One of the hardest parts of going away to college is leaving behind younger siblings. To help alleviate that difficulty, Saint Mary’s Residence Hall Association (RHA) organized Lil’ Sib’s Weekend so students could bring their younger siblings to campus to participate in events and get to know their older sister’s home away from home. Sophomore Catherine Moore, co-chair of the event, said she and other co-chair senior Andrea Firth started thinking of themes at the beginning of the school year before finally settling on “Saint Mary’s County Fair,” which brought close to 250 people to campus.“Once we had the theme and dates down, Saint Mary’s County Fair [and] April 9-11, thinking of things to have going on all weekend came a little easier,” Moore said. “We split up the work between us so we would not get too overwhelmed. Let’s just say I am very good at multitasking and working towards a deadline now.”The weekend’s events began Friday in the Student Center where participants registered and received T-shirts, followed by an ice cream social.On Saturday, the younger siblings were taken to a county fair where there were animals at a petting zoo including sheep, calves, lambs, baby goats, alpacas, emus, rams and a potbellied pig.In addition, there was a Moon Bounce, an inflatable obstacle course and a ball toss game. Saturday afternoon there was also a magic show for the children, Moore said.“The weather was beautiful and it was a perfect day for this,” Moore said. “At the carnival we had a magician perform. He had two lovely acts that kept everyone stunned and entertained.”Each of the residence halls on campus provided its own activity Saturday.The Hall Councils on campus also provided an activity for in which everyone could participate at the carnival.“Le Mans Hall had flowers to plant in cups and you could decorate the cups,” Moore said. “McCandless brought a tug-of-war rope, Holy Cross Hall had bozo buckets and prizes to win and Regina Hall put on a pie eating contest.”That evening RHA held a showing of the movie Barnyard in Carroll Auditorium.The weekend came to a close Sunday when a Mass was held at the Church of Loretto.Junior Grace McClurkin participated for the first time this year with her seven-year-old sister. She said the timing this year worked out well for her sister to come and the two enjoyed all the events.“There were enough that we always had something to do and look forward to, but it wasn’t super busy, so we still had time to relax and hang out,” McClurkin said. “My little sister is seven, so she had a blast with the petting zoo, bounce arounds and face painting at the County Fair.”McClurkin said she would bring her sister back next year if the timing works out again. “It’s always fun to have people from home visit your home away from home,” she said.Moore said she believes events like those of this past weekend are important because they give non-students a different perspective of campus.“I think Lil’ Sibs Weekend is an important event to have because it allows students the opportunity to show off their school to their siblings and family,” Moore said. “The siblings get to see what Saint Mary’s is really all about from an insider’s point of view.”Alicia Smith contributed reporting to this story.
Playing for Peace continued its efforts to promote peace in South Sudan at the second annual basketball tournament and Peace & Pep Rally held before the men’s basketball season opener against Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. The rally, which emphasized the continued need for assistance in Sudan, took place following two basketball tournaments — a three-on-three student tournament and a youth tournament for South Bend community members. Last year’s rally and tournament were the opening events of the Playing for Peace initiative. Social concerns chair, junior Ellen Carroll, said this year’s rally shows Notre Dame’s continued support of the people of Sudan. “Last year our Playing for Peace tournament and our Stand with Sudan rally was the largest advocacy event for a peaceful referendum in Sudan of any school in America,” she said. “This year we gather together again to show we’re staying with the people of Sudan.” The rally occurred at a critical time for the country of Sudan, Carroll said. United States senators will debate cutting the international aid budget Monday and Tuesday, a move that could greatly affect South Sudan. Many students signed a petition to President Obama, asking him to continue to support the Sudanese people as they rebuild their nation. Although they could not be present due to the game that followed the rally, men’s basketball players Tim Abromaitis and Joey Brooks opened the rally with a prayer. “Join our voices with their voices and our hearts with their hearts in a plea for peace,” Abromaitis and Brooks said in unison. During the rally, Carroll played a video update from Catholic Relief Services on the situation in Sudan. In the video, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala of the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan described the precarious state of the country. “We do not want a return to war,” Kussala said. “We are at a fragile first stage. We need your prayers, we need your voice, not only before God but before your government officials.” Ring Agwick, a University employee who emigrated from South Sudan to South Bend, also spoke to students and thanked them for their continued support. Agwick said the Sudanese people would be touched to witness a crowd speaking out on their behalf. “If not for you guys and your country, there wouldn’t be no country called South Sudan today,” he said. “We’re really fortunate for what you have been doing.” Kevin Dugan, manager of youth and community programs for the athletic department, said the tournament and rally were intended as a follow-up to last year’s Playing for Peace events. Dugan said the purpose of the day was to update the students on recent Playing for Peace events, such as Dugan’s summer trip to Sudan, and also to call attention to the current situation in the country. “South Sudan is now a free and independent country but there’s a tremendous amount of violence taking place along the borders,” he said. “We want to make everyone aware that we need to stay with Sudan.” The men’s lacrosse team, who helped spearhead the initial Playing for Peace tournament and rally, has continued to be involved with this year’s events. Freshman lacrosse player John Scioscia said the initiative is a great way for the entire campus, as well as the South Bend community, to develop connections. “I think it raises great awareness through a sport,” he said. “Bringing people together to play a sport raises teamwork. Everyone works together and it supports great ideas that are the exact opposite of war.” Carroll said Playing for Peace has already begun planning events for the spring, including a lacrosse tournament and a basketball tournament for community members that will take place at the Martin Luther King Center in South Bend. “The tagline this year is ‘From South Bend to South Sudan’ so that’s the goal, to keep holding events that help both Sudan and our community,” she said.
