Xavier Students Serve Others and Cheer on their Team

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.

 Catholic Colleges Heed Pope’s Call to Protect the Earth

On Sunday, we celebrate the 48th anniversary of Earth Day! Since the release of Pope Francis’ second encyclical, Laudato Si, Catholics have been called in a unique way to respond to the “the throwaway culture” and “care for our common home.” Earth Day offers Catholics a time to reflect on the beauty of creation and our role as stewards of creation. The Holy Father urgently appeals to “every living person” to protect one another and the planet. To heed the call, Catholic colleges and universities have been integrating sustainable practices on campuses in small and large ways that both honor the earth and affirm the values of their institutions.

St. Mary's

Many universities have incorporated humanity’s call to protect the environment into their mission statements to facilitate the work throughout their campuses. One example can be found at Saint Mary’s College of California. Its mission statement reads, “In fidelity to our educational missions and Catholic principles, Saint Mary’s College is committed to leadership in fostering environmental literacy, modeling a culture of sustainability, and creating an equitable future for all of humankind in harmony with nature.” Having a clear, yet comprehensive mission statement has allowed the campus to make large strides in a short amount of time. In a 2017 Sustainability Report, St. Mary’s stipulated that in order to achieve its objectives, the campus community must be engaged at all levels, take advantage of intellectual resources, have transparent evaluation and planning processes, and ensure that each measure taken is related to its stated goals. Last year, the college was able to do just that. Developments include the addition of mobile solar generators, updated lighting and natural gas systems, and installation of compost bins across campus.

By far, the largest impact came from the compost bins. According to the report, “Landfill [waste] decreased from 655 to 439 tons in the past two years.” St. Mary’s said it was able to make the drastic change through concerted efforts to educate the community on what goes into each recycle bin and provide the right infrastructure and signage within campus grounds. “With those in place, a culture can build.”

Since the inception of its sustainability committee in 2010, John Carroll University has implemented a number of initiatives throughout campus as outlined in its report last year. One of the ways was by integrating “green” measures in campus cafeterias. Changes in its food service facilities began in 2008, with the decision to go tray-less in the Schott Dining Hall. This has reduced food waste and minimized the water and energy that would have been used for tray cleaning. Also, when students want to take food out from the cafeterias, they are given reusable, biodegradable containers rather than foam ones that would eventually occupy a landfill.

Much of John Carroll’s success can be attributed to ongoing collaboration with the Office of Residence Life. The student housing department recently added new wireless thermostats and laundry machines to its residential buildings to improve energy efficiency and reduce water use. In addition, Residence Life regularly hosts informational events to better educate students on sustainability practices.

Xavier

Xavier University is incorporating academics as part of its sustainability initiatives. The university is offering undergraduate degree programs in sustainability, including economics and management; economics, sustainability, and society; and land, farming, and community. Xavier notes that “each of these three academic majors provide experiential learning opportunities combined with a year-long capstone project, encompassing everything students have learned over the past four years.” The programs present additional opportunities for students “to care for our common home.”

Currently, senior Economics, Sustainability, and Society (ECOS) majors are preparing for their capstone projects, which they will present at the end of April. Throughout their four years at Xavier, the students have “acquired a comprehensive understanding of sustainable economies, including the study of natural resources, plus ecological and environmental problems. Students also gain an understanding of social justice questions related to the distribution of economic products and resources,” according to the university website. The program allows them to carry their studies beyond the classroom. For example, one senior ECOS capstone project focuses on improving the environmental profile of Xavier University by changing campus behaviors and attitudes. As a Jesuit institution, Xavier is committed to fostering students that are stewards of a healthier earth.

Catholic colleges and universities continue to respond to the call of Pope Francis in Laudato Si by implementing sound sustainability practices. These colleges and universities recognize the importance of seeking full campus participation to be most effective in their missions. And, as we mark Earth Day, let’s take time to reflect on the lifestyle changes we can make for a more just and sustainable world.

Inclusion on Campus: Increase Faculty and Staff Diversity and Encourage their Commitment to Inclusion

Diversity among faculty and staff can create a more inclusive and robust learning environment for everyone. At the College of the Holy Cross, the Diversity Leadership Team is charged with developing a comprehensive approach to diverse hiring, including building networks to attract a diverse faculty. The team also works on developing faculty’s inclusion skills in teaching, scholarship, and community engagement. Reflecting on their Catholic identity, the team is focused on the relationship between diversity, education, religion, and social justice transformation. They do this in a variety of ways including: encouraging the practice of authentic, daily interaction between people of diverse backgrounds and acting as a leader and resource for the community in developing a Campus-wide diversity plan.

At Xavier University (Ohio), Mission Animators — a group of faculty and staff who work to integrate Jesuit identity into everyday campus life — is offering mini-grants this year to faculty and staff who create programming on the theme of immigration. Events funded by these Mission Animators include a film screening of Documented, a lecture series on “Serving the Mental Health Needs of a Refugee Population”, and a photo exhibition on the lives of immigrants in Cincinnati entitled, “Americans? Foreigners? Citizens!”

Over the next few weeks, we will release short examples of  diversity at Catholic institutions of Higher Education as part of a series called “Inclusion on Campus”.  Stay tuned to hear how Catholic institutions are promoting diversity as an expression of God’s grandeur!

Catholic Colleges Host Events in Solidarity with Immigrants

Twelve Catholic colleges and universities hosted events in solidarity with immigrant brothers and sisters on January 19, as a part of the Ignatian Solidarity Network‘s call to prayer, Prayers of Light.

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.

Students at Loyola University Maryland held a walking candlelight vigil during the busy lunch hour at the campus student center.

Other colleges and universities that held events for the day of prayer include: Fairfield University, Xavier University, John Carroll University, Canisius College, Loyola University of Chicago, Marquette University, Saint Louis University, Gonzaga University, University of San Francisco, and Spring Hill College.

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.

YouTube Live Event: Catholic Social Teaching on Campus

Join us for the fourth live event in the WeAreSaltAndLight.org series on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at noon EST. The 30-minute event, which is co-sponsored by the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, will focus on how college and university communities learn about and respond to the Church’s social mission.

The event will feature Kathleen Smythe, on how Xavier University in Ohio engages sustainability students to assist a local cooperative coffee shop, Tom Southard from Cabrini University on community-based learning about refugees and climate change, and Fr. Etido Jerome from Xavier University of Louisiana on global solidarity.

Participate here!  You can also view past live events on Pray Together, Reach Out Together, and Racial Justice.

Happy Thanksgiving from ACCU!

ACCU wishes you and your family a happy Thanksgiving!  We would like to share this special Thanksgiving prayer from Xavier University.  You can find this prayer, a printable prayer card, and several other prayers in honor of Thanksgiving in their online prayer resource.

Remembering Others

O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen.

-Samuel F. Pugh