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It was a risky plan, relinquishing control of the University’s 50,000-watt FM radio station to the rockers. But the students would tell you it’s the best thing that could have happened — for the progressive music scene and for themselves.
It’s 12 a.m., 1973. The doors to Kennedy Union are locked tight but WVUD-FM is spinning, the DJ on-air with his feet up on the control board.
He jams to his album pick for the night until a handful of stones thrown against the second-story window rattles him from his groove.
“I wanted to be a part of it,” said Patty Spitler, who tossed those rocks. Like so many students who had to work or just wanted to hang out, Spitler ’76 wanted in on a radio revolution that was sweeping the nation. For them, the entry point was UD’s commercial 50,000-watt megaphone controlled largely by the students to attract listeners like them. It was a risky plan, relinquishing control to the rockers. But if it succeeded, it would change the world — or, at the very least, their worlds.
When those stones thrown by co-workers or friends would rattle the window, the disc jockey would put on a “bathroom song” — like “Stairway to Heaven,” a song long enough for the DJ to take care of some quick business. He’d swing a chair around to prop open the locked door and bolt down the stairs with his footsteps echoing behind him to retrieve his new company so that he wasn’t alone with the music all night.
“With no cell phones and the hotline ringing all of the time, it was really the only way to get in at times,” said Chris Cage (Christian Caggiano ’70), a former program director of WVUD.
That scene, so familiar to decades of student DJs before an era of swipe door locks, described the excitement of 1969-76, the era when WVUD transformed from your mother’s (yawn) traditional music station to the students’ (rock on) music powerhouse.
In 1964, WVUD, “the Voice of the University of Dayton,” officially went on-air operating under 99.9 FM thanks to a man most knew as “Mr. Television.”
George Biersack ’52 was the father of television in the Miami Valley, producing thousands of shows for educational and commercial TV. He wired University of Dayton classrooms for closed-circuit TV but had even bigger ideas about how to expand educational offerings. He wanted to take the speech department — with its 15 majors in 1961 — and grow it into the communication arts department “in order to provide a more comprehensive communications program attuned to contemporary needs,” he wrote to the provost.
The new department, founded in 1964, included moving journalism from the English department and strengthening the theater arts and broadcast offerings. “Our prime obligation is the training of professional communicators,” he told Flyer News. By 1966, the new department had 175 majors; it would grow to be one of the most popular majors at UD.
A practical yet creative man, Biersack knew he needed hands-on opportunities for his students to learn, and he wanted a radio station. He approached the owners of WKET, a classical radio station broadcasting from the basement of the Hills and Dales Shopping Center a few miles from campus, and negotiated a sweet deal. According to Jim “Swampy” Meadows ’72, Speidel Broadcasting Corp. sold the station to UD for $25,000 while also donating $25,000 to the University. UD took ownership of the station in April 1964.
The station moved, along with Flyer News and UDCC (the closed-circuit television station, which would grow into Flyer TV), into offices in the new student union. Biersack’s daughter, Mary Biersack Stine ’72, remembers her father sitting behind the controls of the bulldozer during construction for the radio tower to be placed atop Stuart Hill.
WVUD went on-air to help fulfill the University’s educational and cultural responsibility to the community with the intention of avoiding being too “stuffy.” This WVUD — by all recollections, broadcasting at 25,000 watts that barely reached south over the Oakwood hills — was smaller and quieter than what it would become.
In 1967, the station operated 75 hours a week, 12 months a year with eight student announcers who got no class credit but were paid $1.25 an hour, as reported by Flyer News. “They’re getting paid for experience they couldn’t hope to buy,” Biersack told the student newspaper. Airtime was devoted to classical, folk, jazz, theater, dinner, Broadway albums, full operas, talk shows, “music to work by” and even Mass. By 1968, the station affiliated with American Broadcasting Company’s FM channel and gained airtime that included cultural interests, such as reviews of plays, books and recordings.
Biersack wrote that he hoped by 1970 “our radio station WVUD-FM will be well-established as an outstanding example of a public service station to the community.”
It already sounded good. WVUD was the only station in Dayton to broadcast stereophonic sound, which mimics the human ear by using two independent audio signal channels to create an overall better, more real listening experience.
Despite being ahead of the game technologically, the station wasn’t getting the attention Biersack had hoped for. As general manager, he added more upbeat jazz offerings to the classical and instrumental music rotations. But Biersack wanted more.
So he presented his young but dedicated staff with this challenge: Make WVUD appeal to a younger audience, and do not play Top 40.
In 1971, that meant one thing: album-oriented rock.
From brass to The Boss
Biersack put his faith in his students and a new program manager. Cage, a communication major, had worked at Dayton’s WING-AM during college and after graduation. In 1971, he took a job at WVUD as program director and sales manager. He said that in his time at WVUD, from 1971 to 1974, the station grew in Arbitron ratings from 1.7 percent to 7.3 percent of the total audience share.
Cage believed in tight programming, scripting a detailed plan with specific titles or genres student DJs were required to play. Known as a walking encyclopedia of radio, his total commitment to changing the station from “stereo with brass” to progressive music made him a perfect mentor for passionate student DJs.
“A little of ‘painting by the numbers’ is good for inexperienced people,” Cage said. “But once they learn how to do it well … you can allow them to freeform more.”
Allowing this freedom meant opening up the playlist. For a time, the station was criticized for airing a weird hybrid of sounds. The daytime format was upbeat, background music to appeal to adults with news updates from WVUD’s affiliate, ABC. At night the DJs would spin edgier progressive rock for a younger audience that would turn up the volume. Progressive music in the early ’70s blended folk, blues, jazz, rock ’n’ roll and sometimes even classical into hits like those by Yes and the Moody Blues.
When the clock turned to 7 p.m., “Wax Museum” dominated the air. The rock ’n’ rollers plugged in their headphones — and recording devices. For one hour every day, WVUD played complete or nearly complete albums, usually rock and progressive style. Listeners would wait to hear a resounding “beep” that alerted them to the start of the album and then hit record on their tape cassette decks or reel-to-reels. “Wax Museum” provided its audience with new, complete music to own and listen to whenever they wanted — for free.
WVUD’s “Wax Museum” sparked the fire that became the station’s album-oriented rock programming. When the show ended at 8 p.m., DJs played songs in this style until
2 a.m., going after the young adult audience that preferred to not hear the extremes of commercial Top 40 or entire obscure albums. By 1973, the progressive format would dominate the station around the clock.
There were hits and misses, but the students got to lead the experimentation, push the envelope and discover new music.
Along with the change in music style, Cage helped the station embrace its commercial license. While WVUD was one of only three college-owned stations in the country to have a commercial license to sell airtime as advertising, Biersack said in a 1964 Flyer News article that he had no intention to use it. He saw that operating in the red was more than offset by the education the University provided to future broadcasters.
Cage thought differently: that commercial license was not going to be wasted. The station began selling advertising. Meadows recalled his first ad sale — Athena’s Bridal Creations — and some of the more inventive spots using owner Tom Weiser to do the voiceover on ads for The Forest Books and Records. Bill Andres ’75 was the mastermind behind the copywriting, said Dan Covey ’77, who became the station’s music director.
“Bill really knew how to speak to the audience,” Covey said. “He always found a way to make it really compelling. Whether it was funny or dramatic, people really wanted to hear it.”
Listeners also heard inventive — and suggestive — promotions. The banana shtick — where listeners walked up and asked people if they were the “WVUD Big Banana” or “Electric Banana” — made it onto bumper stickers for the station. Another promo, by DJ Steve Wendell ’73, asked listeners to call in and guess the length of his “Wazoolie.” (Answer: 12 inches.)
The edge found in the music and banter led to the success — and attention — the station was after.
“We lived the style of rock ’n’ roll for the most part,” said Covey, who deejayed at WVUD while in college. “We knew who the audience was, well, because we were the audience.”
Covey also knew the audience because he was a Daytonian. He started out at the station — his first position was receptionist — as a shy student with inherent ambition and evolved into a respected music expert who created and maintained critical relationships with record stores in the area. Cage said Covey was one of the reasons WVUD was ahead of the trends.
“All of the record stores knew and liked him,” Cage said. “He always wanted to work and have greater responsibilities; we had to throw him out almost every night.”
