Resident Advisors (RAs) at Saint Mary’s College will notice a change in their job description for the 2011-12 academic year. Changes to the RA policy mainly affect RAs’ academic breaks and their eligibility to hold other jobs, Karen Johnson, vice president of Student Affairs, said. Johnson said RA’s may not hold off-campus employment, and they will need to work as a team with their hall director to cover break periods when there are still students in the residence halls. “It’s a matter of safety,” she said. Johnson said some RAs will have to remain on campus during breaks for which students can choose to stay on campus. The rule doesn’t apply to winter break because students cannot stay in the dorms during that break. “As for covering break periods, staff must be available whenever the halls are open,” Johnson said. “Each RA will need to take a day or a few days of a break to be on campus and on duty in the halls.” The College made the changes to provide the best quality of service to the students living within the residence halls, Johnson said. “Holding off-campus employment often puts RAs in the position of having to juggle their schedules in a way that is compromising,” she said. “They have to ask other RAs to cover for them and may not be able to adjust their work schedules to meet the demands of an RA.” Johnson said she is confident that the changes to the RA policy will not affect the number of applicants for the positions this spring. “Being an RA is an important job and many students are interested each year,” she said. The changes will go into effect for the 2011-12 academic year. According to the College’s website, applications for the RA positions for the 2011-12 academic year were due Thursday. Applicants will undergo an individual interviewing process this week. Applicants undergo individual and group interviews. According to the website, the group interviews allow the current RAs and Residence Life staff to evaluate candidates through their participation in various group activities. “This process also gives candidates an opportunity to show how they work with others in a group or team setting,” the website said. Students receive letters on Feb. 25 announcing whether or not they were selected as an RA for the 2011-12 academic year.
Before President Obama publicly announced each decision regarding the contraception mandate, a Holy Cross priest in South Bend received a phone call. University President Fr. John Jenkins heard from the White House prior to the original contraception mandate announcement in January and before the subsequent accommodation announcement earlier this month, University Spokesman Dennis Brown said. “[Jenkins] appreciates the dialogue he’s had with the White House and will continue to keep the lines of communication open,” Brown said. Since he invited Obama to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony in 2009, Jenkins has been criticized for initiating dialogue with an administration that takes a pro-choice stance on abortion. Now, as tensions between the Obama administration and Catholic leaders across the country rise over another right-to-life issue, Jenkins has engaged in a give-and-take conversation with the White House in an attempt to tackle unresolved issues with the contraception mandate. The current version of the mandate requires insurance companies rather than religiously-affiliated employers to pay for contraception for employees. The Obama administration said self-insured employers, like Notre Dame, would be included in the exemption, but has not released specifics as to how this will work. Brown said Jenkins welcomes conversations with the White House because respectful dialogue is the only path to resolving disagreements. “He has emphasized over the past three years that you can’t change society unless you persuade people, and you can’t persuade them unless you engage them in a respectful way,” Brown said. “So you don’t shun the person you want to persuade perhaps especially when that person is our president.” Nick Papas, a White House spokesman, said the Obama administration appreciates its relationship with Jenkins. “We deeply value Fr. Jenkins’ advice and counsel,” he said. “The White House also benefits from a number of Notre Dame alums who play an integral role in our Administration.” The spokesmen for the White House and Notre Dame declined to share specifics about the nature and extent of Jenkins’ relationship with the White House, citing those conversations as private. “It would be imprudent for us to get into an detail on these private conversations,” Brown said. Sometimes, part of the conversation has meant pushing back. When Obama responded to opposition from religious groups earlier this month and announced a modification that put responsibility for funding contraception onto insurance companies, Jenkins released a statement saying the accommodation was a “welcome step toward recognizing the freedom of religious institutions.” But when the White House included Jenkins’ statement in a blog post of statements from organizations supportive of Obama’s accommodation, including Planned Parenthood, Notre Dame asked for Jenkins’ statement to be removed. “We asked the White House to remove it from their blog because, while he viewed the ‘accommodation’ … as a step in the right direction, he believes there is much still to be done and was not offering the same support as others who were cited,” Brown said. Jenkins previously spoke out against the original proposal for the contraception mandate. When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened the original rule up for comment, Jenkins sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in September asking that Notre Dame and other religious institutions be exempt from providing contraceptive services. “This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the Church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the Church’s social teaching,” Jenkins wrote. “It’s an impossible position.” Jenkins has since worked with the Obama administration to resolve this “impossible position.” In addition, he has been in conversation with Church leaders at a national and local level. “He also has been in regular conversation with Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Kevin Rhoades from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend as we work together in a united effort on this issue,” Brown said. Brown said the University plans to discuss specifics as to how the contraception mandate will affect Notre Dame in the near future. In the mean time, Jenkins will remain in communication with the White House, he said. “There will continue to be engagement with the administration on this and other issues,” Brown said.
