Jessica worked her way to the top.
Her journey began as a contributing writer to becoming a staff writer then Religion section editor and on to Editorial Editor.
Articles in The Maroon:
October 2012 – December 2013
Thursday November, 21, 2014
Religious institutions provide relief
Churches and temples in New Orleans are getting the community involved with Typhoon Haiyan relief by partnering with charity organizations that can provide appropriate aid.
The Typhoon Haiyan is being called “the most devastating storm to have ever hit landfall” by news organizations such as the New York Times and CNN International. According to the Associated Press, the approximately 9 million people estimated to have been affected need immediate aid.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond has announced that he is accepting direct donations, which the archdiocese will use to provide aid to the Philippines.
Sara McDonald, director of communications at the Archdiocese of New Orleans, said that the funds are sent to bishops in the Philippines for relief services that “intend to help the bishops rebuild the lives of the Typhoon victims.”
“New Orleans knows how important relief funds and aid are, and so we encourage people to give what they can,” McDonald said. “We also know how important it is to keep the people of the Philippines in our prayers”
The archdiocese is also encouraging donations to Catholic Relief Services.
From Sunday, Nov. 11, through the following Sunday, Nov. 17, the St. Ignatius Chapel accepted donations towards typhoon relief during its daily mass. Kurt Bindewald, director of university ministry, said that he believes money is the best form of relief at the moment for the typhoon victims.
“After Hurricane Katrina we realized that money donations is the best way to ensure that the aid gets to where it is needed most,” Bindewald said. “The Ignatius chapel is only accepting money donations at this time, let us say that we had shirts instead, we cannot possibly track where the aid end up and to who it goes to. We need to make sure the disaster victims get that immediate aid.”
Bindewald said that the donations are given to Catholic Relief Services and to the Jesuit Refugee Service, after working with both organization with past disaster relief efforts.
While collections for the typhoon were only held during last week’s Mass, the University Ministry is still collecting donations in their office.
Temple Sinai, a Jewish congregation located next to Loyola on St. Charles Avenue, in partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism, has also made efforts to open the community to Typhoon Haiyan relief.
The temple encourages donations to the Union for Reform Judaism General Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund is “collecting donations that will be distributed to aid groups working in affected areas,” according to the Union for Reform Judaism website.
The St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church is holding a special offering dedicated to the Typhoon Haiyan victims during the worship on Sunday, Nov. 24.
Associate pastor of the St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church the Rev. Kelly Hostetler said that they partnered with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance during Hurricane Katrina, and so they have decided to partner with them again to provide aid for the typhoon victims.
The St. Genevieve Parish in Slidell, La., is accepting material donations such as clothing that will then be sent directly to family members and villages in close connection to the Filipino community in Slidell, said St. Genevive. They also said that the prominent population of Filipinos in the surrounding area created a high demand for more expansive relief, aside from financial donations.
The Loyola University Honors Program raised more than $1,250 with its Typhoon Haiyan relief fundraiser on Thursday, Nov. 14, according to a Loyola press release.
The funds raised will go to the Red Cross and the Philippine Jesuit Foundation, the official U.S. fundraising organization for Jesuits and Jesuit works in the Philippines. Both organizations are aiding those affected by the disaster through official typhoon relief funds.
Monks visit Loyola to raise awareness
Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Sera Je Monastery in Bylakuppe, South India, created art and music during their visit to Loyola from Tuesday, Nov. 12 to Thursday, Nov. 14.
The Sera Je monks are on a U.S. tour to perform sacred music and art as a way to raise awareness about the Sera Je Secondary School in India. The donations to, and the purchases from, the monks will go toward funding education and food for children at Sera Je.
Ngawang Legshe, adjunct professor at Tulane University and a former monk, said that the Sera Je Secondary School has integrated monastic education with modern education for the children. Legshe said it is the first of its kind in Tibetan history.
“The monks are trained not only in philosophy and Buddhism but also in teaching science, math, English and even Chinese among other modern subjects,” Legshe said.
Director of the Sera Je Secondary School Geshe Cobsang Dorji said that he became a monk at the age of 10.
“Buddhism is about teaching compassion and kindness,” Dorji said.
From Tuesday morning to Thursday night, the Sera Je monks created a sand mandala in the Danna Student Center. They also sold Tibetan items such as prayer flags and scarves, and they performed sacred Tibetan music during the opening and closing ceremonies.
