Firefighters respond to an average of 3,810 fires in college residence halls and houses each year, with approximately 122 college students losing their lives. Some are a result of an accident, perhaps leaving the popcorn in the microwave for too long. But others may happen out of carelessness. This was the case with the tragedy at Seton Hall University, January 19, 2000.
Many of the 650 students thought the fire alarms they heard at 4:30 a.m. in their dormitory on the South Orange, New Jersey, campus were just more in a series of false alarms. They were not. Three freshmen died and 58 other students were injured. Roommates Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons were two of the most severely burned.
UD hosted Llanos and Simons as they shared their story with students, faculty and staff to reinforce the importance of fire safety Monday, Sept. 19. The 2-hour event in Kennedy Union ballroom included a presentation of After the Fire: A True Story of Heroes and Cowards, a documentary the two survivors produced, and a discussion of fire alarms, escape planning and the effect of pranks.
Bonded for life, Llanos and Simons also discussed their account of overcoming the mental and emotional adversities they faced. They tell their story at events across the country anywhere from 200 to 225 times a year.
Here are some fire safety tips Llano and Simons shared:
-Count the number of doors in an unfamiliar place. Count the number of doors from where your room is to where the exits are. “That magic number may serve you well if you find yourself in a life-threatening situation,” said Simons.
-The door you came in to get inside a building or room isn’t necessarily the only door you are able to exit through.
-Test out fire alarms on a monthly basis.
“Fire has no prejudice, it can get anyone,” Llanos said. “It is part of our mission to visit college students from all over the USA to keep our message alive.”
“Celebration” doesn’t begin to capture the scene on the Central Mall Sept. 14, as this year’s Culture Fest came into full swing.
The event kicked off with the anticipation of an annual campus staple, a line of students winding from the Central Mall to the foot of the Humanities Plaza, slowly filing in and filling the trademark tent.
Under the big top, a colorful backdrop of flags, all shades and sizes, fluttered in the breeze. Eager rows of attendees snaked back and forth in front of three serving stations representing Virginia Kettering, Marycrest, and Kennedy Union dining halls.
Poetry readings, musical arrays, and cultural dance performances showcased diverse talents from diverse entertainers. Spoken word to slapstick, salsa to swing, the show ran smoothly under the control of Carlos Stewart, assistant director in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
Not only was the event a celebration of cultural collaboration, it wouldn’t have occurred without an impressive list of University collaborators. Everyone from the Office of Multicultural Affairs, to the Center for International Programs, to the Student Government Association, and beyond pitched in.
Center for International Programs coordinator Sangita Gosalia was grateful for this.
“There are so many campus partners that come together to pull-off Culture Fest,” she said. “We are especially fortunate to have such a great Dining Services team, who is intentional about the menu and puts in so much work before, during and after the event.”
Dining Services did shine on Wednesday; the food was delicious, and the intentionality of it apparent. Latin American, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine provided a powerful draw and, for some, exposure to new and exciting tastes.
Despite the looming forecast of heavy rain showers on Sept. 17, the spirit of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was not dampened. Hosted collaboratively at the University’s River Campus by the Artemis Domestic Violence Center and YWCA Dayton, the event was dedicated to raising awareness on the issue of domestic abuse.
“Domestic violence is a key issue that both YWCA and Artemis Center are trying to make an impact on,” said Audrey Starr, special events and communications manager at YWCA Dayton. One way that Artemis and YWCA offer support for domestic violence victims is through their shared 24/7 crisis hotline, designed to provide continual help for those suffering.
“Artemis suggested to raise funds for the hotline,” Starr said. “We really wanted to work with students, so we teamed up with the UD School of Law Human Rights Awareness and Advocacy Group, which had hosted the same event the year before, and the UD Women’s Center.”
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes included a 5k run and walk, and red high heels lined the course to symbolize the female victims of domestic abuse. Several UD students were also on hand to participate in the race.
Beth Herdmann, a member of the UD School of Law’s Human Rights Awareness and Advocacy Group, has big expectations for the fundraiser, saying, “We hope this event will continue to grow both in the UD community and in the city of Dayton, occurring annually and continuing to raise awareness.”
The University of Dayton community celebrated the life of Marie Thérèse de Lamourous Sept. 14, the day she died 180 years ago.
Marie Thérèse was one of the three founders of the Society of Mary. As a lay woman, she worked with William Joseph Chaminade and Adele de Batz de Tranquelleon, the other Marianist founders.
University Chaplain Father Kip Stander, S.M., led the celebration Mass, held at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.
