Free Zahm House: Notre Dame’s Unofficial Fraternity

Five miles from the Michigan border, in the part of Indiana that strictly drinks Busch Light, lies the school that your Grandma wanted you to go to before she realized that you’re a colossal disappointment: Notre Dame. Notre Dame will always get a TON of shit for being a University where Priests have higher body counts than students and having a football team that disappoints fans worse than my penis after I get into some Jager. I think Notre Dame students realize that they are more Adderall and ambition than alcohol and A Boogie Wit A Hoodie, and that’s fair enough. That’s probably why the average starting salary for a graduate hovers around seventy-grand; they might be nerds, but they piss excellence. 

But where does a kid from Notre Dame go if they want a taste of the real college experience? They have no Greek life. The bars are about as strict as an immigrant father on Prom night. Well, that’s where dorms come in. At Notre Dame, students have to live in on-campus dormitories until their Senior year. The dorms function as the JV version of an authentic Greek life experience. Because all dorms are single-sex, a sense of comradery and brotherhood is built through navigating the strenuous nature of an academically elite college while also trying to pursue a healthy social life. On the Notre Dame campus, one dorm stands out far and away, trying to maintain the latter: Zahm. 

Back in the day, Notre Dame students were assigned dorm rooms alphabetically based on their high school GPAs. Which…you guessed it…would leave Zahm at the end of that line. Anybody that’s accepted to a school of Notre Dame’s prestige is highly intelligent. Still, Zahm kids historically have seen maintaining strong social ties as another viable option (something that pretty much anybody that doesn’t go to fucking Notre Dame does too). Zahm has curated a culture where traditional Notre Dame excellence meets pissing blacked out in the shower. A dormitory that boasts alumnus like Joe Montana, but also knows how to hold their own in a game of beer die. 

On-campus, they resemble your boy from high school that you all shit on but was known as the glue guy of your friend group. During football games, kids chant FUCK Zamn but find their way over there later to celebrate a win. This is why it’s BULLSHIT that Notre Dame announced yesterday that they are essentially banning Zahm off-campus. After getting some TFM submissions about the predicament, I figured what any outsider would: that Zahm house was Notre Dame’s Penn State locker room(honestly a lazy joke, but I’m pressed for time editing this right now). 

But today, I spoke with members of the Zahm house. The guys I interviewed spoke candidly that Zahm did have issues related to perpetuating an environment of rape culture in the early 2000s, but that hasn’t been the case for YEARS. Just rumors passed down from a generation of Notre Dame students. I learned that they rank in the top percentile of safest male-dorms for women on campus, I learned that they are the top dorm for sexual assault training, and I learned that they were given virtually no official warning from the school to change their more debaucherous ways. The last official behavioral reprehension listed in the letter issued to residents about why they were getting the boot was their removal from the intramural sports program…over five fucking years ago. 

Do these kids booze more on average than other kids on campus? Fuck yes, they do, but what’s the fucking issue? They had double the number of COVID cases than any other dorm because they like interacting with people and the schools located in INDIANA. Might I remind you what Indiana University looked like at the height of this pandemic (not being a douche to IU kids just proving a point)?

1,500 students protested outside Zahm last night. That’s WILD out of a student population of 8,600, with an influx of students that stayed home because of remote learning. Many of them, girls that enjoyed having a place where they too could act like regular college students instead of bearing the enormous weight that the perfect Notre Dame son/daughter has to carry. The reason that Zahm kids often found so much success after graduation was because their traditional “party atmosphere” created confident men who can go out and kill a job interview. Zahm guys can maintain eye contact, shake their girlfriend’s Dad’s hand with a firm grip, and confidently drive their political opinion home…no matter how wrong they may be/ how little they actually know about the subject they’re speaking on. I’ll leave you with a quote from a senior Zahm alumnus.

“it breaks my heart to see the community I’ve loved and the bonds I’ve made over the last four years destroyed without a formal process or any opportunity to make our voices heard. My Notre Dame experience would not be half what it has been without Zahm House, and it is a crime to deprive future students of the traditions and experiences I was lucky enough to have. Notre Dame by choice, Zahm by the grace of God.” link found here


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