It was around 4:30 a.m. when a student was seen stumbling out of a dormitory at Seton Hall University, the six-story building violently engulfed in dense, black smoke and rippling flame.
This individual was one of many living in Boland Hall at SHU in South Orange, New Jersey on Jan. 19, 2000 — the same night that two fraternity brothers set fire to a banner in a hall lounge. Lighting the banner ignited the fire that killed three students, injured 56 others and forced Alvaro Llanos and Shawn Simons into the most difficult battles of their lives.
“When we opened our door that night, all we saw was a wall of black smoke…so we did what you are taught to do as a kid — got down on our hands and knees and crawled to the closest exit,” Simons said.
On Oct. 10, UD welcomed the men to share their heroic story. The two are now lifelong friends after suffering through the tragedy and recovery process side by side.
“Today, we are bonded for life — we will always be survivors,” Simons said.
Llanos and Simons, both first-generation college students from inner city New Jersey, were randomly assigned roommates in Boland Hall their freshmen year when the incident occurred. Of the many victims, they suffered some of the worst burns and faced years of painful recovery. They say that the support they provided one another is what got them through the journey.
“We share our story anywhere between 200 and 225 times a year to encourage fire safety on college campuses,” Simons said.
Years after the tragedy, the duo describes how they live their lives with considerably more caution than most people; keeping an eye out for the closest emergency exit and scanning for the fire extinguisher whenever they enter a room. In their presentations, they radiate a sense of hope and inspiration, expressing that there can be life after adversity.
“We all need to learn to love ourselves a little more. Our scars and flaws make us who we are. So today, when I look in the mirror I say, ‘Damn, I make these scars look good,’” Llanos said.
‘Learning to fail’ may sound like a paradox, but it was one of the most important lessons taught to mechanical engineering student Lauren Rivera ’18 during her ten-week experience in Central America this summer.
From building a ramp to make a local recycling center more accessible to spending time adjusting wheelchairs, there were bound to be some hiccups. Rivera found herself attempting to communicate with the local people, asking for materials that weren’t available. She found herself designing structures for which the tools needed were not available.
Rivera said, though, that each failure allowed her to grow and adapt.
“It’s part of design, part of execution, part of doing something that has never been done before,” Rivera said.
Familias Especiales, the nonprofit organization for which Rivera worked, is located in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. She traveled there with the Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service-Learning (ETHOS) to work on projects that improved the intensity of labor for workers as well as provided aid for handicap people.
It has been a dream of Rivera’s to participate in the ETHOS program since seventh grade growing up helping her dad fix rental properties, Rivera had some background in using tools but said that this experience shaped her as an engineer.
“It’s an entire different way of engineering with problem solving and creativity,” Rivera said.
According to Rivera, her service work was much less about taking expertise to the organization and fixing their problems and more about finding new approaches and learning a lot in the process.
Still, despite the challenges, or failures, in her engineering projects, Rivera said the most challenging part was “not being understood.”
“Being 100 percent immersed in a language that’s not your own is really exhausting,” Rivera said. “But all of the people were very patient.”
Aside from her service work, a highlight for Rivera was being able to spend time with the people from Familias Especiales and interacting with them at the organization’s recycling center, special education classes, yogurt factory and in physical therapy.
“We failed a few times, but we learned that the relationships we were building were far more significant to any of our shortcomings,” Rivera said.
When Nicoletta Hary showed me the oldest book in the Roesch Library special collections, she carefully laid its time-worn cover on the table and invited me to touch it.
She believed books were not only to be admired — they were to be discovered.
Hary retired in June 2014 after serving 50 years in University Libraries. She died Oct. 4 after a short illness.
“Now that so much is available electronically, special collections mean so much more than they did in the past,” Hary told me in 2008 as she shared the history of an incunable, literally a “cradle book” from the first 50 years of moveable type printing. “Having the real thing is very meaningful.”
Hary, a 1952 graduate of the Vatican Library School, was asked by the Vatican Library authorities in 1985 to research the modernization of the Vatican Library. In 2011, the newspaper of the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano, praised Hary’s books, The Vatican Library and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: The History, Impact, and Influence of Their Collaboration (1927-1947).
