January 2021

Professor recalls Sundance Festival

first_imgEarlier this year Notre Dame academia and the glamour of Hollywood collided in Park City, Utah, when Film, Television and Theatre Professor Danielle Beverly helped premiere the movie “Rebirth” at the Sundance Film Festival. “Rebirth” opened to a packed house Jan. 21. The film followed the lives of five New Yorkers in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the city. The film also features time-lapse footage of construction at Ground Zero captured from cameras on site where the World Trade Centers once stood. Beverly, who spent the last nine years as a field producer for the film, said her trip to Sundance was unlike any of her previous experiences. “I’ve been to many film festivals, and Sundance is by far its own original, unique experience,” she said. “I was able to connect with business colleagues from all over the world, so that was terrific.” Beverly said part of what makes Sundance a special event is a passion for the film among the guests. “The audiences there are true, die-hard film lovers,” she said. “To come to a town off the beaten path in Utah, in the middle of winter, says so much about audiences. They love film.” Beverly said the audience at the premiere was struck by the powerful human story in the documentary. “The film received two standing ovations, and Michael Moore was in the audience two rows behind me,” she said. “The reception from that first audience to the ‘Rebirth’ subjects, who were all on stage afterwards, was so beautifully warm and engaged.” As field producer, Beverly regularly interacted with the subjects, conducting interviews and keeping track of their lives. She said being involved with such a group of people made filming “Rebirth” an amazing experience. “They welcomed me and our crew into their lives and homes in such a gracious, generous way,” Beverly said. “I adore them all.” Beverly said she knew the film would have an impact with audiences after she met with director and producer Jim Whitaker. She said the longitudinal aspect of the film allows the audience to experience emotions along with the subjects. “Grief is thorny and not easily mapped, but we all must resiliently recover from it in some way. This is human nature,” Beverly said. “And because [Sept. 11] was a national loss, I knew the film would stand as a metaphor that others could hook into, to process their own losses.” Beverly is currently working on a project dealing with gentrification and race in a Southern town. She said this is a very different experience than “Rebirth.” “Unlike ‘Rebirth,’ where I worked with a crew as the field producer, my latest documentary is one I’ve shot, directed and produced as a solo crew over the last three years,” she said. “I love working this way, just me and my camera. Initially I moved there to live in the community I was filming for the first year, and then again last summer.” In addition to making films, Beverly said she looks forward to continue working as a teacher. “I will continue on my same path, which is to make documentaries that matter, that change hearts and minds, and that pay deep respect to those in front of the camera,” she said. “I also have fallen in love with teaching and look forward to working with students for a long time to come.” Beverly said Notre Dame students looking to pursue the cinema should remain true to the spirit of the University in their careers. “That earnest drive, humility, curiosity and respect that I see every day in my students will serve them well in the film industry,” she said. “It is a fallacy to think that one needs hard-nosed drive to be successful in the film business. Rather, it is being caring, understanding and hard-working that makes anyone stand out.”last_img read more

