The College held a memorial service for Bruno Schlesinger, professor at Saint Mary’s College for nearly 60 years and founder of the Humanistic Studies Department Wednesday. Schlesinger died earlier this month at 99. Judy Fean, director of Campus Ministry at the College, presided during the service. “We are here today to remember Bruno and extend our welcome to his family members and friends who are here today,” Fean said. “We are gathered to remember, and we give thanks to the gifts Bruno left his family and friends.” Gail Mandell, professor of Humanistic Studies at the College, along with Schlesinger’s son, Thomas, gave the eulogies. “Bruno was a man of blatant emotional complexity,” Mandell said. “He could be genial, stern, sweet, stubborn, shy, sly” Mandell was a colleague of Bruno, and said she enjoyed her experiences working with him at the College. “I was privileged to know Bruno for almost 40 years, and privileged to work side-by-side with him for over 30 of them,” Mandell said. “That’s 20 of his seasons and every season I spent with Bruno, I discovered more surprises.” Thomas Schlesinger shared his father’s softer side with more than 85 people in attendance at the memorial service. “Dad’s idea of family nights, he would show us art slides,” he said. He recalled many different instances he spent with his father discussing politics, admiring art and traveling. Attendees remembered Schlesinger for his dedication to both the College and its students. He joined the College in 1945 and taught his final class in 2004. Schlesinger founded the Program for Christian Culture, later renamed Humanistic Studies. He also launched the Christian Culture Lecture series, which was re-established in his honor in 2006. He received several awards from the College including the Spes Unica Award for teaching and service in 1958. In 1994, the College awarded Schlesinger an honorary degree. Donations will be collected in his memory to fund the Christian Culture Lecture series in the future. For more information on ways to honor Schlesinger, please contact Libby Gray at [email protected] or 574-284-4240.
Notre Dame is working to evacuate students from Cairo, according to a Sunday press release. The University is evacuating 12 Notre Dame students, who were studying at The American University of Cairo (AUC), in response to a U.S. State Department recommendation that Americans evacuate the city. “Notre Dame is collaborating with AUC and U.S. officials to have the students transported with other American citizens as soon as possible on government-arranged transport to safe havens in Europe, from where they will be assisted by Notre Dame to locations in which they will be able to safely continue their studies,” the press release stated.
A man with a pistol robbed three Saint Mary’s students at gunpoint in the early hours of Sunday morning, police reports stated. Capt. Phil Trent of the South Bend Police Department said the three women were walking on the 900 block of North Notre Dame Avenue near Howard Street around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning when the suspect approached them. One of the victims said the girls were walking from a house on Dublin Avenue to Brother’s Bar & Grill in Eddy Street Commons. The Observeris not naming the woman because she was the victim of a crime. “I’ve always felt safe in the area,” she said. “It was more a complete and utter shock, but also kind of a feeling that I would have done whatever he asked me to do. … If people had told me to run, I wouldn’t have been able to run. It was that type of scared. It was very surreal.” The girls were approaching Howard Street when they noticed a solitary figure walking in their direction. The victim said she grabbed her friend’s hand to make sure the two other girls were aware of him as they walked down Notre Dame Avenue. When she thought he might pass them, he changed direction. “He came straight at us and pulled out a gun, told us to get on the ground and give him all our money,” she said. “He was cursing at us, like, ‘Give me your f****** money.’” The victim said she and her friends did as they were told. “He told us to run before he shot all of us,” she said. “That was probably the scariest thing he said.” The victim, a resident of South Bend, ran to her family’s house nearby and called 911 from her home. Trent said the suspect fled south down Notre Dame Avenue. The women described the suspect as a black male in his late teens or early twenties, and he was wearing khaki shorts and a white t-shirt. Trent said the women were not able to describe the victim in more detail to identify him further. “They were petrified, and it was dark,” he said. When they left their friends’ house on Dublin Avenue, the victim said the women had been warned not to walk, and friends had advised them to call a cab instead. “I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll save a few bucks on a cab and just walk. It will never happen to me,’” she said. Now, the victim, an off-campus senior, said she would think twice before walking through the neighborhood late at night again. “A few bucks on a cab is a lot better than a situation like this happening again,” she said. “It could have been so much worse. We got lucky.” Trent advised students to use public transportation or find a ride from a friend when traveling through the city late at night. “If (students) don’t know the character of the area they are walking through, they should not do it,” Trent said. “Definitely try to secure a ride without having to walk long distances.” While walking in a group is safer than traveling alone, he said this incident is an example of the way a late-night walk, even in the company of other people, can go wrong. “Even a group of three at 12:30 at night when it’s pretty lonely out there, that can still be high risk,” he said.