Being music director meant constantly exposing new music to listeners, and it included meeting with record labels to discuss what music would be played at WVUD.
Before the age of the Internet, record companies sent representatives to stations with precise agendas. They knew how to navigate people, specifically college students, and attempted to use the power of free food to sway the direction of the conversation.
WVUD music and program directors received invitations to the hallowed Pine Club on Brown Street. They’d be served steak and fine wine right next to a heaping stack of new album releases from the label’s superstars. On top would be what the representatives would push on stations. But Covey said WVUD had a different idea of what “exposing new music” meant.
“They knew our format and wanted to stay with our direction, but they would push what the labels were paying them to sell to help certain artists they thought would make it,” Covey said.
A steak would not sway the students from playing music from groups yet to become household names. For example, if records similar to the first Tom Petty album were shown to Covey, his common response would be:
“Eh, I don’t hear it.”
But four or five albums down the stack, he’d catch a glimpse of something interesting that hadn’t been discovered or widely heard yet — like Bruce Springsteen before his 1975 album Born to Run made him famous. The record companies wouldn’t even mention it because it wasn’t part of the acts that labels were getting behind.
Covey said WVUD music directors of that era predicted who would become stars. He admits that at times they had to comply with companies’ requests because, “Sometimes, it’s just business.” But their goal was to play new music and act as a discovery station for progressive rock and pop music lovers.
Rock ’n’ rivalry
In the 1970s, glasses were big, University of Dayton basketball uniforms were small, and technology enthusiasts had 8-track players in their living rooms. It was a time of social, governmental, cultural and technological revolution, and the radio industry was part of this change, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission.
In the works since 1964, the FCC’s FM Non-Duplication Rule required stations to get creative with their programming. Prior to this, many AM stations that had acquired FM bandwidth would simply double their AM content on this new portion of the dial. With this new rule enforced in 1967, stations had to broadcast at least 50 percent original content, forcing them to think outside the Top 40 playlists popular with their AM audiences.
Some stations turned to an all-talk format, while others — such as KLOS-FM in Los Angeles to WNEW-FM in New York City — began experimenting with progressive and album-oriented rock.
WVUD was part of this trend. The station told its story through Ten Years After, Carole King and the Allman Brothers interspersed with commentary and advertisements to make listeners feel like they were on the inside of the funniest jokes.
In 1972 and 1973, WVUD was a frequent contributor to Billboard magazine’s FM Action feature. Its correspondent — often philosophy major DJ Jeff Silberman ’73 — offered “Hot Action Albums” to inform the rest of the nation of the newest music trends. On Aug. 26, 1972, Silberman recommended The Slider by T-Rex, Toulouse Street by the Doobie Brothers and the self-titled album by Ramatan.
Billboard contributors were opinion leaders at “the nation’s leading progressive stations” in the largest population centers, and being on the list put WVUD in the company of KZAP-FM in San Francisco to WRIF-FM in Detroit.
In 1973, WVUD entered its next revolution: 24-hour programming, followed not long after by an upgrade to 50,000 watts that screamed into homes in southeastern Ohio and parts of Indiana and Kentucky. Geoff Vargo ’73 as program director ushered in this era as he replaced Cage, who moved on to a station in Princeton, N.J., and later onto a career at WRKI-FM in Connecticut.
Convey remembers Vargo as one of the most creative and energetic personalities at the station. Passionate and always ready to solve problems, his caring nature gave him the ability to “get people fired up” about the station, Covey said. Vargo was one of the primary reasons Covey became interested in UD and wanted to join WVUD.
“He lit up a room with positive energy,” Covey said. “He does it to this day.”
The 24-hour format skyrocketed the popularity of the station. Vargo stretched the “Hot Rotation Singles” — when DJs would play hits pushed by record companies — from three hours to six and added new artists, oldies and up-and-coming musicians. News reports said the phone lines rang off the hook with more than 150 requests per day.
The students also had other innovations. One was Spitler, WVUD’s first female morning personality. Her show, “Waking Up With a Woman,” highlighted her booming voice and pithy humor. Spitler was unexpected and unapologetically woman.
“Someone would say I ‘talked dirty and played the hits.’ I didn’t really talk dirty, just some innuendos. I was feisty … and maybe a little naughty,” she said. “We competed with the big dogs, people who did this as a living, and we were winning. We were breaking new ground.”
WVUD’s success was attributed to the students, their zany, risk-taking nature and the freedom UD gave them to maneuver within the progressive format of the station.
In Dayton, WVUD was “king of the mountain” of progressive rock, said Chuck Browning, who would move to Dayton to become program manager of what would become WVUD’s largest competitor.
Browning’s station was WTUE-FM 104.7, which has the FCC non-duplication ruling to thank for its programming split from sister station WONE-AM. When Browning, at age 23, arrived in 1976, WTUE was playing a schizophrenic mix of album rock and Top 40, mashing Led Zeppelin up against The O’Jays. He started instituting a playlist of album rock with an ear toward what the kids at UD were spinning.
While he cleared up the playlist, WTUE couldn’t compete with the far superior signal coming out of WVUD’s radio tower. “I spent the first two years at TUE getting my head caved in by a college radio station,” Browning said. “We remained the second radio station.”
The students relished the rivalry, beating out WTUE in ratings and, as Covey said, discovering new music while WTUE simply “stuck with the hits.”
While the students had the innovation, WTUE had the money, and eventually Browning got the technology boost needed to compete with WVUD’s signal.
But the students were ready to hurl one more rock at Goliath. Cage said the same day that WTUE upped its wattage and started broadcasting stereo, WVUD took out an ad in the newspaper announcing its next big leap in technology — a Dolby-B noise reduction system. It made its stereo FM broadcasting quieter while increasing the station’s effective range with no increase in power.
WVUD had built the popularity of progressive rock, and WTUE cashed in on it. After the technology upgrade, WTUE’s ratings skyrocketed, jumping from a 6 percent share of the audience to 13 percent in one rating cycle, Browning said.
The students may have been looking to beat WTUE at any turn, but Browning said he had a lot of respect for the student-run station. Covey remembers attending a local rock concert and bumping into Browning in the pressroom. Browning offered a greeting and said that the town was indeed big enough for them both. “I was a college punk,” Covey said. Covey’s response: “Hell no, there’s not.” And he walked away.
But Browning didn’t. He realized that UD attracted the best college talent from Chicago to Philadelphia and said he was able to build WTUE’s success thanks to the students.
“I was able to listen, pay attention and hire some of the best of them,” said Browning, who lists his time at WTUE and his most recent position — as general manager of KMYZ-FM and KTSO-FM in Tulsa, Okla. — as the most rewarding of his career.
The students had gotten to the top, accomplishing what Biersack had asked them to do, if not exactly in the way he might have imagined. But once the rest of radio caught up with the progressive music phenomenon, it was time for the University to create new plans for the future of WVUD-FM. As the freedom of the ’70s melted away into more formatted radio, the WVUD alumni carried their opportunities with them as they scattered across the nation.
Working at “The Radio Station” was far more valuable than the minimum-wage paycheck they received.
While the students were having fun, they were really building lives. The 17- to 20-year-olds weren’t just kids playing music; they were licensed DJs gaining professional experience, real revenue and popularity for the University of Dayton.
Andres, the WVUD copywriter, went on to careers in film, advertising, production and publishing. He attributes much of his success to the camaraderie among the students. If you were on-air — even late at night — and you did something great, one of your co-workers would always call in to tell you so. (They’d call, too, if you messed up.)
“To this day I stay in touch with people I worked with from WVUD,” he said from his home in Arizona. “It’s because we went through this all together. It was a great training ground and atmosphere, and we made great friends, because it was a great place to work. It was a rare hybrid — a 50,000-watt station owned by a university. It was the perfect place to discover radio as an art form and a one-on-one communication medium. It was unparalleled … and prepared me to be a professional communicator.”
The students helped push progressive rock in the Dayton market, and generations of female DJs have Spitler to thank for progressing the view of women in radio, Andres said: “She was a real pioneer.”
The station — in this era and beyond — helped shape the careers of radio personalities, sports announcers, station managers, media executives and producers in television and Hollywood.
Covey talked about his good fortune at being named music director. “That created an opportunity for me to establish the relationship with all the record labels,” he said.
