Notre Dame’s Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) first began as Parents-Son Day on April 18, 1953. As Scholastic reported, Parents-Son Day was “[a] joint project of the Junior Class and the University administration … designed to ‘better acquaint students’ parents with the everyday life their sons lead on campus,’ [Thomas W.] Carroll [Department of Public Relations] said” [Scholastic, February 20, 1953].
Students took their parents on tours of campus, classrooms, and laboratories, meeting faculty and administrators. They ate in South Dining Hall, played golf, and stayed at the newly opened Morris Inn. The day was an immediate success that turned into a weekend-long affair the next year and all the years that followed.
Some questioned the scheduled April date as opposed to a football weekend when more parents might likely be in town. However, the chaos of gameday makes it difficult for parents to see everyday student life at Notre Dame. A special weekend just for the parents in the spring semester has worked out nicely for well over half a century.
The date of Junior Parents Weekend crept earlier and earlier until it settled in on a mid-February weekend in the 1970s, much to the chagrin of parents hailing from warmer climates than South Bend. Anecdotally, if the harsh February weather is going to break, it likely happens during JPW. In 2017, the temperature will break 60° and the sun will make a rare appearance, dispersing the permacloud and belying the students’ complaints of cold, snow, and the stinging Indiana winds.
While the Juniors are occupied entertaining their parents on campus for the weekend, there are few other events going on for the other Notre Dame students. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Sophomore class turned this lull into an opportunity to take a road trip to Chicago.
JPW has changed little over the years. It still is a time where parents visit their children, meet their friends, tour campus and new facilities, meet faculty and administration, and maybe buy a few things at the Bookstore. The dinners have become more formal and more elegant than the in early JPW years, but the purpose remains the same. In addressing the parents at the first Parents-Son Day, University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh welcomed them to the Notre Dame Family: “‘I want you parents to feel you belong here at Notre Dame as your sons are the main part of our University.’ He considered the Parents-Son Day “definitely pointing to the beginning of a tradition'” [Scholastic, April 24, 1953, page 11].
On Memorial Day, May 30, 1924, University President Rev. Matthew Walsh dedicated the World War I Memorial at Notre Dame before saying a military field mass in front of it. The memorial is an addition to the east transept of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart designed by Notre Dame architects Francis Kervick and Vincent Fagan. The professors also designed Cushing Hall of Engineering, Howard Hall, Lyons Hall, Morrissey Hall, and South Dining Hall.
The cry for a memorial for Notre Dame’s contributions to the Great War began shortly after armistice in 1919. The memorial initially was going to have inscribe all 2500 Notre Dame active students, alumni, and faculty members who served. In that number were two future University Presidents who served as chaplains during WWI – Rev. Matthew Walsh and Rev. Charles O’Donnell. In the end, the tablets only list the names of the 56 who sacrificed their lives in the war.
The Notre Dame Service Club worked diligently to raise funds for the memorial through dances, Glee Club concerts, and general petitions in Scholastic. Notre Dame formed a post of Veterans of Foreign Wars in January 1922, which then took up the efforts. The VFW disbanded in 1923, as there would be few veteran students left on campus to keep the post going. They had hoped to have the memorial complete by the end of their run, but it would still be another year before it would be finished.
In January 1923, a special committee of Notre Dame’s VFW post approved Vincent Fagan’s design for the memorial to be a new side-entrance to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the idea favored by University President Walsh (see sketch above). Scholastic noted that “[t]he design is beautiful and appropriate and will add charm to the campus as well as ‘hold the mind to moments of regret'” (Scholastic, March 24, 1923, page 677).
When the memorial was finally dedicated on Memorial Day 1924, it wasn’t quite yet complete. However, it would be finished in time for Commencement. At the dedication, President Walsh remarked,
The real purpose of a memorial, from the Catholic point of view, is to inspire a prayer for those we desire to remember. It is very proper that this memorial should be a part of the Church of Notre Dame.
No one who knows Notre Dame need be told of the spirit of loyalty and faith that has animated this university from its beginning. We should imitate our dead in that they have shown us the lesson of patriotism. If only the people of America would follow their example there would be no discrimination because of race or creed. When Washington said that religion and morality are the basis of patriotism he gave us the definition to every patriotic move at Notre Dame.
It is to the boys of the World War and to the men of the Civil War that this memorial is dedicated. Let us ask God that this memorial will not only be beauty in stone, but also a reminder to pray for the men to whom it is dedicated.