Wei Lin | The Observer Friday night, the northernmost edge of the Grotto glowed with the light of a single three-letter word. Fifty-five candles spelled out “Dan,” a tribute to sophomore Daniel Kim, whose friends had gathered to remember the former business student and fencer.Kim, 21, died at his off-campus residence and was found early Friday afternoon, according to a Notre Dame press release. The South Bend Tribune reported that an autopsy was conducted Friday, but authorities will have to wait for toxicology results to determine exactly how Kim died. Deputy county coroner Michael O’Connell said Kim’s death was not a homicide or a suicide, according to the Tribune.Tonight, a memorial Mass for Kim will take place at 9 p.m. in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. University President Fr. John Jenkins will be the celebrant and Director of Campus Ministry Fr. Pete McCormick will be the homilist.‘Just a great guy’Junior Paul Grima lived in Kim’s section of Keough Hall their freshman year and said Kim “had a very close, tight-knit group of friends,” though he maintained relationships with other students, like Grima, outside his best friends and fellow business majors.Kim’s FIFA video game prowess and outgoing friendliness made him a well-known figure in their freshman-year section of Keough, junior Dayton Flannery said.“If you wanted to call yourself the best FIFA player in the section, you had to go through Dan Kim first,” Flannery said.Though the majority of their interactions were “lighthearted,” Kim showed a particular interest in philosophy, even trying to take majors-only classes, Grima said.Junior Will Fields, who met Kim through mutual friends in Keough, said Kim’s sense of humor stands out in his memory.“He was just a really funny dude,” Fields said. “When we hung out, he was always funny. … All around, just a great guy. And he was brilliant. Always really smart. All-around great.”McCormick, Kim’s former rector in Keough, said he noted his resident’s confidence and genuine friendliness, particularly with his second-floor section mates, who were “always around the hall.”“Daniel was a young man that had good friends,” McCormick said. “Not only that, but they genuinely cared about him. And he was loyal to them.”McCormick said Kim impressed him in conversations with his openness, humility and authenticity.“What I always appreciated about Daniel is whenever we would have a conversation, he would be willing to own up to his own shortcomings and frailties, and I always genuinely appreciated that,” McCormick said. “Sometimes people are not as willing to own up to what their shortcomings were and what they needed to work on.”“He had a real sense of who he is, and he owned that,” McCormick said.‘A true competitor’Kim joined the fencing team in fall 2012, his freshman year at Notre Dame, after growing up with the sport in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, freshman fencer Claudia Kulmacz said. Kulmacz is also from Upper Saddle River.“Back in the club, he was really good,” she said. “He’d always kick butt, always give us a run for our money. I used to travel to World Cups with him, and he was great. He was a true competitor.”News of Kim’s death reached the team Friday afternoon, just before the DeCicco Duals were held Saturday at Castellan Family Fencing Center, fencing coach Gia Kvaratskhelia said after the match.“I think [the team members] were devastated, and they were crushed,” he said. “All their emotions were flowing. … The reaction was to rally around each other and truly give a tribute to someone we really loved. That was in the backs of our minds today and was truly difficult.”Kulmacz said the team “fenced for Dan” on Saturday.“It was a tough day, but you got to do what you got to do,” she said.Freshman fencer Paul Cepak, who trained at the same fencing club in New Jersey as Kim and Kulmacz, said he traveled to Latvia over one summer break with Kim, whom he called “a really genuine guy.” He said members of the team stood in a circle to offer prayers and share memories at the Grotto on Friday, and though they “came to terms,” the loss weighed on the team during Saturday’s competition.“I guess a lot of people … kind of had Dan in their heart,” Cepak said. “Today, I had a little trouble fencing just thinking about all the things going on, but I think Dan would like to see people move on, do great things and move on from what happened and try to live out part of his life through working hard and making friends and all kinds of different stuff.”Kim, a native of Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, blazed the trail for Cepak by coming to Notre Dame as a fencer, Cepak said.“I guess I followed in his shadow,” he said. “[Kim] wasn’t exactly expecting to get in, and neither was I, and we both got in. So it’s kind of hard, but definitely one of the reasons I came here was to be with my friend.”‘Dealing with other demons’Kim struggled emotionally at Notre Dame, making friends but also at times keeping his distance from dorm mates, according to Keough residents.“He was a very good kid,” Grima said. “Most people only saw the troubled side of him, but he was a very good thoughtful person underneath it.