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Theologian explores religion

first_imgBy CHRISTIAN MYERS News Writer The interplay between faith and reason is frequently the subject of discussion in theology classes at Notre Dame. However, Tuesday night in the Geddes Hall Coffee House the matter was discussed over pizza by practical theologian Claire Noonan in the talk “Can You Be Faithful Without Being Religious?” Noonan said there are three reasons she doesn’t believe she can have faith without religion: Scripture, sacraments, and saints. She said each is a reason why religion is needed to maintain faith. “I need Scripture to know the living God, sacraments to communicate with God and saints to struggle alongside,” Noonan said. Noonan said to Scripture is not just traditional canon, but any text inspired by a transformational encounter with God. “I want to include the cumulative written experience of Christians as Scripture,” Noonan said. Noonan said the importance of Scripture is it helps people to properly direct their faith toward God. Faith in God relies on Scripture. “Everyone has faith. Everyone has to believe in some things they can’t empirically prove for themselves. All faith means is what ultimately you are concerned about,” Noonan said. “What I’m trying to be faithful to is God, and without Scripture, I would not know who God is.” An important aspect of Scripture properly directing faith is it counteracts other worldly influences, Noonan said. “The loudest voices in our culture try to point us in a direction very different from Jesus,” she said. “Christianity at its deepest, most fundamental level is different from convention. I wouldn’t have found it on my own.” As with Scripture, Noonan said she maintains an expanded interpretation of sacraments. “By sacraments I don’t just mean the seven sacraments of Catholicism, but all prayer and ritual,” she said. Religion facilitates a relationship with the living God primarily through sacrament and ritual, Noonan said. The marriage of a friend provides an example of what is lacking without sacrament. Noonan said the friend was faithful, but not religious and elected to hold her marriage ceremony in a restaurant. “This great occasion in her life was reduced to a functional level,” she said. “It was kind of sad.” Noonan said when she talks about saints, she refers to not just canonized saints, but people of faith in her everyday community. Community, which is provided by organized religion, is important for faith, Noonan said. “Faithfulness requires community because humans are social creatures,” she said. “There is no such thing as the self-made man. Interdependence is the reality of human life.” Noonan said community is so vital to faith, those who forgo organized religion have to find some other type of community in order to maintain their conviction. “If you’re not religious, you’d have to create a religion of your own to have community,” she said. Three student panelists, juniors John Schommer and Katie Pryor and senior Roman Sanchez responded to Noonan with their own opinions and experiences. Sanchez said by his senior year in high school he had lost both his faith and his religion. He said he was disillusioned by the disconnect between the message he heard in the Church and the reality he saw in the world around him. “I’m dissatisfied with the God that was presented to me,” Sanchez said. “I guess activism is worship to me. My faith now is in people, relationships and community.” Pryor said her service work experiences have become a part of her faith and worship. “Jesus repeatedly calls us to serve in the Gospels,” Pryor said. “I believe that in serving the less fortunate, worship and justice work together.” Schommer said his experience with secular volunteerism in high school was not as fulfilling as working with Catholic volunteer groups. The difference between the two lies in the perspective towards service and the interaction with those served. “In seeing the face of Christ in someone, you’re seeing their full potential,” Schommer said. Contact Christian Myers at [email protected]last_img read more

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Program creates virtual fitting room

first_imgHave you ever bought an item of clothing online that didn’t fit you? Notre Dame graduates John Rocha and Rick Tillilie definitely have, and now they’re doing something about it. Rocha and Tillilie created myFit, a program that uses Microsoft Kinect technology, a device mostly used for video game systems, to scan a person’s three-dimensional image into his or her computer and input it into a virtual fitting room. Rocha said his company’s idea could have a big impact on online retail sales. “Only 10 percent of clothing is sold online, and the reason is consumers lack confidence as to how clothes fit,” Rocha said. “It’s a huge problem for apparel companies in the United States.” Through myFit, online customers can test clothing on an avatar of themselves, and areas of the item are color-coded to indicate whether it is too loose, too tight or just right at those spots, Rocha said.   “First we’re creating body scanners for retail stores, and eventually we’re releasing an at-home version, as well,” he said. “Eventually you’ll be able to create a virtual avatar of yourself with your likeness that contains all of your key measurements to help you make informed buying decisions while shopping online.” Rocha said he and Tillilie came up with the idea for myFit while they were co-presidents of the Entrepreneurship Society at Notre Dame. “My junior year, I had family that worked at Gilt.com … the popular flash-sale site. They had really good deals, and on a college budget, it was the perfect way to do any kind of shopping for clothing that I needed,” Rocha said. “But shopping for jeans was a huge pain because the jeans I was buying would not fit me at all like I envisioned them … It was a situation where there had to be a better way.” Rocha said he and Tillilie presented the problem to members of the Entrepreneurship Society and developed the idea for myFit. They also met with computer science majors and engineers to figure out the technical aspects, Rocha said. Rocha said he, then a political science major, and Tillilie, then a finance major, signed up for the McClosky Business Plan Competition sponsored by the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurship and placed second. Rocha said the two won between $45,000 and $50,000 and a spot at the Plug and Play startup accelerator in Silicon Valley. “It’s a 10-week program where we get an office space, access to mentors and whatnot, and they just try to help us launch our start-up,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to move to Silicon Valley, where we are right now, and to take advantage of the entrepreneurship contacts out here to allow us to move forward.” Rocha and Tillilie will present myFit to possible investors at the Plug and Play Start-up EXPO on September 13th. “Right now all of our time is devoted to the presentation that we give. All the start-ups that are featured there are allotted five minutes or so to pitch in front of 600 investors and tech entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley area,” Rocha said. “From there, there’s a big trade show … with different booths where you can try technology … It should be our coming out party.” Tillilie said launching a startup post-graduation was an attractive career option for him. “Startups are sort of en vogue right now,” Tillilie said. “It’s pretty low risk coming right out of college because you have a degree and traditional paths to fall back on.” Rocha said Notre Dame students are especially qualified to launch their own startups. “The Notre Dame education makes you really well-rounded, really outgoing, which really helps you do well for this,” Rocha said. “Every day is different when you’re doing a startup, so it takes a really well-rounded person and Notre Dame really prepares you for that.” Tillilie said the Notre Dame network has been helpful in getting myFit off the ground. “There’s a huge amount of mentors and advisors out there that are all part of the Notre Dame alumni that are more than willing to help us out, from little things like advice to even funding opportunities and partnerships with major companies,” Tillilie said. “It’s a huge network that I think is really the best out there.”last_img read more