The sand mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition of drawing a sacred design with marble that has been colored and ground into sand. The mandala is used as a base for meditation to spread blessings and inspirations.
Whitney Stewart, adjunct lecturer at Tulane University, said that this sand mandala was of the Green Tara, the female emanation of the Buddha of compassion.
“The monks are generating compassion for all those who pass by and see this mandala, and for Loyola, and they are also generating for all sentient beings,” Stewart said.
Stewart explained that every aspect of the mandala has a symbolic meaning. Nothing is arbitrary and its deconstruction at the closing ceremony on Thursday night “represents the impermanence of life.”
The monks distributed sand from the mandala as a blessing to attendees of the closing ceremony that took place in Nunemaker Auditorium on Thursday night.
Following the ceremony the monks brought the remaining sand to Audubon Park and poured the sand into a lagoon “as a way to share the compassion with animals,” Stewart said.
Legshe explained that the dire situation in Tibet prevents most Tibetan children from receiving proper education.
“We are trying to create the best of the best Tibetan students and one of the goals in visiting is to raise awareness about the dire situation in Tibet and even beyond that, to raise awareness about the free education we are giving to Tibetans and willing Buddhists practitioners,” Legshe said.
The Sere Je secondary school gives free education, free food and free housing to students and monks. According to Dorji, there are over 700 novice students and monks currently at the school.
“The combination of traditional and modern education lets the children decide how they can integrate compassion and love for sentient beings into their professional lives,” Dorji said through a translator.
The department of music industry studies, the department of theatre arts and dance, the office of Mission and Ministry, and the department of religious studies solicited the monks’ presence at Loyola.
Wolves on the Prowl embraces Jesuit ‘floss’ophy
Loyola volunteers will prepare a dental clinic to serve 1,000 people in New Orleans
An array of Loyola volunteers are going to work together to set up a free dental clinic ready to serve more than 1,000 people in New Orleans.
This year for Wolves on the Prowl, Loyola’s national day of community service, Loyola has partnered with the American Dental Association.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, volunteers will dedicate themselves to set up a free and open dental clinic, to be fully operational the very next day on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Wolves on the Prowl is a national day of service that opens volunteer opportunities to Loyola Alumni Association chapters across the country. All Loyola students are instantly a part of the Alumni Association upon their graduation.
The American Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy will conduct the medical procedures for free as a part of the Jesuit national day of service. People seeking dental care will be treated according to their needs and will gain treatment appropriate to the constraints of a one-day clinic.
Students, alumni, faculty and staff, have all registered to vounteer for the event. They will arrange dental equipment and create informational health care packages for patients.
Associate Chaplain for Service and Justice Programs Joe Deegan explained the way volunteers will impact the city.
“In the course of eight hours, Loyola volunteers will transform an empty ballroom at Mardi Gras World into a fully functioning, 120-chair dental clinic capable of serving 1,000 patients per day,” Deegan said.
Assistant director of Alumni Relations Laurie Leiva said that the American Dental Association has organized for more then 200 children, from five different parishes neighboring New Orleans, to be bused into the city for the clinic on Sunday.
“It has the potential to be so life changing,” Leiva said. “If people are missing teeth, imagine how hard it is to get a job or even have an interview.”
Deegan said that the demand for volunteers had been supplied to maximum capacity, with more than 200 volunteers registered.
“It is very rare that we get to contribute to something that’s going to impact so many people in New Orleans,” Deegan said.
“More than one thousand people will be directly served by this clinic when it’s in operation.”
“It’s an exciting opportunity to be working side-by-side with current students, alumni, faculty and staff, all to accomplish this one really big task and all at the same time, I think it will be a really great project,” Deegan said.
“The ADA and Mission of Mercy speak so passionately about this event because it requires them to work together,” Leiva said.
During the day of service, the alumni association will also announce the Loyola Connect competition winner. The competition is between 13 student organizations hoping to fund their project proposals. The winning student organization will receive $5,000 to support a service project. Voting ends at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2.
Visiting expert from New England lectures on Jewish history
An expert on American Judaism traveled from Boston to New Orleans as a part of Loyola’s free public fall Jewish studies lecture.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30, Loyola hosted John Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun professor of American Jewish History from Brandeis University. In his lecture, “American Jewish History, Backwards and Forwards,” Sarna discussed the identity of Jewish communities, the history of how they came to America, and how Judaism is practiced and perceived in the U.S today.
