Saint Peter’s University is using their voice to speak out against the issue of domestic violence. The Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s recently hosted an empowerment forum, “Women Standing Against Domestic Violence.” During a time when women are speaking out about violence and sexual harassment, Saint Peter’s is adding to the conversation by having a discussion on the effects of domestic violence and what different organizations are doing to support women in these vulnerable situations.
The panel began with a presentation of some startling statistics to get the conversation going. It was noted that “every nine seconds a women is beaten or assaulted; one in four women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes; three women are murdered in the U.S. every day by a current or former male partner.” These statistics set the scene as various women told their stories of domestic violence. They shared the struggle and pain they endured while at the same time still loving their partner. The cycle of abuse is a difficult one to break and these women came out of their situations stronger than before.
There was then a panel discussion featuring various leaders of organizations that all seek to support women and families in vulnerable situations. For example, WomenRising is an organization in Jersey City that “supports women and families from crisis to self-sufficiency by providing domestic violence services, permanent housing, workforce development, and several others necessary services. “Women Standing Against Domestic Violence” was an event that helped build awareness of domestic violence and empowered those to spread the word and support these women.
To read more about “Women Standing Against Domestic Violence,” visit Saint Peter’s news.
Join Ignatian Solidarity Network on Thursday, February 16 at 3 PM EST for an online conversation with Jesuit college and university faculty and administrators on how to support students who are undocumented. A new political landscape in the U.S. has brought with it unique realities for people in the without documentation, including students at Jesuit colleges and universities. How are faculty and administrators responding to the changing reality facing these students?
Saint Peter’s University hosted a prayer service featuring a student choir and students sharing their experience of being undocumented. The service ended with an opportunity to contact Congress on behalf of humane immigration policies.
The purpose of the call to prayer was to illuminate, through solidarity and action, the dignity of our immigrant brothers and sisters, and the value of each person’s contribution to our country. To see prayers and resources related to the event, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network website.
How are you practicing solidarity on your campus? Share your story with us! Email Lexie Bradley.
In response to the heated political debate on the issue of immigration, Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Gomez, in a September lecture at Boston College, spoke of the importance of not letting statistics cloud our vision of the people who make up the numbers. Gomez explained that it is a Christian call “to remember that behind every statistic is a soul — a soul who has dignity as a child of God, a soul who has rights and needs that are both spiritual and material.”
Catholic universities are embracing this person-centered approach through their policies and programs by welcoming students who are immigrants. By offering support and resources, institutions like Saint Peter’s University, Christian Brothers University, and Dominican University are creating equal opportunities for immigrants, including undocumented students, as well as providing educational programming on the complexity of immigration.
Saint Peter’s University has responded to the needs of undocumented students by opening the Center for Undocumented Students (TCUS). Jennifer Ayala, director of the center, explained, “The mission of TCUS is to support the academic work of undocumented students at the university, to shed intellectual light on the political and economic realities of immigration in our world today, and to create a community where undocumented students feel welcome.” Resources available through the center include a modest resource library, legal support, referrals and collaborations within the university as well as with outside organizations, internships, workshops for staff and faculty, “know your rights” workshops for students and their families, and advising and mentoring. TCUS also helps students find ways to pay for their education because undocumented students do not qualify for state or federal aid. In September, TCUS co-sponsored a student-organized conference, United Struggles, that educated students on community organizing as a way to engage politically and intentionally with the issue of immigration. TCUS has also recently co-authored a letter urging the university administration to declare Saint Peter’s a sanctuary campus.
Eugene J. Cornacchia, Ph.D., president of Saint Peter’s, pointed out the continuity of the center’s mission with the university’s Jesuit legacy: “Saint Peter’s has proudly educated immigrant students since it first opened in 1872 and seeks to continue and enrich this tradition by extending its welcome and support to undocumented students, otherwise known as dreamers. We are proud to be a part of the large group of Jesuit colleges and universities that continue to advocate for dreamers.”
Christian Brothers University (CBU) is another college providing support through scholarships and a place of community to address the issue of immigration, focused specifically on the needs of Latino immigrant students. Two scholarships are available through the institution’s Latino Student Success Program: the Latino Achievement Scholarship for FAFSA-qualified students and the Latino Success Scholarship for non-FAFSA-qualified students. CBU has committed $12 million in scholarships and grants over seven years to serving undocumented students, funding that will benefit over 100 students. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics has recognized CBU as an exemplary case for implementing programs that support the expansion of high-quality education for Latinos. Executive director of the White House Initiative, Alejandra Ceja, commended CBU as “the first institution of higher education [that] has publicly answered our national call for commitments.” A student-led organization, Hola CBU, also provides support for students on campus and in the local community. Hola CBU hosts events to expose the campus to Latino culture and create a welcoming Latino community. The group also partners with a local organization, Latino Memphis, to provide services like interpreting and standardized test tutoring for high school seniors.