Saint Mary’s alumna Mary Anne Luzar will share new developments in her research in AIDS and HIV treatments Nov. 14, bringing her extensive work in the global fight against these diseases to the College. Luzar, a 1972 graduate, is the chief of the Regulatory Affairs Branch of the Division of AIDS at the National Institute of Health. The lecture, titled “The Door Finally Opens for HIV Prevention: A Review of the Exciting Results of Two International HIV Prevention Clinical Trials and Their Impact on HIV Prevention Research in the 21st Century” will discuss her work in this field. The lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Room 105 of the Science Hall. The Division of College Relations and the Career Crossings Office are sponsoring the event. Libby Gray, director of development for the College, said the college is excited to welcome Luzar back to campus. “As a Saint Mary’s alumna and accomplished scientist, Dr. Luzar brings expertise that will benefit Saint Mary’s students as well as local members of the medical community,” Gray said. “We are delighted to have her present the latest findings on two studies that offer hope in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.” Despite the event being science based, Gray encouraged students to attend and believes the event will benefit the local community. Gray said she thinks students will be interested in what Luzar has to say. “Students will be impressed by the details of the research that is being performed across the globe to provide hope for those suffering from HIV/AIDS,” she said. Gray said Luzar has worked on two clinical trials that seek a way to fight AIDS. “Dr. Luzar’s lecture [will] highlight the impact of two clinical trials on HIV vaccine development and prevention.,” Gray said. “Dr. Luzar will share the results of the trials and how the global community worked together to perform research that gives hope for prevention of this devastating disease.” According to a Saint Mary’s College press release, Luzar graduated from Saint Mary’s with a degree in French Literature and Humanistic Studies. “Dr. Luzar’s career provides an example of how a liberal arts degree can lead to many different career paths,” Gray said. The press release also noted the seminar will provide an overview of the results of two clinical trials that made headlines around the world in July during the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. “The impact of these trials will be discussed along with the globalization of problem solving and the courage of healthcare specialists to successfully conduct state of the art scientific research in resource poor settings,” the press release stated. While the public health crisis is still yet to be solved, this seminar will hopefully provide the community with a look into a brighter future. “Those who attend will have the opportunity to hear a unique ‘insider’s’ perspective on global health and will leave informed and hopeful about the future for HIV prevention research,” Gray said.