Brothers debuts at Eddy Street

first_imgThe new Brothers Bar & Grill opened at Eddy Street Commons this weekend, and given the success of the bar’s first few days of operation, company management said it expects greater success and popularity moving forward. Scott Severson, vice president of franchising and development, said the company could not be happier with the bar’s first weekend. “We were very happy with the weekend … I don’t think we’ve had a bigger or better opening than we’ve had in South Bend,” Severson said. “It was absolutely spectacular.” Despite some small challenges associated with opening weekend, Severson said customers seemed pleased with their experience. “The community has been incredibly welcoming to us,” Severson said. “I can’t tell you how many people came up to me … and said, ‘Thank you for coming to South Bend.’ … When we did run into service issues, everybody was incredibly patient and sympathetic and understanding.” Severson said the new location offers 80 different tap handles with 37 different types of beer. “What the students will see in our store in South Bend is a spectacular array of tap beers,” Severson said. “It is really the showcase of that store, and it is something we have gotten great feedback on.” The bar also does not plan to have a cover charge, Severson said. “It was a very, very simple business plan,” Severson said. “We wanted to offer our customers a really nice venue, and offer them food and beverage items that were competitively priced in the market.” The entire menu, with only a few exceptions, offers food made from scratch, Severson said. “At the end of the day, we are a bar that serves really good food,” Severson said. The venue, built in just three months, will be a model for future locations. “The food is great, the environment is great [and] it’s been very positive,” Severson said. “We’re very excited and very happy to be in the South Bend market.” Students who visited the bar over the weekend said they were pleased with their experiences. Senior John Heid said he was curious about Brothers before it opened a location in South Bend. “I heard good things about it at other schools,” Heid said, “but it was also close to campus, and I didn’t need to call a cab to get there.” Heid called Brothers a “pleasant change” from other local bars. “I love the Backer and Finny’s, but I don’t want to be standing in an inch of spilled beer every Friday and Saturday,” Heid said. “I think the centrally located bar was a great idea; everybody wasn’t crowding in the same place. The only problem I had with Brothers was that the dance floor was too small.” Senior Christina Kuklinski said she appreciated the lack of cover charge at the bar. “Brothers has the potential to offer something a little different than your typical South Bend bar,” Kuklinski said. “It’s a lot more laid back than other places, and it’s within walking distance, which is a definite advantage. It was nice to just go and talk with people and not be drowned out by music.” The environment at the bar was more relaxed earlier in the night, but became more busy and loud as everyone began to dance later at night, Kuklinski said. No cover charge was also a draw for senior Tony Dang. “Everywhere else in town has a cover on Saturday nights,” Dang said. “It was nice to just walk in.” Even during the first weekend, Dang said the bar was busy. “It was pretty lively, and they had good music going on,” he said. “What was interesting was that they have a lot of TVs in there, and they play the music videos to the songs they are playing, which is kind of cool. It reminded me of bars I’ve been to in Chicago … You haven’t seen that around here.” Dang said he visited a Brothers location in West Lafayette, Ind., when he visited the city for the Notre Dame football game against Purdue earlier this year. He said he hopes Brothers continues to attract students and develop a similar college-town feel. “That place was packed full of people,” Dang said. “That’s what makes it fun, when you can see a lot of people. Hopefully that’s going to be the case here as more people learn about the bar.”last_img read more

Professor publishes book on the homeless

first_imgWhenever a serious crime is committed, members of the surrounding community are plagued by burning questions regarding who is responsible, why the incident occurred and how it could have been prevented. In his new book “Homeless Come Home: An Advocate, the Riverbank, and Murder in Topeka, Kansas,” professor Benedict Giamo examined these complex questions in the context of the story of David Owen, an advocate for the homeless who was brutally murdered in 2006 by members of the community he aimed to help. Giamo has studied homelessness since the 1970s, but he was drawn to Owen’s story by the blurred line between victim and perpetrator. “Most of the time, the homeless are the victims, and in this case they were the perpetrators,” he said. “But the victim also had a hand in his own death.” Giamo’s interest in Owen’s murder also stemmed from the interesting relationships between the story’s broad issues and diverse characters, he said. “[The book] is about homelessness, it is about social justice and it is about disability,” Giamo said. “It raises these broader issues and tries to do it in an engaging manner through creative nonfiction to give an account as truthful to the crime, to the setting and to the characters as can be.” In researching and writing his book, Giamo wanted to find out why someone who had professed his life to helping the homeless would reach his demise at their hands. Giamo said Owen was a fascinating yet polarizing character in his desire to reunite the homeless with their families through somewhat questionable tactics. “Owen wanted them [the homeless] to call their families and reconnect, but he would get in their faces and be aggressive,” he said. “If the homeless resisted, he would even go so far as to trash their encampments.” An encounter between Owen and four residents of a homeless encampment ultimately led to his death. Owen was speaking to the group in hopes of encouraging them to reconnect with their families, but the conversation eventually took on a negative tone, Giamo said. “When Owen would trash homeless encampments, he would photograph the before and after,” Giamo said. “On that particular day, he had those pictures in his satchel and they [the homeless perpetrators] found the pictures and burned them.” Owen was brutally beaten and lynched, and his body was found several weeks later, Giamo said. Four homeless individuals were eventually convicted of felony murder and kidnapping in the wake of Owen’s death. Members of the Topeka community characterized Owen for his difficult personality during their interviews with Giamo, he said, but the city’s residents also recognized Owen’s passion for and dedication to advocacy for the homeless. “He was extremely committed to the point that he gave his life, but that was always followed by a sense of fanaticism,” Giamo said. “Homeless Come Home” is available for purchase through the University of Notre Dame Press.last_img read more