His first job after college came at the invitation of Andres, who went to a station in Ann Arbor, Mich. When a program director job opened in Illinois at WZOK-FM, a record label rep suggested Covey for the job. His career brought him back to Dayton in 1980, and he now works as a senior account manager for Clear Channel.
Cage remembered a young Dan Pugh ’79 applying to work as a DJ. The station passed him over — twice — before giving him a shot. Pugh — also known as Dan Patrick — went on to DJ at WTUE before working for ESPN radio and now announces for NBC Sports and hosts The Dan Patrick Show.
WVUD of this era launched many careers. Steve Downes ’72 is morning man at WDRV-FM in Chicago and the voice of “Master Chief” on the game Halo. Alan “Mike” McConnell ’77 went from WVUD to WTUE, leading to on-air positions at WLW-AM in Cincinnati and WGN-AM in Chicago.
When Spitler graduated in 1976, Browning promptly hired her for WTUE’s morning drive show. It was a success — its ratings beat WVUD, she said, plus she got her first real paycheck, $200 a week: “I was rich beyond belief.” She went on to become a TV anchor in Indianapolis and is now host and producer of nationally syndicated Pet Pals TV.
They moved on, but they didn’t leave UD entirely behind. At WINE-AM and WRKI-FM in Danbury, Conn., Cage hired Flyers John Fullam ’75, Bob “Buzz Night” Kocak ’78 and Al Tacca ’78 to join him. Covey continues to interact with UD students through the Clear Channel co-op and internship program. Last summer, engineering technology major Michael Harper ’15 worked at Clear Channel.
“It’s about seizing every opportunity you get on campus,” Covey said, “making a contribution, being a part of something, trying to make a difference and then trying to maintain the relationships once you get out of school and paying it forward.”
By the 1990s, WVUD had grown into a light rock powerhouse that still employed students, but they were no longer in control. In 1992, UD sold WVUD to Liggett Broadcasting Group for $3.5 million, which went back to the University to support academic programs and other funds. The call letters changed to WLQT-FM, and the station moved downtown.
Student-centered radio, though, persists in the stu-dent-managed, non-commercial WUDR Flyer Radio. The free spirit of WVUD flourishes on channels 99.5 FM and 98.1 FM. It’s no 50,000 watts — 10 watts with a 50-watt translator, sending the signal into Dayton’s near suburbs — but it has the potential to reach far and wide thanks to Internet streaming. And the students have freedom to play what will attract listeners like them — an idea that has empowered students from 1964 until today.
“Everything was the right place, right time,” Spitler said. “It was magic.”
WVUD alumni will host a special reunion reception in the old WVUD studios in Kennedy Union during Reunion Weekend 2014. They invite all former staff and students — no matter your class year — to the celebration the afternoon of Saturday, June 7. To register for any Reunion Weekend events, visit reunion.udayton.edu.
About the authors
CC Hutten is a junior English major who stumbled onto the WVUD story during Reunion Weekend 2013. She writes, “The more I delve into the epic ’70s music scene, the more convinced I am that I’m attending the University of Dayton in the wrong decade.”
Michelle Tedford ’94 once sat in the control room with a DJ friend who played “Rhinestone Cowboy” (not on the designated playlist) during the last days of WVUD.
Science has waged a full-scale attack on cancer. One teacher is ensuring high school students are prepared to protect themselves and help find a cure for what will kill a quarter of all Americans.
Statistics can sit on the page, cold and lifeless. But sitting in front of Jennifer Sunderman Broo ’04 were 21 warm, breathing humans, high school sophomores in ponytails and Uggs. And every one of them raised her hand to Broo’s question:
“How many of you know someone who has cancer or who has lost his or her life to cancer?”
It’s how Broo begins teaching her new curriculum, “The War of the 21st Century: The Cell Cycle, Cancer and Clinical Trials,” funded by the National Institutes of Health and made available this winter to teachers nationwide. She teaches the science of cancer in the context of our personal experience with the disease, embracing the fear and the determination that we can find a cure for what statistics say will kill a quarter of all Americans.
That cure might come from the mind of one of her students; inspiring the next generation of cancer researchers is one of her goals. Even more likely is her role in creating a more informed generation, one that understands the biologic processes that cause cancer and the choices we can make to reduce our risk or treat the disease — lessons we’d all do well to learn.
There’s a frog skeleton in the cupboard. Photos of scientists are pasted onto tissue boxes. And on an orange sheet of construction paper taped near the dry-erase board in Broo’s classroom are these words from Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
Broo — tall and blond with fingers blackened by the dry-erase marker in her hand — asks lots of questions of her students at St. Ursula Academy in Cincinnati, an all-girls Catholic school that educates based on the teachings of a young woman who, in the 16th century, empowered women to serve God within the context of their families and professions.
Broo also asked one question of herself: Can I teach the science of cancer to students who are unlikely to take another biology class in their lifetimes?
“Sometimes I think teachers try to give all the practical stuff to the higher-level kids,” said Broo, who before joining St. Ursula two years ago taught Advanced Placement biology in Florida. The girls who sit around the black lab tables in her biology class are future writers and teachers and some who would rather earn accounting degrees than map out chromosomes. Yet Broo believes that understanding the science of cancer — how it occurs, what factors contribute to our risk, how clinical trials are run — is imperative for every student, every person.
“I tell them that I want them to have the information because, God forbid, when this happens to you or someone you love, you can search the Internet as an informed citizen,” she said.
Plus, she thinks cancer science is exciting. You can hear it in her voice as she describes the clinical trials that are leading to novel therapies for fighting cancer. Her energy comes from a lifelong fascination with nature and the systematic way it responds to changes in our environment. But she understands the looks people give her when she tells them she teaches cancer. “It was weird for me to be so excited to teach something that is so horrible,” Broo said.
Sophomore Gracie Ehemann was not at all interested in learning about a disease that had killed so many in her family and already threatened her.
“How can you be so excited to teach something that has taken my whole family away?” she asked, naming grandparents cancer has killed. “It was very, very hard to let myself open up to this.”
Broo knew it would be, which is why she begins teaching the unit each semester by asking about cancer’s impact on her students’ lives — raising their hands, writing reflection papers and discussing cancer truths and myths with their classmates.
Ehemann reflected on a painful memory: sitting in a doctor’s office with family members, hearing words she didn’t understand, and feeling fear and confusion.
“I had no idea what was going on. It all sounded so scary to me — even the word itself sounds super scary,” she said. “I think that this course really broke everything down. … Every piece of what the doctors were saying when I was younger I know about now.
“I wish I would have known before what everything meant, because I honestly feel that if a doctor came to me to talk about cancer and all the vocabulary, I would have a much better time understanding it.”
And it’s not just children who are struggling. Broo watched the family of her mother-in-law, Jackie, battle through the last months of Jackie’s breast cancer. “I wish I would have gotten to know her better,” said Broo of Jackie, a smart and vibrant woman who died in August 2012, three months before Broo married into the family.
“I saw the toll it took on their whole family,” Broo said. “I couldn’t help them, but at least I could help other families to be able to talk about it and deal with it.”
So to start the conversation, when her students raise their hands to the question about knowing someone with cancer, Broo now raises her own — for Jackie.
As a UD student, Broo enjoyed hiking at Glen Helen in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The biology major intended to pursue her doctorate and spend her life in a laboratory. But she looked back on the work she loved best — including internships at the Cincinnati Zoo — and realized she wanted to teach.
She earned her master’s in education from Xavier University and taught in Georgia then Florida, where she won a Science Education Partnership Award. It was her chance to get back in the lab.
Broo and fellow teacher Jessica Mahoney interned in Dr. Christopher Cogle’s University of Florida clinical and research laboratory. They would don white lab coats to work with new drug combinations to combat acute myelogenous leukemia cells, a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. They were looking for the IC50 dosage — the dosage that would kill 50 percent of the cancer cells. Determining the IC50 is an early step in developing a benchmark for therapies that may eventually be tested in humans.
From their lab experience, Broo and Mahoney developed a lesson plan for their high school students in “translational medicine,” often referred to as “bench to bedside.” It is the application of traditional laboratory research — “bench” — to better the human condition and create novel treatments for diseases such as cancer — “bedside.”
Their first lesson plan focused on the genetics of cancer. But giving the students a little information on inherited cancers, like those resulting from the BRCA-1 gene, led to lots of questions. What about tanning beds? Smoking? How do environmental factors and lifestyle choices relate to the hereditary factors?
