As some 2,000 freshmen swarm campus for Freshman Orientation, another group of students will also take their first steps as Domers — but they’re not freshmen and they might not even live on campus.They’re transfer students, part of the 150 students who are newcomers to campus this weekend, ready to enjoy a miniature version of Freshman Orientation known as “Transfer-O.”This year’s transfer students come from schools all across the nation, junior Catherine Hicks, who is on the Transfer-O committee, said.The students from Southern universities might be unpleasantly surprised by their switch to South Bend’s colder climate, but Hicks said bad weather is not the worst problem transfer students will face. They might find themselves with no place to live on campus.“Half the incoming transfers each year don’t get housing,” Hicks said. “The Notre Dame dorms suffer from overcrowding.”Whether they live on campus or off, the transfer students have a busy few days ahead of them.The Transfer-O agenda includes a welcome Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a scavenger hunt, learning Notre Dame football cheers and a trip to the Indiana dunes.Though Transfer-O is similar to Freshmen Orientation in many ways, its focus is different.“Frosh-O is a lot more about dorm bonding,” Hicks said. “Transfer-O is about quickly getting adapted to Notre Dame.”There are also a few hidden perks to entering Notre Dame with a year of college already under the belt.“Transfers don’t have to go to Domerfest or take the swim test,” Hicks said.Senior Megan Osterhout, who transferred from Saint Mary’s College two years ago and is a Transfer-O commissioner this year, said Notre Dame made her transition smooth.“I have honestly never felt a more welcoming experience in my life,” she said. “Transfers are my best friends now.”Other transfer students said they enjoyed a similarly smooth transition – in spite of concerns they had about transferring.“Transferring is like jumping into a game at halftime. You’re looking at everything through the eyes of a freshman, but you’re not a freshman,” Senior Ian Heraty, who transferred Notre Dame from University of Illinois Springfield, said.Like most new students, Heraty said he was nervous coming to a new school and going through the orientation process.“I was nervous going into it,” he said. “But it turned out to be a total blast.”Heraty is sharing his transfer experiences with this year’s newcomers as the leader of a “Transfer family” in Transfer-O.The transfer families, groups of about 10 students, will compete in a game of “Transfer Family Feud” and will help each other adjust as they transition to a new school.For those new to campus this weekend, Transfer-O committee members urged all new students – transfer and freshmen – to dive right into campus life.“The thing with transferring to Notre Dame is that it’s what you make of it,” Hicks said.
University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh and several of the University’s first female graduates toasted to Class of 2010 valedictorian Katie Washington at Hesburgh’s birthday lunch Tuesday.Washington will address her classmates from her position as an academic leader during the Commencement ceremony Saturday. “I really hope that my class will reflect on the last few years in hopeful anticipation for what is next,” Washington said. “It’s a scary step, but I hope that we all choose to approach it with confidence and resolve, knowing that we have what it takes to affect the world.”Washington earned a 4.0 grade point average and will receive a degree in biological sciences with a minor in Catholic Social Teaching.After graduation, Washington will continue her academic career at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in their Medical Scientist Training Program. This program will allow Washington to pursue a dual degree to open up paths in clinical medicine and medical research, she said. Washington said she is undecided about the exact field that she plans to enter after receiving her dual degree, but has enjoyed working in global health and infectious disease initiatives, as well as research on lung cancer. Wherever her education and research leads her, however, Washington said health care is her passion.“I’m hoping that by pursuing my dual degree, my clinical interests and research interests can inform each other so I apply my combined skill set to a problem or set of problems in health care in a new way,” Washington said.Washington’s research experience has included work at the Cold Spring Harbor labs and genetic studies in the University’s Eck Institute for Global Health on dengue and yellow fever, according to a University press release. “A lot of times, when I have found myself worrying about whether or not the work I do will matter for the big picture of global health care or to universal efforts towards social justice in general, I try to shift my frame of reference to realize that there are people all over this University and the world who are working just as hard as I am to find solutions to problems that matter,” Washington said.Washington said the classes and professors that she has encountered in her years at Notre Dame established her desire to give as much as she can, no matter how big or small, to her community. “I realize how blessed I am to be able to participate in a community of people who have similar goals, hopes and ambitions for the world,” she said. “Notre Dame professors are really great at helping maintaining this perspective.”During her time as a Notre Dame student, Washington was active with the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir, the sister-to-sister program at South Bend’s Washington High School and the Center for Social Concerns’ “Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar.” Washington’s involvement in the Voices of Faith Gospel choir played an important role in her time here at Notre Dame, she said. “[Voices of Faith] has helped me to survive the stress and the pressures of different commitments that we all have here,” Washington said. “I’m hoping to find the same kind of outlet in the future.”Washington said saying goodbye to her home for the last four years will be “a healthy and exciting transition.”“Notre Dame has really helped me to build a foundation in terms of my beliefs and hopes for my life and vocation that will stay with me throughout the rest of my life,” Washington said. “Right now, I feel so content and overwhelmed with gratitude.”