Expert discusses impact of 1960s bombing

first_imgTo commemorate the 50th anniversary this month of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., Notre Dame’s Multicultural Student Programs and Services launched its “Martin Luther King, Jr. Series for the Study of Race,” with a presentation by Dr. Wilson Fallin, Jr. Ph.D. to speak Monday night.     Fallin, a professor of history at the University of Montevallo in Montevallo, Ala., is the author of two books and the president of Birmingham-Easonian Baptist Bible College. He began his work in the Civil Rights movement at Moorehouse College while Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a part-time professor at the College. In Monday’s lecture, titled “Spirituality, the Birmingham Bombing, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement,” Fallin focused on the Birmingham Civil Rights movement, which began in 1956. “The Civil Rights movement was one of the most significant movements for social and racial justice in the history of the [United States],” he said. “And no campaign was more important than that in Birmingham.”   Fallin said the 1963 bombing was prompted by segregation from the 1950s and on. “Birmingham, Ala., was founded in 1871 during the reconstruction era by former plantation owners determined to uphold racial segregation,” he said. “By the 1950s, Birmingham was “one of the most segregated and racially polarized cities in the U.S.” Between 1945 and 1962, bombings of African-American businesses and homes were not infrequent, he said. Although the numbers have been disputed, Fallin said historians generally agree there were between 20 and 80 racially motivated bombings in Birmingham during that time period, earning the city the name “Bombingham.” Most, if not all, incidents were never investigated. Fallin said the most interesting aspect was the role of the African-American churches in the Birmingham Civil Rights movement because in 1956, the state government effectively outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from Alabama. As a result, a group of black ministers came forward to create the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. “It was a movement of churches,” he said. “The church made it possible. The black church had a strong dose of liberation theology – and that united them.”Religion, when it is believed and practiced, is a powerful element in one’s life and in one’s society.” The prominence of the church in the Civil Rights movement, Fallin said, was the reason that on the night of Sept. 14th, 1963, four members of the Ku Klux Klan broke into the 16th Street Baptist Church and planted a time bomb, scheduled to detonate at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning. “Ten-thirty Sunday morning. They knew. They knew there would be people there – they knew people would die,” Fallin said. “It was a crime committed out of sheer revenge and hate.” But, Fallin said, Birmingham had a lasting significance for the civil rights movement nationwide. The tragedy of losing four young girls to an act of hatred drew national attention to the city and to the issue of institutionalized racism in the United States. “It took people off the fence, and galvanized more sympathy for the cause,” he said. “Birmingham, in my view, saved the movement.” Contact Maragaret Hynds  at  [email protected]last_img read more

