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Notre Dame Residential Life provides unique experience to students

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- One of the first steps of getting settled into college is getting your dorm assignment. But at Notre Dame, it's more than that. Your freshman year dorm assignment will determine not only where you live, but who you will call "family" for the next four years.

If you walk around Notre Dame's campus, you will find beautiful, brick buildings, iconic landmarks and smiling students. And it's the communities those students create that make this university tick.

"Often, when I tell people about the dorm system here, I compare it to a sorority. But it’s really not like that. You don’t have to do anything to fit in. We automatically accept you," Lewis Hall President Marissa Brennan said.

Unlike the traditional Greek system you would find at most universities, Notre Dame's social organizations are based solely on its dorm system.

"A lot of my friends from home are in fraternities and sororities at their schools. But Notre Dame, I think the unique nature of the residential life, I wouldn’t trade it for anything," Hall Presidents Council Co-Chair Brendan Watts said.

And Pasquerilla Hall President Carolyn Cleary agrees.

"That’s one huge part about Notre Dame is that the residential life is like, open arms, very inclusive environment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way," Cleary said.

Each hall is recognized by its own mascot.

"We have the best mascot on campus. We’re the Purple Weasels. You just can’t get better than that," Cleary said.

And students come out to represent their designated dorm with spirited pride at pep rallies.

"We dress up to show our spirit," Lyons Hall Sophomore Courtney Sauder said.

Students are able to make their mark by giving back through these residential communities.

"One of my favorite things about living in St. Eds, or STEDs for short, is our big charity event 'Mullets Against Malaria,'" Hall Presidents Council Co-Chair Joe Trzaska said.

Not unlike many fraternities and sororities, each hall works hard to lend a helping hand.

"We raise a ton of money for them and help kids get to school in South Sudan. And that’s incredibly fulfilling. And it means a lot to the residents of Dunne. And it means a lot to all of us. We’re really proud of that," Watts said.

This system, allows students to build bridges, while also building lifelong bonds.

"It’s absolutely a great feeling," Trzaska said.

Sauder adds, "The best thing is through your highs and your lows, you know people have your back. And when you step in your dorm, everyone is just there saying hi to each other, we love each other."

"Both of my parents attended the class of ’88. And they lived in Morrissey and Lyons Hall, right next to each other. So, if that doesn’t endorse the residential life system, I don’t know what does," Watts said.

Whether you meet your best friend, or your future spouse, students say you'll never feel alone or unfulfilled.

"Coming to Notre Dame, the residence life was definitely not one of the reasons I came here. But it’s definitely one of my main reasons why I love being here now," Brennan said.

And although they may not know what their futures hold after their four years are up, they all say they hope to leave a legacy like those who have before them to help carry on a tradition more than a century in the making.

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