Cabrini University recently hosted experts on human trafficking to speak at a daylong symposium. The aim of this symposium was to fight to eliminate human trafficking by raising awareness about human trafficking. The symposium included discussions with experts and a keynote address from Peak Kim, the former chief of a human trafficking unit for the Delaware County District Attorney’s office.
The symposium is sponsored by The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Cabrini’s Engagements with the common Good Human Trafficking class. In addition to the speakers at the event, organizers “will be accepting donations of gift cards, underwear, feminine hygiene products, and travel sized bottles of shampoo/soaps.” Donations will go to the Covenant House, the Salvation Army’s New Day to Stop Trafficking Program and the Cabrini Closet which supplies rescued victims of human trafficking necessary clothing items.
A professor at Loyola Marymount University is using art to promote social justice throughout her classes. Saeri Cho Dobson, associate professor of graphic design, teaches her students that graphic design is a medium that has the opportunity to persuade its viewers. When Cho came to LMU she was inspired by their Jesuit mission of promoting social justice so she began to partner with the Center for Service and Action which connected her with nonprofits in Los Angeles.
Cho centered her design entrepreneurship class on a final student project that incorporated social justice work. She explained how a group of her students “worked with the Lamp Community in downtown Los Angeles, which has art and music programs for homeless people. The students developed a project to design a portable, solar-paneled cell-phone charger for homeless people, who aren’t always welcome in cafes or restaurants as a place to charge their phone.” Cho hopes that her students learn they can foster community and a commitment to social justice through their designs.
Xavier University students and alumni traveled once again to New York City to watch their basketball team play in the Big East Tournament. This is an event Xavier students look forward to each year, but not only because of the big game. Every year Xavier spends a night volunteering at the Four Star Soup Kitchen on West 114th. This year, students prepared, served food and cleaned at the site for about 100 people throughout the night. The Soup Kitchen is there for people struggling to make it back on their feet and aims to give them a hand. The soup kitchen, which has been in operation since 1982, treats every person that walks in with dignity and respect, something that some of the visitors may not necessarily be used to.
One student volunteer noted how they, “love to come out to New York and go to basketball games, but it is also important to remember Xavier’s mission. We have to give back. We want to serve and be men and women for others.”
To read more about Xavier’s trip to New York, visit Xavier news.
80 Gonzaga University students traveled to places across the country, as they do every spring, to serve others at nonprofit organizations through Gonzaga’s “Mission: Possible” program. “Mission: Possible” is a “program started in the late 1990s and sponsored by the University’s Center for Community Engagement, focused on student-learning and community impact.” Most college students spend their break relaxing from school work in warmer climates, but these 80 students had a desire to serve that took them across the country.
During these week long projects students worked at a large variety of places doing a variety of tasks. Some of these service sites include refugee resettlement centers, homeless shelters, working to help those affected by incarceration, and a variety of others. “Mission: Possible” has been a staple in the Gonzaga community for a number of years and it is evident that students continue to enjoy this opportunity to serve.
To read more about “Mission: Possible,” visit Gonzaga news.
Students and staff from Marian University recently showed their dedication and support for their local community. Marian University volunteered for Saints in the Streets neighborhood clean-up sponsored by St. Anthony and St. Barnabas churches. The service work they did including pulling weeds, picking up trash, and raking leaves; tasks that may at times feel mundane but are very necessary. Saints in the Street attracts a large following of people that want to create a more pleasant community, including Indianapolis mayor Joe Hogsett.
Students noted that it “was awesome to see the community, including Mayor Joe Hogsett, come together to make our city a better place. Our goal was to clean the streets and make them look beautiful.” Local residents of the neighborhood also helped and showed their appreciation to volunteers.
To read more about Saints in the Streets, visit Marian news.
St. Edward’s University emphasizes the connection between service and learning. Many students participate in various services that are closely connected to what they learn inside the classroom across a variety of majors. Recently St. Edward’s has taken time to highlight different work that students have accomplished during their time on campus.
One communications major was prompted on his freshman year to begin work on combating sexual assault. The student explains how he wrote a paper on sexual assault his freshman year which awakened him to startling statistics and laws that make it difficult for those affected to seek help and reparation. Deeply affected by this paper, he proceed to join “It’s On Us”, which is an action week hosted by St. Edward’s that is focused on sexual assault awareness and prevention. This week long event is great way for students to become aware of and then take action through the course of their academic careers as well as their lives, to combat sexual assault.