Seniors continue journey toward religious vows

first_imgAfter graduation, as many of their classmates start new careers, attend graduate school or begin post-graduate service, a handful of seniors will begin the process of entering religious life. Photo courtesy of Joshua Bathon Joshua Bathon, Vincent Nguyen and Alfredo Guzman-Dominguez will all begin a year at their orders’ respective novitiates in late summer. Joshua Bathon and Vincent Nguyen, both graduates of the Old College undergraduate seminary program at Notre Dame, will spend the next year at the Congregation of Holy Cross’s novitiate beginning in August. Bathon, a history and philosophy major from South Carolina, described the novitiate experience as “a long retreat, essentially,” which includes “a lot of prayer and silence.”At the novitiate in Colorado, Bathon and Nguyen will receive their habits and take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. After that year, they will return to Notre Dame to receive their Masters of Divinity. Guzman-Dominguez, who lived in Morrissey Manor, will enter the Dominican order after graduation and move to their novitiate in St. Louis.  “It’s like boot camp for religious life,” he said. A New York native, Guzman-Dominguez said he wanted to be a priest since his sophomore year of high school. “I think my calling is in some way to be an intellectual,” he said. “I was attracted to orders that had a strong intellectual element to their vocation, which means not only that they are academics, but that study informs the way they approach their faith and they way they approach their life. … Caring about things like literature and art and beauty is almost a staple of the Dominicans.”While he does not know exactly what work he will do in the future, Guzman-Dominguez said he plans to keep his options open. “I would probably choose to work in a university,” he said. “I don’t know if I would choose to go for further studies and to become a professor … I think I would like that — I would love to teach Italian and Dante — but I would really like to work with students and their lives personally, so maybe something like campus ministry. That’s a place where I think you can make Jesus present almost more directly.”Nguyen, an economics and philosophy major, said he could see himself becoming a pastor. “That’s just what I feel called to do,” he said. “… Of course, I’ll go wherever I end up. I’d love to go to France and visit the priest in charge of creating the shrine of Basil Moreau.”When Bathon entered Old College, he said he still was not sure about whether or not he wanted to enter religious life. He said he had entertained the idea throughout high school, but he was unsure if entering seminary right away would be the right decision.“But my senior year of high school I was dating a girl, and I was starting to think about a future … starting to think about making colleges work together,” he said. “I went to a wedding and in the vows they said, “I give myself to you unreservedly,” and I realized I couldn’t say that because there was this question in my head. That’s when I started reconsidering putting myself in the seminary, not because I knew I wanted to be a priest, but because I needed to figure it out.”Bathon said his experience in the undergraduate seminary has made him feel prepared for the vocation to the priesthood.“I’ve learned all of those things people tend to worry about — not having money, not getting married — they’re sacrifices made out of love. I’m giving myself up. My entire life will be focused on every single person, and giving my life to them. “I’ve found a beauty in that in the last four years. I want [my friends] to know that yes, I am going to be alright; it’s going to be a beautiful life, and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”Tags: 2014 Commencement, congregation of holy cross, priesthood, religious life, vocationslast_img read more

Scholar explores peacekeeping in Central Asia

first_imgLawrence Sheets, former Moscow Bureau Chief for National Public Radio and currently a field analyst for the International Crisis Group, spoke Tuesday on the many challenges facing peace building in Central Asia.The talk, hosted by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, centered on what Sheets called “the tradeoff between human rights and strategic needs” and the problems Central Asian countries have faced since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.“The Uzbek government, in exchange for what was basically a ‘don’t see don’t tell policy’ on Uzbekistan … offered [the U.S.] the use of an airbase in a place called Karshi in central Uzbekistan, which was a good staging area and flyover point and refueling point for forward operations in Afghanistan,” Sheets said.This was done despite the U.S. having full knowledge of what Sheets said were “extremely egregious human rights violations” in Uzbekistan.“Strategic needs and military needs are deemed more immediate in terms of their importance than human rights issues,” he said.Most states in the region, which consists of the former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, have corrupt or totalitarian governments, Sheets said.“The Uzbek government is very corrupt,” he said. “It usually makes the top 10 in terms of the most oppressive regimes in the world. … Turkmenistan generally ranks in the bottom five in the world in terms of every sort of human rights index.”In addition to corrupt governments, militant groups also trouble the region, Sheets said. This threat led to cooperation between the U.S. and the authoritarian regime in 2001 and 2002, he said.“Uzbekistan is where most of the concern for latent or active Islamic activity is generally linked,” Sheets said. “… It is open to debate how much of a threat radical Islam really plays.”Sheets addressed concerns for the potential impact of ISIS in Uzbekistan.“There is definitely a threat, what’s important is judging the extent of the threat and whether or not the main thrust of the perceived threat is to hang onto power,” Sheets said.The significance of separatist movements as threats to stability is “trumped up,” Sheets said. The Russian minority in Kazakhstan “has no inclination to unify with Russia or even argue for autonomy.”The governments also frequently employ censorship. Sheets noted how difficult it is for foreign journalists to enter many of these countries, particularly Turkmenistan, but he said individuals can still get vital information if they truly want to find it.“The fact that you cannot watch much of this stuff on television does not mean people do not know what is going on,” Sheets said. “If you don’t know what is going on then you don’t want to know what is going on.”Tags: Central Asia, ISIS, Russia, terrorism, Uzbekistanlast_img read more