The Mass opened with an introductory speaker from Campus Ministry who encouraged the guests to allow the example of Marie Thérèse to “inspire us to live a life of Mary and love.”
Marie Thérèse, who lived in France during the French Revolution, provided elements of healing to those vulnerable in society.
In addition to the anniversary of her death, Sept. 14 was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
On this holy day which commemorates the cross, Stander stated that the “cross is a symbol of God’s eternal love.”
“We are asked to be open, faithful and faith-filled,” said Stander.
During the prayers of intentions, guests prayed to act in Marie Thérèse’s ways, by demonstrating hospitality.
The Marianist family consists of sisters, brothers, priests and lay people who are all independent yet coordinate together, explained Stander. “Marie Thérèse laid the groundwork for all of that,” he said.
In July, Campus Ministry held a service to pray for those affected by racially motivated attacks, including those in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Dallas.
Although campus is generally quiet during the summer, the event was attended by many UD community members who expressed interest in holding those kinds of services on a monthly basis.
So on Friday, Sept. 9, Campus Ministry, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Center for International Programs came together to hold the first “Prayer of the HEART” service. HEART stands for healing, empathy, awareness, reconciliation and transformation.
“We are part of a bigger world,” Director of Campus Ministry and Center for Social Concern Nick Cardilino said. “We want to promote the dignity of human beings, but that is not where it ends. Discrimination happens on UD’s campus even though it is not something we hear much about, together we want to pray for our hearts to change and become more accepting.”
Cardilino mentioned that the committee for the prayer service met for the first time in September, but they wanted to act quickly due to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops call to prayer on the Feast of St. Peter Claver.
St. Peter Claver fought against slavery in Columbia during the 1600’s, and in his honor, the UD community gathered around the Peace Pole.
Students, faculty and staff lead the group in song, prayer, readings and litany.
“God, hear our prayer and move us to action” the group repeated after each intention.
The UD community prayed for those negatively treated due to their race, skin color, sexual orientation, religion and country of origin.
“I came today because I think we don’t take enough time out of our day to come together in prayer,” Amberly Santana ‘17, a graduate student working towards a master’s degree in college student personnel, said. “I think it’s important to take the time to pray for peace in our community and world, and continually make it a part of our everyday lives.”
Normally, it would be a bit unnerving to spot police cars and an ambulance lined up in the courtyard outside the chapel moments before the 12:30 p.m. Friday Mass.
“Blessed are they who bring peace among us. They are the children of God,” sang the congregation, which included more than a dozen of the University of Dayton’s first responders — public safety officers and student volunteers in UD’s Emergency Medical Services.
In all, more than 100 faculty, staff and students participated in the “Blue Mass,” designed to recognize and bless emergency personnel and offer prayers for their safety.
“Our emergency personnel work tirelessly 24 hours a day to maintain a safe and secure campus,” said Bill Fischer, vice president for student development, in welcoming remarks. “Today we pray in gratitude for you, for the important work you do for our campus and region.”
The Rev. Kip Stander, S.M., thanked the first responders and challenged the campus community to always be ready to step up and help each other.
“In the first reading today, we’re told to send relief. In the gospel, it says to be prepared. It’s a message for all of us to assist in a time of need,” said the Rev. Kip Stander, S.M., during the homily. “It’s not just the people in blue. We ask our student-athletes to be prepared to compete. We expect our students and faculty to be prepared, to be ready. … We are called to know the gifts of one another in this community, to protect each other, to help (one another) grow.”
During the Mass, the campus community raised their hands over the first responders for a blessing and later moved to the courtyard for Stander to bless the emergency vehicles.
Rodney Chatman, executive director of public safety and chief of police, quietly entered the service with his hat in hand, emerged from his pew to shake the hands of numerous students during the “Sign of Peace” and later expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support.
“We’re blessed to be able to invoke our faith in the work we do. For me, this is extremely emotional,” he said after the Mass.
Chatman gave a shout out to student volunteers in UD’s Emergency Medical Services. “I have a passion for the students,” he said. Our students are phenomenal. When you talk about first responders, they truly are. They respond to (campus emergencies) with professionalism and maturity. It’s a pleasure to be associated with them.”
Last week, the University of Dayton recognized Suicide Prevention Week between Sept. 5-9 leading up to Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, which were both national events.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst college students —claiming the lives of 1,100 college students each year. UD recognized this statistic by placing 1,100 small flags in the Central Mall field near Kennedy Union.