“I know some people at the school including Rabbi Loewy. Not many students know the history of Jews in America and I was excited to give the lecture,” Sarna said.
Sara Clark, events coordinator for the department of religious studies, said that Sarna was brought to Loyola with funds leftover from various donors.
“To hear about the unique shades of American Judaism from the person that the contemporary world feels is the top authority on the subject was not to be missed,” Clark said.
The religious studies department speaker selection committee, including department chairman Kenneth Keulman, professor Robert Gnuse, and instructor Rabbi Robert Loewy, collaborated to bring Sarna to Loyola.
“Dr. Sarna is an amazing and outstanding scholar,” Loewy said. “I’ve heard him speak before and he’s an engaging speaker with a unique style.”
The lecture began with introductions from Keulman, Loewy, Maria Calzada, dean of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences, Morton Katz, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, Carol Wise, president of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, and the Rev. James Carter, president Emeritus of Loyola.
As well as being a professor in Boston, Sarna is also the chair of the Horstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program of Brandeis University and the chief historian of the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and is also recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life.
The department of religious studies hoped to expose students and the surrounding community to Jewish-American history. Loewy hopes the lecture affected Loyola students in a positive way.
“Loyola students and the community now have the ability to understand American Jewish History, and to see New Orleans in that context, keeping Jewish studies alive in Loyola,” Loewy said.
The event was free and open to the public in Nunemaker Auditorium.
The lecture was sponsored by the Centennial Celebration of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, and with gifts from the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, Lester and Beverly Wainer, the Luther and Zita Templeman Foundation, the Goldring Family Foundation and the Woldenberg Foundation.
Shamara King contributed to this story.
Community discusses Islam 12 years after 9/11
Wednesday, Sept. 11, signified the twelfth anniversary of an attack that changed the course of U.S. immediate history.
Students and experts on Islam disscussed the question of the current state of prejudice against Islam in the U.S.
Behrooz Moazami is an assistant professor of history and teaches in the Middle Eastern peace studies program. He described the hatred of Islam as “a type of organized racism.”
“Islamophobia is hatred of Islam and those who follow Islam itself. It is a fascistic movement very similar to anti-Semitism,” Moazami said.
Moazami said that stereotyping and generalizations of Islam and Arabs take form as prejudice. Adil Khan, assistant professor of Islamic Studies, said that limited exposure to Islam leads to misunderstanding the religion and grouping people together by perceived race and religious affiliation.
Moazami said that he saw an upward trend in hatred of Islam after 9/11. He said that he also saw hatred of people that appear Muslim or Arab, regardless of actual cultural identity or religious affiliation.
“I do remember very well on 9/11, there were many drivers in New York that were Indian Sheik. They were beaten because they were mistaken for Muslims,” Moazami said.
Adil said news media intensified hate towards Islam in America with immediate reactions to the 9/11 attacks.
“What 9/11 did is that it made everyone aware of Islam and of Muslims, but much of the coverage was negative,” Adil said. “The measure of this was for example, attacks on mosques.”
Hamza Khan is an economics freshmen who emigrated from Pakistan more than a decade ago. Hamza said that he felt the negative effects of prejudice fueled by the media following 9/11.
“Kids would call me terrorist and my friends’ parents would treat me differently,” Hamza said. “They thought that I was going to try to convert their kids or something, and they acted afraid of me.”
Simon Whedbee, co-president of the Student Peace Initiative and English literature junior, described the pressures of generalizing felt by Muslims because of prejudice.
“They feel a lot more pressure, that their actions reflect half of the world,” Whedbee said.
Hamza said he also experienced prejudice while out with his family.
“My family and I would be stared at just while grocery shopping, and you can tell when someone is treating you differently from other people,” Hamza said.
Hiba Elassar, biochemistry junior who grew up in a Muslim household, said that she notices people make instant judgements and assumptions about her personality because of her hijab.
“Often I feel like I walk into situations where people have already made snap judgments about my personality and my abilities based on my hijab,” Elassar said in an email.
Study abroad programs at Loyola allow students to gain better understanding of global cultures. Like all mainstream world religions, Islam takes various forms according to different parts of the globe. Adil said he believes exchange programs may only allow for a limited scope of grasping Islam.