“They felt like we weren’t telling them the whole story,” Broo said. So the teachers expanded the curriculum, producing a two-week unit that incorporates traditional biology lessons and meets Next Generation Science Standards. It contains readings, videos and activities that can be adapted to students at a variety of learning levels. They presented the curriculum at the National Association of Biology Teachers conference at the end of November. It is available for free download [see "Continued Conversations" for the link].
One of the activities they added was the game “What’s My Risk?” Students pick cards to help understand that a combination of inherited and acquired risk factors could lead to cancer. Through the game, they learn why using sunscreen or exercising regularly helps reduce cancer risk, whereas heavy alcohol consumption or use of tanning beds can cause a mutation in the gene responsible for suppressing tumor growth.
“I didn’t realize there were so many steps to get cancer. I thought it just sort of happened,” said St. Ursula sophomore Annie Hamiter. Her cancer education that semester included a dose of relief from a fear she’d been carrying around for years. Doctors had told her family that her mother’s cancer diagnosis meant an increased risk for her. “With Mrs. Broo walking us through it and saying how everything has a step, and how things have to happen in your body for you to get it, I think that eased my mind. It’s not as if one day I’m going to wake up with cancer, it has to be a process that has to happen.”
It’s a process she now understands. [See "Division and mutation."]
In the United States, one in three women and one in two men will develop cancer during their lifetimes.
Broo shares that fact with her students not to scare them but to inform them. But fear — or passion or excitement — makes her students more invested learners.
“I joked with my husband that I’m emotionally manipulating them to learn science,” she said. “Anything that you can connect with on an emotional level pushes you to learn a little more than does just reading something in a textbook that doesn’t apply to you.”
It also helps when your teacher has written the textbook. On a Thursday afternoon, six of Broo’s former students sat around a table to discuss what they had learned. They gushed the most about having a teacher who not only did cancer research but also cared enough to teach it to them. Sophomore Gretchen Thomas called Broo “passionate.” Classmate Madeleine Morrissey agreed: “You need a teacher to be enthusiastic to rub off onto the students.”
Learning should be about more than just getting an A. Broo wants them to challenge and argue and question the material — and one another and her, which they did during a lesson on clinical trials.
Hamiter was angry to learn that cancer patients whose last hope may be an experimental drug would not know if they received the drug or a placebo. “I remember I kept on fighting with Mrs. Broo. Why would they let some people die for science?” Hamiter asked.
Broo insisted they read about the pros and cons of the practice and apply their own morality. For Hamiter, the question was more than academic. She struggled to find an answer, but she appreciated the space that allowed her to come to her own conclusion: “I’ve come to [believe] — it sounds awful to say — but these few people will die for the greater cause of creating a cure.”
The students took what they learned in class and carried it throughout their day, out of the classroom and into their homes. They started conversations with their parents, some for the first time having an open discussion about family health history.
Sophomore Marley Molkentin talked about her grandmother, who had died of lung cancer nearly a decade ago.
“I hadn’t thought about my grandma in awhile because I just don’t really like thinking about it,” said Molkentin, her voice soft and full of memories. “This class made me think again, and I don’t feel as sad anymore about it.”
The students said their conversations helped with closure or brought the family closer together, with the girls feeling good about being experts in a subject elder generations likely never learned in school.
They also mulled over their new knowledge and molded it into possible cancer cures. They would come to class with suggestions on ways to cut off the blood supply to cancer cells or to target chemotherapy drugs more precisely. Their approaches were simple, based on their 10th-grade science, but inventive. “They were coming up with some viable mechanisms that, if you could find a practical way to do them, could actually be some pretty great treatments for cancer,” Broo said.
She knows that few of her current students will go into science careers — those students are more likely to choose honors or AP biology — but she wants them to understand you don’t need to be a doctor or researcher to impact cancer. To demonstrate, students sat in a circle. Each girl represented one person involved in clinical trials — patient, spouse, oncologist, pharmacist, nurse, researcher, social worker, drug company executive. They tossed back and forth a ball of blue thread until it created an interlocking web of patient care.
“My favorite job was the person who would play and talk to the kids who have cancer and keep them sane through it,” said Hamiter, recounting watching a video of children with bald heads and bright eyes dancing with their nurses and singing to the song “Brave.” “I never knew there were people who did that, and I thought it was really cool.”
In the end, it’s a hopeful message that Broo wants her students to take from such a scary topic. For more than 4,000 years, humans have been making progress in treating, curing and preventing cancer.
“You have to train them to start to think a little bit, let them make mistakes and learn from them,” Broo said. “That’s one of the things I like about the cancer unit — there are lots of opportunities to internalize it and add their own spin — and hopefully it encourages them through the stories to take the mental energy or the mental effort to do that.”
That energy was evident in sophomore Monica Luebbers, who wriggled in her chair as she recounted her life’s ambition at age 10: to cure cancer. She said it was a dream that got lost in the chaos of middle school, when so many girls turn away from science.
“I think I want to get back that childish dream of trying to pursue a cure for cancer,” Luebbers said. “Mrs. Broo kept that fire alive, and maybe added some gasoline and made it grow bigger.”
Now that’s a way to wage a war.
Preparing for War: A (short) History of Cancer
The date of an Egyptian papyrus containing the first medical description of cancer by Egyptian physician Imhotep.
Hippocrates gives an account of a woman with a carcinoma of the breast. He was the first to use “carcinos” and “carcinoma” to describe the tumors.
Marie and Pierre Curie discover radium, with which doctors begin to deliver high doses of radiation to tumors. Radium also proves to be carcinogenic; Marie Curie dies of leukemia in 1934.
Senator Matthew Neely asks Congress to advertise a $5 million reward for “information leading to the arrest of human cancer.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the National Cancer Institute Act.
An accidental release of mustard gas in Bari, Italy, leads doctors to understand the chemical’s ability to kill cancers of the white blood cells, leading to chemotherapy treatments.
In his State of the Union address, President Richard Nixon asks for an appropriation of $100 million to find a cure for cancer: “Let us make a total national commitment to achieve this goal.”
First tumor suppressor gene, Rb, is isolated. It is among the first genes to be linked to familial cancer.
The first DNA microchip is developed, leading to today’s “gene chips” that are tools to develop individualized cancer treatment plans.
Gleevac, the first drug to target a specific characteristic of a cancer cell rather than attack all rapidly dividing cells, is successfully used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia.
The FDA approves the first cancer-preventing vaccine, Gardasil. It protects against the human papillomavirus, the major cause of cervical cancer.
The Cancer Genome Atlas project is researching and publishing all the possible changes in genes related to specific cancers.
Division and mutation
Cancer can form when the normal process of the cells goes awry. To illustrate this, Jennifer Broo has her students at St. Ursula Academy work in teams to draw a poster-sized diagram of the cell cycle.
Typically, the cell goes through a predictable process of duplication and division, producing cells for specific functions within the body.
But things can — and do — go wrong. DNA can replicate incorrectly, causing mutations that could become cancer. The cells have opportunities to correct these errors at checkpoints. On the cell diagram, Broo illustrates them as stoplights. At each stoplight, the cell can ask itself, are more cells needed? Are the environmental conditions right for cell growth? Is my cell DNA replicating correctly? If the answer is no, the cell can delay division, repair the mistake or kill itself (apoptosis), making room for neighboring healthy cells.
Broo teaches her sophomores that cancer development is a multistep process that requires mutations in both tumor suppressor genes and proto-oncogenes within the cell.
The function of tumor suppressor genes is to prevent mistakes that could lead to cancer. These genes slow down cell division, repair DNA mistakes and tell cells when to die. Tumor suppressor genes can be turned off because of an inherited deficiency such as BRCA-1, the gene deficiency inherited by actress Angelina Jolie, or because of a mutation that develops over a person’s lifetime.
Proto-oncogenes regulate the normal processes of a cell. They are genes that signal to the cell what function to perform and how often to divide. Mutations to proto-oncogenes can also be inherited or acquired.
Age is a risk factor; the more cells have replicated, the more chances there are for mistakes to occur.
But students learn about other risk factors that are within their control. They learn skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types and that they can prevent acquired mutations by using sunscreen or avoiding tanning beds.
