Lecture: conflict in Darfur ‘not being resolved’

first_imgShould we still be talking about Darfur? According to professor Edith Miguda and Notre Dame alumna Liz Kurz, the answer is yes.They shared their experiences during a talk Wednesday at Saint Mary’s sponsopred by Campus Ministry, speaking about why they felt there should still be discussion about Darfur and its people. This event was also meant to teach students about the conflicts in Darfur and Sudan.Miguda, a native of Kenya, explained where Darfur is and how the conflict began in this area.“Darfur is in the greater horn of Africa,” she said. “The greater horn has had much conflict.”Miguda said the conflict is not being resolved or helped by the government.“The heart of the problem in Darfur is the challenge of non-Arab Darfurians to what they called decades of neglect, discrimination and marginalization by the Arab dominated government in Khartoum,” Miguda said.She also talked about the suffering of the people in Darfur. Miguda said they live in fear because there are rebels and groups of people who attack and kill innocent people.“Janjaweed — they are the ones who have ransacked villages — raped women and lined up men and shot them,” Miguda said.According to the United Nations, out of the population of six million, up to 300,000 people have been killed and some 2.5 million have been displaced.“But everyone knows that the number is much, much larger than that,” Miguda said.Many people have fled Darfur and gone to refugee camps in other parts of Sudan or even other countries.Kurz, a native of South Bend, said this is not the land they are used to. They are now in the desert and this makes agriculture difficult and their standard of living is very low.“They were forced to leave the only place they have ever known and into these camps,” Kurz said.Kurz said she had a friend who traveled to Sudan and brought back not only pictures and an experience of a lifetime, but she also brought back knowledge about the conditions in the refugee camps.Kurz and six others decided they needed do something to try and help.“The best way you can help people in Sudan is to be arrested in front of the Sudanese embassy, because it saves people from being killed,” Kurz said.Kurz said she and her six friends tried this to help the people in Darfur and in Sudan.“The seven of us went, we knelt, we prayed the rosary and the Our Father and we were arrested because we were blocking the entrance to the embassy,” Kurz said. “I spent 20 hours in jail and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I don’t know how many people we may have saved that day, I don’t know how effectual it was, but I tried.”This is an extreme example of a way to help, and Kurz and her friends were tried and found guilty in a court of law. She will always have a misdemeanor on her record, but she said she will never regret what she did.On Feb. 23, the Peace Accord was signed in Doha, Qatar, ending the war in Darfur.According to Miguda, however, there are still many people who need help, especially those who have been displaced from their homes.“Little, small actions can make a big difference,” Miguda said.last_img read more

Best Buddies to hold first Friendship Walk

first_imgThe Best Buddies of Notre Dame will hold their first Friendship Walk and 5K Run tomorrow morning to benefit Best Buddies Indiana. Junior Elizabeth Klinepeter, president of the club, said the event is designed to spread the impact the organization has on those with developmental disabilities. “Best Buddies is an international organization and their largest fundraisers throughout the country are state Friendship Walks,” Klinepeter said. She said while state chapters hold a Friendship Walk each spring, Notre Dame is one of three college chapters to host the first collegiate Friendship Walks. “We will be having a 1.5-mile walk and a 5K run starting at Stepan Center, going around South and God Quads, and ending at Stepan Center,” Klinepeter said. “All of our chapter members and their buddies will be walking with us.” Klinepeter said she hopes the walk attracts many people from the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s communities. Junior Nick Pellegrini, the event’s coordinator, said the proceeds from the Notre Dame event will benefit Best Buddies Indiana. “This is a fundraiser for chapters, specifically across the state of Indiana, to support people with developmental disabilities in their specific areas,” Pellegrini said. Pellegrini said planning for the walk began last summer and continued through the academic year. “Most of the planning this semester has been a combination of working with the Best Buddies Indiana Office, our club officers here on campus and [the Student Activities Office (SAO)],” Pellegrini said. “We have weekly conference calls with the state office and, in between them, meetings with SAO to try to prep for the event and make sure the race logistics are organized well.” The event encourages close interaction and brings participants together, Pellegrini said. “This walk is a good example of bringing our colleges students and buddies together for a fun event and raising awareness on campus by walking through campus,” he said.last_img read more