(Notre Dame Daily, May 21, 1924, page 1)
For many years, the memorial door was the natural place to hold mass on Memorial Day and other military occasions. With the changes made to altar placement with Vatican II and the academic year ending well before Memorial Day, this tradition has gone by the wayside. The memorial remains an important corner of campus and the “God, Country, Notre Dame” inscription is often quoted today.
On August 10, 1965, Notre Dame dedicated its first dormitory built specifically for female students. Lewis Hall was originally built as a residence for the religious women pursuing advanced degrees at Notre Dame, accommodating 143 nuns, all in private rooms. It would later open to include female lay graduate students as the number of religious declined. In 1975, Lewis was converted to a residence for undergraduate women and the single rooms were turned into doubles.
Holy Cross Sisters Mary Frances Jerome (MA in Greek Literature) and Mary Lucretia (MS in Chemistry) were the first two women to earn degrees at Notre Dame in 1917. The formal establishment of the Summer School Program in 1918 and the Graduate School in 1932 brought thousands of women to Notre Dame from across the country. Since most did not live locally, they did their coursework over the summer sessions, dragging out the time needed to complete their bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees.
On April 28, 1962, University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh announced a million dollar donation from the Frank J. Lewis Foundation for the construction of a dormitory for these women to live on campus year-round and earn their degrees. As such, they could earn a masters degree in 15 months rather than over five summer sessions. Hesburgh said, “the new hall will accelerate the graduate training of the devoted women who constitute the heart of Catholic education in America” [Notre Dame Press Releases, April 1962].
Chicago business man Frank J. Lewis unfortunately had passed away in 1960 before he could see his foundation fund Lewis Hall. Before they were married, his future wife Julia founded the Illinois Club for Catholic Women in 1919, which was “a home for young Catholic business women away from home and in modest circumstances.” The couple was extremely active in philanthropic work throughout Chicago and “their outstanding contributions toward the development of Catholic higher education [was] so great as to have earned them the title of Godfather and Godmother to Loyola University, DePaul University, Lewis College at Lockport, Illinois, and others.” Frank believed that “God gives a man money so that he will share it with others” [UDIS 99/15].
In a move to eventually make space for all women undergraduate students who chose to live on campus, Lewis Hall’s resident profile changed in the fall of 1975. The graduate students were moved to Badin Hall for the year in the anticipation of the opening of the Grace O’Hara graduate student apartments in 1976. The undergraduate women living in Badin Hall since opening to women in the fall of 1972 were moved to Lewis Hall in the interim. Badin Hall returned to house undergraduate women after this one year shuffle.
While the move initially upset students all around, Notre Dame saw it as the best option available to facilitate the graduate and ever-increasing undergraduate women, without further displacing the on-campus male students.
Even though graduate students are often overlooked on campus, Lewis Hall plays a very important role in the history of coeducation at Notre Dame.
Bookstore B-Ball Tournament Finals The Basketball Bible (The King James Brogan Version) lists 3 virtues: faith, hope, and the greatest of these, the charity stripe. If you like Hoosier Hysteria, you’ll love An Tostal’s Bookstore B-Ball tourney. It’s a single elimination tourney with the finals being played on Frivolous Friday. A lot of the all-star players (including Chuck Taylor) are already conversing about what type of shoes to wear. — 1972 An Tostal Program
The Notre Dame Bookstore Basketball Tournament began in the spring of 1972 as part of An Tostal. Organized by students Vince Meconi and Fritz Hoefer, the first tournament only drew 53 teams, but it became an instant classic. Inspired by standard pick-up game rules, the structure of Bookstore Basketball has changed slightly over the years, but the spirit of competition remains true to its core after all these year.
Bookstore Basketball is a single-elimination, student-run, outdoor tournament, drawing hundreds of five-person teams. The games are played to 21 points and early rounds are self-refereed. In 1983, 512 teams competed and the Guinness Book of World Records deemed it the largest five-on-five outdoor basketball tournament in the world, a title Bookstore Basketball still touts today as the number of teams continues to grow past 700.
The tournament’s name, coined by alumnus Jimmy Brogan, is derived from the courts behind the old South Quad Bookstore, now occupied by the Coleman Morse Center, not from any involvement from the Hammes Bookstore. The courts were also a parking lot, so they came with particular hazards – from manhole covers to standing water. With the popularity of Bookstore Basketball, it was only natural that courts accompany the new Hammes Bookstore when it opened in 1998. To accommodate all of the teams, games play day or night, in all weather – sunshine, pouring rain, or under a blanket of snow.