“You have people who may have spent a certain amount of time in a country and they experience certain things, but that is still very limited,” Adil said. “It’s like if an Egyptian came to New Orleans. While, yes, that is American, it is not a reflection of America as a whole.”
Whedbee said that even accidental stereotypes can come from limited exposure to Islam and may take a form of prejudice.
In 2010, the hatred of Islam was an especially present topic in the news when New Yorkers demonstrated against the Park 51 project that planned to build a Muslim cultural center and mosque two blocks from ground zero. Whedbee said that a very small minority of extremists is given the power of rhetoric by the international community and so, it has the opportunity to create havoc and misrepresent a majority of Muslims.
“After Sept. 11, several Muslims were unlawfully, unethically imprisoned in the name of national security for ‘relations’ to Al-Qaida and other so-called ‘Islamist’ groups,” Elaasar said in an email. “Many were American citizens, and had their rights yanked away from them based on little or no evidence. And I’m not just talking about Guantanamo.”
Whedbee said that Islamic extremists are given to much focus and they misrepresent the Muslim majority.
“9/11 has given radical Islam an international microphone and international stage. They have become the center focus in terms of what’s going on in that region, or going on in that religion, regardless of the majority of people who identify with Islam,” Whedbee said.
Moazami and Adil said they have not seen or experienced this prejudice at Loyola or in the New Orleans community.
“I have not seen or experienced any Islamophobia at Loyola,” Moazami said. “The Jesuit character of the school allows people of divergent religious traditions to practice freely.”
Whedbee said he believes that the best way for the community to address prejudice, social injustice and ignorant stereotypes that breeds hatred is through intellectual discourse and interfaith education.
“When you get to know a person, and get to work with a person, you have a hard time demonizing their beliefs, you have a hard time not respecting his or her point of view,” Whedbee said.
Moazami said he believes that the hatred of Islam is more than a societal prejudice and it is also a part international and domestic political discourse.
Associated Press contributed to this story.
Staff will experience Ignatian values
The Jesuit Center is introducing the Ignatian Staff Fellows program, an opportunity for staff to participate in a yearlong workshop dedicated to Ignatian values.
The staff will participate in readings, reflections, spiritual exercises and written assignments to help ingrain Jesuit education into their daily lives, free of charge. At the end of the next academic year, the Ignatian faculty and staff fellows will take a 10-day immersion trip to Belize.
Robert Reed, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, proposed this opportunity as a service on par with the Ignatian Colleagues program, an intensive program offered outside of Loyola that focuses on Jesuit education.
“My vision is to take the Ignatian mission and incorporate it into our daily operations,” Reed said.
The Jesuit Center’s Assistant Director for Faculty and Staff Development Ricardo Marquez said he is dedicated to the product of the university, meaning the students. Marquez also said he values the staff and faculty, who are a large part of a student’s experience and professional development.
“We are inviting people to be more aware of the roots of this institution and give a synergetic feel to the mission in their work place,” Marquez said.
The staff fellows program is open to all staff members that may value the Jesuit mission and want to include those virtues in the work place.
“My goal is to make sure that every part of the university is represented,” Reed said. “The mission of the university is critical to the experience the students have.”
The program will accept eight to 10 applicants. Reed said he is hoping for an even higher number of participants
“Statistically, we know that the number of Jesuits and priests are on decline,” Reed said. “The plan is to have the application process review those applications to see how many people are interested in that particular program and hopefully we will have more than we expect.”
The spring semester has been dedicated to recruitment while the upcoming fall semester will focus on developing members and their spiritual journey.
“Spiritual exercises are very important because it’s the source of inspiration. It’s a very personal journey and we provide a place, a context and some guidelines to help people in this experience,” Marquez said. “The whole goal of this is to become contemplative in action, how to recognize God in all things, how to recognize the sacredness in everything and how to recognize that we are all part of that.”
Retreat widens student appeal
The increased demand to attend the Spring Awakening retreat promises that there will not be a spot for everyone, but students within Mission and Ministry are taking time to carefully prepare.
On March 8-10, the Loyola Spring Awakening retreat will take over 100 students to Camp Whispering Pines for a weekend of speakers, events and spiritual reflection.
“Our message is that we are a community that seeks to show the love of God through the community,” Joseph Albin, resident chaplain and Mission and Ministry fellow for retreats, said.