And they also learn that many of the breakthroughs in cancer are likely to be in understanding ways to prevent it. This education is especially important for 15-year-olds to learn, Broo said, because they have a lifetime to reduce their chances of
Recommended by Jennifer Broo:
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
“It is a long book, but very readable, even if you haven’t had a biology class since high school.”
National Institutes of Health
“This would be one of the sites I would go to if I knew someone with a rare type of cancer or who had tried standard treatment options and wasn’t improving.”
“Oncogenes, Tumor Suppressor Genes and Cancer,” by the American Cancer Society
“This provides an easily understandable explanation of the genes involved in cancer.”
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
“Another comprehensive website with good animated tutorials.
About the author
Michelle Tedford ’94 is editor of University of Dayton Magazine. She hasn’t taken a biology class since the ninth grade.
Technology has altered our behavior. Is it also changing our values?
Her patience ended as the flight began boarding.
Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, M.H.S.H., had just changed seats in the airport concourse for the third time, desperately seeking solitude from a chatty passenger. His conversation, however, was not with her.
“I had found a quiet place to work,” remembers Zukowski, religious studies professor and director of the University of Dayton’s Institute for Pastoral Initiatives. “Then, a man talking loudly on a cell phone sat down across from me. So, I moved. He followed. I moved again. He followed again. After the third time, I asked him not to follow me, to which he replied, ‘But, I’m trying to get away from all the noise!’”
That was the beginning, she says, of her heightened awareness of what it means to be human in today’s digital civilization. “Everybody’s talking to somebody, but they’re not talking to the person in front of them,” she says. From dinners with friends interrupted by text messages to wilderness hikes punctuated by the ding of an email notification, Zukowski soon felt surrounded by a “culture of distraction.”
Technology has given us new ways to explore, communicate and connect; we already learn, interact and worship differently. We can’t escape it, but we can be aware of it — and recognize our response to a shift that’s changing more than what we do; it’s changing who we are.
A DIGITAL ODYSSEY
The feature that makes current technology so desirable is also what’s advancing our dependence on it. The telegraph, the radio and the personal computer, for instance, proved transformative for previous generations. But, at some point, their users could — even had to — walk away. Portability marked a new frontier.
“Any time new technology is introduced, it is so attractive that it captures our imagination, and we spend a lot of time with it simply because we’re enamored,” Zukowski explains. “The question is, how much time do we spend before either the admiration passes or we get totally sucked in?”
Think about the evolution of transportation. When the main mode was by foot, travelers’ moderate pace allowed them to notice the beauty of the trees, see the flowers blooming, observe the changing seasons. Now, zooming down interstates and flying through the sky, we still see autumn leaves and snowy hills, but they’re passing by rapidly, a peripheral thought instead of a focal point.
Zukowski — a former member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications — sees this trend at the Caribbean School of Catholic Communications in Trinidad, which she co-directs and is co-sponsored by UD’s Institute for Pastoral Initiatives. When the school began in 1994, students were eager to learn about new media, although most of their parishes owned none of it. Then, six years ago, students began bringing cell phones to class. A year later, the phones were already being replaced with newer versions.
“Then, they brought digital cameras. They brought laptops. They brought iPads. This is a developing country, but suddenly, our students had more technology individually than we had within the whole school,” Zukowski says.
According to a 2013 report by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union, there will soon be as many mobile-cellular subscriptions as there are people inhabiting the planet, with the figure set to pass the 7 billion mark this year — meaning that many individuals own multiple devices.
By the end of last year, 96 percent of the globe had been penetrated by the mobile market, and almost half (41 percent) of the world’s households were connected to the Internet. The report also shows that, worldwide, young people are almost twice as networked as the population as a whole.
“This digital culture is informing, forming and transforming our students, the digital natives, at quantum speed,” Zukowski says.
Call it the Rip Van Winkle effect: One day, we rolled out of bed, and it seemed the whole world changed while we slept. For today’s youth, though, it’s all they’ve known. A 2010 Nielsen study noted that 36 percent of children ages of 2 to 11 use both the Internet and television simultaneously, with children ages 8 to 10 spending about 5.5 hours each day using media — eight hours if you count additional media consumed while multitasking.
Education for these “cyberzens” — citizens of a digital civilization — is no longer contained within four walls. Today’s learning environments are without borders, as communication theorist Marshall McLuhan predicted: “We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us.” Many textbook companies have rebranded, offering “personalized learning experiences” that deliver a mix of text, videos and digital assignments.
The new learning ecology calls us to move from “learning about” something to “learning to be,” Zukowski says. “In the 20th century, the approach to education was focused on learning about things and creating stocks of knowledge that students might deploy later in life. This approach worked well in a relatively stable and slow-changing world where students could expect to use the same set of skills throughout their life. But now lifelong learning is imperative. Everything is in flux, with constant change calling for flexibility.”
Take the Caribbean school, for instance. When leaders realized the vast amount of technology students possessed, they revamped their learning model to accommodate it. Instead of creating lesson plans in advance, coordinators approached each class based on the tools students brought with them. Monday could mean learning about f-stops on DSLR cameras; Thursday might see a tutorial on mobile blog posts.
Zukowski found a similar situation happening in the U.S. As a judge for the Catholic Schools of Tomorrow Award, she realized that a third of last year’s entries indicated their schools are 100 percent paperless, with students issued tablets instead of textbooks.
Indeed, the days of solitary lecturing may be numbered.
“Students’ brain scans actually look different, and they communicate differently,” Zukowski says. “I teach my UD courses now like a TED Talk. I’ll give a presentation for 15 or 20 minutes, then ask them to discuss the ideas, then do something within their table cohort. I feel like I cover more material in a traditional lecture, but you can tell that doesn’t get through to them anymore. They zone out. And, if students are being taught differently in elementary and high school and then come to college and our environments are still traditional, that won’t work. The universities that will survive will be the ones willing to shift.”
Shauna Adams, associate professor of education and executive director of UD’s Center for Early Learning, follows the neuroscience behind our changing brains.
“Any interaction that you have, any language that you use, any sensation that you engage in, the more it’s repeated, the more it becomes part of your neuro-network,” Adams says.
Zukowski points out that adults born before 1965 came of age when the amount of knowledge was more manageable, when someone could start at the beginning of a book and read to the end. So, people growing up in the 20th century learned to read left to right, top to bottom, start to finish.
This is not how young people influenced by the Internet read, she says. They read in the form of the letter “F,” conditioned by a website layout to read across the top first, down the left side and then skim through the center. Their minds have been rewired for kaleidoscope color and constant movement. Black and white pages are yesterday’s news.
BEING MORE HUMAN
As instructors in Trinidad noticed more and more digital devices being brought to the school, they also noticed something else: Fewer students were socializing with each other after lessons ended. In previous years, students could be found “liming,” a Caribbean term for a casual, often unplanned social gathering. Now, it seemed, they were still hanging out — but it was happening virtually.
As Zukowski says, “New technology creates new opportunities, but with any change, something’s being lost. Sometimes, you lose something you wish you hadn’t.”
Like silence. In a recent BBC feature, The Noisy Planet, Dutch sonographer Floris van Manen notes that noise is like a drug, so easy to get hooked on that most of us now feel distinctly uneasy when confronted with silence. He offers this example: “The next time you go to a concert, listen carefully to what happens when a long, loud passage is followed by a quiet one: many people start coughing. The constant overexposure of our aural nerves is as addictive as using chemical stimulants.”
But listening highlights the dignity of the human person, Zukowski says, suggesting that community is essential to being and becoming more human. By treating time with other people as valuable — and not something that passes the time in between text messages and Facebook likes — you’re communicating your respect for them as individuals. Zukowski refers to a “vibration reflex syndrome”: the urge to double-check that your device is still on, and fully charged, when it’s been quiet for a few minutes.
“We’ve gotten into the habit of making the people we’re with feel like there’s always somebody or something else more important waiting to come our way,” Zukowski told the audience gathered at the University’s 2013 Catholic Education Summit. “If your cell phone is on vibrate right now, why? Why aren’t I the most important person in your life right this minute? Why do you want to be distracted by that next text message?”
The fourth annual Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey purports that rudeness in the U.S. has reached crisis proportions. The most recent study found Americans encounter incivility more than twice a day on average, and nearly half expect to experience it in the next 24 hours, prompting the report’s authors to call rude behavior the country’s “new normal.” For the first time since the survey began in 2010, the Internet and social media rose into the top ranks of perceived causes, joining politicians, youth and the media.
