The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic non-profit founded in 1993, lends itself to the mission of “promoting and defending faithful Catholic education.” Most Catholic high schoolers will enter college somewhat familiar with the guide, which acts as a standard against which a school’s Catholic identity is measured.
With 26 colleges standing on the list as faithfully Catholic, the University of Dallas included, the task of academic discernment can seem like a coin toss to college hopefuls, but current college students will be quick to offer poignant hyperboles about the distinctions of each school. Each UDer is then left to distinguish between fact and fiction in developing a personal sense of school identity.
Human beings constantly oversimplify the world in order to make sense of it. It is easier to reduce a person to a single, uncomplicated quality than it is to observe and learn with humility.
In a more niche UD context, it is tempting to reduce a school to a stereotype. Students might have heard of one rival Catholic school as the home of the “rad trads,” and another as “watered down,” while our beloved UD is the only perfect balance of Catholic and cool. Others might fall into the wistful attitude that the grass is always greener when out of view.
I have come to believe that the fairest way to judge a person is by their treatment of others. It is a somewhat removed exercise of worldview — and possibly an unfairly quick evaluation of another’s character — to mention another school and observe the reaction of a UD student. Does their face reveal an attitude of the other as rival or brother? Try it. Tell a friend that you hope your younger sibling chooses to go to Thomas Aquinas College, Ave Maria or Christendom.
At UD, with a 75% Catholic undergraduate population, there’s a good chance your friend will be familiar with other schools on the Newman Guide of Catholic schools and will have formed an opinion with varying levels of accuracy or substance.
With a healthy dose of school pride at the University of Dallas, many UDers would lament the loss of any prospective student and point to the distinct Core curriculum or exceptional community found here. Legacy students will begin a long litany of UD lore, hoping to live up to the legends of older siblings. Love for this school runs deep, and it is clear that we stand alone in academics and Catholic identity.
While opinions about rival schools might toe the line of the uncharitable, I prefer competition over complacency. There’s a reason that students are flooding to UD in record breaking numbers, and it’s not because of the natural beauty of Irving’s construction zones.