While the secrets of this semester’s retreat are to be revealed at the event, the awakening rectors have dedicated their efforts to making the events as open to the entire Loyola community as possible.
“Joseph Albin and I have done our best to bring in people who get left out,” Mar Trujillo, music senior and Spring Awakening rector, said. “There are the people with incredible insights and stories and who are full of love, but they just aren’t as outgoing as the people you see everywhere.”
The Awakening retreat will focus on bringing faith, charity and love to the student community. Awakening has been available to students for over 20 years. In its continuation, graduating rectors foresee the retreat’s success and expansion.
“Over the years I’ve seen it expand to where I think there were 20 or 30 of us, but now there are 60 and 70, to the point where we do have to turn some people away,” Trujillo said about the number of new retreaters.
Albin has been a part of the retreat’s success by helping the retreat realize its mission and navigating the chosen speakers to a successful message.
“I like to allow the students to lead, but it’s important to guide them in leadership positions they may not have had before,” Albin said.
Many on-campus students who run the events have trouble with gaining an audience and struggle with advertising, but Awakening has seen an increase of attendees over the last four years. Participants say that the best advertising technique they found is simply word of mouth.
The Spring Awakening rectors will both graduate this May. Trujillo said she hopes aspects of the Awakening retreat will have a stronger presence in the Loyola community.
“I’d like to see more support in the community, so just bringing the aspects of the retreat into every day life, such as acceptance, love and open communication,” Trujillo said.
Many of the planned events on the retreat will be a surprise for all attendees.
“Not even staff knows who the speakers are,” Trujillo said.
“We are constantly reforming to make sure we are more thoughtful about whatever it is we are doing and why,” Albin said.
Philosophy club to extend their activities to the city
A conference has prompted Loyola faculty and students to begin bringing philosophy to New Orleans’ primary and secondary schools.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19 and Wednesday, Feb. 20, Loyola hosted a conference for the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization. The organization is dedicated to teaching philosophy to school children in kindergarten through high school such as critical thinking and reasoning skills.
“I asked myself, how are you going to read Descartes to 7-year-olds, or middle schoolers?” Jon Altschul, Loyola philosophy professor said. “What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t have to be these difficult works or authors; the themes and the questions we are all asking ourselves are within stories we read and games we play with the children,” Altschul said.
The philosophy department is exploring different options for coaching philosophically adept students to teach as a part of a youth tutoring program. Altschul and the department are deliberating on the best outlet for interested students to be prepared for this upcoming fall semester. The Loyola Philosophy Club is using lesson plan resources on the organization website in order to bring philosophy to local schools before the end of this semester.
“Philosophy belongs to all of us and thinking about questions such as: What is beauty? Who am I? Do I have a purpose? These are questions we all grapple with, including children,” Jana Mohr Lone, president of the Philosophy Learning and Teaching Organization, said.
The organization held its first conference at Columbia University in 2011.
Representatives from affluent educational institutions deliberated on learning tools such as picture books with a philosophical message, and a possible philosophy Advanced Placement course. The College Board, the American Psychological Association, Harvard Law and the Center for Creative Youth were present at Loyola for the discussion.
The conference piggy-backed on the presence of the much larger American Philosophical Association Central Division conference that took place Feb. 21-23 downtown at the Hilton Hotel.
The University of Washington has a series of courses specifically for students interested in the field of pre-college philosophy, “We teach philosophy for children. We focus on how to teach philosophy to younger students and then we send them out with mentors to have them try out what they learn,” Lone said.
The Squire Family Foundation supports the organization through funding, sharing administrative work and advocacy. The foundation’s mission is to “introduce more students to philosophy before they graduate from high school,” Roberta Israeloff, the foundation’s executive director since its inception seven years ago, said.
The organization is in the early stages of seeking grants to support regional centers, New Orleans is an included point of interest. “We’d like to set up and/or support regional centers around the country. It will be really important to have these centers where people are on the ground, in the community, and can get this going,” Lone said.
“Specifically, we are very interested in bringing together young students with undergraduate and graduate philosophy majors; we encourage college students to coach high school students in ethics bowls and to participate in many other pre-college philosophy programs we support,” Israeloff said.
The department’s initiative to bring philosophy to the youth community, proposed by Altschul and the organization, may lead to a new freshman seminar, service learning component or a small movement of philosophically adept students.