Speaker emphasizes developing ‘personal brand’

first_imgCompanies devote great efforts to developing their brand, and Stephanie Hightower feels that a person should heed the same efforts with their personal identity. Hightower, president of USA Track and Field and member of the 1980 Olympic track and field team discussed developing and protecting one’s personal identity in a lecture titled “Developing your Lifelong Brand” on Friday in the Vander Vennet Theatre. Cross Currents Program Collegiate Speakers Series, Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative at Saint Mary’s College and Key4Women cosponsored the event. Hightower said the idea of brand in business is just as valuable when developing one’s own personal image and individuality. “Meaningful brands go far beyond any product,” she said. “They express what a company is, what they stand for and how they want to be perceived. Most of all, a brand is based on the experience they have with it. Apple would not be seen as cutting edge if buyers could not see, touch, hear, and know that were true and I am here to tell you that this idea of brand is just as valuable when it comes to your own self image and identity.” Hightower said there are four questions that one must ask when creating their personal brand. “What and who you are, what you stand for, how you want to be perceived, and what kind of experience people have when they work or interact with you these are all parts of defining your own personal brand,” she said. She said creating an authentic and reliable personal brand requires sticking to the truth and starting from the ground up. “You want to define your authentic self, your brand should be built on the truth of who you are, not someone else,” she said. “Next you have to build your brand from ground up. If you say you are a champion, you got to work to be a champion. If you say you are committed to excellence, then everything you do should be aimed at that goal. Hightower said building a personal brand requires a person to act in accordance with their words, because authenticity is key. “Building your personal brand means owning and polishing what is most essentially you. … Remember, it is not what we say, but what we do that counts. People want to know if you will backup your words with action. If your brand is the authentic you even when the spotlight is not shining,” Hightower said.   Hightower said she began developing her own personal brand when she was running the 100- and 60-meter hurdles at Ohio State.”I was working toward a singular feat: to compete in the Olympics. Everything in my mind, in my body, and in my soul in my activities was towards making the 1980 Olympic team,” she said. She said developing one’s personal brand was difficult, and destroying it is much easier. “Off the track is where they forget about building and protecting their image and uniqueness. There was the first offer of money from an endorsement deal, taken without thinking through who wrote the check. Then there was the first glow of the spotlight and the parties that followed, enjoyed without thinking about the national or international attention that comes with it,” she said.Hightower said it is never too late to start developing one’s personal brand, whether it is as a young adult in college or as someone with a steady career. “For those of you who are in college and for those of us who are in the market place and out here with jobs. This is still the primetime to start defining what your personal brand is,” she said. “None of us are too old to define what our personal brand is. … You need to take this opportunity in your life to define your brand, to build your brand, and most important to protect your brand.”last_img read more