“He really was a kind, thoughtful person,” Grima said. “I know I’m using pretty clichéd words, but he really was both of them. The trouble was that he was dealing with other demons. And most people only saw that because he wasn’t going outside in the section lounge talking about philosophy with most people. That’s not something you typically do.”“I would say overall, he was troubled, and that took up a large portion of his life, but it wasn’t malicious trouble,” Grima said. “He never took it out on other people, ever.”Kim’s parents asked “for continuing prayers for strength in this time,” McCormick said.“It means a lot to them that we’re going to celebrate this Mass,” McCormick said. “… At this point, celebrate him. Celebrate who he was at his core.”Associate Sports Editor Greg Hadley and Editor-in-Chief Ann Marie Jakubowski contributed to this report.Tags: Daniel Kim, Remembrance, Student death
Saint Mary’s Justice Education Department hosted Maureen Parsons and Tiffany Amburg from Hannah & Friends, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and compassion for the special needs community, to speak about the organization Friday.Parsons, director of operations at Hannah & Friends, spoke about the financial difficulties that families with children who have special needs are confronting.“As soon as their child is born and they are diagnosed, their first thought is, tomorrow. How do we get through tomorrow, get through elementary school? Yet, they need to be planning for the next 15 years,” Parsons said.According to Parsons, there are funding waivers available for families of children with disabilities, but families can sit on waiting lists for more than 10 years.“Indiana has changed it so that you receive less with the waiver so more people are allowed to receive those services,” Parsons said.Parsons said resources are improving, but still lacking.“[At Hannah & Friends] we try to focus on the ability of our participants, see where they can shine and then show that to the community,” Parsons said. “Each of them have something to share, as we all do.”Tiffany Amburg, a spokesperson and participant at Hannah & Friends, spoke about her experiences there and her lifelong challenge with Down syndrome.Amburg said she likes to write songs and speeches when she isn’t working as the receptionist at Hannah & Friends.She wrote a song with Jeda Cruz, the program director at Hannah & Friends, called “She’s Made of Steel.”This song is about a girl who has her whole life ahead of her, Amburg said.“It’s about overcoming obstacles and trusting other people,” she said. “And with my ability to tell my story [about] what it’s like to be a person with all abilities that is what the song is about, overcoming all obstacles and inspiring other people to do the same thing.”Parsons said when Cruz performs the song in the community, there is always an audience member who says they were touched and truly connect to the song’s message.Amburg said she enjoys her position as a Hannah & Friends spokesperson for many reasons.“I get to go out and talk to the media about our mission at Hannah & Friends so that we can continue our future [as an organization],” she said.“It’s also important that we can come together to promote our mission.”Tags: disability, Hannah & Friends, Justice Fridays, special needs
As their final act as student body president, vice president and chief of staff, Bryan Ricketts, Nidia Ruelas and Sibonay Shewit will submit a report on diversity and inclusion at Notre Dame to the Board of Trustees on April 28. Lindsey Meyers | The Observer Ricketts said the board report is a path forward for increasing diversity and inclusion efforts at Notre Dame. “We took on this project to really talk about the student perspective on diversity and inclusion, because we really want to leave behind a structure that can really help facilitate a partnership between students, student leaders and administrators,” he said. “I think, in the past 10 – 15 years, there has been a substantial increase in … the students who are committed to diversity.”Ruelas said she has seen vast improvements even over the past four years she has spent at the University, particularly in the efforts initiated by both the administration and the student body.“These efforts are ongoing, and I think that what we’re trying to do is just to give [the board] a direction to go, and a way to make it all fit together, and how we make a unified effort to address a pretty complex topic,” she said. After receiving significant negative feedback on the treatment of diversity and inclusion in the Moreau First Year Experience course, Ricketts said the report explores improvements that can be made in the course’s curriculum. “We really should look at Moreau as a kind of case study that really outlines some of the common themes regarding diversity and inclusion, where there is a sort of misconnection between different kinds of efforts and what students are perceiving,” Ruelas said. “Especially because Moreau is brand new this year, it’s been very ambitious, and we acknowledge that and we really appreciate that.”The report addresses issues with