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Belle competes on “The Voice”

first_imgOne Saint Mary’s student is finally living her dream of becoming a professional singer. Sophomore Sylvia Yacoub, from Muskegon, Mich., was featured this week on “The Voice”, a reality show for aspiring singers to compete and be coached by some of the music industry’s biggest names. Yacoub, who spent last year at the College, is currently taking a year away from school to compete on the show and further her career as a singer. Yacoub’s audition in front of coaches Adam Levine, CeeLo Green, Blake Shelton and Christina Aguilera aired on Tuesday night on NBC. Even though she only aired during this week’s auditions, Yacoub already has a huge fan base at home. “My hometown has been amazing. The support is so humbling to see that just me appearing on ‘The Voice’ has touched so many lives and inspired so many people to go after their dreams,” Yacoub said in a conference call. “Seeing someone from their town and school has really touched so many people in my town. It really means a lot to me.” When a competitor auditions, the coaches have their chairs turned with their back toward the singer for a blind audition. During Yacoub’s performance, Shelton, Green and Aguilera all turned their chairs in hopes of gaining her on their teams. In the end, however, Yacoub picked Aguilera as her coach. “I grew up listening to Christina a lot. She has been such a huge musical influence for me,” Yacoub said. “I tried not to be biased and I listened to all the arguments [of the coaches]. When dealing with nerves and music, I think she can help me the best with where I want to go as far as pop music. “It was probably one of the most exciting and tranquilizing moments of my life. I was so nervous to sing in front of her and when I realized she had turned around; it’s crazy that your idol your whole life had heard something in me.” As for self-promotion for the show, Yacoub has utilized social media to help her connect with her fans back home and at school. “It’s really cool to be able to get feedback from fans and see how many people you’ve actually reached and touched and have been inspired by you,” Yacoub said. “It’s really cool especially when you’re not airing yet.” While Yacoub had to wait until after her audition aired on NBC to share that she was Team Christina, she was still able to update her fans on when she would finally grace the television. “It’s really cool to keep in touch with them and keep them engaged,” Yacoub said. “Then they kind of feel more involved and hopefully they feel more connected with the audience, which is cool about ‘The Voice.’” Before Yacoub made it onto the next round of the show, she had auditioned for other reality shows a couple of years ago. “I wasn’t really doing them for right reasons two years ago,” Yacoub said. “I have a lot more maturity and my voice has grown since then. I am at the right place mentally and vocally and it felt right going into everything now.” Yacoub said she is really excited to have this experience with “The Voice” and hopes it will continue so she may meet her end goal of becoming a professional singer. “I honestly don’t think I would have had this experience two years ago,” she said. “This is such an amazing experience and I can’t believe I am here now.” “The Voice” airs on Mondays and Tuesday’s on NBC at 8 p.m. Contact Jillian Barwick at [email protected]last_img read more

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Lecture examines relationship between Wittgenstein, metaphysics

