“The purpose of the club is to promote awareness of issues in Africa and ways we can help,” Brown said. Right now the club is promoting awareness of the conflict that is going on in Africa over a rare mineral called coltan. Brown said over 6.9 million people have been killed in conflicts related to the mineral. Saint Mary’s Africa Faith and Justice group presented its plan to attend a conference in Washington, D.C., to the Student Government Association (SGA) at its meeting last night. SGA approved the group’s funding request to attend the conference. Junior Elizabeth Brown, a member of the club, said the club is one of only two campus divisions of this group. Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s are the only colleges to have an Africa Faith and Justice Club. Another issue the club is focusing on is education. Brown said many children have to drop out of school to help take care of their families or because of illness. She said a student misses an average of 30 days of school because of worms or parasites. The club raises funds to help pay for the medication needed to prevent these illnesses. “We want to help,” Brown said, “because we feel that it is our duty.” As the only college to have campus divisions of this group, the students have been asked to give a presentation on the last day of the conference. Brown said they would present what the clubs have been doing and how they have helped. Saint Mary’s juniors Elizabeth Brown and Monica Aquirre and sophomore Katie Ciresi all plan to attend the event later in the semester along with a Notre Dame professor and members of the Notre Dame division. The members said they hope to learn more ways to get involved in order to help with current issues in Africa. They also hope to come back with the ability to educate other students about the issues.
As far as budgeting for the tickets, Smith said $25,000 a year came from Saint Mary’s general fund and $25,000 came from Sodexho, Inc., its food provider. “There is a way to go about things in a confident, direct way and still be respectful,” Chesley said. After the move is made, the Student Center and Cyber Café will be open until midnight. In response to student concerns, student body president Rachael Chesley and student body vice president Laura Smith met with the vice president for Student Affairs to get more answers on the issue. Student Government Association (SGA) discussed reworking the Saint Mary’s co-exchange program, which allowed students from Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s to eat at both schools’ dining halls, at its meeting Wednesday night. “Students who really have the need weren’t able to get the co-ex because of the limit,” Smith said. “With this in place, the tickets are being removed for social reasons. Anyone who has a class can bring your class/club schedule and you’ll be covered.” Saint Mary’s students have begun petitions and Facebook group pages about the issue. Chesley said students have been calling for a forum for students to express their ideas and opinions on the program. Chesley also discussed one of SGA’s goals of keeping students in the Student Center until midnight. During fall break, Chesley said a lot of remodeling will be taking place in the Student Center. Once construction is complete, the Convenience Store will be moving into the café area of the Cyber Café. The day of the forum is still tentative, Chesley said. They are hoping to hold the session next Tuesday or Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and possibly have Johnson and Barry Bowles, director of dining services, in attendance. Chesley said she would contact the student body as soon as the date was finalized. “We wanted to keep students in the Student Center Lounge, and this is an accomplishment,” Chesley said. Although co-exchange tickets are not available to everyone, Smith said they would still be there for students who need them for a class or club on the opposite campus. “Obviously, it is upsetting,” Smith said. “We want there to be discussion, let us know what you think.” “We are really taking in what [the students] are telling us,” Smith said. “We are really trying to compose everything everyone has to say. They can always come to us with their concerns and we will always be their voice.” In their meetings with Karen Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs, Chesley and Smith discussed alternatives to the co-exchange plan, but Smith said “co-ex’s are not going to go back to what they used to be.”
Scholars approached the hot-button issue of women’s rights in the Muslim world at a panel held Tuesday at Saint Mary’s College in the Vander Vennet Theatre. Three members of the panel,”Women and Empowerment in the Muslim World: Varied Perspectives,” shared perspectives on why women in the Muslim world often are treated as inferior to men. Nabila Feroz Bhatti, women’s rights activist and native Pakistani, discussed the social and political forces opposing gender equality in Pakistan. “Pakistan is the third most dangerous country for women’s rights,” Bhatti said. “Today, Pakistani women are facing socio-economic and political challenges in their struggle for equality.” Arabic professor Soraya Wirth said Islam is not inherently opposed to gender equality, especially with regard to education. “Islam recognizes men and women as … equal but different,” Wirth said. “According to the Quran, all people, men and women, are expected to obtain knowledge.” Wirth said the Quran does not require that a woman take her husband’s last name, that a man punish his wife physically or that a woman wear a hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering. The Quran also depicts women as being equally worthy of entering heaven, she said. “The Quran says that all should enter into paradise. It doesn’t say ‘men’ should enter, but ‘all,’” Wirth said. Dr. Roy Seitz, a marine physician previously stationed in Afghanistan, analyzed the issue from a militaristic standpoint. He attributed much of the injustice against women to the Taliban. “Although my perspective is limited to the rural areas of Afghanistan, the Taliban seemed to be directly related to the violence that occurred with both men and women,” Seitz said. Seitz said he had little interaction with the Afghan women, who were more inclined to speak with the female Marines. “The women steered clear of us and I really felt like they didn’t want our help. It seemed like they were, in a way, scared that we would westernize them,” Dr. Seitz said. Seitz relayed an anecdote of an encounter with a woman and child in Afghanistan as evidence of Afghani women’s attitude toward the West. “I remember one day when we were traveling through a town and a woman was on the side of the road with her child,” Seitz said. “Immediately when we passed her she hid her child behind her back. It was like she didn’t want the child to even see us.” Senior Jessica Cross said the panel offered an interesting complement to her coursework on the topic. “This panel was a great addition to the Gender and Politics course I am currently taking,” she said. “The panel did a great job at showing different perspectives on women in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and [under] Islam in general.”
Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students rang in the Chinese New Year and celebrated the prevalent Chinese culture on both campuses Monday. In honor of the Year of the Dragon, Saint Mary’s College and the Center of Women’s Intercultural Leadership (CWIL) will host its annual China Night at 7:30 p.m this Saturday in O’Laughlin Auditorium. Alice Siqin Yang, assistant director for Global Education at CWIL, said China Night is a valued tradition on campus. “China Night is actually not new on Saint Mary’s campus,” she said. “It was held by both Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame Chinese students first in 1967. I am glad that we are able to host it again after 50 years.” Yang said China Night is designed to teach students and community members about other cultures, as well as entertain. “It offers a platform for students and community people to learn more about Chinese culture,” Yang said. Huyaling (Nora) Wang, a first year international student from China who helped CWIL plan the event, said China Night seeks to educate attendees. “Our purpose (is to promote) the Chinese culture, share international exchange experiences and bring people a festival atmosphere,” she said. Siqin Yang said CWIL planned several activities throughout the evening and transformed O’Laughlin Auditorium into a festival fit to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. She said the evening will include lantern riddle games, discussions on students’ study abroad experiences in China and performances from musicians and dancers at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, concluding with a special present for attendees. “All children and students will receive a red envelope, which is the traditional Chinese new year gift,” she said. Following the performances, games and discussions, there will be a reception where traditional Chinese food will be served. Wang said though China Night has a long history at the two schools, there were a few difficulties in planning the event. “The biggest challenge (we had to deal with) was contacting lots of performers and finding some special decorations,” said Wang. Siqin Yang said she agreed with Wang, but event planning proved successful in the end. “Our preparation time is tight, but we have been working hard on the event and are confident that attendees will enjoy the show,” she said. The event is free and open to the public.
Notre Dame is not often associated with the phrase “tech startup.” But the Notre Dame-bred creators of the social media website Wikify.me hope to put the University on the tech world’s radar with the site’s March 26 launch at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. “We’re trying to put Notre Dame on the map for a tech startup, to become known as ‘that tech startup that came out of Notre Dame,’” founder and 2011 alumnus James Ingallinera said. “Seeing a tech startup out of Notre Dame is pretty unusual, so the idea of the startup being successful would bring the school into a new domain.” Ingallinera founded Wikify.me in the fall of 2010 with the goal of offering users a “third-person perspective” on social media by featuring a “page about you created by your friends,” he said. “It’s an alternate perspective to everything out there in social media, which revolves around the first-person perspective,” Ingallinera said. “You are the moderator of your own page, but others can contribute to it. You have complete control of everything on your page, from who can contribute to it to who can see it.” After enlisting a firm to build the original version of the site, Ingallinera recruited 2011 alumnus Trey Griffith, senior KC Youm, juniors Kyle Buckley and Bobby Thompson and sophomore Michael McDonald to serve as the site’s “house team.” Since graduating from Notre Dame, Ingallinera has quit his job at Bain Capital to pursue development of Wikify.me full-time. Wikify.me will initially be open exclusively to students at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. Based on the site’s performance and user feedback, the team will decide whether to expand to a larger audience or keep it on “home turf,” Ingallinera said. “We’re starting here because we feel that the feedback we get would be more useful from somewhere we’re already affiliated with and help us create a successful company,” he said. Thompson likened the site to a “reverse Twitter” that focuses on users’ thoughts about a given user instead of a user’s thoughts and opinions on others. Wikify.me pages also display a list of contributors on the side of the page, which Thompson said fits in line with the “followers and following” feature of Twitter. Youm said the current version of the site has been simplified to a few core features but will change according to user feedback. “We had a bunch of ideas in the beginning and we had to streamline it, so we are going to start with as stripped down a version as we can and then build on it based on user feedback,” Youm said. Ingallinera said user feedback will be especially important in developing the site, which is one of the first of its kind in terms of its unique perspective on social networking. “It’s a new concept that hasn’t been tested too extensively to date, so it’s kind of a question mark,” he said. “Well over half the people we’ve run the idea by found it interesting and were willing to sign up, so I think it will be pretty well-received.” In addition to offering users personal pages featuring contributions from other users, Wikify.me will eventually