2016 Election Observer: Joshua Kaplan

first_imgEditor’s Note: Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, The Observer will sit down with Notre Dame experts to break down the election and its importance to students. In this fifth installment, News writer Rachel O’Grady asks Professor of Political Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies Joshua Kaplan about the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and the upcoming South Carolina primary. Rachel O’Grady: The death of Justice Scalia is a major political point of contention now. What does this mean for Obama and his legacy? Does it have any implications on the election?Joshua Kaplan: This is a very significant development. The selection of a new justice has the potential to change the balance of a Court. As a result, the stakes are very high for both parties, as well as for interest groups. In the short term, I believe it will especially energize Clinton’s supporters and perhaps Cruz’s supporters on the Republican side the most because those voters are more likely to see a direct connection between the issues they care about most and the decisions the Court makes. But it may encourage votes to go with the most electable candidate. This appointment will also test the limits of the strategy in Congress that has meant denying President Obama victories whenever possible.It remains to be seen whether there will be pushback from that strategy. In particular, we will see how this plays out for the Republican Senators up for reelection this year in states such as Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire. It is unlikely to be an issue that changes the balance in the Senate, but it could have ramifications beyond the presidential election. It also has the potential to further politicize the Supreme Court, an institution that likes to think of itself as different from the political branches, and possibly damage its credibility if people see it as no different from the political branches.ROG: The South Carolina Primaries are this Saturday. What should we be looking for? Can Sanders pull off another win?JK: A Sanders victory in South Carolina, regarded as part of Clinton’s “firewall,” would indicate real trouble with her campaign, since South Carolina plays to her strengths. But the primary process is a long way from over.ROG: Michael Bloomberg has expressed a degree of interest in running as an independent. What does that mean for the election as a whole, and who or which party does he hurt more by running?JK: It is hard for me to imagine a mainstream Democrat so unhappy with Sanders, or so unenthusiastic about Clinton, that they would bolt the party for Bloomberg. Would moderate Republicans would find their nominee — whether it’s Trump or Cruz — to be so unacceptable that they would bolt the party and vote for Bloomberg? There is certainly a potential split within the party, but the more likely pattern would be for conservative voters to reject a moderate nominee. We have seen libertarian candidates draw support from Republican candidates, and we remember Ralph Nader in 2000. But I do not think we are at the point yet when moderate Republicans or Democrats are ready to leave their party. What normally happens in such situations is that voters [who are] unenthusiastic about their party’s nominee just don’t vote. It is clear that many voters are looking for someone different, but I don’t think that Bloomberg is the person they have in mind.ROG: In your research and opinion, what do you think will be the most important issue in the general election?JK: This is more complicated than it seems. The economy is the number one issue, but it is today not an issue where the positions break evenly along party lines, and voters are not making decisions simply on the basis of of their policy preferences or the positions of the candidates on particular issues. The same would be true for national security. I don’t think voters have much confidence that either party can simply fix these threats to our well-being, which is why they are looking for alternatives. But in the end, elections are not necessarily driven by issues in a straightforward way. Rather voters see issues through lenses that are colored by a variety of other factors.ROG: Taking it back to college campuses, particularly here at Notre Dame, primaries in many of our home states are coming up. What is something we, as college students, should be paying particular attention to?JK: Think about what you regard as the main problems in the world today. Is your member of Congress or Senator, or the presidential candidate you are thinking about supporting, part of the problem or part of the solution? Think about what you look for in a candidate and why you consider those things to be the most important. Go beyond the labels and clichés. All candidates say they want to improve the economy and make us safer. How will they do that? Do you believe that will work? What things are best done by individual decisions as to how we want to live our lives? What things go beyond our individual decisions and are most effectively handled at the policy level? What would you like the future to look like? What combination of individual actions and government policies will help make that happen?Tags: 2016 Election Observer, Joshua Kaplanlast_img read more