Athletic abilities vary widely among the teams, from varsity athletes to players who have barely picked up a ball. For many teams, Bookstore is all about the creativity and potential notoriety of team names and costumes. Crazy team names have always been an important part of Bookstore Basketball. Usual themes among the names are puns, innuendos, trash-talk, self-deprecation, celebrities, and current events. The following is a selection of names over the years:
One Guy, Another Guy, and Three Other Guys
Dolly Parton and the Bosom Buddies
Hoops I Did It Again
5 Guys Even Dick Vitale Wouldn’t Watch Play Basketball
We’re Short but Slow
5 Girls Who Got Cut from the Cheerleading Squad
Bobby Knight & the Chair Throwers
Picked Last in Gym Class
Unlike Tiger Our Rebounds Don’t Text Back
Weapons of Mass Seduction
Time-Out, I’ve Lost My Pants
We Make the Ladys Gaga
By George, We’re Good This Year
Every year teams push the envelope of the names. The student commissions were originally responsible for censoring anything potentially offensive and were generally vigilant about the policy. However, some names have slipped by the censors over the years.
See Mary Beth Sterling’s book on the history of Bookstore Basketball to see the full listing of teams from 1972-1992. More recently, student Scott Frano has written a guide to choosing a name, with examples from the 2013 tournament for ND Today. The full listing of teams and seeds for the current year can be found on the Bookstore Basketball website.
The idea of costumes for teams probably came from the Jocks vs. Girls basketball games played during An Tostal in the 1970s. The members of the men’s varsity basketball team would play a team from Saint Mary’s College while wearing boxing gloves to help level the playing field. Some years the jocks add to the ensemble – “various dresses, hats, false boobs, aprons, jock straps, and whatever else Chris ‘Hawk’ Stevens and his cohorts could find to don in order to further entertain the crowd” [Sterling, pages 12-13].
Bookstore Basketball is open to the students, faculty, and staff of the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College. Women compete in the tournament alongside the men, but there is also a separate women’s bracket, which was established in 1978. Notable members of the administration, faculty, and staff have participated with as much gusto as the students. University President at the time, Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy fielded the team All the President’s Men.
In 1978, Rick Telander wrote an article on Bookstore Basketball for Sports Illustrated, giving the tournament national coverage. The idea of a such a tournament piqued the interest of a number of other colleges and universities. The coverage also drew the attention of the NCAA, which declared that current basketball players were ineligible to play Bookstore Basketball because of its competitive nature. Notre Dame protested the ban of student-athletes from participating in a student-organized event, but were eventually unsuccessful. Since 1979, varsity basketball players could only compete if their eligibility had expired or if they hadn’t dressed for the season. Bookstore rules only allows one varsity basketball player per team. Football players can only number three, unless mixed with a basketball player, in which case a team can only have one of each.
While it may seem unfair to compete against varsity athletes, many students welcome the challenge. As alumnus Ken Tysiac recounts, “I think most students, if given the choice between losing by two points to some no-names and losing by 20 to LaPhonso Ellis’ club, would choose the latter. It gives them something to remember the tournament by, and maybe something to tell their grandchildren” [Sterling, page 9]. Besides competing with campus celebrity, here’s also the thrill of potentially defeating a team with varsity athletes and coaches. While teams that reach the finals tend to have varsity athletes, a number of championship teams had no varsity athletes on the roster.
Since 1995, Bookstore Basketball has partnered with the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Jamaica to raise money for Jumpball. Jumpball aims to teach fundamental life-lessons to children of Jamaica through the game of basketball.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Notre Dame students, faculty, and administrators would often grumble about the Hill Street Car: overcrowding, aging equipment, erratic timetables, and rude conductors. The streetcar operators often complained of the students: overcrowding the cars, not paying fares, and playing pranks. In early February 1916, it all came to a head.
Contemporary accounts vary on the details, but the following is a general outline of the incident: On the afternoon of February 3, 1916, a group of Notre Dame preparatory students locked the door on the conductor to prevent him from collecting fares. The motorman heard the commotion and asked a Carroll Hall (Main Building) preparatory student, who was about 15 years old, to pay his fare. As the student had already paid and wasn’t going to pay twice, he began to argue with the already irritated motorman. The motorman hit the boy with an iron switch hook and a collegiate student on board defended the younger student by hitting the motorman in the jaw.