To read more about how St. Edward’s connects service and learning, visit St. Edward’s news.
Spring has almost sprung! With the first day of spring and the celebration of Easter just around the corner, the time for renewal and revival is upon us. As the academic year comes to a close, it’s also a great time to take stock of all the peace and justice initiatives your campus has participated in over the course of the year. But just because the year will soon end, those efforts don’t need to stop. Catholic colleges and universities across the nation are finding interesting ways to maintain momentum and keep their work moving forward.
In Iowa, St. Ambrose University is committed to fostering interest in service and justice on campus. One of its ministries is Ambrose Women for Social Justice, which seeks to identify and assess the ways that injustice affects women and men and devise interdisciplinary solutions that are responsive and sensitive to both genders. The female-led student group was created in recognition of women’s need to be more involved in issues that touch their lives. For 14 years, the group has hosted the Women for Social Justice Conference, an annual lecture series to highlight important social and economic justice issues affecting women and girls. Katy A. Strzepek, director of women and gender studies at St. Ambrose, said much of the conference’s success lies in its Catholic identity by showing how students “can enact Catholic Social Teaching, most particularly by standing in solidarity and asking what they can do to help.” She advised students to remember that “no one is voiceless and to go to the uncomfortable places … to foster fruitful and honest dialogue.”
Last year, the conference focused on how gender affects globalization and what students can do to advocate for better policies. Keynote speaker Catherine Tactaquin, co-founder and executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, discussed the effects of migration by describing how immigrant and refugee women are often forced to leave their families and work abroad to be able to send wages to their families back home.
Saint Louis University is another Catholic institution that values continual engagement with the world and advocating for global change. Students at the Jesuit university attended the 20thIgnatian Family Teach-In for Justice gathering in November, to learn, reflect, pray, network, and advocate for solidarity and social justice issues. Members of the Jesuit body around the country meet annually to be supported by a like-minded community linked by faith and justice. The gathering also gives them an opportunity each year to honor their Jesuit companions who were martyred in El Salvador in 1989. Last fall, the conference focused on pushing students out of their comfort zones to heed the call that Pope Francis described as the “fire, the fervor in action, awakening those who have become dormant.” Students were encouraged to return to campus with a newfound passion to make a difference in the world and not to accept the status quo. They were urged to participate in the next Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in February by sharing what they had learned with their elected officials and asking for more just policies. To watch speakers and plenaries from the conference, visit the Ignatian Solidarity Network. And be sure to mark your calendars for the 2018 Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice, which will be held November 3-5, in Washington, DC.
SAnother annual occurrence that helps Catholic colleges keep their fervor going is the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering -Young Leaders Initiative in Washington, DC. In February, students from 24 Catholic colleges and universities attended the gathering, with the theme, “Building Community: A Call to the Common Good,” which stressed the significance of acting in solidarity with our marginalized brothers and sisters at home and abroad.
The four-day youth conference was an “opportunity for U.S. leaders in Catholic social action to network, advocate for social justice, and form emerging leaders in service to the Church and society,” according to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, which organized the event. Topics ranged from how climate change is affecting those in the Amazon, to the history of racism in the Catholic Church and how to combat it today.
About 500 people participated, with more than 100 college and university students in attendance. The students expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to be empowered to bring change back to their campuses. Senior theology student at CUA Julia VanConas observed, “Having the opportunity to listen and discuss issues with my peers on topics ranging from immigration to environmental justice, gave me space to develop a greater desire to advocate and bring what I learned back to campus.” Catholic colleges and universities are continuously discovering ways to reinvigorate their campus communities with fresh peace and justice initiatives because it spurs action. Students are investing time in conferences that emphasize peer-to-peer collaboration, keeping abreast of topical issues, and obtaining the necessary tools and resources for advocacy so that they return to campus ready to share the knowledge and make a difference. As the academic year comes to an end and spring begins, this rebirth period offers an opportunity for fruitful examination of what you can do on your campus to revive those around you and advance the work of peace and justice for everyone.