Class council tickets announce platforms

first_imgThe election committee of the Judicial Council approved six tickets to run for Class Councils. The tickets for Senior Class Council and Junior Class Council will run unopposed, and four tickets will campaign for Sophomore Class Council. Elections take place Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to the Judicial Council.  Emily Hoffman | The Observer Senior Class Council Martin Walsh, Briggs Hoyt, Devin Nagendran and Robert ReedMartin Walsh, Briggs Hoyt, Devin Nagendran and Robert Reed hope to utilize their collective experience to create a memorable senior year for their class by organizing events to bring its members together.“For next year, our main goal is to plan memorable class events that are rooted in unity and service,” Walsh, the ticket’s presidential candidate, said. “It is our hope that these events not only promote class unity but also foster a stronger class growth as we journey through our final year here at Notre Dame.“We hope to build on past successful events of Junior Class Council as well as allow the class as a whole to be more integral in determining the types of events we plan.”Walsh said the ticket’s main goal is to provide class events that promote senior class camaraderie and integrate the South Bend community. He said they hope to plan a class Silver Hawks game and social events that showcase the South Bend music scene.Junior Class CouncilZach Waterson, Michael Fliotsos, Andrew Stoker and Miranda HerreraZach Waterson, Michael Fliotsos, Andrew Stoker and Miranda Herrera plan to center their Junior Class Council administration on collaboration, communication and quality.“Junior Class Council is in a unique position, as many of our classmates will be abroad during at least part of our term,” Waterson said. “Our goal is to envision events, projects and resources that strengthen the unity of the class of 2016 and ensure that our classmates feel connected, even across continents.”Waterson said the ticket wanted to focus on collaboration.“We want to extend the Junior Class Council’s presence in event programming on campus,” Waterson said. “For example, we want to collaborate with next year’s Sophomore Class Council for the second annual Great Gatsby dance, hopefully cementing it as a tradition.”Sophomore Class CouncilThomas Davis, Grace Maxwell, Benjamin Cote and Joanie HoganAs class officers, Tommy Davis, Grace Maxwell, Benjamin Cote and Joanie Hogan would link to be a link between sophomores and other people and organizations on campus.“We see our place as more of a bridge for people who have ideas, but they can’t get them to the right people,” Green said. “We see our place as trying to be that bridge between either the administration, the judicial council, upperclassmen, pretty much anyone who needs to hear these ideas.”Green said he and his ticket want to help people with specific ideas bring them to fruition, as well as organize events that connect the different classes.“One thing is that we don’t have as many events that link with other classes, and so I’d try to work with some of the upperclassmen to try to build a broader community instead of just the sophomore class,” he said.Andrew Galo, Michaela McInerney, Vincent Vangaever and Daniel BarabasiThe ticket of Andrew Galo, Michaela McInerney, Vincent Vangaever and Daniel Barabasi is attempting to ensure student government hears the voices of rising sophomores next year.“We believe that the sophomore executive board should be the first line of communication between the sophomore class and the University,” Galo said. “We will make sure every complaint or suggestion about residential, academic, social or spiritual life is heard.“If we cannot directly solve it, we will consult the student body president and vice president, and we will make sure you are heard.”Galo said the ticket would also promote social outreach projects in South Bend and the social aspects of campus life. A specific initiative of the group would be making the Great Gatsby dance an annual event.Editor’s Note: Barabasi is a Scene staff writerAndrew Green, Ned Vogel, Francesca Mancuso and Matt BarrattCurrent freshmen class officers Andrew Green, Ned Vogel, Francesca Mancuso and Matt Barratt want to continue their work by encouraging community in the sophomore class.“What class council’s all about is getting unity and community for the entire class, and so what we really want to do is push for that more, by doing all the different events that we did this year but more off campus next year and focusing in on the service aspect and the social aspect — making sure that everyone feels like they’re included in this class,” Green said.The ticket’s ideas include a class trip to Cedar Point, improving the class website to include events and employment resources, organizing events with the Career Center and other events like a battle of the bands.Noemi Ventilla, Michael Markel, Neil Joseph and Eva NiklinskaAs class officers, Noemi Ventilla, Michael Markel, Neil Joseph and Eva Niklinska would like to increase the connections between the Sophomore Class Council, other student government organizations and the student body.“We would set up office hours or hold monthly town hall meetings where students could voice their opinions, ask questions, volunteer their help or make suggestions to the Sophomore Class Council,” Ventilla said. “We want the sophomore class to be familiar enough with us to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and needs.”Ventilla said the other students on her ticket, all of whom currently serve on Freshman Class Council, would like to establish service events in South Bend and organize free skates and a dance marathon.“We would like to first receive feedback from the sophomore class as to their interest,” she said.Tags: Class Council, elections, junior class council, senior class council, sophomore class councillast_img read more

NDSP reports robbery on campus

first_imgAt about 2 a.m. Saturday morning, three men in a silver sedan approached a Notre Dame student on campus, demanded the student get in the car, took the student to an off-campus location to withdraw cash and robbed the student, according to an email from NDSP on Saturday afternoon.The student was approached on Notre Dame Ave. between the Morris Inn and Holy Cross Dr., the email stated. Following the incident, the three perpetrators returned the student to campus.“One of the men got out of the vehicle and instructed the student to come with them,” the email stated. “They demanded money and took the student to a gas station and a grocery store so he could get cash for them. They then brought the student back to campus.”According to the email, the student did not see any of the men carrying a gun, but it was implied they were armed.“The suspects were described as three black males wearing dark clothing,” the email stated. “They had no facial hair or visible marks or tattoos. One of the men had dreadlocks. One of the men was about six feet tall, medium build. All three appeared to be between 20-23 years old.”The email reminded students they should travel in groups and use safe transportation options such as licensed taxis or the Transpo bus system.last_img read more