Students and faculty gathered Monday to commemorate Constitution Day with “The Health Care Decision and the Lost Generation of Child Labor Reform,” a lecture given by Barry Cushman, the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law at Notre Dame. The talk focused on the decision of the Supreme Court made in the case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, more commonly known as the case involving the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). “The particular provision of the Act that was challenged was the so-called ‘individual mandate,’ which will require persons without health insurance to acquire ‘minimum essential coverage’ by 2014, or else make a ‘shared responsibility payment’ to the Internal Revenue Service,” Cushman said. The main question rested on whether the individual mandate could be considered an exercise of Congress’ Commerce Power. Cushman said the majority of the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate was not in fact a legitimate exercise of the Commerce Power but rather a shared responsibility payment under the exercise of Congress’ taxing power. “Chief Justice [John] Roberts and the dissenting justices agreed that the central question was whether the Act imposed a ‘true tax,’ or instead imposed a ‘penalty’ for failure to comply with a congressional directive,” Cushman said. Cushman’s lecture then turned to the necessity to discern between true taxes and regulatory penalties. In order to do this, he focused on the late-19th and early-20th centuries to provide background information. “At that time, Congress frequently sought to achieve regulatory objectives it could not attain through its commerce power by imposing excise taxes that were designed to discourage disfavored activities,” Cushman said. The Supreme Court soon became wary of Congress’ increased use of taxing power when commerce power could not provide the desired results. The Supreme Court and Congress would finally butt heads in a child labor employment case in 1922, Cushman said. This is in response to the 1916 Keating-Owen Child Labor Act which, Cushman said, “prohibited interstate shipment of articles produced by firms that employed children” under certain ages. “The Child Labor Tax did not make the employment of child labor unlawful; it did raise revenue. It did not in fact prevent the employment of child labor, and its proponents did not think that it could be salvaged by lowering the rate, by a more narrow tailoring of the tax … or by moving enforcement entirely into the Department of the Treasury,” Cushman said The Child Labor Tax was, however, still considered an unconstitutional penalty. In order to explain this Cushman turned to the arguments of Thomas Reed Powell, then a Professor at Columbia Law School. “Powell credited [Chief Justice William Howard] Taft with fully recognizing that the distinction between a tax and a penalty was a matter of degree … [and] fully agreed with Taft that a decision upholding the tax would have led down a slippery slope to plenary congressional authority,” Cushman said. Cushman added that Powell read the Child Labor Tax Case as establishing the proposition that the values of federalism could be preserved in taxing power jurisprudence only through the application of a standard rather than through enforcement of a rule. This view ties into the more current health care decision in which the dissenting justices took the shared responsibility payment as a penalty, not a tax, since it “imposed an exaction as punishment for an unlawful act,” Cushman said. In drawing a distinction between a tax and a penalty, Cushman noted that the Supreme Court had to determine if the ACA was claiming it was illegal for people to fail to uphold minimum health coverage. Cushman said that this confusion was due to the way in which the statute was drafted. Had Congress called the “penalty” a “tax” in the first place and clarified that failure to purchase insurance was not itself illegal, the imposition would have been clearly constitutional. “Justice Roberts characterized the shared responsibility payment as one that ‘makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income,’” Cushman said. This seems simple enough, but is rather more complex when compared to the past rulings on child labor, he said. “It is only where the exaction was coupled with a detailed and specified course of conduct, as in the Child Labor Tax Case, that the Court has held the exaction to be a penalty rather than a true tax,” Cushman said. One can argue that the current shared responsibility payment of the ACA does not qualify as a tax under the Child Labor Tax Case, and then should be considered a penalty, he said. “If that understanding is correct, then the Roberts Court may just have tacitly overruled the Child Labor Tax Case and its progeny,” Cushman said. A second possibility, Cushman said, is that Powell and his contemporaries misread the Child Labor Tax decision and “a revised measure eliminating one or more of the distinguishing features identified by Chief Justice Roberts” would have stood in the 1920s. Cushman added that all this is to say that the responsibility payment today can be questioned as to whether or not it actually falls under the Court’s “narrowest interpretations of the taxing power.” “Either the Court has effectively abandoned the principle established in the Child Labor Tax Case, or child protection advocates of the interwar period were badly mistaken in their assessment of the decision, at the cost of a lost generation of federal child labor reform,” Cushman said.