Moreau because it demonstrates student perception of the course, Ruelas said. “In particular, we look at this and we look at how students view the course and view its shortcomings and the difficulties … and sometimes, it’s difficult to see how steps are being taken to improve it,” she said. The administration is aware of these shortcomings, Ruelas said, and is truly working to improve them. “We know there have been plenty of effort in trying to get feedback, and improve,” Ruelas said. “There are just a lot of pieces to figure out, and that makes it hard to figure out what to do next.”The report highlights three issues that can be addressed in future iterations of the course, Ruelas said. “The first one is that the course is meant to address the sort of lack of community, and try and build it from day one, and that’s why it’s a first year experience course,” Ruelas said. “The second one is that it’s a very big instrument for preparing and cultivating a readiness for conflict and conversations any time at Notre Dame. The third one is that there has been … these defensive cycles, where the students are saying there are problems and we’re not seeing solutions.”This cycle starts when the students get angry, Ricketts said, and continues when the administrators cannot be fully forthcoming about the changes in the course. “It’s this feedback loop of not actually having the conversation,” Ricketts said. “And I definitely think we’re highlighting it, not because of the discontent but because of it exemplifies this loop.”The report also addresses the lack of consideration for diversity within the faculty hiring process at the University, Shewit said. “So there’s nothing in the hiring process that talks about or addresses diversity directly, which we thought was important, not only because it’s an issue … but also because it doesn’t address diversity of competency, and we’re prepared to talk about it and engage with it,” Shewit said. Shewit said a major goal of the report is to advocate for the creation of a community that was more welcoming to a diversity of opinions and ideas. “This … is such a big part of the University’s vision and mission, and if they claim that it’s part of their commitment, which they do, it should be reflected in the hiring process,” she said. Ricketts also said there needs to be more involvement by the students on the President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion. “One of the important things to understand about the President’s Oversight Committee is that Fr. Jenkins uses the committee as a Notre Dame-specific approach to diversity and inclusion,” Ricketts said. “So rather than having just one person in charge of diversity, Jenkins told every executive that they were responsible for diversity in their department. Everyone has to hold themselves accountable.”Ricketts said the committee would be “more complete with a student perspective.”“And what they can take away from it is a better way to serve the students,” he said. According to Ricketts, this year’s report was “a lot more straightforward” than the report presented by student government last year. “Our recommendations are all practical, and they’re all able to be implemented,” he said. Bringing awareness to student needs is also important, Ruelas said. “Even though we’ve been through this whole report-writing thing once, and know what it takes, it’s much harder to follow up — we’re out of office, but we really want these points to hit home,” she said. “We really want the University to pay attention to what their students are saying.”Even if their recommendations are not implemented directly, Ruelas said she, Shewit and Ricketts would be happy with the change they enacted through their administration. “We left room, there’s room for creativity, there’s room for innovation, there’s room for forward thinking and active participation on behalf of the University,” she said. “I think that that is important and something that should be built upon.”In the grand scheme of things, the report is a call to see real change from the University, Shewit said. “There are efforts from the students and efforts from the administration and there’s a disconnect right now … and we want to see that unity in order to move forward,” she said. Tags: Board of Trustees report, Diversity and Inclusion, Presidential Oversight Committee
Biden, Boehner receive prestigious Laetare Medal amid outcry The Laetare Medal is considered one of the most prestigious awards for American Catholics. The 2016 medal was jointly awarded to Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner, a gesture by University President Fr. John Jenkins to encourage bipartisan dialogue. The award sparked an outcry among students, alumni and conservative groups, who criticized the decision to award the pro-choice Vice President and the pro-death-penalty Speaker. Both politicians attended the 2016 commencement ceremony and received the medal. Obama speaks to 2009 graduates, 2016 election winner will be invited to 2017 commencement The University invites each newly-elected President of the United States to give the Commencement address the spring after inauguration. In 