Student senators gather for first session of the year

first_imgWednesday night, the student senate gathered for its first meeting of the year. The meeting was comprised primarily of two workshops, one on celebrating diversity, presented by Diversity Council Representative Ray’Von Jones and Africana Studies Professor Maria McKenna, and another on parliamentary procedure, presented by Student Union Parliamentarian Sara Dugan. Jones shared a quote from an anonymous Diversity Council member about the importance of different viewpoints.“As a Catholic institution, being welcoming and accepting of all cultures and differences is embedded in our foundation,” the unnamed class of 2017 student said. “Education and discussion around diversity are so crucial because they create spaces for personal growth and help people better understand the struggles faced by their fellow brothers and sisters.”McKenna also said it was important to be inclusive of all kinds of diversity on campus, not just racial or ethnic. “We think about ideological diversity on this campus, and we think about diversity we can’t always see, particularly as it pertains to disability or other types of mental health challenges, different ways that people are seeing the world for all kinds of different reasons,” McKenna said. “Diversity doesn’t end with just racial or ethnic diversity.”The workshop also referenced several responses from Notre Dame students and faculty about the state of inclusion at the University. Jones and McKenna specifically highlighted English professor John Duffy’s letter to the editor entitled “On hearing you might transfer,” which was published in The Observer in January and signed by more than 150 Notre Dame staff and faculty members, and a Tumblr blog called “I, Too, Am Notre Dame,” which addresses the specific challenges students of color face on campus. Jones said discussion was important even though the topic can be uncomfortable for people. “I feel a lot of people don’t want to talk about race,” Jones said. “We want to pretend everything’s okay, and when we do this, a lot of people are silent. It makes it easy for us to discount people’s experiences and say, ‘There’s no way that’s happening at Notre Dame.’”Diversity Council chair Chizo Ekechukwu was also present at the meeting and explained the role of Diversity Council and encouraged senators to come to a meeting. “Diversity Council falls under multicultural student programs and services,” she said. “On campus, we have a representative from every cultural club sitting on our council. The main role of it is to use programming and collaboration to bring up and discuss issues in regard to diversity on our campus.”After the diversity workshop, the meeting ended with a parliamentary procedure workshop in which Dugan outlined the basic rules and guidelines for discussion in the senate, including the role of proxies and different types of motions. The student senate meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Notre Dame Room of LaFortune Student Center. All meetings are open to the public. Tags: Diversity, diversity council, Student government, student senatelast_img read more

