorm for dinner, I always know that if I get my food in South Dining Hall, there will be a crowd of Fishermen at the Fisher table to chat with at breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Fisher table introduced me to the upperclassmen in my hallway during my freshman year, and the Fisher table helped me meet the freshman in my dorm during this year, my sophomore year. My conversations at the Fisher table are some of my favorite memories from college. Regardless of how my day goes, I know there will always be a group of fellow Fishermen to help cheer me up when I’m down, calm me down when I’m stressed, or just be an ear to listen to when I need to work through something.
Notre Dame’s residence hall system is unlike any other on-campus housing system in the country. The University prides itself on these dorm communities becoming not just a place where Notre Dame students live but rather a place where Notre Dame Students can find community and home on campus. Like any meal you might share at the dinner table with your family, meals at dorm tables in dining halls help create your home away from home at Notre Dame.