Cigs, cider and sainthood: a call for communion in UD culture

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Students get up close to stage at the 2018 Groundhog celebration held on the Madonna basketball courts. Photo by Anthony Mazur.

It is a Thursday night. A group of UD students lounge about in the student apartments. One friend pulls a bottle of red wine from atop the counter, and another grabs chips and cheese to serve alongside. Tonight, these students don’t feel like attending TGIT, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate the end of the week in their own way.

Earlier that evening, Campus Ministry hosted the weekly Emmaus Bible study in Anselm Hall.

Meanwhile, now on the opposite side of campus, music blares, beer is served, and students scream Billy Joel songs at the top of their lungs.

Who’s to say that University of Dallas students can’t have it all?

One of the greatest misconceptions at this university is the belief that you cannot participate in such different aspects of our on-campus and off-campus life without betraying the ideals of the school or your own identity. Too often, it seems like you can only be classified as either a “partier” or a “long-skirt;” you can be categorized as someone who feels that they should either go out every weekend or else find yourself in the chapel for hours on end.

This conception should not be a part of our culture. You should be visiting the chapel; if you’re Christian, you believe that the Passion of Christ occurred to save your soul, and you should be doing everything in your power to return the love that God bestowed on you. But if a friend of a friend’s birthday is that same evening and you find yourself with a red Solo cup in hand a few hours later, you shouldn’t be ashamed of that decision.

Our university identity, which oftentimes leads to drinking amongst friends, is deeply rooted in our Catholicism and is still in line with the Church. “The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2290.

The best moments of my time at UD have not been times of excess, but many have certainly included food and alcohol. There will always be those who lack moderation, but in my experience they are outliers in the community, not the majority.

Spending time at a party during college isn’t a problem; many great authors we read at UD have even advocated for it.

Evelyn Waugh, when describing his time as an undergraduate at Oxford, said that living at his alma mater gave him and his fellow students time to “learn to get drunk or not to get drunk; [to] edit their own papers and air their opinions … [to] find out, before they are too busy, what really amuses and excites them … in a town by themselves … with a great deal more chance of keeping their sense of humour and self-respect.” Waugh’s description of Oxford is easily and beautifully applied to the UD community.

I do not want to appear as an advocate for exuberant drinking or smoking. Underage alcohol consumption is not legal, copious amounts of smoking will quite literally destroy your lungs, and overindulgence in alcoholic beverages can lead to physical, moral, and other serious consequences.

But this community’s unique perspective directly relates the dichotomy of these “vices” to our education. UD students can be found sitting at the tables outside Haggar, taking a drag of a cigarette, or perhaps just eating a plate of caf food, and discussing the downfall of Achilles. We can stand on porches in the Mill, drinks in hand, and debate the benefits of poetry versus philosophy. We can also be found at daily Mass, squeezing time out of our already packed schedules to spend time in communion with one another and celebrate the Eucharist.

Let us be honest, it takes a lot of work to attend this school. UD students take pride in the high academic and intellectual standards of this university, but sometimes we all need a break. Thankfully, there are so many ways to experience joy in this community, and we shouldn’t fear taking advantage of them.

As UD students, we do our best to live fully and meaningfully, and that unique brand of university culture should be celebrated and broadened for the betterment of the community.

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