2009, President Barack Obama accepted the invitation, instigating a nationwide wave of criticism of the decision to invite a politician who was pro-choice and supported stem-cell research. Obama spoke at commencement and addressed the criticisms directly, encouraging people to find commonalities amid moral disagreements. As the 2016 election approaches, the University is again expected to invite whomever is elected. University in national spotlight over sexual assault cases In 2015, CNN released a documentary, “The Hunting Ground,” which examined how colleges and universities mishandle sexual assault cases. Featuring Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame, the documentary highlighted multiple cases where the University and the College failed to respond to reports by Saint Mary’s students who accused Notre Dame students of sexual assault. The documentary inspired activism by students, faculty and alumni to urge the College and the University to change their practices regarding sexual assault. University involved in legal battles In 2012, the University sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, seeking an exemption from the Obamacare requirement that employers provide contraceptive access. The suit and its appeals were ultimately unsuccessful. In 2015, ESPN sued the University for access to police records on student athletes accused of crimes. An appellate court sided with ESPN, saying NDSP was a public agency subject to open records laws, but it is unclear which records the network will get and when. As a result of the suit, a bill was introduced in the Indiana state legislature intended to clarify open records laws, but was vetoed by Gov. Mike Pence. First official LGBT student organization formed2013 saw the first meetings of PrismND, Notre Dame’s first official organization for LGBT students. Students had been attempting to start such an organization for decades, and after a months-long review of resources for the LGBT community at Notre Dame, resulting in a pastoral plan, PrismND was approved. Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, who built ND for 50 years, dies in 2015 During Hesburgh’s 30-year presidency, women were admitted to the University and laypeople to the board of trustees, and Notre Dame’s national profile rose. The Holy Cross priest, who was photographed arm-in-arm with Martin Luther King, Jr. and said a Mass in the then-Soviet Union, was a campus institution — students considered it an honor to visit his office on the 14th floor of the library named after him. When he died at 97, U.S. presidents and Nobel Prize winners offered condolences. He left a legacy of civil rights activism and academic freedom in Catholic education, as well as a premier Catholic research university. Football team goes to 2013 national championship After years of mediocre football at Notre Dame Stadium, the storyline changed dramatically in 2012, when the Irish posted a perfect regular season en route to a BCS National Championship Game loss to Alabama. A lights-out defense, led by Heisman Trophy runner-up linebacker Manti Te’o, propelled the Irish to the title game, but Notre Dame failed to mount a challenge in South Florida, falling 42-14 to the Crimson Tide on the season’s biggest stage. University starts new construction projectsThe past several years saw much construction and renovation. Campus Crossroads, a $400-million project that added academic departments and student spaces to the football stadium, began in 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in 2017. In 2015, Hesburgh Library began a renovation which gave several floors a more open plan. Two new dorm buildings, Flaherty and Dunne Halls, were built, as was McCourtney Hall, a research building. Jenkins Hall, which will house the Keough School of Global Affairs, is slated to open in Fall 2017. New college created for the first time in decadesIn 2014, the University announced the creation of the Keough School of Global Affairs, which will offer academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students, work with Notre Dame’s centers abroad and other internationally-focused institutes and offer a new Masters in Global Affairs. Changes proposed for Notre Dame Core Curriculum Every 10 years, the University reviews its Core Curriculum, the set of courses that every student must take. The process began in 2014, briefly sparking fears that the University theology requirement would be reduced or eliminated. A Core Curriculum committee solicited ideas and feedback from the Notre Dame community and in November 2015 released its recommendations, proposing a revision that would reduce the total number of core courses and require students to take classes in broader categories such as “quantitative analysis” and “aesthetic analysis,” as opposed to math or fine arts. A final report will be presented to University administration this semester. University decides to admit undocumented students In 2013, the University admitted and gave financial aid to undocumented students for the first time, following an admissions policy revision that considered undocumented applicants domestic, not international, students. The