“I really liked making the chocolate pretzel wands,” sophomore Erika Wallace said. “However, I wish there were more Harry Potter themed foods.” The Student Activities Board, Residence Hall Association and Quidditch Club sponsored the event. “Seeing everyone out here playing Quidditch makes me want to go back up to my room and watch all six Harry Potter movies,” sophomore Kristen Rice said. As many students await Friday’s release of latest Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” Saint Mary’s geared up with its own celebration entitled “Bellakazam.” The Quidditch Club hosted lessons on the library green and gave away scarves to the students who participated. The scarves were themed after the Saint Mary’s dorm buildings. The candle-lit dinner included long tables, such as those in the movie, and banners to represent each residence hall of Saint Mary’s. Students could also make chocolate dipped pretzel wands themed for dessert. The night included lessons in Quidditch, the popular sport in the series that is played on brooms, a Harry Potter themed dinner, a magic show and a viewing of the film version of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Many Harry Potter enthusiasts engaged in the various Quidditch games and broom races. Following the lessons, students were invited to a “Great Hall” themed dinner in the Noble Family dining hall. After dinner, Magician Norman Ng put on a magic show in Carroll Auditorium. “The dining hall was well decorated and it got me excited for the movie,” sophomore Kerry Stewart said. Overall, Bellakazam tried to bring a little bit of Hogwarts to the College campus while giving Harry Potter fans a chance to gear up for the release of the “Deathly Hallows,” and express their love for the Harry Potter series.
Saint Mary’s communication professor Terri Russ encouraged women to believe “[their] bodies are amazing” at a lecture Wednesday night. Russ’ speech, “Beautiful Body Battles or Why Are We All Chasing Unicorns?” explained why body dissatisfaction occurs and urged students to fight against it. She said women’s negative view of their bodies is called “body dissatisfaction,” an issue that extends beyond the concept of body image. “Body image makes it sound like it’s an appearance issue,” Russ said. “When, in actuality, it’s so much more.” Her lecture focused on three aspects of female body image: what is natural, what is real and how women know what is natural or real. Russ said the woman’s ideal of the perfect body size is significantly smaller than what is natural — the women’s ideal size is a six, while the man’s ideal woman’s size is a 10 and the natural body size is 14. Women play body battle games with themselves, Russ said, such as “the mirror game,” “the food game” and “the clothing game.” “The mirror game” focuses on women’s tendency to pinpoint their problem areas when they look in the mirror, she said. “Very rarely, if ever, do we step back and look at our whole image … what is most likely in proportion to the rest of our body looks out of proportion [when taken out of context],” Russ said. Food games refer not only to eating disorders, Russ said, but also to disordered eating habits. Lastly, Russ said women play “clothing games” when they allow clothes to dominate their lives. Women often refer to clothing size by stating, “I’m an eight,” she said, when in reality, they should say, “I wear an eight.” “Clothing is a pivotal part of who we are and how we present ourselves to society … [but] here’s the dirty little secret of clothing sizes … they have no meaning,” Russ said. “You [become] that clothing number, but if that number has no tangible meaning, it says a lot about a person.” Women contribute to each other’s body dissatisfaction, Russ said, through habits such as what she called “the skinny greeting.” This greeting includes women telling each other they look great and asking each other whether they lost weight. Though seemingly harmless and positive, Russ said, this question can be detrimental to a woman’s notion of body dissatisfaction. Russ also encouraged audience members to take steps toward overcoming body dissatisfaction. “I believe that anything can be changed,” she said. Russ said students could eliminate “the skinny greeting,” focus on health and change the way they talk about themselves to work through body dissatisfaction. “You have to be your whole self … and embrace that,” Russ said. “Say, and believe, ‘I am beautiful. I am more than my body.’”