first_imgWhile Saint Mary’s students study abroad at Oxford University each year, the attraction between the two institutions expanded to the College hosting visiting friar Fr. David Goodill for a lecture about Ludwig Wittgenstein and metaphysics, which took place in Spes Unica Hall on Thursday. Goodill said conflicting interpretations of metaphysical concepts — and the role they play in refining an understanding of philosophy — can result in dissenting opinions.“Jurgen Habermas, the German critical theorist, argues that we are now living in a post-metaphysical age, whereas ancient medieval thinkers worked within the paradigm of object-directed truth,” Goodill said. “Comparisons have been made between Wittgenstein and the pragmatic tradition, which argue that Wittgenstein, in his later works, also emphasizes context and social practice in his account of meaning.”Examining the implications of Wittgenstein’s focus on humans and their social environment helps assess the extent to which metaphysics informed his thought processes, Goodill said.“Does Wittgenstein’s later stress on human social practices imply a rejection of the metaphysical tradition?” he said. “Or can we read Wittgenstein in a manner that places him in conversation with philosophers, such as Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas?”Wittgenstein fulfilled one of the primary duties of a philosopher, Goodill said, because he portrayed complex beliefs — many of which supposedly represent a firm rejection of the metaphysical tradition — in an accessible manner.“He replaces the tendency to solve philosophical problems by the invasion of metaphysical objects, with a careful analysis of the conceptual distinctions made in ordinary language,” he said. “Red is posited to exist as an object. Attention to the actual use of the word we make when we say ‘red’ shows us how we use it in referring to things that are red.”Goodill said Wittgenstein’s linguistic prowess sparked debate over whether his words mirror or represent an independent reality. “Wittgenstein, in his later writings, came to see that the task of the philosopher is not to discover the ontological foundations of the world, but to show how our familiar world is given through the various uses we make of language,” he said. “For many philosophers working for a revival of metaphysics, Wittgenstein offers less refinement, and some strongly oppose him, arguing that he replaces contemplation of truth with a pragmatic account.”Differing, supported viewpoints emerge from a thorough examination of Wittgenstein’s work, Goodill said.“Yet there are others, such as his students, … who see Wittgenstein as sharing key aspects of the metaphysical tradition,” Goodill said. “William Desmond argues that Wittgenstein’s later emphasis on the plurality of our linguistic practices, together with his intention of teaching us differences, heralds something of a return to the metaphysical practices of Plato.”Many prominent thinkers, including Plato, have suggested the origins of metaphysics remain intrinsic to the development of truth, Goodill said. Certain fields of study, he said, rely more heavily on grounded understandings of philosophical principles.“The relationship between grammar and metaphysics is attested to the metaphysical tradition, and the traditional syllabus followed for philosophical and theological education involved the study of grammar in various related subjects, such as dialect and rhetoric,” Goodill said. “By examining how we express concepts such as existence and causation, philosophers are able to distinguish between grammatical inquiries and those empirical investigations which are carried out in particular sciences, such as zoology or botany.”Though scientific approaches can resolve some inquiries, certain questions require other forms of thoughtfulness if they are to be answered thoroughly, Goodill said. “Questions such as ‘Which is the fastest land animal?’ can be answered using the Greek methods of observation and measurement,” Goodill said. “Wittgenstein’s characterization of philosophy as conceptual investigation thus continues a long tradition of grammatical inquiry.”Goodill said metaphysics involves a broad study of all existence, rather than a more technical, detailed interpretation of certain subject matter.“Reflections upon the relationship between metaphysics and practice do not in themselves tell us what metaphysics is, but they do move us in the right direction,” he said. Scholars have accepted several related components as integral to the study and identity of metaphysics, Goodill said. “For his part, Aquinas follows Aristotle’s various descriptions of metaphysics,” he said. “First, there’s the study of being, secondly, as philosophy and thirdly as divine science and theology.”The association of metaphysics with theology has sparked controversy concerning philosophical integrity, Goodill said, for some suggest the two entities must interact while others perceive them as entirely separate.“In particular, describing metaphysics as theology has brought the charge that Aquinas substitutes a real living experience or encounter with the divine for a set of static categories and propositions,” he said. “When we’re thinking of theological concepts, we’re also thinking about the physical, as well. Some people see them as two separate spheres with almost no interaction between them.”Despite debates over the role of metaphysics, Goodill said, studying Wittgenstein’s works can provide individuals with a more comprehensive understanding of human behavior.“Throughout his works from early to late, Wittgenstein strove to show light on the questions of human nature and of its origins,” he said. “One … interpretation of Wittgenstein’s philosophical practice sees it as primarily a therapy to combat the restlessness produced by our attempts to solve … problems.”Tags: edna and george mcmahon aquinas chair in philosophy, human behavior, metaphysics, philosophy, wittgensteinlast_img read more

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Faculty present research concerning infections, stress levels