University was following guidelines from the Obama administration, which as an executive order had given undocumented people under a certain age the opportunity to defer deportation, opening up the possibility of higher education for many. PE course replaced with Moreau First-Year Experience For decades, Notre Dame required its freshmen to pass a swim test or take swimming lessons, as well as complete a physical education course. For the incoming class of 2019 those requirements were eliminated to some controversy. The replacement was the Moreau First-Year Experience, a one-credit class that addressed aspects of wellness, cultural competence and student life. Tags: Construction, Core Curriculum, football, Fr. Ted, Freshman Orientation 2016, Hesburgh, Keough school, Laetare Medal, lawsuit, Moreau First Year Experience, news, Obama, PrismND, sexual assault, Things to know, undocumented students
Colleen Fischer | The Observer Tracy K. Smith, the Poet Laureate of the U.S., delivers the Christian Culture lecture at Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night.Smith said the use of metaphor is especially prevalent in the New Testament of the Bible and provides Christ and the disciples with a way to transmit not only information, but also awe.“The Gospels offer language-based proof that there is no such thing as seeing eye to eye, no such thing as having the exact same experience as anyone else,” she said. “In their accounts of Christ’s time on earth, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John create together a single story, complete with perspectival shifts, lapses and any contradictions as corroborations. That these different writings of experience work together toward creating a unified and dynamic whole, despite the gaps and variations distinguishing them from one another, strikes me as, well, poetic.”The layered perspectives, imaginations, sensibilities and vocabularies of the Gospels reveal a singular, universal truth, Smith said.“This may be the history of all religions, all the various vocabularies devised to transmit what is fundamentally beyond us,” she said. “And so the most fruitful attempts at bearing witness are necessarily expansive, drawing upon disparate and sometimes desperate resources.”Smith said she prefers to focus on accounts of Christianity that relate to “the experience of wonder rather than demystifying or domesticating its source.”“Like the language of spiritual awakening, poems seek to be living words — vehicles for transmitting a sense of the strange and the powerful from speaker to reader,” she said. “And like the parable, poems offer tools that foster an ongoing and repeatable state of wonder. They impart to the reader a new kind of awareness, a new kind of sensitivity. The language of poetry makes you more attentive of the world beyond you, even as it serves to enlarge your vocabulary for the world within you.”Though poetry and Christianity do not share the same terms, Smith said, the two share a commonality that allows exploration of the world and oneself.“Christianity doesn’t exist without devotion to Christ,” Smith said. “Poetry’s devotions are many. But, if I back up far enough, I see that the two share a mode. I think the creative state which is beholden to something unseen lives both outside and within the self and is similar to the state of openness, humility, compassion and receptivity at the root of Christ’s message about the kingdom of God, which also lives both outside and within the self.”Reading and writing poetry requires an act of submission, Smith said, through which one becomes a beholden stranger and places personal knowledge aside to make room for new discoveries. Smith said the revelations of poetry and faith come from outside of logic.“As a writer and a spiritual being, I’m striving towards that which puts me in touch even only imaginatively with the largeness around and within,” Smith said.Smith said her work, “Life on Mars,” draws unconsciously, even involuntarily, upon her experiences with faith. Her 2012 Pulitzer Prize-awarded poetry collection started as a method of exploring her anxieties about the future of America through extrapolation. However, after the death of Smith’s father, she said the book became a way to wrestle with her grief and create a satisfying sense of where his spirit resided. Imagining the afterlife through the lens of outer space helped Smith come to terms with death and those in her life who had died.“Space became a really useful backdrop for [imaging my father’s place in the afterlife],” she said. “I grew up in the Church. I grew up with the image of God in the Sistine Chapel, and I didn’t want my father to be circumscribed on something that seemed that graspable. I wanted to find a way of making the God that I entrusted [my father] to as large as math, as large as the universe, and so the poems relentlessly led me in that direction.”Smith’s poem “It & Co.” portrayed a God that Smith said she believed was greater than the one she already knew.