Three guest speakers from the Career Center came to Wednesday’s Senate meeting to follow up with the group’s previous conversations about how to improve the center’s services for students of all majors. Associate vice president of Student Affairs Lee Svete began the conversation by specifically discussing freshmen and the Career Center. “We have a new responsibility in working with first-year students,” Svete said. “It’s not easy to get the attention of first-years, but we want to get on early ground with them.” Associate director of the Career Center Laura Flynn works directly with science and engineering majors and emphasized the importance of networking. “We have the career fairs, two in the fall and one in January,” Flynn said. “Networking face-to-face with the companies is key. About 80 percent of jobs and internships are found through networking. In preparation for the career fair, we certainly do all the resume-writing workshops, interview preparation and networking prep.” She directly addressed a specific concern brought up by the senators in their previous discussion that the Career Center does not do enough for non-business students. “I know I work with the science students and many of them feel they don’t have the resources available for the science students that they have for the business majors, and Arts and Letters students feel the same way,” Flynn said. “That’s certainly not true. It’s just very easy for businesses from Chicago to come here and recruit, so on the outside it seems like it’s only for the business students. Many pharmaceutical companies are based on the west and east coast, so it’s expensive for them to come.” Flynn also emphasized the importance of externships and job shadowing programs. “Last year several Film, Television and Theatre students were able to travel to Los Angeles to network, Arts and Letters students went to Chicago to work with business companies and science students went to Cincinnati and worked for GE,” Flynn said. “We are for all students, and we want to help all of you get jobs and internships.” Svete discussed the important connection between student government and the Career Center, acknowledging that this year the two groups have been especially in touch. “We love getting your feedback on how to help us get engaged with more students, serve them effectively and continue to set the bar so high,” Svete said. “It was the student government who helped us give access to all students to the network of hundreds of alumni across the country. We follow every single graduate until they say they don’t need any help, up until three years after graduation. And that’s one-on-one advising.” Assistant director of the Career Center Kevin Monahan works specifically with business and alumni career programs but spoke on the discrepancy between services for business students and those for Arts and Letters students. “Our two most recent staff members are specifically for Arts and Letters students wishing to get into the business world,” Monahan said. “The number of students seeking jobs six months after graduation is equal for Mendoza and the College of Arts and Letters, and it’s a small number.” Members of the Senate offered up further suggestions for the Career Center including more advertising and a de-formalization of the process of making an appointment with a counselor there. Student body vice president Katie Rose then asked senators how the group can assist victims of Superstorm Sandy. “Usually the student government gets involved whenever there is a major national disaster,” Rose said. “For Hurricane Sandy we are letting some of the groups on campus who are really passionate about it take over, but we are still going to be there to make sure that all of the funds collected are centralized and distributed. That being said, we are looking for charities for the money to go to.” Morrissey Manor senator Billy McMahon suggested the American Red Cross as well as a group called Occupy Sandy, a grassroots effort located in the New York area. Similarly, Veronica Guerrero from Walsh Hall talked about a blog titled Humans of New York that transformed from a documentary on the life of New Yorkers to an effort to raise money.
With just three day’s worth of rehearsal remaining, director Richard Baxter changed his vision for the upcoming Saint Mary’s fall production, “Radium Girls.” Something was simply not working in the last scene, and instead of making minor adjustments, he threw out the ending altogether, Baxter said. “What you see is nothing I set out to direct … So much changes when you get in the [stage] space,” Baxter said. “You’re constantly changing things … That’s what I love about this.” Interpreting the script by award-winning playwright D.W. Gregory, Baxter said he directs a cast of 15 Saint Mary’s students ranging from first-years to seniors along with several of the College’s male professors and two male community members to tell a compelling story of young factory workers who begin a campaign for justice after being sickened by radium-laced paint on the job in 1920’s New Jersey. The play, which will premiere Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Little Theater in the Moreau Center for the Arts, takes place over a period of 20 years with a majority of its focus in the 1920’s during a time when radium was considered a miracle substance believed to cure cancer and other illnesses when in fact the element had the opposite effect, Baxter said. “Directing this play makes me think of two things: It makes me think, ‘How do we apply the ‘Golden Rule,’ how do we really treat each other the way we want to be treated?’ The second is, ‘What kind of radium products do we have now?’” Baxter said. Radium is one of several prevalent themes present in all aspects of the show, including the colors in the costumes, costume designer Melissa Bialko said. “The things that I really tried to visualize were simply the colors of radium and what you’d stereotypically think of radium to be, so it’s sort of hitting the audience over the head, but it’s fun as well,” Bialko said. “There’s a lot of yellows and greens, and then there are supplemental blues and purples and neutral colors.” Baxter and theatre professor Katie Sullivan chose to stage “Radium Girls” after considering several other works. The selection process involved keeping a thematic four-year cycle in mind in order to make sure students coming into the theatre program are exposed to a variety of styles, time periods, playwrights and venues. “As I read [“Radium Girls”], it filled all the criteria that we had set out. We wanted something that would involve as many female actors as we could find, something that wasn’t too technically demanding, something that we think we can costume [and] something we could produce in a small space,” Baxter said. “The big thing is we wanted a good story, something that was compelling and interesting. At the end of that process, we felt this was the best choice. It was very cinematic. There are a lot of short scenes that are tightly woven. It’s a compelling story. It’s about social justice. It has a lot of female characters, the time period works, [and] that’s how we decided to do the play.” Baxter was already familiar with “Radium Girls” because of his personal connections with the playwright through his wife, Baxter said. “D. [W. Gregory] had sent me a script last year to see if I had any interest in it, and I did, but I didn’t have any venue for it,” Baxter said. Senior theatre major and stage manager Molly B. Goodman said she had no knowledge of the play prior to its selection, but her subsequent research led her to also find connections within its context. “I actually have family from New Jersey so I talked to my grandparents that live out there about what was happening, and they remembered people talking about it when they were growing up, so it was interesting to hear that,” Goodman said. Baxter said the show’s success derives from crew members’ extra efforts. “You have to be selfless enough to say what’s better for [the] play, what’s better for the crew, what’s better for the cast, what’s better for the audience, and if you do that then you can really collaborate well,” Baxter said. The play will run Thursday through Sunday, and Gregory will take part in a panel discussion Friday titled, “Radium Girls, Opening the Doors of Justice” about the labor issues explored in the play. The talk, coordinated by the College’s justice education program, will take place at 1 p.m. in Welsh Parlor of Haggar College Center. Contact Emilie Kefalas at [email protected]
Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), in conjunction with student government, released their Fall 2014 PrintND Report that highlights some of the key data on student printing in light of the printing quota controversy presented last semester.According to the report, 90 percent of undergraduates print fewer than 1,000 pages per semester and 90 percent of graduate students print fewer than 1,500 pages without need for additional quota.Emily Danaher | The Observer Junior Shuyang Li, student government’s director of campus technology, said findings were based on data that OIT collected from the printing systems on campus and reflects the information OIT has recollected from student printing and printer usage on campus.“At the beginning of this semester, we had a meeting with OIT to review printing metrics from last semester, and OIT provided us with all the data that came into the report,” Li said.Li said student government attempted to monitor the new system throughout the past semester and has been in constant communication regarding the print quota changes with campus technology throughout the year.“At the beginning of last semester, student government and senate formed a five-student team to get involved with and monitor the new printing system,” Li said. “We had monthly meetings with OIT as well as internal meetings to discuss what was good and not so good with the new printing system and to see how much students were using the new system.”The new print quota system was implemented last semester in response to the financial deficit OIT faced with student printing, which totaled to more than $80,000. Li said OIT is still managing other changes in the new printing systems including the streamlining of the printing queues across campus, the transition towards the point system, issues with one-sided and double-sided printing and quota rollover across semesters.Li said student government’s frequent communication with OIT addressed changes to the new quota system, such as the issues of the price raise for one-sided printing. While OIT initially implemented an increase in one-sided printing as opposed to double-sided printing, student government negotiated a return to equal pricing in one sided and double sided printing, Li said.“We thought [the change in price for single-sided printing] would be bad for students and had several discussions with OIT and pushed to change it back to the same [system],” Li said.Li acknowledged that although the Print ND Report indicated lower printing quota usage, members of student senate expressed their constituents’ complaints about the the quota’s relatively lowered limit and the elimination of rollover print quota from year to year.“There were three senators on the team who went out to their dorms heard other opinions as well,” Li said. “We heard a lot of student opinions that weren’t satisfied with the new system.”Li said OIT has not indicated to student government officials that any additional changes will be made to the print quota system.“I’m trying to make sure that everything we communicate to students at this point is accurate,” Li said.Tags: campus technology, OIT, print quota, printer, Printing, Student government