incorporate pages for other organizations based on user feedback, such as restaurants, local businesses and student organizations, Ingallinera said. “The concept of the site involves the outside looking in versus the other way around,” he said. “We want to start with people but branch out beyond individuals to whatever our users want to see in terms of what everyone is saying about those things.” Youm and Thompson said they and other team members have been promoting the site among their friends and in related classes, including computer programming and Internet development, and feedback from these promotions has been generally positive. Based on this initial feedback, Ingallinera and his team said they are optimistic about the future of Wikify.me and its ability to bring Notre Dame into the realm of social media development. “We hope to help Notre Dame establish a presence in an area that it is largely unknown for … by building a real company,” Ingallinera said. Contact Kristen Durbin at [email protected]
The Saint Mary’s Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO) will sponsor several events and activities to commemorate National Dating Violence Awareness Month and continue the conversation about dating violence issues beyond February. “A primary purpose for these events is to encourage continued discussion to raise awareness and ultimately reduce the incidence and impact of violence,” BAVO director Connie Adams said. To kick off the office’s sponsored events, Adams said students, faculty and staff can watch and discuss a recorded lecture by Anne Munch, a consultant for the United States military. The lecture focuses on the intricacies of some sexual assault cases in America on Feb. 11. Since sexual assault and dating violence are related issues, Adams said Munch’s lecture is especially pertinent. “According to national studies, the majority of sexual assaults … occur within known relationships,” Adams said. “The topic of sexual assault is relevant when discussing dating violence.” During the week prior to Valentine’s Day, Adams said BAVO will host a Valentines Against Violence fundraiser by selling cards to support the Family Justice Center’s SOS, a local nonprofit service helping survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence. Such fundraising events can make a real difference with widespread participation, Adams said. “Each person can participate and support [BAVO’s] mission,” she said. “Whether that means starting to follow BAVO SMC on Twitter or buying a Valentine or attending one program, each action is important. Our individual actions matter and, when viewed collectively, promote change.” In an event co-sponsored by Women’s Health and the Student Nurse Association, Saint Mary’s will welcome Francine Henley, coordinator of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, to campus to discuss “myths and facts associated with forensic and medical exams following physical and sexual assaults,” Adams said. Throughout the month of February, Adams said BAVO SMC Facebook and Twitter accounts will share facts and statistics about dating violence and healthy relationships. Other events planned include a Green Dot video contest, which calls for student teams to create and submit a video promoting the Green Dot Campaign, a program focused on bystander intervention and violence prevention. Adams said submissions are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 22. Contest prizes include an AeroPress coffee maker for the best individual entry, and desserts and conversation with Saint Mary’s president Carol Ann Mooney for the winning video. For more information about the Green Dot Campaign, visit www.livethegreendot.com. Contact Tabitha Ricketts at [email protected]
Saint Mary’s College will screen the film “Band of Sisters,” directed by Mary Fishman, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Carroll Auditorium. A panel discussion and a question and answer session will follow the film. Molly Gower, professor of Religious Studies and one of the event’s coordinators, said the decision to screen the film on Saint Mary’s campus came from the popularity of a screening held at Notre Dame last spring. “It’s a film that communicates really important pieces of Catholic history and theology that a lot of students don’t know about in a way that is very easy to watch and easy to learn from,” Gower said. “It’s a documentary, but you don’t feel like you are watching PBS. It focuses on personal stories and the way individual women live.” The “Band of Sisters” website said this film centers on the remarkable journey of Catholic nuns living in the United States today and their mission as citizens of the world post-Vatican II. The film shares the stories of over a dozen sisters, their perspectives on being faithful citizens, and the inspiring ways in which they are leaving their mark on the world. The Saint Mary’s website said the film “takes up issues of Catholics as citizen of the modern world, with special attention to the notion of the universal call to holiness.” Gower said she offered extra credit to students in her Catholic Social Thought class who attended the screening at Notre Dame last spring and was pleased with how much they enjoyed and learned from the film. “From my perspective in the classroom, it did so much to help students understand pieces of history and theology that are really important,” she said. “The film gave students a context for understanding Catholic Social Thought.” Gower said the idea of screening