As a rare book curator, Hary managed and serviced eight special collections as well as Roesch Library’s religion collection, including the U.S. Catholic Special Collection.
She said she was very happy “learning the treasure of the book.”
Interesting facts about Nicoletta Hary:
• As a teen during World War II, she survived the bombings of her beloved Rome.
• She earned doctorates from the University of Naples and Indiana University.
• She spoke five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Hungarian; she also was well-versed in Latin and classical Greek.
• Before coming to UD, she spent seven years in the library at the University of Notre Dame. Its collection of materials about the University inspired Hary in the mid-1970s to start a similar collection about UD. This modest collection, cobbled from many sources, became the nucleus of the University Archives.
• She started working at the University of Dayton Feb. 22, 1964.
• When Roesch Library was ready for occupancy in December 1970, Hary and three other librarians spent their Christmas break with a handful of students, moving all of the materials from Albert Emanuel Hall to the new building through the tunnel between the buildings. “When we moved to Roesch, there was no money to hire movers,” she said, “so we moved everything over through the tunnel, one truck of books at a time.”
• In the 1970s, Hary spearheaded the statewide initiative of converting UD’s standard card catalog into a digital format.
• In the 1980s, from the Library of Congress she obtained the prestigious NACO designation for Roesch Library, which allowed UD librarians to receive training and be granted the authority to contribute to and change Library of Congress catalog records.
Editor’s note: Erin Frey ’17 has been a student writer, reporter and social media specialist in University Marketing and Communications since summer 2015. In this piece, during her last Family Weekend experience , Erin reflects on the memories made on campus with her parents and brother during the September event.
Two UD siblings, 16 tuition payments, four on campus residence halls, four houses in the student neighborhood and six family weekends.
It is safe to say that the Frey family is quite familiar with UD’s campus — so familiar that saying goodbye is going to be harder than anticipated.
When I was a high-schooler scouting out colleges, I did not want to come to UD. My older brother was there and I was eager to move out of Ohio. I wanted to create a college experience of my own without following in my brother’s footsteps.
However, when I visited my brother, Ethan, a sophomore at the time, I knew Dayton was it. The people and the campus were too perfect to even think about going anywhere else.
Ethan ’16 and I are two years apart so my family has been attending Family Weekend since 2012. Each one has been different. Some have been spent in Welcome Stadium cheering on the Flyers football team, another was spent in the backyard of 430 Kiefaber listening and dancing to oldies. This year’s was spent reminiscing on the last six Family Weekend’s by walking around campus and through the neighborhood.
My parents sashayed down Kiefaber listening to the melodies of “their music” stream from every window. As we took it all in, scents of barbeque and crisp leaves filled the air. Over the music, you could hear students introducing their families to their “Flyer families.” It was as if everything was truly right in the world.“There’s just a buzz about this weekend,” my mom, Michelle, said. “I have to take pictures and show my friends. They just would never believe how much fun we’re having.”
It is definitely a bittersweet moment for my parents. I am graduating in December, so after putting three kids (I have an older sister who went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio) through 20 years each of Catholic education, they and their wallets are blissful. However, my empty nester parents have a love for Dayton that they struggle to put into words.
This bittersweet feeling rings true for me as well. Even as a writer, I find it incredible challenging to describe how much I love UD and the person I have become here. At the same time, a part of me is so excited to take what I have learned here and apply it to my future career.
Before my parents went home to their recently purchased, downsized home in Newport Kentucky, they hugged me and gave me a high-five.
“We did it!” My dad cheered.
My mom held onto me a little longer, “We’re going to miss this place,” she said.
Ever since students stepped foot on campus to begin a fresh semester, the Flyer community has been buzzing about the newest renovations in Kennedy Union.
For the first time in over 25 years, Kennedy Union has undergone a major makeover. Three micro-restaurants have been installed: Spice, Toss and ’Que. And, Au Bon Pain made it’s debut at KU last month.
In further renovations and improvements, KU’s rooftop seating area has been transformed with faculty and staff working hard in September planting greenery to create a sustainable garden.