first_imgMembers of the Saint Mary’s community gathered for a faculty colloquium in Madeleva Hall on Friday to hear professors present their recently-completed research. Mary Welle, associate professor of nursing science, and Reena Lamichhane Khadka, assistant professor of biology, presented their research concerning healthcare-acquired infections. Alissa Russell, assistant professor of psychology, also presented her research concerning college students’ self-regulatory skills, daily stress and negative affect.Welle and Lamichhane Khadka began the colloquium with their presentation “Hospital-Issued Slipper Socks: An Overlooked Route of Infection Transmission?” The idea began, Welle said, when she found herself admitted into the hospital for surgery. “I had surgery, and I was in the hospital, and I did not want to get an infection,” Welle said. “I knew I was going to have to get up and walk, because that’s very therapeutic, but I also knew I was going to have those silly slipper socks on that prevent falls.”Welle said she worried about catching an infection from using her socks constantly.“One of the basic lessons of nursing is if anything falls to the floor it’s considered contaminated so they throw it back in the dirty linen,” she said. “I knew the slipper socks would be touching the floor and then I would probably get back in bed with those slipper socks.”Welle approached Lamichhane Khadka, who is experienced in doing research on healthcare acquired infections (HCAIs), infections that patients get from the hospital environment while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions, to help with the study. Four nursing and three biology students also aided in carrying out their research, Welle said. Welle said a previous study showed that slipper socks do pick up pathogens from the floor, but no research had been done as to whether the pathogens are transferred from the socks to the bed, so that’s what the pair focused on in its study.The goals of the study were to find out what kinds of bacteria are present in the orthopedic wards of two midwestern hospitals, whether there any potentially pathogenic bacteria present, how resistant the bacteria are to antibiotics and to examine the spread of the pathogens from the floor to the bed via the slipper socks, Lamichhane Khadka said. “A very high number of Staphylococcus species, which is a common gram positive bacteria species, was found,”  Lamichhane-Khadka said. “Of that species, 9 percent were Aureus in Hospital 1. This includes the infamous MRSA bacterium.” According to the CDC, MRSA is a highly contagious infection that can result in rashes, headaches, fever, chest pain and/or shortness of breath. MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics and is therefore difficult to treat. Results from the gram negative bacterial pathogens, were more diverse in both hospitals. Gram negative bacteria are usually of intestinal origin, Lamichhane-Khadka said, but they can also cause infections in other parts of the body, potentially resulting in catheter-associated urinary tract infections and pneumonia. The study found that citrobacter, salmonella, klebsiella and pseudomonas were gram negative bacteria found that were of particular concern. According to Welle, these results have significant implications for healthcare facilities, workers and patients. “Everyone wears those socks in the hospital, and most patients get up and touch the floor,” Welle said. “We have to think about the hands of those workers. We are taking those socks on and off to test neurovascular status and then proceed with care to the patient without washing hands. We need to think about lower surgical sights and incisions, which are ankle, foot and knee surgeries, that are coming in contact with the sheet from slipper socks.” Welle said simple practice changes can make a huge difference in the spread of infections. The socks are about 60 cents per pair, so Welle said she suggests that healthcare facilities provide patients with two pairs of socks, one dedicated to the floor and one dedicated to the bed. “It’s going to take teamwork to change,” Welle said. “Research has shown the next person in a room after an infectious patient can acquire the same infection. So, we have to think about the people who clean the rooms too.” Russel then began her presentation about the correlation between self-regulatory skills and daily stress.As a developmental psychologist, Russell said she focuses her studies on how people change over time. Specifically in this study, she is focussing on the interactions and variability of the global and general experience of college women compared to their daily lived experience.“You may be unsurprised to find out college students are finding greater difficulty in regulating their emotions,” Russel said. “They are overwhelmed and anxious. Especially college women.”Although teens at the age of 18 are legally considered to be adults, Russell said she and other theorists have argued that college students are not adults. “College … students are in their own stage of life called ‘emerging adulthood,’” she said. “Students move away from home without continual supervision, but college isn’t real life, it’s a period of transition.”Russell says individuals in this stage do not meet the milestones of adulthood such as marriage, having children and monetary independence. In addition, their prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, meaning their evaluation of risks, rewards and delayed gratification is not the same of that of an adult from a neurological standpoint. The prefrontal cortex is fully developed in those who are aged in their mid 20s, she said.“Students also do not consider themselves to be adults yet,” Russell said. “They are exploring a variety of goals, their love life and a career. They are increasingly acquiring these skills.” Russell said self-regulation, the ability to align thoughts and actions with values, can help ease a college student’s transition to adulthood. This idea is supported by research that has demonstrated that self regulation strategies, emotion regulation and constructive thinking reduce depression, anxiety and stress the first year of college, she said.“How you react to daily stress has a lot of implications for well being,” Russel said. “Some people react more and therefore have more negative affect. Identifying strategies that can promote a better response is important.”Not enough work has been done to say which strategies are useful and which ones are not, she said.Russell’s study included 90 students from Saint Mary’s College. She evaluated three ways in which the students said they self-regulated. The first is goal commitment, which means a student has the persistent mindset of ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ The second is positive reappraisal, which means a student has a positive mindset and makes an effort to look at the bright side of things. The third is lowering aspirations, which means the student reevaluates goals and possibly drops a goal that he or she considers to be unimportant.Her study was performed in the form of a survey, she said. Students took the survey three times a day for a week long span. The survey asked students to answer how much stress they feel in the moment. Unlike previous studies, Russell wanted to evaluate student’s variability in their answers.“Two people can have an average of three,” she said. “However, that doesn’t describe their entire experience. One person’s answers may vary far beyond a score of three, whereas another person may consistently score a three on the survey.”Her results show that stress was a powerful predictor of concurrent negative affect, meaning regulation strategies did not predict anything beyond that. However, the regulation strategies did predict variability, she said. Those with lowering aspirations strategies had significantly more variability than those with goal commitment strategies. She said this means those students had more perseverance and, as a result, had more stable stress levels. Based on the marginally significant results concerning the interaction between strategies and higher or lower negative affect, Russell said she is unsure of the relationship between positive reappraisal strategies and current stress on negative affect. “The results tell us that how stressed college women feel is very predictive of negative emotion,” Russell said. “Therefore, changing the way they perceive stress can change the way stress affects them. In her future work, Russell said she hopes to diversify and broaden her sample so it includes males, other age groups and different types of weeks. “My study looked at a college student’s typical week,” Russel said. “Variability may change during vacation or finals week.”Tags: faculty colloquium, negative affect, nursing science, psychology, self-regulation, stress levelslast_img read more