Harvey Bender, professor of biological sciences and director of the Human Genetics Program at the University of Notre Dame, died Saturday at the age of 78, according to a University press release. Bender joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1960. His award-winning research and teaching focused on human developmental genetics and the epidemiology of human genetic disease. Most recently, he taught two courses at Notre Dame. He studied chemistry and English at Case Western Reserve University before completing graduate studies in developmental genetics at Northwestern University, according to the press release. Bender received both his master’s and doctoral degrees at Northwestern. Outside of Notre Dame, Bender served as the founding director of the Regional Genetics Center at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, the release stated. The professor was also a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a founding fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics. Bender is preceded in death by his wife Eileen and is survived by his three children and eight grandchildren. A memorial service for Bender will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Temple Beth-El, 305 W. Madison St., South Bend. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial contributions be made in Bender’s honor to the University. Donations should be addressed “In Memory of Harvey A. Bender, University of Notre Dame, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.” Condolences may be sent to the Benders at 1100 North Lake Shore Drive, Apartment 28B, Chicago, IL 60611-5212.
Saint Mary’s Student Government Association (SGA) will continue holding elections today. The Saint Mary’s student body will be participating in elections for the Class Boards, Student Diversity Board (SDB), Student Activities Board (SAB) and Residence Hall Association (RHA). Student Body president Nicole Gans said last week’s election was successful since student participation nearly doubled from previous elections. “There was a big impact to students and faculty,” she said. “We should feel really proud of ourselves.” One of SGA’s goals this year, student body vice president Jackie Zupancic said, has been to bring about more participation in elections. She said using emails and stationing booths around different parts of campus to promote elections was effective. SGA faced a challenge this week, however, when the Saint Mary’s email system Zimbra went down. Since Zimbra is still not working at full capacity this week, SGA had to decide on an alternative way of holding student elections. Typically, students are sent a link in their email accounts allowing them to vote online to make the calculation process significantly easier. SGA had two alternative options to choose from — initiating a paper ballot vote for the election or postponing elections for two weeks. Student Diversity Board president Kelly Reidenbach said she believed using paper ballots was the better choice. “Do the paper ballots tomorrow, because there is a lot going on when we come back from break,” she said Wednesday. “Many people are going to be busy.” Various members of SGA expressed their concerns and suggestions, but SGA ultimately decided it would be in the best interest of the candidates and the student body if a paper ballot was taken today. SGA spent a majority of the meeting working out the logistics of the paper ballot, particularly how they would be able to keep track of students who have voted. The voting booth will be located in the atrium of the Student Center. Elections will begin today at 9 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. There will be paper ballots for each class and each ballot will also contain the name of candidates running for SAB, SDB and RHA. “If anyone votes for more than one class president, their vote will be nullified,” Gans said. “We have to have the same enthusiasm we had for last weeks election.”