Senate discusses registration, amendments, alcohol policy

first_imgOfficials from the Office of the Registrar updated the Notre Dame student senate on the class registration project Wednesday.Amika Micou, Chuck Hurley and Paul Ullrich explained and demonstrated the use of the new system, which will be implemented when students register for classes for the spring semester. The new process will allow students to create a mock schedule in a Notre Dame specific online planner, similar to the process available on websites like Coursicle.“The plan … is integrated into the NOVO registration,” Micou said. “So, in two clicks, you have registered for classes.”The system will allow for easier class searching with a wildcard search option, a calendar representation of the classes in the planner and the ability to switch to a different section of the same class without leaving the planner, the presenters explained.The registration process will look very similar to the current system, with each student receiving a timed ticket to access registration for classes.“I know all of you love waking up in the morning and registering early, so we won’t prevent you from doing that,” Hurley said. “The planning tool is not registration, and it’s important that you emphasize that.”Senators will have the chance to try the new system before the rest of the student body and give feedback on their experience, Micou said.An update to the co-exchange program between Notre Dame, Holy Cross College and St. Mary’s will also take place next semester. Students will be required to enroll in 12 credits in their home institution before enrolling in classes elsewhere, Hurley said.Student Union parliamentarian Colin Brankin presented proposals for amendments to the Student Union Constitution to the senate, the largest involving the quorum and proxy policies for the senate. Currently, the quorum, which is the minimum number of senators that must be present in order for the meeting to take place, is set at three-fifths of members present. Brankin and his committee propose increasing that number to two-thirds, which is the quorum for every organization in the Student Union except for the senate.“Nobody really knows why it’s three-fifths, so just for consistency’s sake, we are setting it at two-thirds,” Brankin said. “One of the other supporting reasons why we are changing it to two-thirds rather than just consistency is to hold you guys accountable. You ran based on the promise that you’d be here … and two-thirds will hopefully entice you to do so.”Senate also discussed whether proxy members of senate, who attend in place of a senator who cannot attend, should count for quorum and should be allowed to vote. Currently, proxies do count for quorum, meaning there is no limit on the number of proxies that attend senate meetings. No consensus was reached on either issue.Other proposed changes include allowing the chairperson, currently student body vice president Sibonay Shewit, to call for a paper ballot vote for any type of vote. As the constitution reads now, any senators can call for a paper ballot vote, but the chairperson cannot.“Some people may be discouraged to [call for a paper ballot] for fear that people will automatically assume that they are voting a certain way,” Brankin said. “This way, it gives [Shewit] the extra ability to call for that. It will allow the voting members to feel more comfortable in how they vote, and to vote truthfully and honestly.”Other proposed changes are organizational changes to clarify and condense parts of the constitution, with no effect on the constitutional policy itself.The group will continue to discuss these proposed changes and will vote in the coming weeks.Student body president Becca Blais, Shewit and student government chief of staff Prathm Juneja updated the senate on their report to the Board of Trustees.The report regarded on-campus alcohol culture and was given to the Board over fall break. Blais said the Board asked questions, engaged with the report and were interested in finding solutions to make campus safer, especially with the new requirement to spend six semesters on campus.The implementation of Callisto, a program to allow for easier anonymous recording and reporting of sexual violence on campus, will be voted on by Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention (CSAP) this Friday. Blais, Shewit and Juneja said they support the enactment of this program at Notre Dame.Tags: alcohol abuse, class registration, Constitutional Amendments, Senatelast_img read more