Paul Haught, vice president of academics and student life at CBU, connected these programs to the Catholic identity of the institution, saying, “Christian Brothers University, as an institution founded on the Lasallian mission of providing educational opportunities to the underserved, continues to advocate for the education of all who stand to benefit their communities by gaining the benefits of higher education. So-called undocumented students belong to this class as much as anyone. If they are college ready, we invite them to share in CBU’s gifts of teaching and service.” CBU supports undocumented students, not only with scholarships, but also with a vibrant community. This dual approach recognizes the many needs of students during their time in college.
Lastly, Dominican University was recently honored with the Moral Courage Award from the nonprofit organization Faith in Public Life for its leadership in supporting the right of undocumented students to receive a college education. For Dominican President Donna Carroll, the students are the courageous leaders and the university is called to “stand with them” to fulfill its mission to give compassionate service and create a more just world.
In spring 2016, Dominican facilitated a border immersion trip called Borderlands to deepen engagement with the human and societal consequences of immigration — outcomes that often can be understood only by witnessing firsthand the circumstances of a border community. The program was partially funded by a Global Solidarity Grant, a collaboration between ACCU and Catholic Relief Services that awards funding to Catholic colleges and universities to increase awareness of global injustice and expand student involvement in bringing about change. During the Dominican University trip, students traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana to learn about the social issues present in migration, specifically for people migrating from Central America and Mexico to the United States. Before they traveled, the team of students spent time in prayer and learning about Catholic Social Teaching on immigration. During the trip, students were able to meet people directly involved in immigration, including some who had been deported and some who were preparing to immigrate to the United States.
After they returned, the students shared their experiences at the 2016 Dominican University Caritas Veritas Symposium. Atzimba Rodriguez, a senior in psychology and criminology, spoke during the symposium of the effect that meeting people in Tijuana had on her. She commented, “If anything, we are a bridge, a bridge between two worlds.” While the border stood as a division between the United States and Mexico, the relationships that the students built while in Tijuana emerged as a sign of unity.
Catholic universities are welcoming immigrants to campus and ensuring that they have tools for success. Examples such as those of Saint Peter’s University, Christian Brothers University, and Dominican University show how the goal of providing equal opportunity is realized through programs that promote leadership and provide resources that aid immigrants, including undocumented students. In the midst of the debate on immigration and educational inequality, Catholic universities are making a difference by providing for the needs of students and educating the community on the complexity of these social issues.
Camilla MacKenzie is an undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America and the Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
For Catholics, this phrase has been uttered countless times in the midst of prayer. And yet it rarely sparks a lengthy thought process about actual food. For many people, daily bread is a given, the next meal either waiting at home or picked up at a local restaurant or grocery store. But a vast number of others do worry about where their next meal will come from, both globally as well as here in the United States. The Campus Kitchens Project is one organization that is combating this problem on college campuses throughout the country.
Hunger and Catholic Social Teaching
Hunger and food security are issues that are closely tied to Catholic Social Teaching and its grounding principle: the dignity of every human life. As Catholic Relief Services’ campaign, Catholics Confront Global Poverty states, “The right to life for all persons, based on their identity as precious children of God, means that all people have basic rights to those things that are necessary for them to live and thrive, including the right to food.”
While the Church teaches that access to food is a fundamental right for all, statistics show that many families in the United States struggle with hunger. According to the Bread for the World Institute’s 2014 Hunger Report, the most recent data show that in 2012, nearly 50 million people in the United States resided in households that struggled to put adequate food on the table and approximately 50 percent of children living in the United States will live in a household that relies on government assistance for food by the time they are eighteen. It is evident that the right to food is being treated as a privilege in this country, and a privilege from which many are excluded.
Food justice is also intimately related to care for the environment, as it is a form of natural resource that we, as stewards of creation, are called to respect and share with all. Wasting food is just as egregious as wasting other natural resources, such as energy and water. That is why it is staggering to consider how much food is wasted every day while simultaneously one in six Americans don’t know where their next meal will come from. An estimated 40 percent of food in the United States is wasted every year, which costs Americans more than $165 billion annually and accounts for 25 percent of national methane emissions.
