This fact may be surprising to many: the University of Notre Dame does not have a Greek life system. No rows of fraternity or sorority houses line our streets, students do not sport various Greek letters on their clothes and our social life does not include “mixers,” “pairs,” or outrageous parties like one would see in the movies.
However, Notre Dame students do enjoy a good get-together and dorm formal dances and SYR’s are our version of the “typical” college social scene. Every dorm, both men’s and women’s (students are housed by gender), holds an annual formal dance that is traditional and exactly what it sounds like. However, what makes the Notre Dame social scene unique is our SYR’s.
SYR stands for “screw your roommate,” a term describing the old tradition in which Notre Dame roommates set each other up with random, blind dates for their dorm’s dance. While the term SYR is merely symbolic now—students choose and ask their own dates—the event itself is still a cherished part of campus life.
While formals tend to feel designed for couples, a SYR is a more casual setting intended for both couples and groups of students alike. SYR’s are always themed, which adds to the informal and fun vibe. The theme is often voted on by dorm residents and is revealed a few weeks before the dance after much anticipation. Some themes from the 2012-2013 academic school year included: mathletes and athletes, toga, “Let’s Get Weird,” prom and America. Every year, students hope that their dorm will have a “good” SYR theme, often just for the chance to dress up in a creative costume.
Fall and winter are the prime times for SYR’s, before formal season in the spring. Soon enough, campus will be filled with conversations about dance dates and costume ideas. One can lament the fact that Notre Dame does not have a “traditional” Greek social scene or jump on the SYR bandwagon and enjoy the uniqueness of Notre Dame’s social life.