The opening words of Vice President of the United States and 2017 Commencement speaker Mike Pence’s speech were drowned out by a chorus of boos from members of the audience at Notre Dame’s 172nd Commencement ceremony Sunday. Those boos, however, were largely in response to a group of approximately 100 graduates who chose to stand and exit Notre Dame Stadium as Pence started speaking.Rather than listen to Pence’s Commencement speech, this group of graduates pledged to walk out of the ceremony and host their own informal ceremony just outside the stadium. A press release sent out by We Stand For — a student group dedicated to drawing attention to social justice issues — said the purpose of the walkout was to stand “in solidarity with all members of the Notre Dame community affected by the policies advocated by U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence,” citing groups such as the LGBT community and religious minorities as those members. Emmett Farnan Students sit through the 2017 Commencement ceremony. While the walkout drew national attention, most students and family members did not participate.Hoyt said he was glad that, aside from the walkout, the focus of the ceremony remained on accomplishments of the class of 2017.“I think there were some random potshots taken at times, and I was kind of surprised in the middle of speeches, but I think most of it was focused on us,” he said. “I didn’t feel it was over-politicized or anything. It seemed pretty appropriate.”Some of these political moments occurred during Valedictorian C.J. Pine’s Valedictory Address, in which he urged his classmates to “fight for others, for their unalienable rights.”“Our generation must stand against the scapegoating of Muslims,” he said. “Our concern for freedom of religion must mean freedom for all religions — not just our own — otherwise none of us is free. We must commit ourselves to make certain that all of our friends and classmates at Notre Dame receive equal rights and respect when they leave this stadium with us.”Pine’s remarks drew praise from 2017 Laetare Medal recipient Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries. Boyle echoed Pine and told the class of 2017 not to be discouraged from their mission to serve others.“You imagine with God a circle of compassion, and then you imagine nobody standing outside that circle,” he said. “You go from here to dismantle the barriers that exclude. … We go to the margins, and indeed you have to brace yourselves, because people will accuse you of wasting your time.”Throughout his speech, Pine — a Truman Scholar and a Gilman Scholar — touched on additional subjects, such as the Syrian refugee crisis and the current political climate in the U.S., noting that Notre Dame students are called to serve others after graduating.“Our calling as we leave this stadium is to get these gowns dirty together, as we wade into muddy waters, as our learning becomes service to justice,” he said. “When we follow the deeper callings of justice and proclaim the deeper magic of love and sacrifice that connect all of us — no matter which corner of the world we come from — then we will be true to what we have learned at Notre Dame.”Pine’s speech served as extra encouragement for some students considering participating in the walkout. Liz Hynes, who graduated with a degree in film, television and theatre, said Pine’s call to service to justice spoke to her motivations and the motivations of others who walked out with her.“I think after listening to C.J. Pine’s speech, if you were on the fence about walking out you were no longer on the fence,” she said. “He nails it. What is so important about most religions — and Catholicism, in particular — is helping the marginalized and just living a life of service. And I know that a lot of people will think that this was just a bunch of liberal snowflakes trying to make themselves feel good about themselves at graduation, but I really think that there’s a deeper empathy that we’re all trying to tap into.”With Notre Dame’s “tradition of peaceful protest” in mind, Hynes said she was taken aback by the response to the walkout from the crowd.“There were slurs shouted at people,” she said. “ … There were some really nasty things hurled at people, and it really validated why we were doing this. It really, I think, emboldened us to keep going and keep walking out, because that kind of behavior has really been resurging in a troubling way since this administration has taken office, and it’s not acceptable.”After discussing President Donald Trump’s dedication to religious freedom, Pence addressed the subject of free speech during his speech, saying it was “waning on campuses across America.”“Notre Dame is a campus where deliberation is welcome, where opposing views are debated and where every speaker — no matter how popular or unfashionable — is afforded the right to air their views in the open, for all to hear,” Pence said. “But Notre Dame is the exception — an island in a sea of conformity, so far spared from the noxious wave that seems to be rushing over much of academia. While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than the suppression of freedom of speech.”Watkins said she felt these remarks from Pence and the response of the crowd to the walkout were hypocritical.“I think there is a great hypocrisy of those that call for free speech and then boo any demonstration of free speech or freedom of expression,” she said. “ … We were completely respectful in quietly getting up and exiting as quickly as possible. The real interruption was the loud chorus of boos coming from the stands. It just shows that their argument isn’t really about being respectful to Vice President Pence when that’s how they would react.”Pence ended his speech by advising the class of 2017 to remain true to the Catholic values taught by the University.“If you hold fast to Him, to the faith you’ve deepened in this place and to all you’ve learned and the examples you’ve seen, I know you will not only persevere, you will prevail, and you will lead your families, your professions and our country to unimaginable heights,” he said. “University of Notre Dame class of 2017, this is your day. So go Irish. The future is yours.”Hynes said although she chose to walkout in response to the invitation of Pence, she has a deep appreciation and love for Notre Dame, and is proud to have graduated from the University.