That evening, the streetcar company added a few burly men to the line, presumably as a means of security. From the students’ point of view, these “hired thugs” were there to exact vengeance. On the way back to Notre Dame after a night downtown, a few Carrollites lit up cigars after the last woman disembarked the streetcar. While technically against the rules, this custom of smoking among passengers and employees had been honored for years, so long as no women were on board and the car was outside of city limits. However, this was enough for the streetcar muscle to bring the transgression to fisticuffs. One student reported that there were eight thugs, armed with revolvers and clubs, who took on teenage preparatory students.
For the next few days, throngs of Notre Dame students packed the cars, looking for the men who beat up their fellow classmates. By Sunday, February 6, the students hadn’t found the culprits, so they decided to take vengeance on the car itself. A group of students hijacked a streetcar near Cedar Grove Cemetery on Notre Dame Avenue. They told the conductor and motorman to get off the car; and once it was empty, the crowd of about 150 students took to destroying the car and eventually setting it on fire.
University President John W. Cavanaugh and a few other priests happened to return to campus via automobile around 11 p.m. to find the Hill Street car surrounded by students. Cavanaugh recounts to Rev. John Talbot Smith that “a short distance from Egan’s we espied an immovable car gorgeously lighted and surrounded by a multitude of very happy students. As we approached, the boys, thinking we were the plug-uglies sent out to take care of the situation, fastened on us like hungry wolves, commanding the machine [automobile] to stop. Opening the door, I stepped lightly out and stood in the midst of them. Curtain; likewise curses. Oh, how those poor boys besought me to go on and not interfere with their labors!” [PNDP 30-St-16].
Father Cavanaugh told the boys to go back to their dorms and leave the streetcar alone. As things settled down and students started to disperse, Cavanaugh then continued on to the University by automobile; and once out of sight, the students continued on with their bonfire. Cavanaugh wrote, “I never thought to glance backward until I arrived at the University, when I found to my intense surprise that the students, seeing me pass by them with such child-like faith and innocence, had turned back and wrought their zeal upon the trolley. It made a beautiful fire and was the talk of the town and the subject of editorials, I regret to say, in many cities” [PNDP -30-St-16].
The South Bend fire department arrived on the scene, but high winds made it impossible to save the car. Police officers also responded to the situation, but only went as far as the city limits and no arrests were made. Tensions between Notre Dame and the car company were high for days in the aftermath of the fire. A mass meeting of the students was held in the Fieldhouse regarding the incident. Many, including the student body president, spoke against the destruction of the streetcar company. The streetcar company demanded that Notre Dame pay thousands of dollars for the damaged car. With both sides at serious fault, neither side pressed charges. The students had an advantage in that they could positively identify the “thugs,” but no student could be identified as the arsonists. The students, not the University, were ultimately liable for the property damage.
While many expected mass expulsions, Father Cavanaugh defended the Notre Dame students while also condemning their lawlessness. While usually severe in punishment on seemingly lighter situations, Cavanaugh felt that the students’ actions were inevitable after such provocations and that the students were right to seek justice, even though it be misguided and unlawful.
Officials from Notre Dame and the streetcar company met a few days after the fire to draw a truce. Both sides regretted the incident and vowed to work together to prevent such a disastrous breaking point. The student body agreed to behave in a civil manner, so long as the streetcar employees maintained a similar manner. The streetcar company also agreed to provide better service and newer equipment on one of its most profitable lines. Streetcar service to Notre Dame resumed shortly thereafter with no other notable incidents. Streetcars service in Michiana ended on June 15, 1940, when the line was replaced by a more economical bus line.
“You can’t call yourself a true son of Notre Dame, unless you’ve hopped off the bus at the end of South Bend Ave. on a freezing winter night, made your way across Hill Street to the shadowy, little alley that leads down over sand and snow to Niles Avenue, and finally found yourself at the friendly doors of the Sunny Italy Cafe — known more affectionately to the student trade as Rosie’s.” Scholastic, 10/15/1948, page 18
Sunny Italy Cafe at 601 North Niles Avenue in South Bend was originally called the North Niles Avenue Cafe when it opened in 1926. Two Notre Dame students found the hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the early 1930s, became regulars, and befriended the owners Tony and Rosie Vumbaca. The students nicknamed the place “Rosie’s” and spread the word to their friends. Before long, Rosie’s was the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights. By the 1940s, between 100-500 Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students would dine at Rosie’s on Friday night.