Brad Gregory, a professor of history at Notre Dame, won the inaugural Aldersgate Prize for Christian Scholarship for the ability to reflect the highest ideals of Christian scholarship through his book, “The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society.” Gregory, the Dorothy G. Griffin Collegiate Chair in Early Modern European History, said the award came as a surprise for him because didn’t even know the book had been nominated. “I didn’t know anything was afoot until I got an email from the provost of Indiana Wesleyan University. I have no idea who nominated me,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, I’m pleased with the outcome.” Gregory said the book addresses why there are so many answers to the big “life questions” people ask today. “How did the world that we’re living in today – the West, North America, especially Western Europe – come to be the way that it is? In terms of the huge variety of people’s answers to questions about the meaning of life, what morality is, what should we live for and what we should care about, there is a hyperpluralism of truth claims about answers to ‘life questions,’” he said. The book emerged from his interest in different ways to approach history and the Reformation time period, Gregory said. “I found a way of connecting the two through a multi-stranded, long-term history. Certain things became clear that previously hadn’t coalesced, even though I had been thinking about them for many years,” Gregory said. “This is really not a book that anybody in their right mind would set out to write. This is a book that came to me in unexpected ways.” Gregory said his book, approximately 500 pages, is big, both chronologically and conceptually. “It’s provocative, and readers find it challenging in a number of ways. It’s an interrogation of the character of the university and how the different disciplines are related to one another,” he said. “It also concerns how historians divide up the past, even though we know our subdivisions into different types of history (political, economic, intellectual, etc.) isn’t how life really works. These things are all intertwined.” The main questions also relate to Notre Dame’s identity as a Catholic university, he said. “Notre Dame essentially has the same structure as secular universities do,” he said. “This is not meant as a critique so much as an observation, but if theology is made simply one department among others and students fulfill their theology requirements just like they do the others, then the relationship between theology and other disciplines can’t be seen.” Gregory said there are no disciplines that ask how various forms of inquiry are related. “We need different disciplines to understand reality in all its complexity, but there is no discipline that asks how these fit together,” he said. “Students take a smorgasbord of classes, but almost no scholars or scientists are asking questions about how they might be related. Students are confused, and it’s almost impossible to come away from an education anywhere in the U.S. today and have some kind of coherent view of what one has learned in one’s classes.” In his classes, Gregory said he wants students to be aware of the bigger picture. “In part, this means we need to see things in terms of their long-term historical transformation – how we have come to have the academic disciplines, institutions, assumptions, and objectives that we have,” he said.
Albert Laguna, professor of American studies and ethnicity, race and migration at Yale University, spoke in Nieuwland Hall Thursday as part of the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Series for the Study of Race.Laguna’s talk, “The Politics of Play in Latino America” focused on the politics behind Latino, specifically Cuban-exile, humor. Laguna said humor is a special aspect of Latin American culture, which makes studying the culture all the more engaging.“Academic and journalistic discourse surrounding race is rarely funny,” Laguna said. “Yet on a quotidian level, playful ways of representing culture or race is everywhere, for better or for worse.” EMMET FARNAN | The Observer Laguna said the topic of Latin American and Cuban humor was one that must balance popular culture and academia.“The interest in my class from a number of majors across the university taught me that students are looking for tools to make sense of race in forms of play,” he said. “My goal is to provide a balance between these two poles, to delight and instruct, and help you appreciate the complexity and critical potential to thinking about race and play simultaneously.”Laguna said what made Latin American humor so compelling to him was that, despite its being a huge part of Latin-American life and culture, the subject was greatly understudied.