“We love Notre Dame so much, and I think that part of why protests happen is because when the things you love disappoint you, you want to work to make them better,” she said. “ … I’m so grateful to the school. It’s changed my life, it’s made my life in so many ways. … It was really cool that we weren’t stopped. I don’t think that every school would’ve been as willing to walk the walk in terms of promising free speech to its students. Notre Dame really followed through, and we appreciate that.”Tags: Caleb Pine, Commencement 2017, Fr. Greg Boyle, Mike Pence, protest, walkout, walkoutND Emma Farnan | The Observer Students participate in a walk out during Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at Commencement. Approximately 150 students, friends and family members participated in the walkout.Tommy Favorite, who graduated with a degree in film, television and theatre, said he chose to participate in the walkout to support those who he believes are marginalized by Pence’s policies, but it was a difficult decision for him to make.“I had to do a lot of thinking about the benefits of staying and going,” he said. “ … I’m not the kind of person whose health, or safety or dignity is being threatened by this administration, but I know when I care about so many people who do — and regardless of who I know and who I talk to — it’s about recognizing and perceiving injustice and reacting to it.”Fellow participant Grace Watkins — a Rhodes Scholar who graduated with a degree in philosophy with a minor in philosophy, politics and economics — said the walkout was intended to demonstrate dissatisfaction with the University’s choice of Pence as Commencement speaker as well as Pence’s policies.“I knew I wanted to do something to show how strongly I disagreed with Pence’s policies and the school’s decision to invite him,” she said. “ … The purpose of the protest itself was to highlight our disagreement and revulsion at his policies. I personally believe he shouldn’t have been invited.”Jessica Pedroza, one of the organizers of the walkout who graduated with a degree in political science, said she was proud to see how many students participated in the walkout.“It took a lot of courage, I think, for a lot of people to walk out,” Pedroza said. “It was a very emotional moment, [and] it was a very important moment for us. … So I think to all of the students who walked out — who are going to get a lot of hate messages today and in the future — I think everyone should be really proud of having walked out on such an important day.”Some members of the Class of 2017, however, did not appreciate graduates walking out of the ceremony. Jacob Hoyt, who graduated with a degree in chemical engineering, said he felt the walkout was disruptive.“I didn’t like it that much,” he said. “I thought it was — it just kind of disturbed the whole process, and I don’t know how much of a statement it really made. My family kind of didn’t like it either, because it just interrupted the whole flow of things and just seemed a little excessive.”Other students, such as Mendoza College of Business graduate Rebekah Rumschlag, did not feel strongly about the demonstration one way or another.“I think that a silent walkout — if you’re going to do some type of protest — is a very respectful protest to do,” Rumschlag said. “In general, I think, though, that not staying to listen to what a speaker has to say limits conversation between two opposing ideas. I guess it’s different when someone is giving a speech because there’s not going to be a dialogue because they’re just talking at you, so I feel fairly indifferent about it. … I understand why students would walk out.”Others supported the walkout, but chose not to participate and remain with their classmates throughout the rest of the Commencement ceremony. Julia Le, who graduated with a degree in science business, said she wanted to keep the focus on the graduates.“I was all for [the walkout],” she said. “ … I wanted to stay for my parents, but then also I think I could show my support and solidarity with those groups in different ways, and so today was more about me and my fellow students, and I didn’t want it to become a thing where we have to leave our own graduation because of our difference in opinions with our Commencement speaker.”The act of walking out of Commencement, Patrick Crane said, took away from the occasion for other students who disagreed with the protestors.“They placed themselves over the rest of their classmates, which is despicable,” he said. “ … Instead of sharing that moment and sharing that excitement, sharing that last alma mater together, they decided to be selfish and take away from a ceremony that should have brought us all together.”Favorite recognized that he and other protestors may have missed out on valuable aspects of their graduation, but he said he felt he would have sacrificed something with either choice.“There were moments where I started questioning whether I would be missing out on something by leaving,” Favorite said. “And I’m sure I did. I’m sure there’s an aspect of the community that I would’ve gotten had I stayed throughout the ceremony. But at the same time, I think you would’ve gained and lost something by staying, as well.”Recalling the students who protested when then-President Barack Obama served as the 2009 Commencement speaker, however, Crane said he was disappointed with the students who chose to participate in the walkout, as he had been with those who chose not to attend Obama’s speech.“I, personally, would never do something like that,” he said. “I think it’s a cowardly act to run away from a problem instead of hearing the other side out and finding a solution towards it. … In 2009, when then-President Obama came to campus, there were students who decided they didn’t want to hear something from the President, which itself, I believe, is both anti-American — to not hear what the leader of your country has to say — but also, again, cowardly in not wanting to broaden your own horizons and sharpen your razor with their rhetoric.”