The week was co-sponsored by the University of Dayton Counseling Center, Community Wellness Services and Active Minds. These organizations hosted information tables and resources around campus throughout the week. Additionally, they coordinated Frank Warren’s “PostSecret Live” event, part of the UD Speaker Series.
Information tables and activities were scattered across campus, at Kennedy Union, Marianist Hall, Marycrest Complex and the Rec Plex. At the tables, students made bracelets with nine blue beads and one red bead representing the fact that one in 10 students have had thoughts about suicide.
“This is a way to remind people to reach out to friends who are in need,” said Terri Pelley, Ph.D., psychologist and coordinator of outreach programming for the UD Counseling Center. “We hope to be a support to those friends to give them the right resources and words to say.”
Pelley said that they hope to raise awareness of the challenges of living with mental health on campus. “We also hope to reduce the stigma of both living with it and seeking for help,” she said.
Junior Zack Wilker, marketing and operations management major, found the number of flags and what they represented to be shocking.
“Suicide or thoughts of suicide is not something to take lightly,” Wilker said. “If this week saves one person, it’s worth it.”
Asking someone “How are you?” or “Are you okay?” could save a life.
With genuine care and the right timing, the smallest thing, such as these questions, can make the greatest impact.
This was one of the many powerful messages that Frank Warren delivered to a full-house on Sept. 8 at the first UD Speaker Series event of 2016-17 in the Kennedy Union ballroom. Warren is the creator of the PostSecret Project and author of six PostSecret books, which have all landed on The New York Times bestseller list.
PostSecret.com is an online collection of highly personal secrets, both funny and serious, on artfully-decorated postcards mailed anonymously from people around the world. The postcards are sent directly to Warren’s home in Maryland and he posts scanned images of the cards to the blog every Sunday.
PostSecret first began as a community mail art project in 2004. As of today he has received more than one million anonymous secrets. During his presentation Warren said, “I’ve been called the most trusted stranger in America.”
Warren’s multimedia event, “PostSecret Live,” was co-sponsored by the University of Dayton Counseling Center, Community Wellness Services and Active Minds. The presentation aligned with Suicide Prevention Week, which was Sept. 5-9.
Warren ended his talk with the reminder that, “Kept secrets are walls. Shared secrets become bridges.”
To read anonymous secrets from all over the world, visit postsecret.com.
Had you ventured through ArtStreet this summer, you may have felt, seen, heard, or noticed something unusual going on. Often a dormant season for collegiate campuses, this summer on ArtStreet was anything but.
In its second iteration, the Collaboration Accelerator 2.0 infused the block with creative energy and friction unlike existing collaborative project-based programs.
Its 12 summer interns formed a curious cross-section of academic life: engineering, marketing, communications, visual arts, unmanned aerial systems, and international studies.
For seven hours a day, every day, participants were challenged within the Institute for Arts Nexus’ process model to tackle three challenges: modeling connectivity in 2050, reframing our perception of drones, and developing a new approach to energy as a commodity.
They took polls in the community, researched independently, reconstructed idea after idea to shape a final deliverable–a “four-dimensional” (sight, sound, space, emotion) experience as well as a concrete product, staged openly in ArtStreet for visitors to explore.
ArtStreet Director and program guide Brian LaDuca charted the course of the Accelerator. He explained the unique nature of program’s deliverables by framing them as “experiences.”
“It’s not just ‘look at this product,’ but ‘look what this product does in action,’ and ‘how does it affect people?’ …When you can deliver emotion into a product it becomes an eye opening experience for the stakeholders and the audience,” he said.
Following the final days of the White Box Gallery showcase, junior visual arts major Jesse Thompson stressed the importance of shedding stereotypes in order to succeed.
“Never let anyone tell you, especially based upon your major, that you can’t be creative, or you can’t be analytical. [At the Accelerator] we understood that there are differences in our educational backgrounds, but together we filled the gaps and became stronger in the process.“
Watch a video on the Collaboration Accelerator here: https://youtu.be/zz9qgsh_prU
The Student Government Association continued its annual tradition of honoring the 2,977 people who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by placing an American flag in honor of each victim in Kennedy Union field. Students planted the flags Friday morning, and they will remain through Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for a National Day of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities as part of the national commemorations of the 15th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks. The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception bells tolled at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, and prayers for peace will be offered at all campus Masses on Sunday.
UD honors alumni Kristin Irvine-Ryan ’93, Alfonse Joseph Niedermeyer III ’83, Mary Lenz Wieman ’80, William Eben Wilson ’65, David Wiswall ’69 and Joseph J. Zuccala ’68, who died 15 years ago in the attacks on the World Trade Center.