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Saint Mary’s launches mental health initiative focusing on first-year experiences

first_imgEditor’s Note: An earlier version of this article misstated the use of a wellness initiative survey and incorrectly listed Becky Lindstrom and Shay Schneider as faculty members.Saint Mary’s decided to make significant changes to how mental illness is addressed on campus. The College created two new administrative positions to address mental health concerns. With the help of new staff members Becky Lindstrom and Shay Jolly Schneider, the College launched a new wholeness framework designed to address the physical, mental and emotional needs of its students, particularly through restructuring the first-year experience. Lindstrom, a registered life coach, joined the faculty on a two-year contract to help address increasing concerns about wellness and health on campus.“I was brought in by Saint Mary’s late last year to help the school address the rise in stress and anxiety among students,” Lindstrom said. “The initial conversation was about creating a peer coaching cohort, so bringing in a life coach was the logical first step. Since the start, it has gotten so much bigger. There are so many other pieces involved.” Schneider, the new director of retention and first-year experience, said she knew she needed to reach out to new students to address anxieties and improve overall well-being. “I work closely with our first-year programming, whether that be through orientation programs, Belles Beginnings, preview days or the first-year experience course [otherwise known as Sophia Program in Liberal Learning] and the peer mentor program,” she said. “We saw that mental health was one of the main reasons that students were choosing to leave. We realized that the retention piece was not missing anything, but there was something we could do better.”This led Lindstrom and Schneider to combine forces to initiate campus-wide changes, starting with improving some aspects of the freshman experience and educating upperclassmen on how to provide appropriate support and resources. “When [Lindstrom] was brought in, we talked about launching this peer coaching program which we are working on,” Schneider said. “We are looking to recruit members during the fall semester with a formal launch in the spring.”  Lindstrom and Schneider also looked at the first-year program and decided to make some new changes.“In the past, we’ve gotten feedback from first-year students and peer mentors that they felt there was a lack of connection between the two groups,” Schneider said. “Peer mentors didn’t feel like they were having the best opportunities to build relationships with their first years and vice versa. We saw this as an opportunity to reboot our peer mentor program and bring some fresh energy into that.” As new ideas began to develop, Lindstrom created a new wholeness framework to integrate into the SPLL course. “The framework is essentially the idea that if you’re going to educate the whole student, you have to help them help themselves by taking care of physical health, mental wellness and faith and spirituality,” Lindstrom said. “You also need to have the emotional resilience to be able to be aware of what you need to feel fulfilled. So we are trying to build that idea of inherent self-worth in addition to self-awareness and fulfillment.”She said the framework stresses the values of identity and community in the hopes that it will give students resources to succeed.“The framework is truly about developing the person and what it means to be a Saint Mary’s woman,” Schneider said. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re just checking off boxes through a program. It’s something that will ultimately help you to help yourself.”  While the programs are specifically geared towards freshmen, many upperclassmen have also been provided with the framework. Lindstrom and Schneider said they hope upperclassmen involvement will help the program spread to the populations they can’t reach. “The focus was to start with the incoming freshmen hoping that this year, these students will become sophomores — who will then eventually become juniors — and within four years, this will be something that’s known around campus,” Lindstrom said. “While we won’t be doing anything for the sophomores, juniors and seniors directly, we’re hoping that within that leadership community of upperclassmen, this program will spread organically.” Peer mentors working with freshmen have noticed a positive change in the restructuring of the first-year program.“I think the wellness program is so helpful, I wish I had it when I was a freshman,” senior peer mentor Liz Ferry said. “It helps us to frame the conversation, not only how to be a good student, but also how to be a good person and how to focus on your mental health, academics and spiritual well-being. That is all part of your experience at Saint Mary’s.”Junior, peer mentor Carin Kaminski thinks the new framework provides practical activities to help overall well-being.“This year we have some new ways to help freshman deal with stress,” Kaminski said. “We introduced this self-planning goal program called WOOP. Also, we have different weeks dedicated to self-awareness, community, how to handle stress and how to get involved on campus.” Kaminski also thinks it puts the freshmen in a better position to utilize the resources the College has to offer. “I think these freshmen know a lot more than what we did,” she said. “I am telling them everything from the bus schedule to all that our academic offices, counseling and health and wellness center have to offer. I just think we’re giving them all the resources that we possibly know, and because of this, they are a lot more prepared than we were.” While many of the program activities are just being introduced, first years are taking the program seriously.“Right now in my SPLL class we’re discussing the basics of college — time management, stress and how to manage it all,” first year Abby Brown said. “When we’re discussing all of this, I take it seriously.”The College hopes the new wellness initiative will have significant short and long-term impacts for the school. Lindstrom said she hopes her presence at the College will ultimately allow this project to grow. “Short term goals have to be simple and effective,” she said. “We hope to show results for the students so that it gives them the momentum to keep doing it. In the long term, I hope the students will take ownership so that when they graduate, it won’t just be about how to be Saint Mary’s students. It will help them live their lives.”For Schenider, creating a better future for Saint Mary’s students is a personal goal. “As an alum, I think about the things I wish that I had as a first year student,” she said. “It’s not that Saint Mary’s is missing anything, it’s that we’ve seen a concern and given this initiative structure. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to be part of setting the groundwork and hopefully leaving this legacy of what could truly be a student experience unlike any other.” Tags: first-year experience, Mental health, wholeness frameworklast_img read more