Speaker highlights gender inequity in STEM fields

first_imgThe University’s physics department hosted a colloquium on Wednesday featuring Elizabeth Simmons, a distinguished professor of physics at Michigan State University, who gave a talk entitled “Moving Toward Gender Equity in STEM.”The first part of Simmons’s lecture focused on the context of the situation and the current statistics on women pursing education and careers in STEM fields. To do so, Simmons used graphical data and research results called a “scissors plot” that illustrated the sharp decline in the percentage of women who pursue degrees and advanced degrees in STEM fields, particularly physics, despite the nearly 50-50 gender divide in background high school science classes.“This is a problem for physics, and this is a problem for STEM, because we are losing talent at a time when more and more of the really interesting jobs in the country require you to know something about science, and there are more and more jobs in the scientific and technological fields,” she said. “People are being cut out of these opportunities.”Simmons said the gender difference in STEM fields is also illustrated by the discrepancies between the resources provided to men and women. Women tend to have less access to professional resources like funding, lab space, equipment, travel money and clerical support, she said.“This certainly is placing the women at a disadvantage in terms of career advancement,” she said.Some of the causes that contribute to this type of environment in the STEM disciplines — such as implicit bias, gender schemas and stereotype threats — promote judgments and viewpoints that produce different treatments of differing genders, Simmons said.“Regardless of our own gender, we are all prone to unconscious bias to unconscious assumptions about what it means to be a certain gender … and what it is appropriate for a certain gender to do, or to act like, or to feel like,” she said.Moreover, Simmons said there are multiple possible solutions to the bias issues that contribute to gender inequity in STEM. For example, the situation could be improved if institutional leaders and department heads were made aware of implicit biases, emphasized how diversity could help achieve the goals important to the institution and made their processes more clear and transparent, she said. Such work could also be improved through professional societies that offer professional development opportunities for women, she said.“You take longer to match ‘women’ with ‘physicist’ than ‘men’ with ‘physicist,’ for example. It’s not that you might rationally think that makes any sense, but we’ve been given these cultural predispositions,” Simmons said.However, bias is not the sole issue women in STEM face — family life, namely marriage and parenthood, greatly influences a woman’s probability of receiving a tenured job or pursing a career in research, Simmons said.“A married man with a child has 50 percent greater chance of landing a tenure-tracked job in any given year than a married woman with a young child,” she said.This discrepancy largely stems from the number of hours spent on work, Simmons said. On average, the hours spent on caregiving rises sharply and more dramatically for women than it does for men after having children. Simmons said the added caregiving hours make it difficult to maintain a previously high number of career work hours, and it calculates to working about a day less per week after having children.Simmons said this situation would improve if employers promoted gender-neutral parental leave, clearly advertised parental leave as an entitlement and scheduled meetings during regular business hours.“You can build up that culture [in the workplace] over time, and it’s really important,” she said.Simmons also said many women in STEM fields tend to avoid negotiation, a habit that stems from women’s possible uncertainty on what they “deserve” and desire to avoid harming work relationships. As a result, women tend to ask for less, subsequently receive less and ask in an “interest-based” manner, she said.Simmons defined an “interest-based” negotiation as one in which a person determines their underlying motivations and needs and the motivations and needs of the other person to see where they match in order to figure out a mutually beneficial solution.“If I [as a dean] didn’t know what [employees] need to be successful, even if I managed to hire them, I might not be able to retain them,” Simmons said.To conclude her lecture, Simmons said there are further equity challenges, in addition to gender equity, facing STEM fields. The most acutely affected demographics are those of intersecting identities, such as females of racial minority groups and LBGT groups.“These intersectional identities are on the receiving end of much more exclusionary or harassing behavior,” she said.Tags: family life, gender equity, gender inequality, Physics, STEMlast_img read more

Saint Mary’s student government association introduces ‘Lemonade and Le Mans Mass’ event

first_imgInstead of returning to their dorms after Wednesday Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel in Le Mans Hall, Saint Mary’s students can now join their fellow Belles for refreshments and snacks complimentary of the Student Government Association.Junior Terra Nelson, along with Anna Zappa, who serve on the mission committee for student government, helped organize the event with Kathy Ogden, student body vice president.“Kathy approached us in the beginning of the year about possibly creating a signature dorm Mass,” Nelson said in an email. “Anna and I loved this idea and talked to [vice president for mission] Judy Fean about starting this as soon as possible. Anna and I both wanted to create a culture of community and fellowship after weekly Wednesday Mass.”Modeled after Notre Dame’s signature Masses, Lemonade and Le Mans Mass, was chosen to be inclusive to as many students as possible — because everyone loves lemonade, Nelson said.“We wanted to have a late-night snack that was beloved and refreshing,” she said. “Popcorn is usually gluten free, dairy free, nut free, et cetera, making it in a healthy snack for all Belles. As for lemonade, we wanted the Mass to have a catchy saying. Lemonade and Le Mans just had a nice flow. Many dorms at Notre Dame have signature Masses — Milkshake Mass, Mass Snacks at Stanford on Sunday, et cetera — and we wanted to bring that same energy and excitement for Mass at Saint Mary’s. We could see that many Belles would travel off campus to attend Mass so we decided to bring that same love for Mass [to] our own campus.” In each dorm at Saint Mary’s, there is a chapel, making the convenience of attending Mass high for those who live on campus. Although convenient, attending the same chapel each Mass lacks diversity of location. This event can help give those who do not live in Le Mans the chance to attend another hall’s building’s Mass.“I think [after-Mass events are] a good time for people to regroup and talk with their friends; it promotes fellowship,” first-year student Emily Tomczak said. “Having food is always an incentive, whether that is good or bad and it will draw people in to attend the service. For me, I went to see how good the lemonade was and how the service was conducted.”While Fr. Stephen Newton said he enjoys the community-building aspect of a signature Mass, he also stresses the separation of the events.“I really appreciate it. Whatever we can do to create and sustain community around the liturgy is great,” Newton said. “It is good to have people continue what they experienced in the liturgy outside the chapel, but that event is separate and distinct from Mass. Things we have done in the past that are somewhat similar include Birthday Sunday, when we have cake after the 7 and 9 p.m. Masses in each of the dorms.”The Lemonade and Le Mans Mass will be held every Wednesday at 9 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel on the third floor of Le Mans. Tags: Le Mans, Lemonade and LeMans, signature masslast_img read more