On Sept. 29, chatter filled the front steps of KU as dozens gathered awaiting the official dedication of KU’s newest additions. The celebration included remarks from University President Eric F. Spina, a blessing ceremony by Vice President for Mission and Rector, Father James Fitz S.M., tours of the spaces and complimentary food samples from each of the restaurants.
“It’s exciting to be here, this is a major enhancement to student life on campus,” said Bill Fischer, vice president of Student Development, who kicked off the ceremony.
President Spina further described UD as a values-driven institution with a passion to create improved spaces for students to eat, gather and enjoy.
“The collaboration has led to a great product,” Spina said. “Folks came together to create a high-functioning, attractive space.”
Fitz led the crowd in prayer, blessing the new additions in KU. Themes from his blessing included protecting God’s earth through sustainability and being grateful for the meals shared in the space.
Once the outside ceremony concluded, the celebration continued inside with a spread of culinary creations from each dining space in KU. With strawberry goat cheese salad and pulled pork sliders among the options, attendees found it difficult to pick what they wanted to try first. The hit of the night was the buffalo chicken pizza.
Katie Doile, a first year student, described KU as the go to place for lunch, “KU is very nice. There’s a lot of different options. My favorite things to get are salads from Toss.”
To see a 360 degree video of the new renovation, please follow the link: https://youtu.be/tE1YV_x-Y38
When you hear someone talk about “the King’” most think of Elvis Presley – that is, unless you are at University of Dayton. Around here, it’s Stephen King – master of the macabre.
That’s because since 1975, King’s novels and the films they’ve inspired have been haunting the classrooms of professor James Farrelly in courses such as Literature of the Occult, Horror Films and Vampires on Film.
While planning his academic schedule for the fall of 2000, Farrelly realized the film course would be in session on September 21, King’s 53rd birthday.
Farrelly couldn’t resist the chance to throw a birthday party for his favorite author during the course, and hence a tradition was born.
Seventeen years later, the courses, Farrelly and King are all still going strong and on September 21 students celebrated to mark King’s 70th birthday. In a fun twist, a cake was also there for Carrie White, one of King’s most famous characters from his first book Carrie, who shares the birthday of her creator, King.
Alex Bourdakos, a senior history major who has taken many of Farrelly’s courses that include King’s work, said he “enjoy[s] how the class focuses on the difference between how an author and a film director view the material in different ways,” noting that the films don’t always exactly follow the book’s plotline.
In addition, the class will watch Carrie, The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist and The Green Mile this semester.
While many of King’s novels offer a range of horror scenarios and characters, Farrelly, who works in the English department, finds there are often powerful hidden subtexts.
“King often focuses on a child’s view of the world. I think it’s his way of preparing them for the evils they will face in life,” he said.
Farrelly met his idol in person when King was persuaded to speak at a writers’ workshop at UD in 1982 and has invited him back for each of the birthday celebrations since they began in 2000. While King has yet to attend, the students are none-the-less enthusiastic to indulge in cake, wear party hats and sing “Happy Birthday” to mark the occasion.
You can check out a video of King’s 1982 talk at UD on YouTube at https://youtu.be/UU_ufhW2PgM)
“I don’t have any words to explain it. If there were words: It’s devastating. It’s horrible.”
This is what third-year student Camila Negron-Rodriguez said of the horrific damage done to her home in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
The damage from the hurricane has destroyed her family’s home, which she says is now unrecognizable. She was able to connect with her mother and learned that she and her dogs were safe.
Negron is one of 93 students from Puerto Rico enrolled at the University of Dayton. Some, like Negron, have spent the last few days excruciatingly waiting to connect and hear from family and friends who are still back home.
“The last 24 hours have been very stressful for all of us, since we are so far away from home. Some of our homes suffered a lot of damage and the pictures definitely don’t make justice for what is happening in Puerto Rico right now,” she said.
Social media has allowed students to receive of updates, either from their family or of their hometowns. Through Snapchat, Negron has seen many of her friends helping people who are stuck in their houses escape the floods.
Negron says that she and other UD students do feel guilt that they aren’t able to offer that kind of hands-on help.