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Browning cinema offers high-quality movie-going experience on campus

first_imgIn September 2004, the Browning Cinema opened on Notre Dame campus. Located in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, the Browning Cinema is a THX certified, 200-seat theater that offers a variety of programs and events.“It’s kind of like an arthouse cinema where we don’t really show large commercial-released films,” Kevin Krizmanich, the cinema production manager at Browning Cinema, said. “We do show newer, more independent films like indie films, classic films, cult-classic films, and then we do a lot of series and partnerships with different departments on campus and different groups from the South Bend community.”When attending the Browning, students can expect to see films that are highly renowned and often difficult to access at a typical, commercialized movie theater.Krizmanich said the Browning’s THX certification is very rare on a college campus and having a theater as high of a quality as the Browning on Notre Dame campus is a privilege.Films screened at the Browning Cinema are chosen with careful planning.“The cinema program director’s chief responsibility is to design film series and create partnerships on campus and in the community,” Krizmanich said.Because of the wide variety of resources Notre Dame offers, the Browning often partners with different departments and academics on campus to enrich the cinematic experience at the theater.Another way the Browning strives to enrich the educational experience of film is by frequently presenting short introductions to the audience before a film is screened.“When possible, an introduction really helps frame a film in a certain way,” Krizmanich said. “It takes it beyond the typical movie theater experience. It’s hard not to find somebody who can speak smartly about a film on campus.”The Browning Cinema offers a variety of film series and events, such as the Learning Beyond the Classics film series.“Basically they choose a theme and then choose six films,” said Krizmanich, “This current one we’re doing right now is on films about death row. They help invoke your feelings about the death penalty, and it gives a little historical context about the death penalty as well.”The Browning Cinema also offers National Theatre Live and Met Opera Live, which are live satellite streams of various theaters in London and the metropolitan opera in New York.“That’s a cool program where you get the best of the best in theater and opera live-streamed,” Krizmanich said. “Because of the quality of our theater, you’re getting the best experience around.”Screenings take place six days a week. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, films are shown between 7 & 8 p.m., while Friday screenings take place at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. On Saturday, there is usually an afternoon screening, along with another 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. screening later that day. The family film series takes place at noon on Sunday, and another film is shown at 3 p.m. on Sunday as well.Not only is the experience at the Browning of high quality, it’s also incredibly affordable for students. Often, students are able to receive free tickets or heavily discounted tickets for films sponsored by various departments across campus.While attending the Browning is often an educational experience, the entertainment value is immense as well, Krizmanich said.“Because we have the resources, we get to bring in directors and experts in the field of cinema and whatever the topic of the film is,” said Krizmanich. “That’s one of the fun things we get to do, and we get to give the community and the students a really cool, unique experience that you don’t get when you just go to a typical movie theater.”Tags: Browning Cinema, DPAC, Filmlast_img read more

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Student Affairs names 8 ND student award recipients