For many Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters, serving the South Bend community is as easy as taking in a movie, shooting baskets or playing video games. “You don’t feel like you’re doing community service at all,” junior Peter Cummings, president of Notre Dame/Saint Mary’s Big Brothers Big Sisters, said. “But at the same time you see the transformation before your eyes.” Mentors are paired with children ages 6 to 14 after an application and interview process. After that, a big brother or sister and his or her “little” meet at least once every two weeks to spend time together and catch up, Cummings said. “It’s having somebody to look up to, somebody that they can count on for support who’s there for them,” Cummings said. “You’re meeting with them on a regular basis and they can count on you as someone to share their stories with.” Junior Yana Jones said her little sister talks with her about issues with school and her home life. “She tells me different issues that she’s having that she can’t talk about with her family, and I think that’s something that I went into Big Brothers Big Sisters hoping I could do,” Jones said. “She feels comfortable talking with me.” Cummings noted that the dynamic between bigs and littles can be quite different from that of other mentor-mentee relationships. “It’s a relationship that goes beyond one thing like school or homework – it’s one thing to meet with a tutor for an hour because you have to,” Cummings said. “It goes beyond that; you spend several hours with this kid just doing what you like to do… it’s a relationship that goes beyond trust.” Jones said the friendships often live up to the program’s name. “When they tell you that you’re like a real big sister and they wish you were their real big sister, it’s the best feeling in the world,” she said. The effects of this care have been measured by the Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Joseph County, with which ND/SMC Big Brothers Big Sisters work very closely. Its website notes that mentored children are less likely to skip school, use drugs and drink illegally than children without mentors. Cummings said he witnessed a change in his little brother after they were paired together Cummings’ freshman year. “He was just showing more respect to adults, please and thank you and stuff like that,” he said. “You really build special relationships with these kids and you can tell it’s having an impact on them.” Jones noticed a similar change in her little sister. “She just became a lot friendlier, a lot more open… I think she’s gained confidence in herself.” Cummings said most of the littles live in single parent households or in families in which one or both parents are unable to spend significant amounts of time with his or her family. “Most of these kids are facing adversity in their lives and they need a role model… they need someone they can rely on to provide them with support,” he said. Cummings noted that the network is growing and that an upcoming Five Guys fundraiser on April 4 will attract potential big brothers and sisters as well as raise awareness of the program. Interested students can visit the St. Joseph chapter’s website or email Peter Cummings for more information. Contact Lesley Stevenson at [email protected]
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Office of Campus Ministry are gearing up for the Easter Triduum with a full schedule of events for students and other members of the Notre Dame community. “These are the most important days in the liturgical year as they commemorate Christ’s suffering and triumph over sin and death, through which is made possible our own salvation,” Fr. Jim King, director of Campus Ministry, said. Fr. Peter Rocca, rector of the Basilica, said Notre Dame hosts three celebrations during the Easter Triduum that are fairly unique to the University. These include Tenebrae Easter Vespers, Paschal Vespers and campus-wide Stations of the Cross. “Tenebrae, celebrated Holy Thursday night from 11 p.m. to midnight, is a dramatic service of prayers, chanted readings, especially from the Book of Lamentations, and the singing of motets and anthems composed over the centuries,” Rocca said. “This service usually fills the Basilica, especially with students.” Rocca said Tenebrae uses darkness and noise to mark the temporary triumph of darkness and