Week aims to celebrate contributions of first-generation, low-income students

first_imgNotre Dame’s Office of Student Enrichment seeks to address inequalities on campus with its first annual First Generation and Low Income Student Week.Assistant director of student enrichment Robyn Centilli said the week is intended to raise awareness of first-generation and low-income students’ circumstances, hopefully promoting campus dialogue about the unique challenges these students often face.“This is our first year doing this, but our hope is that this is something we can build on and continue to celebrate,” Centilli said. “When people look at Notre Dame and think about what we’re doing for our first-generation and low-income students, they see that it’s a celebration around those students. We’re not just giving them money, but we are really setting them up for success. … We are constantly putting ourselves out there to help further these conversations.”The week kicked off with a lunch and learn panel discussion Monday in the Notre Dame room of the LaFortune Student Center which focused on “Challenges in Access for First Generation and Low Income” students.While bias and the desire for a “full house” may motivate admissions officers at other universities, panelist and Notre Dame director of TRiO programs Nijinsky Dix said that, at Notre Dame, all students earn their admission.“You got here the right way,” Dix said. “You are in the same classroom as those people with money, those valedictorians from other schools, you are here. And you earned your way here. Be proud of it. That’s your badge.”Sharing her own experience as a first-generation student and role model for her nieces and nephews, Dix encouraged students to be proud of their background and accomplishments.“The focus is to change the trajectory for your family, doing it the right way. You can’t worry about what they’ve got going on.” she said. “Who doesn’t want to be number one? Go off, do that. We’re like mini superheroes.”Echoing Dix’s words, first-generation student and senior Daniel Jimenez said it was important to take advantage of the opportunity to be a Notre Dame student without the weight of self-doubt.“I see [being first-generation and from a low-income household] as an opportunity,” Jimenez said. “I see it as, ‘I can be the person to get my family out of this situation,’ … you see it as, ‘Oh wow, I am the person who can shift my family’s history.’ That’s really powerful.”The Office of Student Enrichment has planned several events throughout the week, including “Postcards of Encouragement” on Tuesday, another lunch and learn session Wednesday and a talent show for first-generation and low-income students Friday. Director of student enrichment Consuela Howell said she hoped these events would shift public focus from what first-generation and low-income students lack to what they add to the campus community.“First-generation and low-income students bring a certain resiliency, grit, problem solving ability, vision, the hope that they bring with them. We know that there are a lot of problems that first-generation, low-income students are facing that their peers aren’t facing … and a lot of those things are things that we as a department take it upon ourselves to solve,” Howell said. “We can’t solve everything, but we try to solve it — the lack. However, we think it is just as important, if not more important, to focus on what they add to this campus. This week is to highlight those things that they add.”Centilli said she hopes these events work towards creating a more integrated and aware community for first-generation and low-income students and their more privileged peers.“The events are open to everybody,” Centilli said. “I don’t want anybody to ever feel like, ‘I have privilege so can’t be part of that,’ because we should all be a part of the conversation. This should be something that we’re all talking about. … How are we utilizing our own voice and our own abilities to uplift others?”Tags: First-generation students, low-income students, Office of Student Enrichmentlast_img read more