“The inspiration … came from growing up in Union City, New Jersey … over 80 percent Latino, situated over the Hudson River,” Laguna said. “I clearly remember the important role and highly visible role of humor in narrating everyday, quotidian life … [so] I was galled by the lack of scholarship of humor in Latino studies.”Laguna said his interest in Latino, specifically Cuban-American, humor also comes from its riveting, tumultuous history. He spoke about particular publications that used humor to make political statements.“Cubans have brought their particular brand of humor to the U.S. and used it to make sense of dying, sport, life and life in Cuba since the 19th century,” Laguna said. “[Here] is a satirical newspaper published in 1897, ‘Cacarajícara,’ printed in New York by Cuban exiles who opposed the Spanish Government … It was basically like ‘The Onion’ of its time.“Little later on you have this … tabloid newspaper called ‘Zigzag’ … from 1963. This was another version of ‘The Onion,’ popular up to 1969, until they decided to make drawings. Fidel Castro, he did not like that and asked nicely — or not so nicely — for them to shut down and many cartoonists fled into exile.”Laguna said Latino humor took on new forms in the 1970s when visual mediums also began to incorporate the style of comedy and satire.“And then you have ‘¿Qué Pasa, USA?’ This is the first bilingual sitcom in the history of the United States,” Laguna said. “It tracks three generations of the Peña family on their first year in exile.”Peña said Latino and Cuban humor add a unique perspective to the history of Cubans and Cuban-Americans.“[Latino humor] has a long history, and it tells an interesting story, one that bucks the usual narrative of the Cuban-exile community and right-wing politics.”Tags: Cuba, humor, Latino politics, Martin Luther King Jr.
Sister Simone Campbell spoke on the “The Contemplative Call to Do Justice” at Saint Mary’s on Tuesday evening as part of the “Life and Leadership of Catholic Women Religious” lecture series.Kelly Konya | The Observer [/Courtesy of Gwen O’Brien]During the presentation, Campbell shared stories about her numerous political experiences and personal interactions, describing the success of her endeavors as under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.“Over the past couple of years, the amazing things that have happened for me have been all about the Holy Spirit being alive and well, and as I add, making mischief,” Campbell said.These include writing the nun’s letter supporting the passage of the Affordable Care Act and organizing the famous 2012 and 2013 “Nuns on a Bus” tours, which addressed cuts in federal funding for people in need and immigration reform. She is also a member of NETWORK, a social justice lobby founded by 47 sisters to influence legislation in Washington, Campbell said.“[The Vatican] named our little organization [NETWORK] as being a bad influence on Catholics,” Campbell said, “We only had nine full time staff at the time, and we made the Vatican nervous? It was a bit shocking … but it was because of that we had Nuns on a Bus.”By using moments like the spotlight brought on by the Vatican as moments of mission, Campbell said she has been able to act on her belief that active, contemplative life has two aspects: radical acceptance and fighting. Radical acceptance is the key to building bridges and end divisions that are tearing America apart, Campbell said.“How do we welcome in the folks we would rather not even deal with?” Campbell asked. “If we’re at odds with the God in them, we’re at odds with the God in us.”Once people can radically accept each other and their differences, everyone can stop fighting against each other and instead fight for a different, better vision, Campbell said.She said listening to one another allows us to move forward in healing society.“When we have radical acceptance, we can have a conversation long enough to find commonality to be able to talk to each other, to share some real concerns,” Campbell said.By referencing the story of Moses and the burning bush from Exodus, Campbell said we are called to listen to the cries of the oppressed in our country.“If we let their cries penetrate our ears, we are called to be a burning bush for them,” Campbell said. “When you put radical acceptance and fighting for something together, it creates fire, it creates the unexpected, it creates light, heat [and] hope.“But it all depends on being touched, fire can only be generated when you touch a person’s life, a person’s story, and make that person’s story part of you.”Sharing stories of people who have touched her life, including a woman who died because of pride and the inability to access health care, as well as an 11-year-old girl who is independently raising her twin because her parents have been deported, Campbell said as the richest nation on earth, it is immoral to allow these sorts of stories play out.