chaos over light and peace during the Passion. “It is a form of Night Prayer where candles are gradually put out until the Basilica goes completely dark, representing Jesus’ time in the tomb when his light was extinguished from the world,” King said. The second celebration that may not be celebrated in other places is Paschal Vespers, an evening prayer held Easter Sunday at 7:15 p.m to conclude the Triduum, Rocca said. “This liturgy includes the traditional lighting of the Easter candle and the spreadi—ng of its light, the singing of psalms, the renewal of our baptismal promises, a scripture reading, and a beautiful Easter anthem sung by the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir,” Rocca said. “Easter Vespers provides a fitting conclusion to our observance of the Paschal Triduum and our celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Easter Vespers provides a fitting conclusion to the observance of the Triduum and the celebration of the Resurrection, Rocca said. Rocca said the University offered a campus-wide Stations of the Cross event Tuesday. Hundreds of students typically participate in the Stations event, which takes place across campus and culminates with the final station at the Basilica, where priests are available for sacramental confession. “This provides a wonderful opportunity for our students especially to recall the words of our Holy Father Pope Francis this past Sunday in Rome when he spoke on forgiveness : ‘Do not forget this: the Lord never wearies of forgiving!’” Rocca said. Rocca said the celebration of the Triduum will begin Thursday with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. “The Mass of the Lord’s Supper is a be
Not to be confused with a certain school in upstate New York, the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE) offers a three-pronged approach to scholarly engagement for Notre Dame students. Programming advisor Christen Klute said CUSE promotes academic lectures on campus, funds student research and helps students apply for fellowships. “We use the umbrella term ‘scholarly engagement,’ and we define scholarly engagement as being engaged academically outside the classroom,” Klute said. Klute said CUSE has sponsored events such as “Show Some Skin” and “ND Thinks Big.” “We just really try be involved in the big events on campus that are academically-minded,” she said. Perhaps CUSE’s most commonly known mission is providing students with grants to perform research, Klute said. “We are a campus-wide funding entity,” Klute said. “We will fund anybody and everybody.” CUSE focuses on funding students who may not be able receive complete funding from other sources – typically, students from the College of Architecture, the Mendoza College of Business or the First Year of Studies Program. “Even though their colleges have some methods of funding available to the students, they are not quite as widely funded as the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Science,” Klute said. “We really do try to make sure that everybody that wants to do some kind of research has the opportunity to get funding to do so.” CUSE also helps students who will pursue some level of graduate education apply for national fellowships. Klute said a few fellowships are available for undergraduate education. “Especially this year, we are trying to make a push to connect CUSE with fellowships,” she said. “I think most people, when they think of CUSE, they think of research, so we’d like to make much better connections there.” Students who wish to apply for funding must have a faculty mentor and submit a detailed project proposal. “We require students to submit a form that includes, first and foremost, their research question, research methods, and also a detailed budget – what they want to use the funding for, specifically,” Klute said. Klute said she encourages students who wish to apply for funding to carefully read the guidelines available at cuse.nd.edu. “It’s very important to us that you have all the little tiny pieces,” she said. “Tell us exactly how it is going affect your time here at Notre Dame academically. Tell us what you are planning on doing with the things you learn from your project, if you’re going to present at a conference or if it is going to lead to a senior thesis.” Senior Jenna Ahn, who received funding to go to Kolkata, India, this past summer said she went to a CUSE grant proposal workshop when she decided to apply for CUSE funding. “The workshop explained all of the background and necessary information needed in a proposal. The most helpful part of the process was working one-on-one with a graduate research fellow while drafting my proposal,” Ahn said. “She looked over multiple drafts and offered constructive comments to improve my proposal.” Ahn said she will incorporate the research she performed in India into her senior thesis. “It was a very valuable and transformative experience that continues to shape who I am today,” she said.