Jimmy and Josie Bamber bought Rosie’s in 1940. While they renamed it Sunny Italy Cafe, the nickname “Rosie’s” stuck with the students, faculty, and alumni for decades to come. The popularity of the restaurant enabled the Bambers to renovate their restaurant in 1947, expanding the dining room to seat 150 customers. They catered to the Notre Dame students, staying open late on movie nights and offering lunch and dinner specials (65¢ and 85¢, respectively in 1948).
An obvious choice for Italian Club meetings, Sunny Italy also hosted many other student organization meetings and banquets. In 1955, the Academy of Political Science sponsored a banquet with Paul Butler, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as speaker. In 1961, Republican Congressman Melvin E. Laird of Marshfield, Wisconsin, spoke at the Young Republican Spring Banquet.
In 1976, Scholastic reported that Notre Dame students made up 40% of Sunny Italy’s business. However, by this time, the tradition of students going to Rosie’s en masse began to wane. Today, Sunny Italy is still in its same location on Niles Avenue and is run by the same family all these years later.
In the lobby of Sorin Hall stands a bronze statue of Father Edward Sorin. Sculpted by Ernesto Biondi, the larger version of this statue greets visitors on Main Quad and was unveiled on May 3, 1906. Left in the care of the Sorinites, who are no strangers to college pranks, the smaller statue had taken to wandering off by the early 1950s.
In January 1953, Scholastic reports that the statue had gone missing just before the Christmas break and that the Student Senate resolved to find the statue. “Although traditionally a wanderer on the ND campus, Father Sorin’s present disappearance has lasted so long that concern is arising that it may be a permanent one” [Scholastic issue 01/16/1953, page 13]. Shortly thereafter, postcards and letters began coming in from the statue from destinations far and wide. In some, Sorin claimed to have attended some of the year’s most important events such as Dwight Eisenhower’s Inauguration, Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, and Josef Stalin’s funeral. The mystery persisted and the culprits did not crack. Just before Commencement 1953, the statue arrived at Main Circle in a cab to a cheering crowd.
Alumnus Camillus Witzieben later admitted to being the culprit, along with the help from a few friends. Witzieben was a resident of Alumni Hall and found the statue in the snow as he dropped Christmas cards off at the post office (now the Knights of Columbus Building). In stead of returning the statue to Sorin Hall, Witzieben and friend August Manier decided to extend the statue’s travels. They buried the statue in a sand trap on the Burke Memorial Golf Course south of Alumni and Dillon Halls and later moved it to Manier’s girlfriend’s house in Chicago until its triumphant return. In the meantime, their military friends sent the postcards from a variety of destinations around the world.
In 1955, Sorin’s “annual trip” was to the Kentucky Derby. He sent a telegram to Notre Dame saying “that he ‘lost it all on Nashua’ and was ‘returning home’ that night at 8 o’clock.” Sorin Hall Rector Father Cady was a good sport as the statue returned once again by car to Main Circle: “the loud-speaker blared forth such appropriate tunes as ‘My Baby’s Comin’ Home,’ ‘Happy Wanderer,’ ‘Take Me Back,’ and ‘Dragnet.’ Father Cady, rector of Sorin, signified his approval of the whole affair with a request for ‘The Finger of Suspicion Points at You‘” [Scholastic issue 05/13/1955, page 16].
While the statue probably never went further than a Chicago basement, the fabled journeys of Fr. Sorin took a life of their own: “I’d heard stories of seniors who took the statue around the world with them and sent back pictures of Sorin posed beside European landmarks, such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Tower of London. I’d heard he’d even had an audience with the Pope, and that he’d returned of the back of an elephant,” said alumnus Pat Williams, Class of 1963, in a 1984 Notre Dame Magazine article. No doubt that Williams heard some tall tales, but he was inspired to be a part of this kidnapping tradition and Sorin inevitably went missing again in the fall of 1962. Sorin’s return during Homecoming Weekend was the most elaborate of all: dangling from a helicopter and met by Sorinites in togas and chariots (see photo above).