The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is helping build a connection between food that is wasted and people who do not have enough to eat. The CKP uses kitchen facilities and student volunteers on college and university campuses to accept, store, repackage, and deliver food to community partners that would normally be thrown away. Students participate in every part of the process, from collecting the food to making the meals, and even dining with those who they serve. CKP is currently at 45 campuses around the country, five of which are ACCU members: Gonzaga University, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Saint Peter’s University, and Walsh University. Merrimack University will be the sixth ACCU member to start a Campus Kitchen with the launch of their project this fall.
On its website, the CKP defines its mission by three goals: “to strengthen bodies by using existing resources to meet hunger and nutritional needs of our community, to empower minds by providing leadership and service learning opportunities to students,… and to build communities by fostering a new generation of community-minded adults.” At Gonzaga University, this mission has proved to be successful. The campus chapter accepts food from several sources, including the Second Harvest Food Bank and on-campus dining halls, to provide nutritious meals for those who lack food security in the Spokane community. The website of the Gonzaga chapter tracks its effectiveness since beginning in 2005: The effort has recovered 98,362 pounds of food, served 92,297 meals, and logged a collective 15,294 hours.
The Campus Kitchens Project and Catholic Colleges and Universities
The goals of Campus Kitchens complement the social justice mission of Catholic colleges and universities. Emily Paulsen, Campus Kitchens’ representative at Gonzaga University, says that “the [university’s] notion of living a life for others fits right in with the work we do.” CKP’s model helps students live out the tenants of Catholic Social Teaching specific to hunger and food security in practical, transformative ways that benefit the students as much as those who receive a meal. Paulson describes how she has seen CKP affect the students who volunteer with the organization: “I have seen the students actually change their majors to degrees in social work because of their participation with the Campus Kitchen. We run a community dinner every Thursday night in downtown Spokane…The impact of students engaging with clients at the dinner is huge.”
Campus Kitchens’ congruence with the Catholic mission was an important factor to the Merrimack College students who brought the project to their campus, as well. Amy Byrne, one of the students instrumental in the process, describes how Campus Kitchens relates to her school’s Catholic identity: “The Catholic identity at Merrimack is focused on engaging our community through acts of compassion and education. Our Campus Kitchen is a natural extension of our values because it connects so many different partners in our community, and it addresses a number of social justice issues along the way.”
For the Merrimack College students involved in bringing CKP to their campus, the national office offered many resources that eased the process. One example is the $5,000 grant they received after winning an online contest offered by Campus Kitchens. These grants are offered several times throughout the year to help eliminate financial barriers that may arise in starting a school chapter. The Campus Kitchens Project also provides a Campus Kitchens Planner, an online tool that walks users step by step through the process and makes it easy to ask CKP staff for additional guidance. Byrne described how helpful the staff at CKP was, saying, “The head staff of the Campus Kitchens Project organization is so supportive and resourceful. They will do whatever they can to help you overcome obstacles along the way.”
The Campus Kitchens Project is one way of promoting the mission of Catholic higher education. It combats the issue of hunger through environmentally sustainable practices while inspiring leadership and solidarity in students. As Pope Francis said in his homily at the opening Mass of the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly in Rome on May 12, “We ought to set the table for all, and ask that there be a table for all.” The Campus Kitchens Project helps colleges and universities set the table for all in a sustainable, empowering way.
Catherine Coffey is a senior at Boston College and was a Peace and Justice Intern at the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in summer 2015.
Want to start a Campus Kitchen Project chapter at your college or university? Not sure where to begin? Be sure to catch one of the remaining Fall 2015 information sessions in November and December! More information about how to start a Campus Kitchens chapter at your school, including grant opportunities, can be found on the website, campuskitchens.org.
Saint Peter’s University (NJ) has announced the opening of The Center for Undocumented Students (TCUS). The new center strives to support the academic work of undocumented students at the university, shed intellectual light on the political and economic realities of immigration in our world today, and create a community where undocumented students feel welcome. TCUS works with community organizations, government agencies, high schools and other Jesuit colleges and universities to create better access to higher education and increase retention rates among undocumented youth. As noted in the article from the Jesuits USA Northeast Province, the Center offers a way for Saint Peter’s University to live in a more intentional community with undocumented students, better accompanying them and supporting them as they pursue their dreams of higher education.
Learn more about Saint Peter’s new Center for Undocumented Students in the university’s press release!