first_imgAlthough the Division of Student Affairs was unable to host its annual Student Leadership Awards Banquet due to the outbreak of COVID-19, eight students are being recognized for their commitment to Notre Dame and the contributions they have made in their time as an undergraduate.Eric Kim, a marketing and film, television and theatre double major, received the Rev. A. Leonard Collins, C.S.C. Award, which honors a graduating senior who has displayed a substantial personal effort to advance the interests of students at Notre Dame. Kim was involved with the Student Union Board throughout his time at Notre Dame and served as its executive director his senior year where he focused on creating a welcoming space.“My main goal, even beyond [being] an executive director but throughout my four years, was to help create a diverse and inclusive environment at our events,” Kim said.Christian Abraham Arega, a biochemistry major with an anthropology minor, received the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C Award, meant to honor a graduating senior whose contributions have advanced the climate of welcome and inclusion within or beyond the University community. A resident assistant in Howard Hall, Arega has also been involved in the International Scholars Program, Building Bridges Mentorship Program and Fighting Irish Scholars Program. She said she was shocked to receive this award.“It really caught me off guard the most because I felt like this was a very challenging year for me and that I didn’t really do as much as I would have liked,” Arega said. “It was a really cool way to realize that even when we’re going through the hardest of times, it’s possible to still be good and still do good, and people see through the hard times, and they see you for who you are.”Julaine Zenk, a fifth-year psychology student studying brain cognition and behavior, received the Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F. Leadership Award, honoring a post-baccalaureate student who has displayed leadership in promoting a more diverse, inclusive campus community. Zenk has had a large role in organizing graduate orientation each year to help introduce new graduate students to the Notre Dame community.“As a grad student, you sometimes just don’t feel like you’re part of the University community because you’re not living on campus, and it very much feels more like a job than like this is your school, your community. So I strove to help people find their place in the Notre Dame community,” Zenk said.Carolina Robledo, a music vocal performance major with minors in history and education, schooling and society, received The Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., Leadership Award, which honors a graduating senior who embodies Father Moreau’s vision of educating both the heart and mind and who has demonstrated significant effort to advance the Catholic character of the University. Robledo was heavily involved in campus ministry in her time at Notre Dame and said she was ecstatic when she heard she had received this award.“Having been given this award reminds me of the mission of evangelization that we have, and sometimes we’re evangelizing without even knowing it,” Robledo said. “I knew that I was living out my Catholic faith and trying to do it for myself in my own personal life, but sometimes we forget that we can also have an impact on others.”Tim Jacklich, a political science major, received The John W. Gardner Student Leadership Award, given to a senior who exemplifies the ideals of the University through outstanding volunteer service beyond the University community. Jacklich served in many different volunteer positions in his time at Notre Dame, including the Robinson Community Learning Center, serving as an assistant teacher at Holy Cross School and spending the summer after his junior year in Puerto Rico as part of the Cross-Cultural Leadership Program.“I was involved in a really exciting project in San Juan that was in service of a very poor neighborhood in San Juan, and we were designing an entrepreneurship curriculum to be used in a local high school,” he said. “I worked with some great colleagues, fellow students from Notre Dame, and was able to apply my Spanish and my knowledge of education and ultimately achieve some really cool results.”Senior Laksumi Sivanandan, political science and American Studies double-major, received the Mike Russo Spirit Award, which honors an undergraduate student who exemplifies service and personal character and strives to bring out the best in themselves and others. Sivanandan was a leader in Class Council and was elected vice president of her class her sophomore year. She said she was not expecting to receive the award.“I have the privilege of working with so many caring, compassionate people who love Notre Dame so much, and I would never have thought that I would be on the same level as them. When I heard the news I was honestly pretty shocked but also it’s nice to feel that all of your work is respected and valued,” Sivanandan said.Madeline Coady, an accounting major with a Catholic social tradition minor, received the Ray Siegfried Award for Leadership Excellence, awarded to a graduating senior who exemplifies leadership, generosity and devotion to the Catholic faith and an affinity for athletics. Coady was a member of the Notre Dame women’s rowing team and was heavily involved with the Center for Social Concerns.“I never realized how important [a Catholic college] was to me until I pegged that Notre Dame had such a big Catholic tradition,” she said. “I’m super thankful for my time at Notre Dame; it has truly changed my life. I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”David Korzeniowski, a film, television and theatre major with minors in journalism, ethics and democracy (JED) and history, received the Denny Moore Award for Excellence in Journalism, given to a graduating senior who exemplifies personal integrity and character, commitment to Notre Dame and writing ability. He was a student broadcaster at Fighting Irish Media and worked for Scholastic Magazine, serving as managing editor his junior and senior year. He said he felt grateful to represent Notre Dame through journalism.“I think that journalism is a really important part of our school and our country in terms of getting accurate and helpful information out to people who might otherwise not be informed,” Korzeniowski said. “I think it’s a responsibility that journalists have to take their job seriously, and I’m glad to have been able to represent Notre Dame and the JED program in that realm.”Tags: Class of 2020, commencement 2020, division of student affairs, student awardslast_img read more

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Students react to first football game of season amidst pandemic