Williams admits to taking the statue with him to South Carolina after graduation. He then transferred the statue to fellow alumnus Gene McGuire in 1966, who took it home with him to Denver. Rev. James Burtchaell heard of Sorin’s whereabouts and demanded his return to campus. McGuire conceded, and Burtchaell secured the statue in 1972 and held onto it for ten years, while rumors and stories about the statue continued to float among the students. Sorin Hall rector Rev. David Porterfield learned of the statue in Burtachell’s possession. Porterfield wanted it returned to Sorin Hall, but both he and Burtachell worried about continued antics of the Sorinites. During the hall renovations of 1983, Porterfield came up with a fool-proof solution: “workmen filled the hollow statue with concrete and connected it to a solid wooden base with steel rods. The rods were the soldered to the floor in Sorin’s main corridor, where the legend began so many years ago” [Peralta, page 10].
A lot of hoopla surrounded Football Homecoming during the 1920s through the 1960s. Events for the weekend usually included alumni reunions, a dance, a pep rally and bonfire, a parade, and hall decorations. The decorations were often elaborate, constructed solely by students on a very limited budget. A healthy dose of competition with trophies hanging in the balance added to the excitement of the hall decorations.
Some years had a theme, such as “The Spirit of ’76” was used in 1964, celebrating 76 years of Notre Dame football. Often, the themes revolved around the opponent for the Homecoming game, such as “Wreck Tech” when Notre Dame played Georgia Tech in 1953. Below are some examples of Homecoming decorations through the years:
On the corner of Notre Dame Avenue and Napoleon Boulevard stands an old yellow-bricked house. Located at 1136 N. Notre Dame Avenue, the house was built for Notre Dame professor of English Maurice Francis Egan. Egan was the first lay professor with a wife and children and the house was a necessity. Egan’s friends from far and wide sent him numerous lilac bushes and the house was christened “The Lilacs.”
As a prominent writer, Egan was embraced into the South Bend social scene. The Lilacs was the site of numerous luncheons, dinner parties, and student organization meetings. Many visitors to Notre Dame also stayed overnight at the Lilacs.
After Egan left Notre Dame for Catholic University, Professor Charles Petersen lived in the house. After his death in 1913, a number of faculty members and post-graduate students occupied the house. In the fall of 1915, seventeen students lived in the house, and this tradition continued for several years until more student dormitories were built on-campus.
While the number of residents was small, the student publications Scholastic and Dome yearbook often mentioned the Lilacs (below is a tongue-in-check listing of the rules of the Lilacs). The Lilac students may have been seen as the privileged few. Since the house was situated a distance from the heart of campus, its residents had more quite setting for studying and a bit more freedom to go into town. The house was also on the Hill Street streetcar route, so most students would have been aware of its existence.
After the students left the Lilacs for on-campus housing, faculty members continued to live in the house for many years. The Lilacs still stands today, but is now a private residence.
Notre Dame: One Hundred Years by Rev. Arthur J. Hope, CSC
Dome yearbook The University of Notre Dame: A Portrait of Its History & Campus by Thomas Schlereth
From 1932 until 1988, Notre Dame held mock political conventions every four years to pick a presidential candidate. The mock conventions were held before the national primaries had determined a presumptive candidate, which generated much excitement in the selection process among the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College student delegates. In a 1976 South Bend Tribune interview, Bill Mapother, the 1960 Chairman, recalled, “We practically closed down the damn University that week. The whole thing was covered on the campus radio.” The article continued, “[Mapother] claimed that the convention was ‘a hell of a lot of work,’ noting that the job actually started almost two and a half years before the scheduled date of the convention” [“The Notre Dame Mock Convention — Will This Year’s Be Accurate Too?” by Gerald Lutkus, South Bend Tribune, February 29, 1976].
The Law School organized a mock convention in 1932, and the Department of Political Science took the reigns in 1940. Post-World War II, the conventions quickly escalated to elaborate and often raucous three-day events. Students from all colleges participated and Notre Dame’s historically geographically diverse population allowed students to represent their home states. The addition of women from Saint Mary’s College in 1952 undoubtedly also added to the appeal of the event. Paul C. Bartholomew acted as faculty adviser until his death in 1975.
The Mock Conventions closely followed the format of the national conventions, from preparing platforms, voting for candidates, and securing high-profile speakers. The committee leaders often secured senators, representatives, governors, and mayors as speakers, including Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in 1960 and George W. Bush in 1980.
“The purpose of the Mock Convention is to provide students with an opportunity to work within the political nominating process in order that they might learn about our current political systems and parties. …
Also, the Mock Convention gives us, as students, the opportunity to speak out on pertinent issues (i.e. the party platform) and the viability of different candidates.”