“It’s as simple as taking everything for granted instead of treating everything as a gift,” Zukowski says. “People are accustomed to instant gratification now. They expect instantaneous responses, which leaves little time to explore or reflect on issues in any depth.”
Adams sees the trend in her students, too. “One of the things I’ve noticed is that they have a need for immediate answers. Their ability to wait for information is very different than it used to be,” she says. A lack of access to answers is more uncomfortable for today’s learners, she says, because it activates anxiety, increasing stress hormones.
It also relates to values, says Zukowski: “Only that which is new is good and true. If it’s six months old, it’s gone. Our role and our responsibility as Catholic educators is to educate our young people to realize that they are cybercitizens and can also transform this culture. This is a culture that is shaping them, and they’re not even conscious of it.”
LIVING HOLY — AND WHOLLY
Speaking at the TEDxDayton conference in November, Chris Wire, president of Real Art Design Group, said we’re still inherently curious, asking Google around 60,000 questions a second. The problem, though, is that we’re less interested in the exploration cycle.
In his talk, “The Magic of Brainpower, Deductive Abilities and Curiosity,” he said technology is “accelerating the fading of wonderment.” With a computer in our pockets, it’s become too easy to neglect the power of our own mind, asking “Why?” less and looking for quick, data-driven answers more.
“I’m not saying reject technology,” he told the crowd. “I’m saying we need to re-script our use of it. Think for yourself. Don’t let Google be a reflex. Don’t be a passive consumer of information; become an active creator. Come up with your own ideas of how it could or should work first, then go check your answer. You just might have a brand-new, nutty, crazy, magical idea.”
To help, Zukowski encourages her students to disconnect and actively seek out “Sabbath moments” and has found that they want them, too. She recalls a conversation with Lauren Glass ’13, one of her Chaminade Scholars, a program for honors students to explore their vocation and faith.
“Quiet time, to me, doesn’t just mean removing exterior noise. It also means silencing your thoughts,” Glass says. “It’s good to get away from the gazillion screens, or people, or the stressful parts of our day — but we need to take time away from ourselves, too. By consciously existing outside of our own ego, we’re moving toward cultivating peace and selflessness in our lives.”
Sabbath time, like other periods of rest, allows us to re-create ourselves — to focus our minds and center our hearts. It’s a temporary fasting of the tangible that strengthens the spiritual.
Zukowski says, “We need to live more holy, and wholly — consciously and intentionally, carving out time to detach. These are values important to developing a spiritual life. If only our search for God was as intense and constant as our search for a Wi-Fi connection.”
If it’s increasingly hard to ignite our creative minds, cultivating a sense of religious imagination in students can be equally challenging. Mirroring changes happening in the classroom, many churches now offer multiple worship styles, maintaining a traditional service as well as a contemporary, interactive one that appeals to minds that crave more activity and stimulation.
“Imagination in the Catholic Church is strong; our churches are full of symbols and stories,” Zukowski points out. She cites author G.K. Chesterton, who said that intellectual knowledge is important but, without imagination, we lose a sense of what’s transcendent.
Such is the challenge for Catholic educators, she says. “I believe firmly that education, particularly Catholic education, can and does offer a value-added dimension in the face of a new digital civilization. We have the blessed opportunity to communicate faith that stimulates the religious imagination of our students and acknowledges the presence of a merciful, compassionate and loving God, even — especially — in a virtual culture.”
For Adams, recognizing the challenges and needs of a new generation of students is essential. “One challenge for professors today is that we are often not seen as the authority on a subject as identified by the millennials we teach,” she says. “They don’t trust information, and they look at it more collaboratively. If I tell them something, they don’t view me as the expert in early childhood; they will check it out and communicate with their friends and go to social media.
“Class today does not stop when they leave the classroom. It continues, and students process information constantly,” Adams adds. “They want to have an ongoing conversation between scheduled lectures.”
Ultimately, Zukowski sees more fulfillment — and less frustration — in the digital frontier ahead. “I strive to see the new digital landscape as a gift evoking a call and not a threat provoking fear,” Zukowski says.
Next time you’re in an airport concourse, choose your seat wisely. The world may expect to hear your phone call — but it doesn’t have to.
About the author
Audrey Starr is managing editor of UD Magazine. She finds Sabbath moments during long walks along RiverScape (aided by a pedometer iPhone app).
Campus at night is a different place.
People move with more meaning, not because they have to, but because they want to
or just be up all night. Like me.
I captured these photos between sundown and sunrise over three months this fall. Shooting in low light at night makes scenes a little spooky and a lot more alive. Generations of student photographers have captured the people change the campus change.
But the way the night works on campus stays the same — it is for the students.
The Ku Klux Klan terrorized Catholic universities in the 1920s. But somehow, we forgot. Professor William Vance Trollinger Jr. uncovers stories of great courage in a struggle to define who is an American.
The University of Dayton served as the headquarters of Catholic subversion in southwest Ohio.
That’s how the Klan saw it.
In the years between 1923 and 1926, the Dayton chapter of the Ku Klux Klan — which had at least 15,000 members — devoted much of its energies to harassing the University of Dayton by burning of crosses.
A UD student in the 1920s, Jack Brown later recalled, “it [was] their joy and delight to come out on the campus and burn a cross or two.” But the students did not passively accept the Klan’s harassment. They fought back. As a student at the campus high school later reported, on more than one occasion he and some of his peers raced out of class to chase the Klansmen away, all the while calling on the cowards to “show their faces.”
The Klan responded to such defeats by lighting crosses in Woodland Cemetery across from the University, as the cemetery fence gave the Klansmen some protection from enraged students. But even there the Klansmen were not safe. On one occasion UD football coach Harry Baujan learned that the Klan was en route. So Baujan, as he recalled a half century later, went “to the halls and called out all my big football players.” Gathering them near the cemetery, he instructed the players to wait until the Klansmen got “around that cross.” Once the cross was ablaze, he exhorted his players to “take off after them” and “tear their shirts off” or “anything else, whatever you want to do.” But the Klansmen saw them coming; Baujan lamented, “we never got near any of them,” as “they went … so fast through that cemetery.”
I think this is a great story of courage in the face of terrorism. But you will not find it in any official UD history. There are more stories of student resistance to Ku Klux Klan harassment at other Catholic universities, but most of those stories are also not included in the official histories. As a historian I have a responsibility to uncover such stories and retell them. In doing so we can better understand the struggle to define who is an American and the struggle to secure a university education — struggles which did not end with the cross burnings of the 1920s.
RESURGENCE OF THE KLAN
While for many the decade after World War I is best known as the “Roaring Twenties,” these were also the years of the anti-Communist Red Scare, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Scopes Trial, and the Ku Klux Klan. Having virtually disappeared in the late 19th century, the Klan was reorganized in Georgia in 1915 and exploded into national prominence in the early 1920s.
While the original Klan concentrated its animus against the newly freed slaves and their Republican Party supporters, this “second” Klan had an expanded list of social scapegoats that included Catholics, Jews and immigrants. Moreover, while the first Klan was based primarily in the South, this Klan had its greatest numerical strength in the Midwest and West. Indiana was the site of the Klan’s greatest achievements, but Ohio may have had more members than any state in the Union; as David Chalmers — who estimated Klan membership in Ohio as 400,000 at its peak — observed in Hooded Americanism, “there was a time during the 1920s when it seemed that mask and hood had become the official symbol of the Buckeye State.”
This certainly fit Dayton. Having recovered from a disastrous flood in 1913 that killed hundreds, in the early 1920s Dayton was a thriving industrial city of more than 150,000 residents and such going concerns as Delco and National Cash Register. Dayton’s factories attracted immigrant laborers; according to the 1920 Census, 28 percent of the populace was either foreign-born or of foreign parentage. Eighty percent of the foreign-born Daytonians were from central, eastern and southern Europe, particularly (in descending order) Germans, Hungarians, Russians, Poles, Austrians, Italians, Slavs, Greeks, Lithuanians, Czechs and Romanians. Such immigration patterns meant a strong Catholic presence in Dayton. According to the 1926 Religious Census, 35 percent of reported churchgoers were Catholic, with almost all the rest Protestant. According to Chalmers, this was the perfect setting for the Second Ku Klux Klan: a majority of native-born residents, but with a substantial minority of non-Protestant immigrants.