first_imgNotre Dame football returned Saturday with a win over Duke in Notre Dame Stadium on a game day like no other. With the campus largely closed off to spectators and fans, many traditions were banned or modified for the highly anticipated weekend. Students shared their experiences of the historic season opener with The Observer. Isabella Volmert | The Observer Only students, faculty and football players’ families are allowed as spectators in Notre Dame Stadium this year. Students are seated by household and are spread out throughout the stadium.First-years Mary Hanstad and Adison Steinke enjoyed their first Notre Dame football game, despite the lack of tailgating and other events on campus. “We heard about a lot of traditions,” Mary Hanstad said. She said she was still glad to experience some of them including the in-game cheers and touchdown push-ups. On and off rain cast a shadow over the games, however, the weather and the radically different atmosphere did not stop the Irish from beating Duke 27-13. Senior Olivia Venvertloh said she was grateful for the game day, which provided “a sense of normalcy.”The former Farley resident now resides off campus, and she attended the game with her two roommates, who celebrated with brunch beforehand.Despite the differences, Venvertloh said she and her friends were going to go and make the most their last first football game no matter what.“I wasn’t even sure it was going to happen,” she said. “Now we have the opportunity to be in the stadium and have the game day experience.”Venvertloh looks forward to the rest of the season.“I’m definitely excited for another win,” she said. The parking lots were void of tailgaters, but students still celebrated before the game by playing various lawn games such as spike ball and corn hole on the quad and taking pictures in front of the dome. A sign on south quad informed campus visitors the quad was reserved for student activity only. At the game, students grouped by household were scattered throughout the stadium. The cheerleaders led the crowd, this year in a line from the stands, below the first row of seats on the west side instead of on the field. Armed with pom-poms and signs, the cheerleaders and leprechaun Conal Fagan, who is a senior, could not sport any tumbling acts, but could still lead the traditional “Go, Irish!” stadium chant. Leprechaun Lynnette Wukie, who is a senior, served as new game day host, which was a new position this year meant to lead the students in games and announcements during the time outs. The band, spaced out, stood in the normal student section and played the traditional pregame music and a number of songs during halftime, although they could not march. Family members of the players and the opposing team sat in the visitor’s sections of the stadium. First-year Maria Frech and band member said the game lived up the the hype. The trumpet player especially liked the cheers and the band traditions. “It has always been my dream to be in the band and play at the games,“ she said. Frech said she’s looking forward to the next game despite the restrictions. Students jigged “Rakes of Mallow“ and enjoyed the fourth quarter Sgt. Tim McCarthy’s safety reminder. After each touchdown, students did push-ups with the help of their household in the tradition style or did real push-ups on the stands.Sophomore Josh O’Brien noted how Notre Dame is one of few universities allowing an autumn football and student spectators. “I like that we even get to be there,” he said. He did miss the noise of the regular 80,000 fans, he said. “It’s different in the crowd,” he said. First-year Luke Fortener also noted how the reduced crowd resulted in a quieter stadium. A South Bend native, Fortener has been to numerous games over the years. He said he was most excited for, “the community among the students.”James Chrisman, sophomore, said a tradition he missed was tailgating and sitting in the student section like normal. “It’s strange to be spread out,” he said. Chrisman said he was able to enjoy the game with the people around him, but wished students could have made their own group of friends to sit with, instead sitting with their households.  First-year Emma Eckstein sat with another resident of her dorm, since neither of their roommates bought tickets. While she still enjoyed the game, “the atmosphere was kind of off,” Eckstein said. Eckstein said she might have set her expectations too high for the first game. “I’m looking forward to it [the next home game] now I know what to expect,” she said. In order to attend, students were required to wear a mask at all times and remain in their assigned seats. Sophomore Summer Kerksick expressed concern about the actual health practices of the student spectators. “People weren’t really following the mask wearing and social distancing guidelines,” she said. Kerksick said at the beginning of the game, students wore their masks and sat in their assigned seats. However, as the game progressed, students began moving down and sitting in larger groups with others. “That became really frustrating,” Kerksick said. Kersick said students around her began pulling off their masks and some even began juuling. She saw students ask fellow students to put them back on, but she wished the ushers would have enforced the protocols more. Kerksick said she hoped the University will do more to enforce the protocols at future games. Notre Dame faces the South Florida Bulls this Saturday, Sept. 13 at 2:30 p.m.Tags: 2020 football season, COVID-19, Duke, Game Day, ND Football, Notre Dame football, Season Openerlast_img read more

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Notre Dame COVID-19 outbreak demonstrates superspreader potential, study finds

first_imgOut of a study of 30 universities, Notre Dame was found to have the worst COVID-19 outbreak this fall, and the cases on campus demonstrated some correlation with cases in the wider South Bend community (as measured with a seven-day per 100,000 cases metric), according to a study published by Stanford University professors Jan. 13. The study found that a Notre Dame outbreak which occurred at the beginning of the semester correlated with an increase in COVID-19 cases in St. Joseph County. Over the course of the semester, 14.5% of Notre Dame students became infected with COVID-19, and the cumulative infection rate in St. Joseph County was 7.8%. This can be compared to the average infection rate in Indiana at 6.5% and the national average at the time 5.3%.Notre Dame’s decision to move classes online for two weeks appeared to contain the spread, but the results of the research suggest that unlike Notre Dame, St. Joseph County struggled to decrease the spread in the following months, “indicating that the initial outbreak at the University of Notre Dame had superspreading-like effects on its home county.”However, the lack of contact tracing between Notre Dame students and St. Joseph County citizens prevents the August outbreak at Notre Dame from being characterized definitively as a super-spreader event, WSBT reported. University spokesman Paul Browne said in a conversation with deputy health officer for St. Joseph County Dr. Mark Fox, Fox said “he couldn’t duplicate the report findings as they applied to St. Joseph County and Notre Dame.” “On a separate occasion recently, Dr. Fox said that if Notre Dame was a super spreader, he would have expected to see a decline in the county after students left for their extended winter break,” Browne said in an email. “Instead, there was an increase.” Notre Dame announced Thursday new plans to attempt to decrease the spread of COVID-19 on campus this spring, including weekly surveillance testing for all students and harsher discipline for students who do not abide by health and safety protocols.“There will be increased testing on campus during the spring semester, approximately 14,000 tests weekly,” Browne said. “No one will be able to begin classes in person until she or he tests negative.”Tags: COVID-19, Dr. Mark Fox, Paul Browne, St. Joseph Countylast_img read more