For more than seven years, the College Academy of Tutoring (CAT) Program at Saint Mary’s has helped students at Title I schools in South Bend to succeed. “The main goal is to provide extra resources for area schools and area kids while also allowing Saint Mary’s students the opportunity to serve and learn from the community,” Jessica Bulosan, director of the CAT Program, said. Participants in the CAT Program attended the lecture on Saturday by Erin Gruwell titled “Teaching Tolerance” to gain insight on their work in low-income schools. Christin Kloski, student director for the CAT Program, said Gruwell spoke about the impact a mentor and teacher can make on a student, especially when the students challenge authority. “Our students are our true educators,” Kloski said. “We learn from them, and they help us to rework our teaching or tutoring to apply to their own lives or life experiences. “The lecture simply gave all of us the extra push we needed to believe in what we are doing in the CAT program.” Kloski, a junior, said Gruwell’s words resonated with participants of the CAT program, even if they never have to deal with such things themselves. “[Gruwell’s] story is unique and can and should be applied to the CAT program,” she said. “Her words of inspiration and constant encouragement of her students is exactly what we must keep in mind and apply to our own students.” Kloski said Gruwell’s lecture was especially meaningful because Saint Mary’s students often work with kids whose lifestyles may be different than theirs. “Some of the students are just from torn-up homes,” Kloski said. “They are going through a lot more than we can ever imagine an eight- or nine-year-old going through.” The CAT initiative began in 2006 as an AmeriCorps program in which Saint Mary’s students read to students at Title I schools for a half hour each week, Bulosan said. “As our students would go in, they noticed there was a lot of need besides just reading to the kids,” she said. “Since then, the program has been developing and growing into what it is now.” Bulosan said approximately 20 students are serving Coquillard Elementary and Jefferson Junior High through the CAT Program this semester. Kloski said the program selects a few students each year to serve as CAT scholars. These students receive $1,000 a semester for two years of service. CAT requires scholars to work in the schools for 250 hours and to complete a larger service project each semester. Students can also choose to be teaching assistants at Coquillard or to work as tutors at Coquillard or Jefferson, Kloski said. Approximately 50 students participate in CAT’s pen-pal program during the spring semester, Bulosan said. In this project, Saint Mary’s students correspond with Coquillard students by handwritten mail. The program concludes with a dinner at the end of the semester. Kloski said the pen-pal program enables students to participate in CAT without making a major time commitment. “You get to see what’s going on in [South Bend students’] little world,” Kloski said. “It’s also a mentoring program. … Just giving out your personal experiences can help them set goals.” Bulosan said students from various majors participate in the CAT Program. “Obviously, we have a lot of education majors in the program because it gives them a little extra experience,” she said. “We also have psychology and communicative disorders majors, but we take absolutely anybody who enjoys working with kids and wants to help kids.” The CAT program serves the South Bend community just as much as it does Saint Mary’s students, Bulosan said. “We’re definitely there for the kids. In Coquillard, we’re the only after-school program that they have,” Bulosan said. “But also, we want to help get Saint Mary’s students out of the bubble, into the community, working with kids and having fun doing it. “We hope they learn, that they get just as much out of [the program] as they are giving to the kids. We hope they learn about diversity, diversity of opinions, diversity of experiences, just more about the world around them.” Kloski stressed the importance of getting off campus and learning about the surrounding community. “You experience so much that you can’t if you don’t get out of the Saint Mary’s bubble,” Kloski said. “We’re trying to find ways to connect our Saint Mary’s community with the local community, primarily with the schools that are involved with our program.” Kloski said her three years participating in CAT have been a meaningful part of her education at Saint Mary’s. “It’s a rewarding experience in what you are doing with the people and just seeing you can change lives, legitimately,” Kloski said. “You can see the change from year to year with your students.” Kloski said the lower-income students might face problems at home that affect their behaviors in the classroom, but the relationships they develop with the Saint Mary’s students positively impact their school experiences. “You [as a Saint Mary’s student] may be going through something tough, and when you get to the school, your kids may give you the biggest hug for no apparent reason other than that you arrived,” Kloski said. “You’re helping them succeed, little by little. Contact Haleigh Ehmsen at [email protected]