the film at Saint Mary’s was exciting because of how meaningful the film was to many students who saw it in the spring. “We got excited about screening the film at Saint Mary’s as a gift to the students,” she said. Gower said she sees this event as an opportunity for students to better understand the history of the Holy Cross community in which they live. Though the Congregation of Holy Cross is not specifically focused on in the film, students will better understand a piece of Holy Cross history and how its mission ties into the lives of many Catholic sisters in America, she said. “The film is an important part of understanding what it means to be Catholic in America today and what it means especially to be studying at an institution sponsored by the sisters,” Gower said. Explicit connections with the film to the Holy Cross sisters will be offered through the panelists perspectives after the film, according to Gower. The panel will include Mary Fishman, producer and director of “Band of Sisters,”; Sr. Elena Malits, Holy Cross sister and professor emerita of religious studies at Saint Mary’s; Sr. Jessica Brock, novice, attorney and musician:; Sr. Betty Smoyer, former Saint Mary’s campus minister and Kathleen Sprows Cummings, associate professor of American Studies at Notre Dame. “One thing we hope will come out in the panel discussion is the relationship between the history and theology that you learn about in the film and how it connects to the sisters of the Holy Cross and to the history and mission of Saint Mary’s College,” Gower said. This event is sponsored the College’s Department of Religious Studies, the Department of Humanistic Studies, the Center for Spirituality, the Program in Gender and Women’s Studies, the Program in Justice Education and the Cushwa-Leighton Library. “Band of Sisters” is 86 minutes long and will be followed by 30 minutes of panel discussion and an open question session at the end. Contact Samantha Grady at [email protected]
Patrick McCullough, CEO of Amonix, the world leader in solar system efficiency, spoke on renewable energy and entrepreneurship Tuesday in the Montgomery Auditorium in LaFortune. McCullough graduated from Notre Dame in 1995 with a degree in mechanical engineering, and was one of the first two engineers to unite the MBA program with an engineering degree. Amonix is the industry leader in the design and manufacturing of utility-scale solar power systems, McCullough said. The company strives to be on the cutting edge of semiconductors and optics, while staying connected with the business side of energy, he said. McCullough said Vahan Garboushian, the founder and CTO of Amonix, pioneered concentrating photovoltaics (CPV), which is why Amonix’s main advantage is incorporating optics with leading semiconductor solutions, while optimizing power path and dual access tracking accuracy. McCullough said even with this technological breakthrough Amonix is still restrained by the limits of the overall energy market and the solar energy industry within it. “Even if you have the most efficient solar equipment, great innovation cannot happen without the macroeconomics of energy,” McCullough said. McCullough said solar energy is one of the fastest growing industry in the world, but it has slow, steady, returns compared to other sectors. While coal, oil and gas fuels two-thirds of the world’s demand for energy, solar power only comprises a fraction of one percent. “Solar’s penetration is a joke compared to other forms of energy,” he said. “It hasn’t had significant traction to date.” In terms of growth from 2005 to 2010, however, solar power has seen a 52.7 percent increase, he said. Solar power will see more jobs over the next four years, especially in CPV. “But a solar company’s success has nothing to do with these numbers,” McCullough said. “It has more to do with the market that’s made in specific locations throughout the world.” The lowest cost of energy wins, McCullough said. In order to lower their cost of energy, companies must reduce both the cost of ownership and improve energy production, he said. Amonix had to respond to a dynamic market over the past five years, McCullough said. The company scaled up in 2011 to implement their solar system technology, but when Chinese government subsidies increased, the market price fell through the floor, “killing a lot of solar companies.” Forced to cut back drastically to survive, Amonix closed its plants and laid off employees in an effort to restructure. “This is the hardest stuff that a startup has to do: to commercialize in a dynamic marketplace, invest in research and development, make and sell our own equipment,” he said. “The fact that we are alive is impressive.” McCullough said activist groups such as Greenpeace risk life and limb to prevent large oil companies from damaging the environment, but there are other ways to make the world a better place. “If you invent the technology to disrupt the oil and gas business, that will fundamentally change things,” he said. McCullough said he worked at Ford Motor Company and Berkshire Hathaway before entering the energy industry. When he graduated from Notre Dame, he said his top career goal centered on salary, but eventually he asked himself about the greater meaning of his work. “Whether you’re doing technical or commercial work, you can do something you’re proud of,” he said. “You can make a difference.” Contact Meghan Thomassen at [email protected]