U.S. Senate confirms Notre Dame law professor as federal judge

first_imgAfter being nominated by President Donald Trump in May, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Notre Dame law professor Amy Barrett as a federal judge, the Notre Dame Law School announced in a press release Tuesday.Barrett, who will serve as a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, graduated from Notre Dame Law School in 1997 and has been a professor in the School since 2002, the press release said. She was named the Law School’s “Distinguished Professor of the Year” by the students in 2006 and 2016 for her work as a professor of constitutional law, statutory interpretation and in the area of federal courts, the release said.“Amy Barrett has been a beloved teacher and outstanding scholar,” Nell Newton, dean of Notre Dame Law School, said in the press release. “I am confident she will be a wise, fair and brilliant jurist as well.”Barrett’s jurisdiction covers Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.Tags: Amy Barrett, Federal judge, Notre Dame Law Schoollast_img read more

Saint Mary’s students react to Cervelli’s resignation

first_imgObserver File Photo Students found out about the resignation of Jan Cervelli on Friday in a letter written by chair of the Board of Trustees Mary Burke. Students reacted to the news with a range of emotions.“I was just in my room watching Netflix, and then I got a text from my friend who was referencing the Facebook post, and she said, ‘Did you see Cervelli resigned?’ I was looking through the post and the comments, and I was like, ‘Well, this is crazy,’” senior Sarah Wehby said.Wehby said she was confused by Cervelli’s choice due to the sudden nature of the statement.“It felt like it came out of nowhere,” she said. “Like, what is going on here? We had the whole [vice president of student affairs] Karen Johnson retiring thing, now Jan Cervelli — where did this come from?”Wehby said she is curious as to why Cervelli chose to resign in the middle of the semester and is hoping to find out more at the all-student assembly being held Tuesday night.Senior Annie Clare said she heard the news through friends while she was at work.“I had like a million messages from different people, and I was like, ‘What? I wonder what’s going on?’” Clare said. “They all texted me that she resigned. I was shocked that she actually resigned. I almost felt like it was fake, but obviously not.”Clare said she is still shocked by the news but is understanding of Cervelli’s decision.“I’m still surprised — I guess I didn’t really understand why she resigned,” Clare said. “I guess once you looked at it a little more, maybe it’s best for her. If that’s what she needed to do, it’s what she needed to do.”It’s the desire for answers, senior Summer Aikin said, that has left some in a state of confusion.“It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey, this is what I’m doing.’ It’s another thing not to tell people why you’re doing it,” Aikin said. “People are wondering if there’s some sort of scandal. Is it related to the lawsuit that she’s apparently involved in or is there something medical? I think we just want to know if she’s going to be healthy or not because we’re a caring community. … I haven’t really thought much about it other than I’m still reeling from it.”Sophomore Brynne Volpe said the lack of information regarding Cervelli’s resignation has given her cause for concern.“I’m confused,” Volpe said. “It’s sketchy, and we didn’t really get any information about why. We were just told that she is resigning. The fact that it happened on a Friday is kind of strange.”Volpe said the details regarding the decision will be crucial to Cervelli’s legacy.“If it involves a scandal of some kind, it’s not going to be good,” Volpe said. “Maybe she’ll have a pleasant legacy, but I don’t think it will be. She was here for two years, and she resigned under dubious circumstances.” Senior Abbey Parsons said she was surprised by the lack of information given to students. She said it seems to go against what Cervelli typically did when notifying students of the College’s affairs.“[Cervelli] always has seemed very much like she tells us everything,” Parsons said. “I’ve always felt like she doesn’t hide anything, and if there’s the information, she sends it out in a school-wide email. You gotta do what you gotta do, and things come up. I just want to know where we’re at, especially because I am a senior. I want to know that, going forward, the school’s going to be okay. It just seemed very sudden. I want an explanation as to why. I’m hoping the assembly will give one.”Parsons transferred to Saint Mary’s as a sophomore. Once enrolled, she said she took note of the differences in processes between her previous college’s president and Cervelli. She said Cervelli’s transparency with students is something that will contribute to a positive legacy.