With at least 10 percent of the city’s population as members of the Ku Klux Klan, Dayton joined Indianapolis; Portland, Ore.; Youngstown, Ohio; Denver; and Dallas as “the hooded capitals of the nation.” And these Klansmen and Klanswomen were determined to make the Klan’s presence felt. Newspaper articles and oral interviews suggest a Dayton illumined by burning crosses in the mid-1920s.
Perhaps the biggest night of cross burning came on May 6, 1924, when the local Klan celebrated the 58th anniversary of the KKK’s founding. The Dayton Daily News reported Klansmen burned a “30-foot cross … in each of the four districts of the city,” attracting supportive crowds of “several hundred persons” to each site.
While only a small percentage of cross burnings in Dayton found their way into newspaper and Klan reports, oral interviews with Catholics who lived in the 1920s help fill out the story. One woman who was a teenager in the Klan’s peak years admitted that she is still spooked by the memory of “crosses burning almost every night” near her home. One resident of Dayton in those years recalled that the “threat of Klan violence was always there … [this was] the big threat in the Catholic mind: what [the Klan] could do to us.”
The Society of Mary, a Catholic order of brothers and priests, founded St. Mary’s School for Boys in Dayton in 1850. Renamed the University of Dayton in 1920, the school by 1923 had 280 full-time undergraduates (85 percent of whom were Catholic), 36 law students and 174 students who took night classes, not to mention the 560 students who attended the high school on campus. A contributor to a locally published KKK newspaper asserted that the University “stands like a giant fortress upon a high hill overlooking the surrounding country,” with a ROTC program that had been established for the purpose of training a Catholic army to fight religious wars against American Protestants.
On Sept. 21, 1923, the Dayton Ku Klux Klan held perhaps its largest rally, including a 3-mile march down Main Street (its sidewalks packed with cheering spectators) and a “naturalization ceremony” for prospective Klansmen at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds. Fifteen thousand Klansmen formed a ring around 7,000 kneeling initiates, while 10,000 spectators filled the stands. The ceremony included prayers, songs and the oath taken by the Klansmen-to-be affirming their “pure American nationality” (that they were white and they were Protestant). Then, celebration.
It would have been very difficult for the students and staff on the campus just down the road not to hear the cheering and singing of an estimated 32,000 white Dayton Protestants, not to feel the tremors of bombs being set off, not to see the Klan airplane (with a cross illuminated with red electric lights) circling the Fairgrounds, not to see the fireworks exploding in the sky, not to see the 100-foot burning cross.
BOMBS IN THE NIGHT
This rally seemed to embolden the Dayton Klan in its campaign against UD. The autumn of 1923 saw more cross burnings on or near University property. In early December the Klan planted a cross on campus and set it afire; as the Dayton Daily News later reported, this incident “terminated in a clash between a group of students and the alleged klansmen [sic], [who] were outnumbered by the students,” and who ran off into the night “before identification could be made.” It was an embarrassing failure for the forces of militant Protestantism and may have motivated the Klansmen to up the ante in their next attack.
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 1923, was the first day of Christmas break at the University of Dayton. By the time evening had arrived fewer than 40 students remained on campus. At 10:30 the calm was shattered. Students leaped out of their beds and ran out into the night as 12 bombs exploded throughout campus, all at some distance from University buildings. No one sustained serious injuries and the property damage was minimal; it could have been much worse, given that at least one bomb went off near campus buildings that stored guns and ammunition for the university’s ROTC program.
But what caught the eyes of the frightened students shivering in the cold was a blazing 8-foot, burlap-wrapped, oil-soaked cross on the west edge of campus. As the UD students ran toward the cross in order to tear it down, they discovered the perpetrators waiting for them. As reported by the Dayton Daily News, several hundred Klansmen had filled 40 to 50 cars, which they very slowly drove in single file “past the blazing emblem,” all the while issuing “a volley of threats” to the badly outnumbered students. But the tables soon turned. Angry at losing their sleep, hunderds of neighbors charged the hooded intruders, yelling their own “menacing threats” as they approached the line of cars in front of the blazing cross. The alarmed Klansmen hit the gas and sped off into the night. Faculty and students, along with the University vice president, “hastened to the cross and battered it to the ground.”
In the bombing’s aftermath, local residents vented their frustrations to the press, complaining that “they ha[d] made repeated remonstrances to the police in regard to the demonstrations at the university,” but to no avail. There were rumors that the police department was filled with Klansmen. The UD administration, however, had also worked to keep city authorities from responding to the disturbances; as Vice President Father Francis Kunnecke, S.M. ’06, admitted after the bombings, the University’s plan had been “to cope with the situation without seeking the aid of the police.”
But the “brazenness” of the Dec. 19 attack led Kunnecke to assert that these “demonstrations directed upon the university were unjustified and unlawful,” and thus the University would “do everything in its power to force prosecution.” When Dayton police detectives reported (after a one-day investigation) that they “were unsuccessful … in finding clews [sic] which would reveal the identity of the invaders,” President Father Bernard O’Reilly, S.M., responded by publicly expressing his frustration with the history of Klan attacks on the University, attacks that “forced the students to lose sleep, which greatly handicapped them in their studies.” He met with “city officials … and asked that immediate action be taken to discover the identity of the alleged klan [sic] members.”
The Dec. 19, 1923, incident was the high point of Ku Klux Klan harassment of the University of Dayton. There were no more bombings. But it does not appear that the Dayton Police Department ever identified the bombers, much less brought them to justice. Moreover, the Klan continued to burn crosses on and near campus, and held more large rallies at the fairgrounds. It was not until the late 1920s, when the Ohio Klan entered a precipitous decline, that the University of Dayton could begin to consider itself safe from terror administered by “100% Americans.”
In spring 1996, I was hired as an associate professor of history at the University of Dayton. That summer, Provost Father James Heft, S.M. ’66, asked me to write a brief article on some aspect of Dayton’s religious history, to be distributed to those attending an interfaith Thanksgiving celebration sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
I knew nothing about Dayton’s religious history, but I did know that the Second Ku Klux Klan had been strong in Ohio. That fall I turned my undergraduate American religious history class — which had just four students: Erin Flory Camargo ’98, John Jauch ’97, John Nally ’96 and David Yarosz ’96 — into a research seminar on religion and religious conflict in Dayton in the 1920s. The secondary literature on the Ohio Klan was minimal, and there was virtually nothing on the Dayton Klan. But their careful reading of the Dayton Daily News showed that the Klan had been very active in Dayton, and that the University of Dayton had been a target of Klan wrath. Students interviewed Marianists who had been on campus as students in the 1920s, as well as Catholic laypeople who had resided in Dayton in those years. From our two months of intensive research I wrote — with my students as secondary co-authors — a very short pamphlet, “Toward a Tolerant and Inclusive Community,” which was distributed at the interfaith celebration.
What surprised me most was that virtually no one I talked with at UD knew that the University had been the target of Ku Klux Klan harassment, much less knew that the school had been bombed in 1923. There is no mention of Klan harassment in institutional histories written in 1937 (just 14 years after the bombing) or in 2000 for the University’s 150th anniversary. And the oral history of the attacks seems not to have made it from one generation of students to the next; in response to my paper on this topic at the 2011 American Catholic Historical Association meeting, Philip Gleason ’51 commented that never in his time as a University of Dayton student (nor in the six decades since graduation) had he heard a word about the Ku Klux Klan’s attacks.
To underscore this point, I return to the story of coach Baujan and his football players chasing the Ku Klux Klan away from campus. The story becomes more dramatic when one realizes Harry Baujan’s place in University of Dayton athletic lore. Having played for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame and for the Cleveland Tigers/Indians in the nascent National Football League, Baujan came to UD in 1922 as an assistant coach, taking over as head coach in 1923. Over the next few decades he created a stellar football program; not only does the UD soccer field (which had been the football field) bear his name, but in 1990 he was posthumously inducted as a coach into the College Football Hall of Fame.
