The SteveWire

University of Notre Dame charges $400 for would-be alumni class reunions;
are they trying to become a gated community?

So much for Notre Dame establishing a "Notre Dame Family" or identifying with something like a "Catholic" Church that is universal in scope. They have difficulty even welcoming all members of a class year to a reunion without exhorbitant financial barriers to screen out the frugal.

Even for something as simple and straightforward as a class reunion, Notre Dame apparently wanted to limit attendance to those willing and able to pay $400 for the weekend, not including lodgings ($250 for a single day and $99 for a single evening). There were slight reductions for early registration, such as $350 for the weekend instead of $400. [reunion.nd.edu/all-access-pass-weekend/]

Then there was the $100 savings for those in the 50 year (plus five) club. Yet the organizers took pains to stress that elderly retirees in their early seventies who were actually celebrating their 50th reunion did not qualify for the "50 Year Club" until after the reunion was over: "The Class of 1969 joins the 50 Year Club during Reunion, and thus belongs to the “Regular” pricing tier."

So, in cynical marketing double-speak unbefitting an academic institution or a would-be "Catholic" institution, the "50 Year Club" discount apparently was a window-dressing teaser to coax back those blessed enough to make to age 77, who were willing to blow $300 (or more, if the price goes up?) on an overpriced college reunion at a place that already gouged them for $400 at age 72.

[screenshot:]

Notre Dame Alumni Reunion Pricing Screenshot

When asked, there was the promise, made in private communication, that Masses did not charge an admission price. Yet that fact was not advertised.

It is a somewhat expansive yet sleepy Midwestern campus adjacent to sleepy South Bend, a few miles from the rural Michigan border, and the admission price probably does not need to be so steep, for graduates to be "welcomed" back to the instution that they and their parents already subsidized for four years, or went into debt to subsidize for four years. It also is a small, northern Indiana instution whose prestige and credibility the graduates enhanced with their credentials and achievements.

Since only those willing to burn hundreds of dollars just to join in were welcome at the would-be "reunion," it could not really be considered an actual reunion of a class, or a reunion of alumni, but just that of a particular subset. One wonders if the institution is taking a cue from George Orwell -- in the would-be Notre Dame "Family," "All Alumni Are Equal. But Some Alumni are More Equal than Others."

Is the point to screen out alumni who are frugal, or who have less money, to create a more exclusive, elitist club-within-a-club for the would-be Notre Dame "Family"? Is that screening out part of an unspoken, un-Catholic secret "Code of the Hills" for an instition that wants to invoke the Name of Jesus when convenient and profitable, but otherwise tends towards some kind contrived, ad hoc club of self-proclaimed "insiders,"self-defined?

(This embarrassing debacle is not the worst case of elitism and materialism to hit the Notre Dame campus this summer. Even more embarrassing is the week-long program with a "Catholic" and "nonprofit" focus that reportedly convinced a donor to cover the entire "cost" of that program, only to turn around and pile on additional costs of roughly $500 per participant to cover a reception, banquet and meals across seven days. mendoza.nd.edu/executive-education/nonprofit-certificate-education/

SteveWire post 6.2.19

Notre Dame Library