“The first draft of this poem was a second person address to the God on the ceiling [of the Sistine Chapel] … I felt almost blasphemous,” she said. “I felt almost worried that maybe I should hedge my bets and change my approach. And so the pronoun changed and became ‘it,’ and ‘it’ allowed me to create a vast, unhuman, unknowable version of God that oddly enough was more consoling.”The unknowable, unattainable version of God Smith portrays through her work reflects her thoughts on what poetry is, she said. Smith said she allows herself to pose questions that can remain unanswered throughout her work and said she encourages others to embrace this notion in their writing.“A poem is not a puzzle,” Smith said. “It’s not written by someone who has figured something out and then hidden it inside of fancy language. A poem is a root towards reckoning with and building from real, urgent material, questions or experiences. Even if it’s a poem about joy, it seems to gather something more from the recollection of it than is possible in the actual moment.”Though Smith believes poetry does not always need to answer its own questions, she said poetry can still be purposeful in enacting change.“I do [see poetry as activism] for a lot of reasons, partly because of overt subject matter which challenges something,” Smith said. “I also think that poetry is a form of resisting the degradation of English and thought and conversation and social interaction and curiosity. That feels like an activist mechanism to say that mindful language, thoughtfully wielded and carefully listened to and discussed can make things better, can make us realer to each other, can make our feelings realer to each other. It feels like a tool of activism.”Tags: Christian Culture Lecture, poet laureate, tracy k. smith Tracy K. Smith, the 22nd Poet Laureate of the U.S., spoke at the annual Saint Mary’s Christian Culture Lecture on Wednesday night. The acclaimed writer shared her beliefs on the connections between poetry and faith, read her work and explained the Christian undertones of her writings. Smith said faith and poetry provide an opportunity for spiritual and personal awakening.“Poetry is one of the languages that puts us in touch with our higher selves,” she said. “Poetry, like the language of belief, puts us in touch, if we let it, with our eternal selves. Spiritual belief has given us a vocabulary for wonder, for the miraculous and indescribable. In so doing, it has argued compellingly for the necessity of metaphor as a means of making familiar and intimate what we otherwise could not comprehend.”
Eighty percent of homes in South Bend were built before lead paint was banned in 1978. Children living in such homes are most susceptible to the dangers of lead exposure — including life-long cognitive and behavioral impairments. Notre Dame has partnered with the community in an effort to address this issue. Researchers created a lead sample collection kit at a low cost — but it may not be the silver bullet to the community they hoped.The lead problem in South Bend is a public health issue, meaning that St. Joseph County is responsible for addressing the problem. However, there is not enough state funding for the county to be able to help all of the people dealing with lead-filled homes. Emily Dean is a community health worker for the Near Northwest Neighborhood organization (NNN) in South Bend. She also lives in a historic home in the NNN with her two kids — Finn, age five, and Declan, age three. She said the city has stepped up efforts to deal with the lead problem.“Information had just come out that kids living in a certain part of the Near Northwest Neighborhood had the highest childhood lead poisoning rate in the state,” she said. “The director at the NNN said OK well we’ve gotta do something from a neighborhood level because it just didn’t seem like from the county-health level things were happening at the rate that they should.”Paige Ambord, a graduate research fellow for the city of South Bend and a resident of the NNN, said the city has relied on blood testing kids to identify those most in need of help.“So we did these lead testing events all over at different schools and what it is is a finger prick and then they test the blood, they run the results, they send them to the County Health Department, the County Health Department contacts families,” she said. The County Health Department is then responsible for remediating the family’s home. However, removing all lead from a house is a time-intensive and costly process. “A certified lead-risk assessor will go to the person’s home with an expensive machine called an XRF and do a full lead risk assessment at the home,” said Dr. Heidi Beidinger from the Notre Dame Lead Innovation Team (ND LIT). The team has worked with the community to facilitate the screening of houses. Beidinger said ND LIT has created a lead sample collection kit that could give residents some information about lead in their homes, without having to wait for the county. “So is there a way for us to do something where people could collect samples themselves in a really easy way and then send it here to Notre Dame and then we could test it for them and then we could provide them a result? And that’s exactly what we did,” she said. Beidinger said a lot of research went into creating