“She has that air of wanting to be there for you,” Parsons said. “I think that’s something that she will have left behind, like she was there for us. … I think she will definitely leave behind that kind of friendship vibe, which is something different than other presidents at other colleges. You don’t normally know that the president is in a band or know that her dog’s name is Pearl. That was something that she shared with us because we are such a small, close school. I think she represented that kind of closeness that we all want.” It is the closeness Cervelli promoted that made the news an even bigger surprise to first-year student Hannah Curl.“I was really shocked because just last week, we were at the Sophia assembly, and she was talking about just how much she loved her job,” Curl said. “I was really shocked. It was really random, I felt. She was talking about how much she loved it here. It just seems random, and I hope everything is okay.”Regardless of her confusion about the decision, Curl said she thought Cervelli promoted a positive relationship between administration and students.“I liked her — she seemed to be really outgoing and she really cared about everyone,” Curl said. “She was not just the president, but she was kind of like a friend for everyone. She had open office hours, and I feel like at other colleges that might not be a thing.”Senior Kerry Rose McDonald said she believes Cervelli’s interactions with students will be what she’s remembered for, but McDonald believes Cervelli’s work did not result in any lasting changes.“I think the best part of her being president was her relationship with the students, whether it was hosting office hours, always bringing the energy to midnight breakfast, dancing on tables or walking around with Pearl, her little dog,” McDonald said. “She always had Saint Mary’s apparel on, so I liked how she brought the team spirit.“But besides that, I never really saw any administrative or policy changes with her. The only main thing I can think of that she did with the school were petty, environmental changes. … Honestly, I don’t really know what she left behind for Saint Mary’s to strengthen the student body.”Despite that belief, McDonald said she will hold a few fond memories of the former president — including a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Ireland study abroad program.“[Cervelli] came to Ireland for the week, and she surprised us at Mass one day when we were getting ready,” McDonald said. “She took us out to this pub called The Roost, and we got to have a pint with her and had dinner with her. We just got to talk to her. She wanted to hear all about what we thought of Saint Mary’s. It was a really special moment for us because there were only 17 of us. … That was a really special time. I’ll always cherish that.”The personal interactions between Cervelli and students are something Clare said will be difficult to find in another president.“It’ll definitely be hard to fill the shoes of someone who was so open because it’s not easy to walk around the student body all the time and have to deal with situations personally,” Clare said. “I saw her leaving the dining hall the other day, and someone must have been sick from giving blood. She was literally sitting there with the girl to make sure she was fine. I’m sure she has like 800 million things to do, and it’s nice that she still comes and talks to students and stuff like that. That’s hard to fill.”Senior Darby Horne said she recognizes Cervelli’s achievements with students but is confident in the future success of newly announced Interim College President Nancy Nekvasil.“I felt like [Cervelli] brought a lot to the community,” Horne said. “She was very involved with students, we saw her a lot. She was very present with all of us during events and activities, and she really advocated for students. However, I am very happy that they did appoint Dr. Nancy Nekvasil as interim president because I feel like she’s super qualified, very personable. I enjoyed having her as a professor … a couple years ago. I feel like she brings a lot to the Saint Mary’s community. She’s very dedicated to the women here.” Tags: cervelli, Jan Cervelli, Nancy Nekvasil, resigned, Saint Mary’s College President The news broke with a whirlwind of texts, Facebook posts and confusion. Janice Cervelli resigned from her post as Saint Mary’s president on Friday. Students received confirmation of Cervelli’s decision through a letter in an email attachment written by Mary Burke, the chair of the Board of Trustees.last_img read more