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What is an SYR? Explaining My Experience with a Notre Dame Tradition

An SYR is one of the beloved Notre Dame traditions that helps to mend that awkward social gap between the male and female dorms. It stands for “screw your roommate” or “set up your roommate,” as it used to be a custom to find a date for your roommate and essentially go on a blind date yourself. Every dorm hosts an SYR, typically in the fall semester, and each has a theme. Everyone who attends the dance dresses to that theme, rather than wearing fancier attire as you would to a homecoming dance; and some dorms have a theme that they do every year, while others vote for a new one each year. If it is your dorm having the dance, you can invite 1-2 guests, depending on your hall’s customs and rules, and once you’re there, it’s basically a mini-school dance. 

I live in Breen-Phillips Hall, so my SYR’s theme is voted upon every year. This year it was “do-si-do vs tennis pros,” allowing us to either dress up in cowboy/country or country club/preppy costumes. Being from Texas, I was particularly excited about this—I had my Tony Lama boots ready to go! In my opinion, the theme is the best part. I am a huge fan of costume parties or any event with a creative dress code (for my graduation party I even made my friends and family dress to a white and denim theme), so I am really in my element with these. The rest of my costume search began on Pinterest to gather inspiration. Unfortunately, the search results consisted of sparkly chaps and rave/music festival costumes, so I had to come up with some ideas of my own. I looked to Amazon and began finding staple pieces to wear. This ended up including a white denim tassel jacket, a cow print cowboy hat, and a pink silk bandana scarf. To really take my costume to the next level, I ordered a pair of REVICE denim jeans (the trendy ones with the stars on the butt pockets). These didn’t come in, however, because they make their orders as they receive them (still crying over it). Overall, I loved my outfit. I will definitely be looking for any opportunity to wear those pieces again!

After the outfit was out of the way, I had to plan for a date. Initially my friends and I were going to invite a group of guys, so that it just be two groups of friends hanging out (I actually got this advice from a HerCampus article by a Notre Dame contributor that I read!), but it didn’t end up like that. Instead, we all went rogue and invited people that we had just met (ugh the nerves were through the roof about this one). It actually ended up being so much fun though! We got to become friends with a bunch of new people from several different guy dorms, and luckily, it wasn’t awkward at all. I think I would definitely recommend taking a chance and inviting someone new. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll never see them again, and if it does, you’ll make new friends!

This Breen-Phillips SYR was the best one I’ve been to (although, I haven’t been to many), and it definitely had key elements that would make it stand out over others I have heard about as well. First off, we had a DJ—this makes a HUGE difference. One SYR I went to had a boy playing his own soundcloud mixes, and while I respect the grind, it didn’t make for a good time. DJ Du Lac is definitely a necessity. Another aspect is a photographer. We had a guy walking around taking pictures of everyone with a nice camera, and despite it being very dark in our venue, the pictures came out absolutely amazing! The final part is that we had a dual. All week before the dance, we celebrated Babe Week (which included the 80th birthday of our building, HBD BP!) and played a game of assassin. It was section vs. section for anyone that wanted to sign up. My friend won, and it definitely made the week exciting to see people running from each other and knocking on random doors to get their target. So, if you ever find yourself planning a dance in the future, remember to take these suggestions into consideration (making yourself the best dance planner ever). 

Overall, the BP SYR was a success and was so much fun. I set up my roommate with her date, so I paid my respects to the tradition, and they had a great time (HMU for your match-making needs). My friends and I all looked super cute in our costumes, and it was a really good time. I can’t really say the exact same for other SYR experiences I’ve had; they can definitely be awkward and boring, but as long as you pick the right people and buy into your college experience, you can make the most of it!



Images courtesy of the author 

Melanie is the President of the Her Campus Notre Dame chapter. She is a member of the class of 2023 and is studying Marketing with a supplementary major in Spanish and a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She runs her own college YouTube channel (melmggn) and is interested in photography/modeling, philanthropy, and cheerleading!
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