this kit. “Well how do you know where to find the lead in the house?” she said. “Well it’s through two summers of research that we figured out where the most likely hot spots are in a person’s home.”Dean explained how she used the kit in her own home to find such hot spots. “So the directions kind of tell you where to get certain samples so it focuses on window sills, some dust from areas that aren’t dusted often, and then like at the entrance to your house,” she said. “So the kit kind of directs you to some potential hotspots. But as far as gathering the samples, I mean it really could not be easier like every single thing you need is in there and it’s easily marked which bag you use and which spoon you use and everything, you really just fill it out. It’s very straightforward.”Beidinger said the kit is not just easy to use, it’s accurate. “Through our research we found that we have a 96% accuracy with that kit. So if there’s lead at the house, we’re finding it,” she said.While accurate, the kit is not meant to replace the county’s job of assessing a house. For Dean the kit was just a starting point for assessing lead in her home.“I was able to use [the kit] on my house first and then the results from that prompted me to then get a full lead-risk assessment on my house and also apply for a lead-protection program grant which I was able to get,” she said. “And we ended up getting a full lead abatement on our home, which was amazing.”Although Dean was able to qualify for a grant to remediate her home, others with lead in their house are not so lucky due to high expenses. Dean said some people will do the kit, not get a grant and then get stuck with a lead problem. “I know of three neighbors that qualified and went through all the stuff and then it just came back too expensive so they didn’t get the work done, they couldn’t get the work done,” she said.The ND LIT kit can give homeowners results on their own time, but it’s the county that actually funds lead abatement. Without the kit, lead is first found when a child comes up with lead poisoning. Beidinger said the kit could address that larger ethical problem. “For years, really decades, the way that we detect lead in the environment is based on a child’s blood lead test. It’s immoral,” Beidinger said. “We have to shift that paradigm. We can’t rely on children’s bodies to find lead. We need to be proactive in our society and find the lead before children are poisoned.”Ideally, residents would use the kit preventatively and not have to stick a needle in their child to find out whether or not they are lead poisoned. However, the blood tests are much more accessible to the community since they are funded by the city. “It’s this really weird point where we want more kids to get tested but we also want that to no longer be the way that parents find out there’s a hazard in their home,” Dean said. “So we don’t want to stop that push of encouraging people to get tested and we want the testing rate to increase in our neighborhood and around the city and everywhere where this is potentially a problem. But at the same time, it’s crazy to me that parents don’t find out that they have lead hazards in their home until their kid has lead poison.”Lead abatement is full of catch 22s. The county can test your home, but it maybe can’t fix it. The city can help test your child for lead, but it doesn’t control the abatement grants. You want to catch lead before a child is poisoned, but the kit isn’t official yet. The city can’t hand the kit out. And the county can’t use it as a basis for lead abatement. “The Notre Dame kits right now would not be considered verified to apply for a [Department of Housing and Urban Development] grant,” Ambord said. “Only going to the actual County Health Department counts as an official verification of a lead risk. Really the problem is the city can’t give out the kit because if we gave out the kit and people found out they had a lead problem, we would be culpable and we don’t necessarily have the funding,” It could be a long time before the kits are considered an official verification of lead risk. Until then, ND LIT is trying to find safe, low-cost ways for kit users to clean up lead zones in their home once they’ve been found. Tags: lead testing, ND LIT, Near Northwest Neighborhood, news podcast, South Bend
WNY News Now Stock Image.WESTFIELD – A Chautauqua County man is facing several charges after allegedly making fraudulent purchases with another person’s business account last month.The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division says that 26-year-old Andrew Sissem purchased more than $1,200 in items at the Westfield NAPA Auto Parts store with a business account that was not his.Furthermore, investigators say that Sissem used the same account to by more than $800 in items at ADD Lumber-True Value.Sissem is charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and petit larceny. Deputies say Sissem was issued appearance tickets and is scheduled to appear in Westfield Town Court at a later date.The Westfield Police Department assisted deputies with their investigation. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)