What started out as an undergraduate program squeezed into three classrooms has expanded and updated to become a feature academic program at Saint Mary’s, director of clinical practice in the department of communicative sciences and disorders Janet Lovett said.In June 2013, the College implemented its changes to the new master’s program and the current communicative disorders clinic housed in the Madeleva classroom building, Lovett said. The clinic treats clients from the surrounding areas.The new master’s program, speech pathology, will simply be referred to as the communicative sciences and disorders department (CSD), though the undergraduate students still receive their degrees in communicative sciences and disorders, Lovett said.“There are 20 Saint Mary’s seniors, and there are four Notre Dame students who are co-exchange students who can’t really take it as a major but take all the required courses,” she said. “Total, I think, our major is about 95 students across all three years.”All seniors will participate in the clinical practicum for the fall semester, during which they will be assigned two clients, Lovett said.“This year we have 40 clients. We will be building the clinical population in anticipation of the start of the program,” Lovett said.The news of an anticipated master’s program in communicative sciences and disorders excited many in the Saint Mary’s and South Bend communities, but for now, the graduate program is considered an additional focus, Lovett said.“We hope to take our first students in the fall of 2015. We have an accreditation visit coming up in October [from] the Council on Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA),” Lovett said.In the meantime, faculty and staff want to keep the undergraduate program strong on its own, providing and maintaining the same level of opportunities it currently offers, Lovett said.“We have to build the clinic especially. We have the faculty in place. We have five faculty now, but the clinic needs to be able to provide enough experience in a lot of communication disorders for the graduate students to get at least a portion of the 400 hours they have to have in order to get certified need,” Lovett said.“It’s a long process,” she said. “There’s an academic piece. There’s a clinical piece. There’s a resident kind of [period], what we call clinical fellow. You practice under the mentorship of a full-fledged speech pathologist. Then you have to make sure you meet your requirement to meet clinical requirement, your C’s. In Indiana you have to be licensed also, and most states around us do require [the same].”Colleges and universities now incorporate a five-year program for audiology students that combines undergraduate and master’s degrees, Lovett said. Saint Mary’s does not currently plan to offer a master’s in audiology, Lovett said.The clinic’s future goals include developing a telepractice program, Lovett said. Telepractice is a type of speech language pathology that clinicians use with long-distance clients.“It’s very similar to providing speech services to people who need speech therapy,” she said. “Telepractice will be training the clinicians [in] what are the questions you ask, what do you practice, [what are] the things you have to do if you’re licensed in Indiana and your client is in Montana, or vice versa, [and] you have to be licensed in that state,” Lovett said.Lovett said she was one of the first to be hired for the master’s program. As an adjunct professor with fellow communicative disorders professor Susan Lathem, Lovett helps bring clients to the program and hires the clinical staff, including program chair Dr. Michael Flahive, Lovett said.“As the program director, he is responsible for making sure all the academic and clinical pieces are in place,” she said. “Obviously I’m in charge of the clinical, but he’s in charge of everyone. He makes sure that our students are in a position to go out and do what they’re supposed to do and getting the appropriate grades. We work hand-in-hand when it comes to what we’re supposed to do.”Seniors Emily Scanlon and Emily Hazen have enjoyed the activity and opportunity their major has offered them during their time at Saint Mary’s, Hazen said.“We love the program. I really like all the professors [and] clinicians. We’re glad we decided to focus on this area,” Hazen said.Hazen and Scanlon each completed 25 hours of observation last semester watching the members of the class of 2014 work with their clients, Scanlon said. This year, they will use what they’ve learned through watching students engage with clients, Scanlon said.“We’ve seen how it’s done,” Scanlon said.The clinic and master’s program will have a chance at accreditation in October when the CAA comes to evaluate the system and facilities, but students such as Scanlon and Hazen will continue to pursue the study of communicative sciences and disorders either way, Scanlon said.“It doesn’t really seem like work, because we love it,” she said.Tags: master’s program, SMC, speech pathology