“It’s that feeling you get — you just want to get on an airplane and fly there. But, we can’t,” Negron said.
They are doing what they can. About 20 to 30 Puerto Ricans students from campuses across the nation started a group chat that has grown to more than 200 students nearly overnight. The group discusses ways in which they can help with hurricane relief.
Beatriz Roselló, Puerto Rico’s first lady, assisted in the establishment of Unidos Por Puerto Rico, an initiative to assist those affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria. Negron and several of her peers joined the campaign and also created a GoFundMe page where they have raised more than $10,000 of their $15,000 goal in the last 24 hours.
“It has been pretty amazing how much we’ve been able to do in such little time,” Negron said. “We say this is just the beginning because there is so much more to be done. This is just one step forward.”
The ringing of a bagpipe filled the white tent that occupied the Central Mall September 13 as students gathered to celebrate the international student body at the University.
Culture Fest is a celebration of international music, dance, and food representing the diversity found on campus. Plates were piled high with pierogies from Poland, sushi from Japan, kabsa from Saudi Arabia, potatoes from Peru, and churros from Mexico.
“There’s enough food here to feed 2,500,” said Sangita Gosalia, director of campus engagement for the Center for International Programs. According to Gosalia, planning for Culture Fest begins during spring semester because it involves so many different organizations such as Dining Services, Housing and Residence Life, Campus Recreation, SGA, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and more.
After the bagpipes ceased, a graduate student sang songs in three different languages (Bengali English, and Hindi), and students from Puerto Rico taught the audience how to dance the salsa.
“It’s just fun to celebrate with different people,” sophomore Gianna Pou, who lives in the global living learning community, said. “I’m from Puerto Rico but there are students from Germany, South Africa, China and other countries living together. It’s a great way to make friends.”
While people were enjoying their food, Carlos Stewart, assistant director of student development in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, challenged students to get on stage and say where they are from and what they think culture is in exchange for a free T-shirt — the ultimate prize for college students. Answers ranged from getting to know people of other cultures to actually understanding other cultures.
Junior Cheyenne Newman lives with students from China and Japan and says that Culture Fest is her favorite event on campus. “I love when my roommates can show me things from their home,” Newman said. “They get so excited and it’s great to be able to share those experiences with them.”
What do Roesch Library, Marycrest, Fitz Hall and so many other campus locations now have in common with the Heritage Center?
Starting yesterday, they all serve coffee.
The ninth division of the student-operated Flyer Enterprises, Heritage Coffeehouse, opened its doors Wednesday morning, and the line to get coffee is still out the door.
The Heritage Center, originally built in 1903 as a boys’ bathhouse, was most recently a showcase for Flyer history, thanks to the Alumni Association and Division of Advancement, which renovated in 2007 the building known to generations of alumni as the post office. Last year they approached the student business venture to see what use the students might have for the site, with a caveat: It must preserve the spirit of UD’s most faithful alumni, the Golden Flyers.
With two dedicated Flyer Enterprises coffee ventures already on campus, and coffee available at so many more, the students who operate Flyer Enterprises asked, “Why more coffee?”
Peter Hansen, Heritage Coffeehouse director of marketing, answered: “Coffee is a product that has a rich past-time and focus on process. It brings people together.”
And then there’s the unique location, in one of UD’s oldest buildings.
“The ambiance differs from other coffee places on campus,” he said. “It’s more relaxed without being just another restaurant.”
At the opening, alumni John Beran ’74 and Myron Achbach ’52 said a few words on behalf of the Alumni Association and Golden Flyers.
“[H]istory will continue to be shared in this space through the digital screens that give insight to our humble beginnings and our longstanding traditions,” Beran said. Screens in the coffeehouse display moments and photographs from UD’s 167-year history.
While standing in line on the new gray tile flooring, you can tell that this coffeehouse feels different. The baristas, trained onsite at Boston Stoker, grind fresh espresso beans and serve high-quality products.
“It’s so refreshing to be in this environment,” said Allie Rubin ’18 as she sipped her cold brew and shared this simple pleasure of life: “I am able to sit and drink coffee with friends.”