To Valeria Espinel’s friends, it seemed like she had an unlimited amount of time. That she could do everything productive for school and more and still have time to be there for her friends. Almost like she was working with an extra few hours more than anyone else.People say freshman year of college is hard. That it’s hard to find a balance between meeting new friends, doing school work and adjusting to a new environment — adding in a pandemic can’t make it any easier. Courtesy of Lorena Colon Valeria Espinel celebrated her birthday on campus with a gathering planned by her best friend Olivia Laura Rojas.But somehow it seemed as if Valeria found the time to “meet everyone” in the Latino community within just two months of starting college, get ahead in school and plan for internships as just a freshman. Her friends say she made more friends than they ever thought possible in two months.A native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Valeria lived in Badin Hall until she was killed in a car accident in October, along with her best friend Olivia Laura Rojas.According to Badin Hall rector Sr. Susan Sisko, Valeria always “bounced down the hallways.”Valeria’s Badin Hall resident assistant, Grace Kaiser, said she “had an effortless confidence and liveliness” that anyone could sense after meeting her.“Val used to give me and everyone in our section these sweets called Dulces de Leche that she brought for us from Ecuador. She would leave a whole stack of them in the candy bowl outside of my room for all to share. Before the campus-wide prayer service, we as a Badin community had a short service for Valeria at the Grotto. Pretty much our entire dorm community and even some off-campus Bullfrogs showed up, which I think is a testament to how loved Valeria is and how much she will be missed,” Kaiser said in an email.Through Zoom calls, GroupMe messages and Facebook groups, Valeria made friends with fellow first years as soon as she could. Many of her friends she hung out with every day throughout the semester she made before stepping foot onto Notre Dame’s campus in the fall. Courtesy of Carlos Fabrega Valeria, left, and Olivia.Once she got to campus, Valeria and her friends she’d met in the Notre Dame Latino community would hang out every day.“We studied a lot together and [did] basically everything [together],” first-year Augusto Simons said. “We were always together with her. She was very close to all of us. She was a great friend. … She had a lot of friends.”Although her friends said the Latino community at Notre Dame is a very welcoming one, they noted Valeria had a special ability to make friends quicker than anyone else.First-year Nico Lopez counts Valeria as his first friend at Notre Dame.“She was friends with everyone. I mean, it’s kind of impressive,” Lopez said. “I was a little bit jealous because she would become best friends with everybody. … Every single day I would meet another person who would say, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re friends with Valeria.’”According to her friends, Valeria put as much work as she did making friends into school as well.“You can define her, basically, as a work hard, play hard type of person. She was always in every plan she could go to, and she would always seek out to hang out with people and to meet new people and to build new friendships,” Simons said. “But she was also extremely responsible with school. She was always on top of every class, she would help us with our classes we were having trouble with, she was very responsible with all her homework. She was like the perfect student, basically, because she was a very all-around person.”With that seemingly unlimited resource of time, Valeria pushed everyone around her to be better.“She was one of the most well-rounded people I’ve ever known. It was like she had an unlimited resource or resource of time, … like she had so much time, but she had the same time as us. She got so much done in the same time as we did. And she helped us catch that pace and become better versions of ourselves,” Lopez said. First-year Lorena Colon, who became friends with Valeria before they arrived on campus, echoed Lopez’s sentiments.“She just made everyone feel good. And she would never bring anyone down. She really cared about all her friends, and finding that balance between studies and having fun. I think she didn’t want to sacrifice like one for the other,” Colon, her roommate, added. “She would always push you to be a better version of yourself.”One of her friends, first-year Juan Alvaro, remembers when Valeria would go out of her way to remind him to do his work.“Something really special she used to do for me is that I’m very prone to falling behind in classes, especially Moreau. So after she found out [that] I started to fall behind in Moreau for the second time, she would always remind me even though her Moreau wasn’t the same day as mine,” he said. “She would always text me Monday nights and be like, ‘Hey, do your Moreau.’”Valeria met her best friend Olivia prior to arriving at Notre Dame, and by all accounts, they were inseparable.“They were always together,” Simons said. “It was very common to hear in the sentence, ‘Valeria and Olivia.’ They came together, basically. Like they were always together.”“Every single picture, it was Valeria and Olivia. Everything they did, they did together. It was very impressive for us how they became so close through Zoom and how they really made such a strong friendship,” Lopez added.Many of Valeria’s Notre Dame friends were able to meet her friends and family from home in Ecuador through video chats, and Valeria remained extremely close with her parents and three younger brothers while at school.