“We have a very strong mission at Loyola for thinking critically and acting justly, that includes reaching out to the community. This would be a win-win opportunity for students to give to the city, and to realize that they can do it,” Altschul said.
The department as well as the philosophy club are in the process of finding the best outlet for showing undergraduates how to teach philosophy to young children.
“I believe that PLATO has provided a perfect opportunity for me to be a part of the intellectual progress of New Orleans children,” Kevin O’Sullivan, the Loyola philosophy club public relations officer, said in email.
Chaplain fundraises to join abbey
Loyola resident chaplain, Joseph Albin, needs a new habit.
Albin will join a Dominican priory in Texas next year, as long as he can fundraise his way out of student loan debt.
Albin was accepted to the brotherhood of preachers in Dallas at the end of June 2012. The mendicant order cannot take on more than $40,000 of debt and so Albin has been fundraising since his acceptance.
“I hope I added some joy and I hope I helped the retreat program while it was here, but I have no doubt of its future success,” Albin said. “I feel honored that I got to participate in Loyola and I got to work with such great students.”
The Dominican community is a brotherhood that stands upon four principal pillars, communities, prayer, studying and preaching.
“I feel very called to it and very drawn to it,” Albin said. “It’s the kind of life I’d like to lead.”
Both students and faculty are celebrating Albin’s accomplishments and are offering their support.
“He is someone that fosters community wherever he goes. He has this glowing presence wherever he goes, whether it is going to a Mardi Gras parade or cooking for students,” Carissa Marston, biology senior and fall 2012 awakening rector, said.
Mission and Ministry members appreciate the time and hard work Albin has provided the community and students.
“The thing that Joe really excels at is being with people. He is so wonderful at helping people realize their full potential, encouraging people to see God both in the world around them and within themselves,” Laura Alexander, University Ministry’s assistant director and associate chaplain for retreats and CLCs, said.
Albin graduated from Loyola last year with a master’s degree in Pastoral Studies. Now, Albin is fundraising his way out of student loan debt and towards his passion for the order of preachers.
“There have been a very large number of anonymous donations,” Mar Trujillo, music senior and the current awakening rector, said. “The anonymous donations show that they don’t want anything from him, they just want to help this man who has helped and who has befriended so many people.”
Fundraising began with a letter writing campaign to local church communities, family, friends and even Stephen Colbert. Albin has also solicited donations by designing t-shirts, cooking dinner for students and writing songs.
“Joe deserves every happiness and this is his happiness,” Tujillo said. “He has a wonderful way with words and people which the Dominicans are going to find most useful. He is bringing so much to the table.”
Albin has been a Christian Life Community counselor for students who have found their niche with University Mission and Ministry.
“Joe has challenged me to be more open-minded in my faith and my academic life too,” Andrew Naquin, religious studies senior and fall 2012 awakening rector, said. “I think it will be big shoes to fill because it seems he has become the face of the university ministry.”
Albin began his relationship with Mission and Ministry as an intern in 2009 and accepted an official, but temporary, title following his graduation last year. When Albin leaves, the position will revert back to an available intern position.
“I think I will miss Loyola and miss New Orleans intensely but I think following God has a different kind of reward,” Albin said.
New aid open to students
Starting in August 2013, seven Loyola students will be awarded $15,000 a year as a part of a new scholarship program with the Taylor Foundation.
Following negotiations between the foundation and Loyola, the scholarship will be available to all first-year students for the next 12 years. Students must be Louisiana residents, in their first semester out of high school and they must maintain a GPA specific to the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students.
“We do have some individual scholarships at Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans and Xavier but the biggest scholarship will be at Loyola,” James Caillier said, executive director of the Taylor Foundation.
Salvadore Liberto, vice president of enrollment management and associate provost, said Loyola is in the process of deciding how they will select students for the scholarship.
“For the scholarship, we will be looking at students from Louisiana who need significant financial aid and have a strong academic performance in high school, ” Liberto said.
The scholarship will award selected students $60,000 over a four-year span.
Every year from fall 2012 through 2025, the Taylor foundation will give seven new students the scholarship for each graduating class.
“We want the university to select the students who, for whatever reason, could benefit from a scholarship, whether it’s to attract them to Loyola, or to keep them at Loyola, or to offer additional financial support,” Caillier said.