Former Minnesota Supreme Court justice discusses race in America in honor of MLK Day

first_imgAdriana Perez | The Observer Alan Page ’67 (right), former Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, shared his thoughts on race in America with G. Marcus Cole (left), dean of the Notre Dame Law School.These beliefs on the importance of law and education to advance racial justice were clear throughout the virtual conversation hosted by Notre Dame in order to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.The event was held virtually due to the pandemic and the consequent changes to the academic calendar. G. Marcus Cole, dean of the Notre Dame Law School, served as moderator of the discussion, which was streamed to over 1,400 live viewers.“As we remember the work and legacy of Dr. King and honor the past, let us pray for a future that will live up to Dr. K’s dreams. Let us pray not only with our words but also with our actions,” senior Kaya Lawrence, director of diversity and inclusion for Student Government, said in the opening prayer. “Let us pray not only with what we dream and hope but with our feet on the ground actively walking the walk.”Page admitted that King’s impact on the United States scared him when he was younger.“What he was doing was nothing less than changing the future for all of us. It took a lot of courage, and, quite frankly, watching what he was doing instilled fear in me,” he said. “Because it was scary for a young kid to see people willing to put their lives on the line to provide me a better opportunity and a better life.”Page grew up in Canton, Ohio, during the 1950s, watching fictional criminal defense lawyer Perry Mason on television and dreaming of doing more than working at the steel mills as many other young Black kids did.From his vantage point, he said, steel mills offered dirty, dangerous and dreary work. But from what he’d heard, lawyers had big, fancy cars and made money without much effort. And, he admitted, that also made him want to become a lawyer.Notre Dame and law schoolPage arrived at Notre Dame shortly after the March on Washington, at the height of the civil rights movement and during the Vietnam War: football, prestige and community all ultimately attracted him to a campus he said was home to no more than 30 students of color.A former football player, Page was inducted into both the NFL and College Football Halls of Fame for leading the Irish in the 1966 National Championship and for his role as a defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.Though he dropped out after his first three weeks in the William Mitchell College of Law — now the Mitchell Hamline School of Law — he eventually received his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1978 while playing professional football.He became special assistant attorney general of Minnesota in 1985 and then assistant attorney general, after which he was elected to the state’s Supreme Court in 1992 and re-elected three times, serving until his retirement in 2015.“How did law school and the practice of law change the way you viewed the racial divide in this country?” Cole asked Page.But the former Minnesota Supreme Court justice seemed unsure that the law changed his perspective. If anything, learning more about the law convinced him of what he had intuitively understood since he was a kid, as he explained: “I think it reinforced my view that law could be a useful tool in bridging some of the racial divide.”A look into the Black Lives Matter protestsCole also asked Page about his thoughts on what has remained the same and what has changed regarding race in America. There was a different reaction, he pointed out, to the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020, as opposed to the “hundreds of other innocent people who had been killed by the police beforehand.”“Well, I think the jury is still out on that,” Page said. “I’m not convinced that anything five years from now will be different because of it. I hope that it will.”However, he said, Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers, “from all outward appearances, leads one to conclude that it shouldn’t have happened,” and there was “a realization that it [was] done in our names.”After Michael Brown’s police shooting in 2014, Page noted, many people have died at the hands of law enforcement. Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, was one of the events that sparked Black Lives Matter (BLM) — a racial justice movement that was revitalized last summer after Floyd’s killing, which followed that of Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado, of Ahmaud Arbery near Brunswick, Georgia, and of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky.Cole asked Page about the movement’s defining phrase, “Black Lives Matter,” and about the counter offered by those who, claiming that “All Lives Matter,” say the BLM movement should not have the name it does.