“Too often we get paralyzed, isolated … we don’t do anything,” Campbell said. “We, the people of God, I believe, are called to act … We’re each called to do one thing, and if we each do one thing, everything will get done. This is the whole point of community.”Campbell said everyone is called to act in a different way, and she hopes to encourage young people to get involved in politics because they are not old enough to be timid, and they have the chance to test new ideas.“At the heart of this is the powerful truth that we are one body … and our body is in pain, is ill, is divided. We, this one body, need to be healed, and how can we do it? By radical acceptance, by fighting for the better way, by speaking up … whatever part of the body you are, do your part,” Campbell said.Junior Karlie Wolff said she was impressed with way that the lecture went against the traditional perspective that Catholic women can’t be influential.“I thought it was really good, especially since I’m not Catholic myself,” Wolff said. “I always like seeing the talks that bring the Catholic perspective and Catholic ideas to something all of us can see and connect with, especially social justice issues.”The lecture concluded the “Life and Leadership of Catholic Women Religious” series sponsored by the College’s Center for Spirituality. Tags: Affordable Care Act, life and leadership of catholic women religious, NETWORK, nuns on a bus, sister simone campbell, the contemplative call to justice, the vatican
Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared in the March 17 edition of The Observer.Senior Brianne Michaels, a computational mathematics major and economics minor, has been named Saint Mary’s College valedictorian, making her the student with the highest cumulative grade point average in the class of 2014. Michaels, a native of Valparaiso, Ind., said she has had a love of math for as long as she can remember.“The power of mathematics is so intriguing, and a major in mathematics leads to an endless number of career opportunities,” Michaels said.Michaels said she has found her niche in the mathematics department at Saint Mary’s, which has become her “home away from home.”As president of Indiana Epsilon, the College’s chapter of the Pi Mu Epsilon (PME) Mathematical Honors Society, Michaels raised money to send nine members to the Joint Mathematics Meeting in Baltimore.“These sales were record-breaking, and more importantly, the number of members we were able to send to the conference was also a new record,” Michaels said. “It was very exciting, [and] I have loved serving my term as president of PME.”Chair of the mathematics department Colleen Hoover said Michaels’ dedication to raising money to send students to the conference was impressive.“As a faculty advisor for Pi Mu Epsilon, I can say that I have never witnessed this kind of unfailing dedication to student travel, and we all owe Brianne a debt of gratitude,” Hoover said.Joanne Snow, professor of mathematics, said she got to know Michaels better through her work as president of PME and having Michaels in class.“Brianne is an excellent student. She is also very conscientious and very thorough in her work,” Snow said. “If she takes on a task, then you know it will be done and done well.”Snow said Michaels has distinguished herself at Land O’Lakes Inc., where she had an internship last summer. Michaels was honored with the Intern Award for her outstanding performance and leadership, and she will continue there as an Information Technology Rotational Analyst after graduation.Michaels said she is looking forward to her new career and plans to continue to challenge herself both in her career and academically.“I wish to learn as much as possible throughout my life,” Michaels said. “I have always viewed a college education as my ticket to a successful future as an independent woman, and this is proving to be true.”Friend and classmate Megan Golden said she had always told Michaels she would receive the valedictorian award because of her work ethic and the long hours she puts into her schoolwork each day.“[Brianne] is intrinsically motivated and extremely confident in her abilities, so I know she will be successful in achieving her goals in the future,” Golden said. “She is the type of person who works very hard but always makes time for her friends.”Michaels said she owes much of her success at Saint Mary’s to her supportive friends and family.“I have gained life-long friends at Saint Mary’s, which is just as valuable to me as the outstanding education I have received,” Michaels said. “The campus is filled with intelligent, independent women, and I am honored to call myself a Saint Mary’s student and soon-to-be graduate.” “I have made it a priority to perform to the best of my potential in school and to learn as much as I possibly can,” she said. “I strive for excellence in academics, because it is what makes me happy. Being declared valedictorian is just a bonus.” Tags: 2014 Commencement, Brianne Michaels, economics, mathematics, saint mary’s, valedictorian