The Taylor Foundation began in Louisiana in the 1970s with Phyllis and Patrick Taylor. In 1989, the foundation also started the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, which became a state-funded private or public university scholarship program.
“The Taylors have no children, but they wanted to make sure that children in Louisiana could go to college,” Caillier said.
Caillier cited close ties between the foundation and Loyola as a key component in the foundation’s decision to give Loyola over $1 million over the next 12 years. The former university President, the Rev. James Carter, S.J., served on the Taylor Foundation’s education committee.
Caillier said he will return to Loyola’s board of trustees in the fall.
“Those various associations to Fr. Wildes, and me being on the board of trustees, Loyola became the favorite university,” Caillier said.
Eligible students can simultaneously receive both the state-funded scholarships provided by the Taylor Opportunity Program and the privately funded Taylor Foundation scholarship.
Caillier said he has hopes for the new scholarship.
“We want the best and the brightest to go to Loyola and we want to help support their initiative,” Caillier said
Students reflect on death penalty lecture
Sixty-nine-year-old Christopher Sepulvado is to be executed in Louisiana on Ash Wednesday.
According to the Louisiana Department of Corrections, Sepulvado murdered his six-year-old stepson by beating him with a screwdriver and then submerging him in scalding hot water. In 1993 a Desoto Parish jury sent Sepulvado to death row for his crimes.
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the Loyola Jesuit Social Research Institute cosponsored the appearance of Helen Prejean, a sister with the Congregation of St. Joseph. Prejean is an activist against the death penalty as capital punishment and has written several books on the controversial subject, including an award winning book-to-film adaptation.
“They killed a man with fire one day. They strapped him into a chair and pumped electricity into his body until he was dead,” Helen Prejean said as she read the prelude from her book, “Dead Man Walking”. “I cannot walk away from this issue. I owe it to the human beings I have accompanied to death to tell the story to the people, to wake up the people.”
“If you say you are for, or against, the death penalty, people don’t really think about it enough — unless it touches them personally,” Sister Margret Maggio, Prejean’s administrative assistant said. “This is not just about punishment. It’s also about getting people rehabilitated.”
Political science junior Milan Ray discussed his feelings about the death penalty before Prejean’s lecture.
“I was pretty apathetic about the death penalty,” Ray said. “I think there is something to be said about human kindness, and sticking up for people who may not even be innocent.”
Prejean’s speech left students to reflect about the meaning of death as capital punishment.
Terri Zehyoue, a criminal justice sophomore, said Prejean’s message left her thinking about true justice in terms of the crime and the capital punishment’s effect on families involved.
“Sister Prejean talked about the death penalty not really letting the victims family heal, I thought maybe there should be better way to help them find peace,” Zehyoue said.
Gary Clemmons, the director of the Capitol Post Conviction Project of Louisiana and a legal representative for Sepulvado, stood at the podium before Prejean spoke on Tuesday night.
“We should not be judged by the worst five minutes of our life, and I think that sums up the situation for Chris and his crime,” Clemmons said.
Students and academics alike reflect upon this controversial issue’s religious, economic and political implications.
Based in Houston, Texas, Dudley Sharp has tried to spread his own opinions about the death penalty in emails to Loyola students and faculty. Sharp argues that the death penalty can save lives by placing fear into possible offenders and provides the guarantee that the offender will never hurt anyone again.
“To say that the death penalty saves lives is a profound contradiction,” Prejean said, in response to Sharp’s assertions.
While the debate saunters on, Prejean hopes to change the fates of men and women on death row by encouraging people of all ages to reach out to the prisoners and actively push towards the end of the death penalty.
“College students can be pen pals to prisoners, they can vote for people who are going to do something about the justice system,” Maggio said. “These are going to be intelligent people and future leaders, so they are going to need to be informed and have to learn how to make this a better system.”
Green light brightens up NOLA
Green Light focuses on providing energy efficient light bulbs
Green Light New Orleans has put into place the March on Climate Change, a program that is focused on installing energy-efficient light bulbs.
Green Light is an organization dedicated to increasing the use of sustainable, cheaper and cleaner energy in New Orleans.
The March on Climate Change will require over 800 volunteers with hopes to install 8,000 free energy-efficient light bulbs between Jan. 1 and March 31. The first 500 local volunteers that commit to at least two days of service with the March on Climate Change will receive a gift card.
