Ahoy, Cap’n!

Many parents deny their children sugary cereals on a daily basis.  Perhaps for this reason, the wide variety of cereal available in the dining halls has long been popular among the students, who are no longer under their parents’ watchful eyes.  In February 1983, a couple dozen students protested the lack of Cap’n Crunch, the sugary cereal of choice, during dinner at South Dining Hall.  This spurred Lee Brossard and his sophomore class running mate to make a campaign promise to hold a Cap’n Crunch party if elected.

The Quaker Oats’ mascot Cap’n Crunch meeting a fan at Notre Dame, October 1983

The sophomore class officers initially contacted Quaker Oats for just a few boxes of cereal for their party; however, Quaker Oats was intrigued by the idea.  After some back and forth between Quaker Oats and the Notre Dame Administration, a week-long Cap’n Crunch festival was scheduled, which included a visit by the Cap’n himself, treasure hunts, and cereal eating contests.

Notre Dame Press Release regarding Cap’n Crunch week at Notre Dame, 10/05/1983

A student participating in the Cap’n Crunch eating contest where neatness counted, October 1983.

This was one of the first major corporate-sponsored events at Notre Dame.  Notre Dame is often approached by corporations to hold such events and the administration often denies such attempts.  Crunch Fest became a reality because the students were so enthusiastic about the idea.  This particular event itself was reigned in a bit as Fr. John Van Wolvlear, President of Student Affairs, eliminated Quaker Oats’ original idea to have the Cap’n bid the students farewell from a boat-shaped float in the Stadium during the USC game.  No events were scheduled for that Saturday home football game day, nor was the Stadium a venue for any part of Crunch Fest.

Wall Street Journal newspaper article regarding the 1983 student protest over the lack of Cap’n Crunch cereal in South Dining Hall; published in Parade magazine, 01/29/1984

Observer, Fall 1983
UDIS 81/10

King Kersten

In the spring of 1972, Robert (Bob) Calhoun Kersten ran one of more memorable Student Body Presidential campaigns from his office in the fourth floor bathroom of Walsh Hall.

Bob Kersten and others on the sidelines of the ND vs. Purdue football game, 09/30/1972

Kersten’s candidacy was intended satire of student government and he ran under an oligarchy platform.  Despite University violations, Kersten’s running mate was Uncandidate the Cat, the “first female Notre Dame poobah” [Observer, 03/03/1972].

Profile and platform of Student Body President candidate Robert Calhoun Kersten [Observer, 02/22/1972]

In an apparent publicity stunt, Kersten was “abducted … from the third floor water closet in Keenan Hall” [Observer, 02/24/1972]

Page of the index of the Observer, maintained by the University Archives, listing some of Kersten’s activities during the 1972 Student Body Presidential elections and his first few months in office, including walking on water, coronation, and declaring martial war

Kersten wins the Student Body Presidential election [Observer, 03/03/1972]

Kersten won the election by the largest margin to date, although he hadn’t planned much for his actual presidency.  Student Body Vice President Uncandidate the Cat was replaced by Ed Gray, who was replaced by Dennis Etienne (H-Man) in October 1972.  Kersten’s presidency was relatively uneventful as Etienne ran much of the day-to-day activities.  Etienne won the following year’s SBP election.

Kersten’s antics are remembered still today.  The Observer and Notre Dame Magazine have mentioned him in recent articles.  Legend’s of Notre Dame Restaurant also offers a “King of Campus” steak in his honor.

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