I'm going to do you a huge favor here.
by HowardRoark (2011-09-14 10:37:10)

In reply to: Here's the quote.  posted by baloo88

I am going to break it down, very specifically, into exactly what ndoldtown said. I am then going to tell you exactly where you are adding things he did not say. I am willing to do this in an effort to help you, because listening and discernment is a critical skill that will differentiate you from just about everyone around you in your professional and personal life, when practiced correctly and frequently.

ndoldtown's quote, in full, as supplied by you:

"Notre Dame used to be a place where hard-working, ambitious people without all the advantages could go, excel and make more of themselves. Now it is to a large extent a destination spot for entitled people who have had things handed to them. Good kids, generally, but not of the sort that built the place and defined its ethos."

I see where you went through this line by line below, but you missed the point. Let's go through it again:

"Notre Dame used to be a place..." (bold to differentiate ndoldtown's work)

As you noted below, "used to be" is an indicator that the upcoming description will be about the past, as contrasted to the different circumstances of the present.

Here is where you keep missing the point, though:

"...where hard-working, ambitious people without all the advantages could go, excel and make more of themselves...." (italics and underlining added)

"Without all the advantages." "Could go." Each and every time you have discussed this point, you get hung up on the "hard-working, ambitious people" part, but leave off the critical qualifiers. "Without all the advantages" is the difference between the son of an accountant, and the son of a high school dropout working the line at the machine shop. ndoldtown's comment isn't to say that hard-working ambitious people no longer attend Notre Dame; it is to say that those hard-working ambitious people without all the advantages have a very, very difficult time getting in, and then graduating, from Notre Dame when that was not the case in up through the 1970s, and even into the 1980s. Notre Dame is no longer a place where those people can realistically hope to go. It's out of reach.

If you miss the point of the first part, then you cannot hope to understand the point of the distinction he draws in his next sentence:

"...Now it is to a large extent a destination spot for entitled people who have had things handed to them...."

Note first what is not here. At no point does ndoldtown say that those "entitled people who have had things handed to them" are neither hard-working nor ambitious. You have added that by misunderstanding the previous sentence. You compound your error by misreading "destination spot" below.

Read without the additional meaning you mistakenly applied to it, this sentence says 2 things: Notre Dame is a much more prestigious place than it was decades prior ("destination spot") and it is increasingly populated by students who do not know what it's like to do without ("entitled people who have had things handed to them"). In this context, but "things" is better understood to be "objects." These kids have worked their tails off for the grades and extra curricular activities needed to get into Notre Dame today. What they have not had to do, generally speaking, is work their tails off to buy a car, or to earn their spending money. Economically speaking only, Notre Dame is not a place where students go to "make more of themselves," because these students already come from means and privilege relative to their predecessors. It is a destination spot.

Notre Dame is where they go to maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed, in a way. That wasn't the case through the 1980s. The changes started to become apparent in the late 1980s to the early 1990s. You still had the kids without means getting in and trying to make a go of it, but the cost had passed them by, and the University did not meet full needs, even through crushing debt loads. If you didn't have the money, or couldn't work for it (which was hard to do with the cost escalation by that time), you were out of luck.

That was my story as an erstwhile member of the Class of 1996. My ex-wife, on the other hand, was exactly the entitled person who had had something handed to her her entire life, as a member of the Class of 1997. She worked very hard through school to earn her way into Notre Dame, but she never had to worry about whether the heating oil tank was going to run out in January, for example. That kind of sheltering from all hard economic choices is something we all hope to give our children, because it's undeniably a good thing. That kind of sheltering from all hard economic choices, however, is a relatively new feature of the Notre Dame student body, and it not the sort of characteristic found in the student body "that built the place and defined its ethos."

The sons of factory workers gave way to the sons and daughters of lawyers and CEOs, and that unquestionably carries with it significant change to the makeup of the place, and the mindset of the students. Older alumni do not love Notre Dame more than you, or less than you. Their love for Notre Dame, however, is undeniably different from yours. In that sense, it is much like the love you have for your children: you love each of them intensely, and no one more than any other, but you love each of them differently.