By Marianne Morgan Harris '77
In August 1973, I arrived at Notre Dame excited to begin my next adventure. I fell in love with the school during my campus visit and won the lottery when I received my acceptance. It was a very competitive time to get into schools that just gone coed and a huge financial sacrifice for my family for me to attend. My dad’s military officer pay was not much back then and there were still four children at home. However, my parents always believed in the value of education, even though in the 1970s college was not as necessary as is it today, and many women, in particular, did not attend. I was determined to take advantage of every opportunity Notre Dame afforded me and took as many classes as (sanely) possible. It was not daunting to me to be outnumbered by men: I had 4 brothers at home!
Of the many positive experiences I had at the University, two instances cemented my love of Notre Dame, the community, my classmates, and other alumnae.
In freshman year, my randomly selected roommate and I were assigned to a small, windowless room (unless you count the window in the Fire Escape door) on the 4th floor of Badin Hall. Though we often had to prop the door open to keep the room cool, a benefit of the room was it allowed us roof access to watch Bookstore Basketball and view campus with a bird eye’s view. I’ve seen the room, which was probably recognized as unsafe, morph into a study room, ironing board room, and finally renovated out of existence.
But our 4th floor Badin gang bonded over the interesting living conditions and quickly devised plans to improve the 4th floor corridor connecting the two wings of rooms. With assistance from Rev. Jerome Wilson, VP – Business Affairs, and Mr. John Moorman, Assistant Director of Maintenance, we brightened the hallway with paint, installed swinging doors to replace a shower curtain entrance to the showers, and created study areas in the hallway with old furniture such as pews, Morris inn tables and lamps. Working together in arranging all the “new” stuff, we really made that floor our home away from home.
Next, I needed to understand football. Arriving on campus, I did not know anything of Notre Dame’s storied football history and could not even name one of the Four Horsemen, so I joined Badin’s intramural flag football team in an effort to learn more. The most underappreciated individuals were our male classmates who volunteered to coach those of us who knew nothing about the fine art of football. By the end of the season we knew all about blocking, sweeps, flea flickers, sets and other plays that led us to be intramural champs one year. And of course, in the stadium on Saturdays, we become part of the student body critics asking “why did our team run that play? They should have just barreled up the middle!”
We had to vacate Badin Hall my junior year because it was designated a Graduate Women’s Dorm, but our football team was so important that we all selected Lewis as our next home to keep the “team” together. And, yes, we can relate to the men before us that mourned the loss of their dorm “home” to another group. Thankfully for me, it only lasted a year and I returned to Badin for senior year.
Looking back, I do not feel my experiences at Notre Dame -- with all its personal challenges, evolving coed climate, and rewards -- are any different than those of today’s students. in fact the climate today might be more complicated. It seemed that the majority of my women classmates went on to law, grad or med school while others went to work in the industry of their major. Notre Dame made us adventurers, pioneers, and service-driven individuals.
Demographics, values, cultural norms may have changed but Notre Dame is still a community that allows students to explore the campus and its offerings to its fullest. It provides a lifetime connection of faith, encouragement,and service and a warm welcome from all alumni, even on first introduction. That’s family!