Wei Lin In a discussion hosted by the Kellogg Institute of International Studies, panelists discuss human dignity in developing countries.Wednesday evening, the Kellogg Institute of International Studies hosted “Understanding Human Dignity,” the inaugural event in a semester-long discussion on human dignity and human development, utilizing lessons learned at Kellogg’s “2014 Human Dignity and Human Development Conference” on Oct. 22-24 in Rome, Italy.“We invited 14 terrific faculty members and divided them into four interdisciplinary groups: global health, business and economics, conflict and policy and community development,” senior Sean Long, a host of the event, said. “Attracting students from each of Notre Dame’s five colleges, we hope one hour becomes one semester of sustained dialogue on what human dignity means in our career and in our lives.”Director of the Kellogg Institute, Steve Reifenberg, introduced the event and invited attendees to choose one of the four panels to attend and participate in an hour-long discussion, followed by a post-panel reception.“While each panel zeroes in on a specific discipline, the post-panel reception offers an opportunity for students and faculty to share how elements of, say, conflict and policy, intersect with and differ from business and economics,” Long said.“As part of the conflict and policy panel, I shared with students my field work experience while working with victims of crime in Mexico and how the lack of respect by Mexican authorities towards victims’ human dignity completely changed the nature and logic of my research and personal motivation to conduct my research on criminal violence,” panelist Sandra Ley Gutiérrez, a visiting fellow at the Kellogg Institute, said.The panelists came from diverse backgrounds and discussed a wide array of topics throughout the evening.“I hope that my personal and professional experience can help students, who may be going to the field and work on related topics, to get some sense of how to deal with some issues that come associated with the study of violence in developing countries,” Ley Gutiérrez said.Senior and event host, Emily Mediate, hopes the human dignity panels will bring about discussion in the Notre Dame community.“We hear ‘human dignity’ tossed around, but we hope that in holding an event centered around the idea, we can start to uncover what these means to people and how to apply it to what we are learning and what we are doing on this campus,” Mediate said. “We have always been proud of how Notre Dame is instilled with a sense of purpose, a certain interest in upholding the human dignity of others through our lives and our classes.”After attending the “Human Dignity and Human Development” conference in Rome in October, Long, Mediate and senior Amanda Pena, another event host, felt compelled to create this sort of dialogue on campus.“At the end of the day, we are hoping those participating in the event will walk away with a sense of purpose and can find meaning in their studies and work,” Pena said. “By illuminating the dignity of the person as it is understood across various academic disciplines, this event seeks to enrich the ways in which students and faculty build sustainable relationships and contribute to human development in all its forms.” Tags: 2014 human dignity and human development conference, Human Dignity, human dignity and human development, kellogg institute of international studies, panel on human dignity, sean long, steve reifenberg, Understanding Human Dignity
Instead of relaxing on a beach or returning home to visit family, three Notre Dame students spent spring break in Germany researching the Syrian refugee crisis.Sophomore Francesco Tassi, who traveled to Germany along with freshman Christopher Lembo and sophomore Bridget Rickard thanks to a grant from the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, said he wanted to visit Germany to research efforts to ameliorate the crisis.“[News outlets] never touch upon what some countries are actively doing to help integrate these people into their populations, and quite successfully for some … I wanted to go there and see what was being done there in Germany, as far as integration,” he said.While most people think the refugee crisis only applies to Syria, Germany has accepted a large number of refugees from countries all over the world, Tassi said.