“I think we could all agree that she brought up part of Ecuador with her, and we all got to live a little bit of it through her,” Alvaro said.After Valeria’s death, friends from Ecuador wrote and sang an original song for her called “Little Miss Perfect” that now has over 8,000 views in an Instagram post. The song professes Valeria “always cared for everyone else,” and she “never let life bring [her] down, those were the things she lived by.”According to the song, Valeria was called “little miss perfect” growing up.Although she only was enrolled at Notre Dame for a short time, Valeria made it clear to her friends that she loved Notre Dame.“I remember that she talked to me about her decision making, and she was accepted into a large number of selective institutions. But she never flinched about choosing Notre Dame because she felt like it was going to be the place where she will not only become a better student, which she already was, but she would become a better person,” Lopez said. “I think that she was striving more to become a better person more than a better student because she was already an amazing student. She was pushing her academics even farther. But Notre Dame does a very good job of forming you as a person. And I think that she really felt connected to that.”Her friends remember her as always taking advantage of every opportunity in life and for her quirks, some of the things that made Valeria, Valeria — an obsession with tuna, her baking business she began in quarantine and being a self-admitted easy crier are just a few. But above all, they remember Valeria as being so happy with the life she’d made for herself in the Notre Dame community.“She was the happiest here that she’s been in her life. She was constantly telling us that she was very happy here and that Notre Dame was everything that she ever wanted and more. And her parents knew that, her friends knew that,” Lopez said. “I think that we all thank the Notre Dame community as a whole for having given Valeria such an amazing place to be, even if it was not for the longest of times.”Following Valeria’s death, her friends found agreement in one specific thing about her life, something they want to emulate going forward in their own lives.“When I was talking about this with our friends,” Colon said. “The one thing we agreed on is that she definitely enjoyed her time here and lived as fully as she could, even though it was a very short amount of time. That’s what we were talking about. We were like, ‘We should try to live as fully as she did.’ Because she really did make the most out of her time here.”Tags: obituary, Olivia Laura Rojas, Valeria Espinel
ROCHESTER – Wegmans was named one of the best companies to work for in the United States.The research and consulting firm Great Place to Work and Fortune released the news this week that the Rochester based grocer ranked third in the ‘2020 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For’ list.The research group says this year’s list came from surveying more than 650,000 employees and asking them to rate their workplace culture.The employees were asked to rate: respectfairnesscamaraderie“We are so grateful for our dedicated employees who have made us a part of this list for the past 23 years,” President and CEO Colleen Wegman said in a statement. “Our people make shopping and working at Wegmans a truly special experience every day. We celebrate and thank them for all they do to earn this incredible honor.”Customers and employees plan to celebrate the honor on Saturday at 11 a.m. with cake at every Wegmans store. For customers who prefer a healthy option instead of cake, Clementine tangerines will be available.This year marked Wegmans’ 23rd anniversary on the list. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)
Star Files Angela Lansbury May Blithely Cross the Pond Dame Angela Lansbury might play the wacky Madame Arcati in the U.S. once more. According to The Daily Telegraph, the current West End production of Blithe Spirit, starring Lansbury and Jemima Rooper and directed by Michael Blakemore, is eyeing a move to this side of the Atlantic. Rooper says, “We’re hoping to bring it back with her in the U.S…[Lansbury]’s almost 90 and she’s delivering every day.” The Broadway legend won her fifth Tony Award for her performance in the 2009 Broadway revival, also directed by Blakemore. Gary Griffin Joins the Parade Gary Griffin will helm the previously announced one-night-only concert performance of Parade at Avery Fisher Hall. Jason Robert Brown, who took home his first Tony fin 1999 for the show’s score, will serve as music director and conductor. Casting for the February 16, 2015 event will be announced at a later date. Griffin is also set to direct Brown’s latest Broadway-bound show, Honeymoon in Vegas. Wanna Be a Producer? There’s an App For That Nabbing that Tony might be as easy as clicking your mouse. Maxolev Productions, headed by Howard and Janet Kagan, have launched a site to raise funds for the latest project: the upcoming Broadway revival of On the Town. According to The New York Times, the two hope to raise between $1 million and $2 million of their $8.5 million capitalization from the site. Performances are set to begin September 20. Sure beats becoming an investor of some potato salad online. View Comments Here’s a quick roundup of stories you may have missed today. Angela Lansbury