“We would rather have a discussion about the name than about the underlying root causes, and that’s sort of why I say it’s not clear to me that things are actually going to change,” Page said. That same discussion about the words, and not about the reasons why an organization like Black Lives Matter needs to exist, he said, will keep the U.S. in the same cycle even 20 years from now.Reflections on recent unrestMaintaining the course of the conversation, Cole asked Page about the different treatment law enforcement showed BLM protesters as opposed to the treatment of the anti-lockdown armed protesters at the Michigan State Capitol in 2020 and the pro-Trump mob at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6.After George Floyd’s death, Page said, “There were protests, and then there were violent protests. I would note that, by far, the vast majority of people involved were not engaged in violence or destruction, and we don’t tend to distinguish between two.”But he condemned both the violence on display a few weeks ago in Washington, D.C. and that which burned down post offices last summer in Minnesota.“Those are one and the same, and they both deserve the same treatment,” he said. “But that’s separate and distinct from those people who are … legitimately standing up in the face of what they believe to be unacceptable conduct by law enforcement officers.”At the Capitol, Page said, there was more going on than people marching in protest — “and I might add, marching in protest of a lie.”As a judge, he explained, he has had experience with facts, some of which one might like or not like. One can have a debate, he said, about the inferences that can be drawn from facts, but not about facts that have been established.“Maybe the only thing that holds this democracy together is the trust and confidence that people place in it,” Page added. “If we keep eroding that trust and confidence, then we will have nothing.”The pandemic and communities of colorCole also asked Page about the effects of a pandemic, which the U.S. has failed to control, on communities of color.“The virus doesn’t care who you are, where you are, the color of your skin, how much money you make,” Page said, adding that it does take advantage of and consequently devastate Black and Indigenous communities.Poverty, he explained, doesn’t give people a choice: they have to go outside because they have to work. But other people who do have a choice, he pointed out, voluntarily expose themselves to the virus, “which, quite frankly, I do not understand.”“So, I think what we’re seeing is just where poverty is, where need is, where people don’t have choices,” he said.A discussion on constitutional originalismPage also talked about the Constitution, which he said is grounded in racial bias and slavery and from which Americans need to untether themselves.“Are you suggesting we need to start from a clean slate or can this society be fixed?” Cole asked.The problem is systemic, Page pointed out, so that means the system has to change. He proposed an amendment to revise the meaning of the words of the Constitution every 50 years, so that the document more clearly responded to the present.“Why can’t we, those of us here today, be the Founding Fathers and Mothers for tomorrow?” Page asked.The Founding Fathers, he said, did not know about the internet, airplane travel or modern weaponry, “… yet we are ordering our lives based on a document from a time when the people who created that document could not have had any idea what we might be facing.”“We have the power to change,” Page said in closing. “I do, you do, all the people listening and watching here today have the power to change the future. The question is: Do we have the will to act?”More on Walk the Walk WeekA video of the conversation with Page is available on the University’s YouTube channel. “Today’s conversation is just one small part of our ongoing dialogue about the larger issues of racial and social justice in this time in our history,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said at the end of the event.The annual Walk the Walk Week will be observed on campus from Feb. 22 through Feb. 28 after the return to in-person classes. Per the Diversity and Inclusion website, during Walk the Walk Week, the University sets up a series of events so the community can consider their individual and collective roles in making Notre Dame and the United States more welcoming and inclusive.According to the University, information about events being planned as part of Walk the Walk Week can be found in said website as well, where events will continue to be added up until Feb. 22.Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated Michael Brown’s shooting occurred in 2016 rather than 2014. The Observer regrets this error.Tags: Alan Page, Martin Luther King Jr., Racism, Social justice A picture of smiling students from Justice Page Middle School in Minneapolis was Alan Page’s Zoom backdrop of choice during the University’s sixth annual campus-wide observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.Page, a 1967 Notre Dame graduate and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018, established the Page Education Foundation in 1988 to encourage students in their academic pursuits. From an early age, Page’s parents had instilled in him the conviction that education constituted a crucial tool in overcoming racial inequality.Growing up as Brown v. Board was decided in 1954, Page also intuitively understood the power the law had to make the world a fairer place. He would go on to become the first African American to serve on Minnesota’s Supreme Court almost 40 years later.last_img read more