“The one country in Europe that is taking in most of the refugees [is Germany],” Tassi said. “Right now it’s about 1.2 million, 1.4 million refugees in general, but not just Syrian refugees. [There are refugees] from Kosovo, Eastern Europe, Nigeria — a little bit from all over the world.”Tassi said the education system was one of the most visible examples of the German government’s effort to integrate refugees into society.“The education system is phenomenal,” he said. “The plan is five years of free education — two years of learning German and then three years of social integration classes, just for the refugees, and you don’t have to be just Syrian, as long as you’re an asylum-seeker.”Refugees also have the option to attend vocational schools to learn a particular skill to contribute to the German work force, Tassi said.“A lot of refugees go [to vocational schools] to learn to become blacksmiths because the jobs that Germany needs a lot are also in the lower-wage sector, which is perfect for people who come over that may not speak the language, may not have the highest work skills,” he said. “Germany needs these jobs, so you really have a case where Germany’s interests reconcile and work with the interests of asylum-seekers, because Germany will give them housing, it will give them a job, but at the same time, Germany expects something from them.”Tassi said he was surprised by the initiatives of German citizens that go beyond the government’s efforts.“These grassroots are able to take a government that is a little bit overwhelmed with all the bureaucracy that comes with anything governmental, and they can really custom fit to integrate refugees on a community level,” he said. “You also need that human connection, which is something we often don’t think about, but it’s really, really important. … That was something I never thought about before going there, but if there’s anything that I left with it was that these grassroots, there’s a lot of them and it’s something that people never talk about and it’s something that you never see in the paper, how much impact and how much power these grassroots have, really, to turn something as negative as a refugee crisis into a solution both for Germany and these people.”Lembo said Germany is a “true revolutionary” in admitting refugees. “After speaking with a German economist and several organizers of NGOs and non-profits in Munich, it is safe to say that Germany needs refugees,” he said in an email. “The refugees are a great chance for cultural integration and for a boost in the German economy, and it was to my surprise that so many refugees were so rapidly looking for a chance to contribute. It is one thing to see the problem through the lens of the media, but it is another thing to encounter it for yourself.”In each of her interviews, Rickard said,“one salient theme emerged — the only viable starting point for any possible solution is an encounter with refugees through our shared human experience.”“Refugees, like others among the forcibly displaced, live on the margins of society. My interviews enabled me to develop a more robust understanding of the current situation in both Germany and Europe,” she said in an email. “And it is my hope that I can employ such understanding in my future contributions to the exploration and framing of questions of forced displacement and migration. “My experience has led to the realization that I wish to devote my life to some of the most marginalized members of the human family — internally displaced persons, migrants and refugees.”Tassi said he is hoping to continue his work with the research he did over spring break by creating a website that will allow grassroots organizations across Germany to grow, connect with and inspire each other.“So essentially this website would be a directory, and at the same time, an information portal, but also with a crowdfunding option and a donation option for existing grassroots so these grassroots could get international support and the website could become a place where if you have an idea to make a grassroots in Germany, you just go on here, and not only could you crowdfund it, you can get inspiration from others, you can get support and really build a community of grassroots,” he said.Tassi said the biggest thing he took away from this trip was the impact of seeing this situation firsthand as opposed to learning about it from a news outlet.“Just going there and seeing for yourself, I think that’s the most important thing,” he said. “We often don’t do that just because of media, just because of how we feel like we’re totally connected and it’s super easy to get news, but going actually there is completely different, and I recommend it for anyone.”Tags: Nanovic Institute for European Studies, refugee crisis