Saint Mary’s student senate met Tuesday night to discuss changes to election policies and upcoming events on campus.Student body president Kat Sullivan said the goal for the alteration of election policies “is to establish a better understanding of the policies both for the candidates and the student body as a whole.”Senate members voted to implement changes to election policies, including permitting abroad students to campaign with a present Saint Mary’s student. Sullivan said Feb. 26 is the deadline for all campaign materials. Students can submit materials through an elections portal on OrgSync, she said.“Every candidate that is running will have to sign something saying that they have read these policies and they agree to abide by these terms,” student body vice president Maddy Martin said.Heritage Week at Saint Mary’s will begin Feb. 3, and various events will take place on campus, including a Heritage Week dinner in the Stapleton Lounge, saidCarmen Cardenas, president of the Student Diversity Board.Throughout the week, students will be encouraged to share their heritage, she said.“Any sort of Heritage – you could be the first person ever to attend Saint Mary’s, but you just want to write about how much you love Saint Mary’s,” Cardenas said.Cardenas said students who write admirable stories about their heritage will receive prizes, and the winners will be announced at the heritage dinner.An event titled, “Sugar Makes the World Go ‘Round,” will bring international desserts to the Noble Family Dining Hall on Feb. 6, Cardenas said. Following Heritage Week will be Women’s Appreciation Week, beginning Feb. 24, with the Diverse Student Leadership Conference (DSLC), taking place March 25 to 26.The DSLC will have two keynote speakers: Faisal Alam, a gay, Pakistani-American, and Kevin Powell, Cardenas said.Cardenas said a Saint Mary’s professor’s survey has found that diversity is not a popular conversation topic at the College.“On the worst points, Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff have shown that there is not enough talk about religious diversity or sexual orientation,” she said.The goal of the conference will be to create dialogue on these subjects among Saint Mary’s students, Cardenas said.Martin said another event to look forward to is “Women Honoring Women,” to take place in April.“‘Women Honoring Women’ is a night where students can nominate a faculty member or someone who’s had an impact on their life at Saint Mary’s,” she said.Martin said students and their nominees are invited to a dinner where a nominee is voted Woman of the Year.
Improvisational comedy group Second City, which came to Saint Mary’s on Friday for an extended weekend of teaching classes as the Margaret M. Hill Endowed Visiting Artists, held a press conference and performance in O’Laughlin Auditorium at Saint Mary’s on Monday.According to troupe member Casey Whitaker, Second City loved interacting with Saint Mary’s students through these events.“Anytime there’s a group of strong women anywhere, it’s going to be awesome,” Whitaker said. “Everyone is so supportive and so open, and you can tell that you guys care and love each other, and that’s great when doing improv because you’re open and supporting each other.”Troupe member Jamison Webb said the improvisation group included some material exclusive to Saint Mary’s throughout its performance.“There’s some improvisation throughout the show where we get suggestions from the audience to inspire scenes or moments within scenes,” Webb said. “There’s also some custom material that we’ve put together about Saint Mary’s. The Saint Mary’s experience has been pretty unique.”Webb said he enjoyed watching students grow as performers throughout his time at Saint Mary’s.“When we’re doing shows on the road, we’re in that town for a day or two, so we don’t really have the luxury we’ve had here at Saint Mary’s, with kind of an extended weekend where we’re able to do multiple workshops with the same performers,” he said. “Building something together is pretty cool.”According to Whitaker, the lessons learned during last weekend’s workshops should continue to help students as they discover more about theatre.“We always talk about process at Second City, and I think that’s true for improv in general,” Whitaker said. “It’s always a process. We will never feel like we’ve conquered it completely or like there’s nothing left to learn from improv. That will never be the case. There is always something to learn from improv.”Webb said he hopes students learned the value of commitment to character development when acting.“A lot of the basic principles and things that are focused on in more traditional, kind of theatrical, script-based acting apply to improv,” Webb said. “It’s still about committing to a character. It’s still about giving the audience a compelling look into relationships and a certain time and place. The difference is you are in control of that in the moment, and you are creating that. It’s very ephemeral. Then it’s gone.”Whitaker said Saint Mary’s students should use the skills they learn as they progress in their acting careers.“You kind of have an advantage going into improv and sketch comedy because you already know about emotion and commitment,” Whitaker said. “When you’re improvising a scene, you’re writing as you go. So it’s kind of a completely different muscle. You can’t go home and practice your lines a bunch. You just do it in that moment, so you have to be super present when you’re improvising, which could of course then lead to a great scene.”Tags: improv comedy, Second City, visiting artists