By installing energy efficient light bulbs with the help of many volunteers, “Green Light New Orleans makes an impact on residents’ pocketbooks, addresses big issues like climate change and shines a light on New Orleans as a beacon for change,” Rachel Dorfman, Green Light’s Education Program coordinator, said.
The Loyola Community Action Program volunteered with Green Light’s sustainability project Spark 2012 as part of a service week for first-year students.
“Environmental action is not only a crucial and relevant issue toLUCAP, but also to the world as a whole,” Magin Maier, LUCAP’spublic relations chairwoman, said.
LUCAP is not currently involved with the March on Climate Change but, “I think we would definitely be open to looking into the opportunity further,” Maier said.
The program “supports our diverse local economy, keeps tax dollars in our community and builds stronger more resilient neighborhoods, ”Dorfman said.
Dorfman believes that, as a coastal city, New Orleans is on the frontline in the fight against climate change.
Green Light New Orleans’ mission is to “reduce the carbon footprint of New Orleans by installing energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs for residents of Orleans Parish, free of charge,” LUCAP adviser Joe Deegan said.
Because young people are seen as a driving source for change, college students are a valuable asset to organizations such as Green Light New Orleans, Dorfman said.
“College campuses have historically been hotbeds for important social change, and college students have an incredible amount of power to change the course of history,” Dorfman said.
Ignatian Fellows recruit members
Nine professors from diverse academic backgrounds have been selected for the new Ignatian Faculty Fellows program, aimed at strengthening the presence of Jesuit values within Loyola classrooms.
The Ignatian Faculty Fellows Program requires the nine selected Ignatian Fellows to participate in a bi-weekly seminar starting in the spring semester of 2013. The program is focused on ingraining Ignatian values into teaching methods and to deepen the understanding of the university mission.
“Fellows will have a rich trove of resources to draw on when thinking about how to teach in a way that resonates with the university’s mission,” John Sebastian, English professor and the program’s coordinator, said in an email.
The Ignatian Faculty Fellows Program precludes “that all Loyola faculty, regardless of religious beliefs or academic discipline can be Ignatian and that to connect the mission of the university to the work of the classroom is the responsibility of all Loyola faculty,” Sebastian said.
“I think as the number of Jesuit priests decreases, the university is smart to look at innovative ways of educating faculty to have a greater understanding of Ignatius, Jesuit institutions and the mission and vision for the university,” Gwendolyn George, nursing assistant professor, doctoral program coordinator and one of the new Ignatian fellows, said in an email.
The application of Ignatian values will be done across different schools within the university, as the fellows are professors from diverse academic disciplines.
“It is important that we create time and space on campus for thinking critically about our own vocation as teachers,” Sebastian said.
The University Honors Program director and new Ignatian fellow Naomi Yavneh described making the conscious transition to Loyola University for the values and missions which Jesuit education entails.
“One of my stated goals is to make Honors more explicitly Ignatian,” Yavneh said in an email.
New fellow member Artemis Preeshl, a theater arts and dance professor, believes that Jesuit teachings are valuable simply by the nature of theater.
“By placing one’s self in another’s shoes, as we do in acting, social justice becomes more than ideal; it becomes an action,” Preeshl said in an email.
The Ignatian Faculty Fellows Program hopes to encourage students to learn life lessons and learning skills on par with the Jesuit values described by the university mission.
UPB runs budget cut drill
Exercise helps University Programming Board to set priorities
A University Programming Board budget exercise put new members and their money management skills to the test.
During the UPB meeting on Sept. 25, faculty advisor Courtney Williams announced a faux-budget cut hyped at $10,000. The UPB members have been kept oblivious to the exercise and remain under an impression of real cuts that pose a threat to stipends and other UPB plans. “Either we can have our budget
cut, or get our stipend cut,” says Guillot.
“Event planning is something serious which requires careful planning and critical thinking. As such, I presented the exercise as a real scenario for our students,” said Courtney Williams, co-curricular advisor and Director of Campus Activities.
The motivation of the exercise is to, “Challenge learners to determine which purchases are required and which are dispensable in this simulation,” Williams said.
Williams asserted that there is no particular motivation behind the exercise other than to teach money and resource management in terms of event planning.
“We are not preparing for anything to change. Again, this is just an educational exercise, so no need to worry,” Williams said.
The UPB brings weekly events to students on and off campus.