For all of Baujan’s renown, I had heard nothing about his team’s encounter with the Klan until the summer of 2011 when I visited the University archives. The archivist on duty mentioned in passing that there was an unsubstantiated rumor that UD football players had confronted Klansmen. With this rumor in mind, I discovered the story in a transcript from a 1974 oral history interview with Harry Baujan and one of his players. Five decades had likely muddied some facts, but it seems almost certain that sometime in the mid-1920s the University of Dayton football team — prompted by its legendary head coach — confronted cross-burning Klansmen and sent them running.
How and why does an institution “forget” an exciting, even heroic, story such as this? Clues go back to July 1920, when the board of trustees voted to change the name from St. Mary’s College to the University of Dayton, a decision that obscured the school’s Catholic identity while publicly linking the school to its home city. While I have not been able to locate records of the board’s deliberations, in October 1920 President Father Joseph Tetzlaff, S.M. ’05, published an article in the University of Dayton Exponent explaining the board’s decision. Tetzlaff provided three reasons for the name change, the second of which focused on how the term “university” better fit the “scope” of academic work being done at the institution.
But the first and third reasons had to do with the city itself. Tetzlaff began with the confusing assertion that making the change from St. Mary’s College to University of Dayton would “bring home to the City of Dayton” the “work of premier order accomplished” at the school “in the domain of cultural and technical education”; this statement suggested that naming the school for its home city would induce Daytonians to have pride in their local university, thus implying that city residents had not felt such pride about St. Mary’s College. Tetzlaff’s third reason for the name change was equally ambiguous: “To do honor to the City of Dayton, which has always entertained a kindly interest in its principal school. … We entertain the fondest hopes that the citizens of this progressive community will make permanent this sympathetic attitude” by providing “their further moral and material support.” If the city had truly maintained “a kindly interest” in the school since its 1850 founding, why the concern that Daytonians “make permanent” their “sympathetic attitude”?
Perhaps the most that can be said for Tetzlaff’s ambiguous explanation is that it was aspirational. But in the next few years a significant percentage of native-born Daytonians joined or supported the local Ku Klux Klan chapter, which had as one of its primary and ongoing activities a harassment campaign directed against Dayton’s “principal school.”
Still, UD’s administration stayed quiet, perhaps grasping at their “fondest hopes” for the University’s relationship with the city. Then came the December 1923 bombing. Silence was no longer an option. But in breaking the silence it is telling what the administration said. Both President O’Reilly (who had become president that year) and Vice President Kunnecke focused their comments on the threat to the ROTC arsenal on campus; because the Klan was now threatening the property of the United States, its attacks on the University must be stopped. It does not appear there was one public comment from either administrator about the Klan’s anti-Catholicism, or about how Catholics in Dayton and Dayton’s Catholic university were weary of being harassed. To the contrary, the vice president went out of his way to downplay the school’s Catholic identity, observing not only that “students of all denominations attend” the University (thus eliding the fact that 85 percent of UD undergraduates were Catholic), but that this interdenominational “student body” has made “a universal remonstrance … against the picturesque demonstrations that have been staged” on campus.
One plausible reading of the University of Dayton’s almost instantaneous institutional amnesia regarding the Ku Klux Klan harassment and attacks is that there was some sense of shame that a large portion of the community in which they resided and in whose name they had titled the University did not understand UD as truly American. The faster all of this could be forgotten, the better.
What happened and then was forgotten at the University of Dayton leads to questions about the Klan and other Catholic universities, which numbered 69 in 1926, according to the Catholic Education Association.
In Contending with Modernity: Catholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century, Philip Gleason relates the famous story of the confrontation between University of Notre Dame students and the Ku Klux Klan. As Gleason observes, in May 1924 university students “broke up a regional rally and parade in South Bend,” an attack followed two days later by a student march “on the local Klan headquarters in response to rumors that one of their number was being mistreated there.” Thanks to “the calming effect of an emotional appeal by Notre Dame president [Father] Matthew J. Walsh,” the students were “persuaded … to return to campus before the second episode got completely out of hand.”
UD and Notre Dame were surely not the only Catholic schools to encounter the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s. What do institutional histories say — or not say — about such encounters, and what does it tell us?
To answer these questions, I focused on Catholic colleges and universities in nine northern and western states where the Ku Klux Klan was particularly active in the 1920s: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. I located 23 institutional histories of 17 Catholic universities and colleges in these states. Nine of these histories make reference to Ku Klux Klan activities near or related to the university, but none of these histories make any mention of Klan activities on campus.
For example, in his history of Xavier University, Roger Fortin tells the story of 1928 Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate Myers Cooper, whose “association with St. Xavier College and its Catholic identity” — Cooper had led the fundraising campaign for Xavier’s football stadium — provided fodder for attacks by his Democratic opponent at a time when the Ku Klux Klan was organizing hate campaigns in Cincinnati.
Detroit was also a center of Klan activity in the 1920s. In his 1977 centennial history of the University of Detroit, Herman Muller relates the story that every Saturday evening in the summer of 1925 Klansmen drove by Gesu Chapel, a church the Jesuits had been “empowered to build” very close to the new campus site of the university. According to a Catholic resident who lived nearby, the University president, Father John McNichols, S.J., “call[ed] for me and my uncle, who was a deputy sheriff,” to protect the church: “My uncle had a double-barrelled shotgun and I had a pump gun. One of us stayed in front and one in back. Father Mac did not want them to burn down the church.”
The story is similar in John Stranges’ 2006 history of Niagara University, The Rainbow Never Fades. Stranges observes that a gathering of some 5,000 hooded delegates shocked “the Catholics of western New York”; Niagara students interpreted the Klansmen as a “demoralizing blemish” or, more hopefully, a “monster reptile doomed inevitably to extinction.” But in The Rainbow Never Fades — as in the histories of Xavier and Detroit — there is no reference to Klan attacks on or harassment of Niagara University.
The Ku Klux Klan receives more attention in James Covert’s history of the University of Portland, A Point of Pride, but it is only in the context of Oregon’s infamous Compulsory Education Bill. As Covert notes, the “Ku Klux Klan … was a motivating force” for this ballot initiative, which made it illegal for “any parent [or] guardian” to “fail or neglect or refuse to send [their] child to a public school,” and which was passed by Oregon voters in November 1922. Covert observes that the University of Portland (known as Columbia University until 1935) not only supported the legal campaign to have this decision ruled unconstitutional — which the Supreme Court did in 1924 — but the lead attorneys in this legal effort were “all formerly connected” with the university. But again, no reference to the Klan on campus.
In their 1953 and 2007 histories of Marquette University, both Raphael Hamilton and Thomas Jablonsky report that the local Klan chapter was prominently involved in the successful campaign to persuade the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to reject a proposal to sell a square block of county-owned property to the university for purposes of building a health complex. What’s curious here is that this only mention of the Klan’s political intervention took place in 1927, at the very time when the Milwaukee chapter of the Klan was, as David Chalmers observes, rapidly splintering into irrelevance. In the mid-1920s, when the Klan was stronger, was it harassing Marquette students?
Finally, there is Denver’s Regis University. The Klan was a dominant force in Colorado politics in the early 1920s, including the election of a Ku Klux Klan executive committeeman as state governor. In keeping with the other university histories, the two institutional histories of Regis are silent about cross burnings on campus. But in his 1955 study of Catholic education in Colorado, William Jones notes that on April 1, 1924, “a large cross was placed on the campus near Carroll Hall and ignited before the faculty or students were aware of the incident.” In his 1989 work, Colorado Catholicism, Thomas Noel also reports this incident, but he gives a different twist on the Regis response: “According to [one source], ‘the Jesuits held the boys back inside or they would have torn those Kluxers apart.’”
One more point about Regis. In April 1921, the trustees changed the college’s name from Sacred Heart to Regis. Institutional histories report that school officials were unhappy with how many schools in America were named “Sacred Heart,” and they were concerned (to quote Ronald Brockway) “about the profane use of a clearly sacred name in sports yells emanating from frenzied fans” as well as unhappiness with students corrupting the school’s initials (S.H.C.) “into the unflattering nickname of ‘the Shack.’” Interestingly, in his unpublished 1997 piece entitled “The ‘Regis’ of Regis University,” John Callahan takes a different tack, arguing that another reason for the name change was that Sacred Heart “provided a clear target for the Ku Klux Klan, which was growing quite powerful in Colorado.” A less obviously Catholic name would provide cover, and “Regis” was “chosen because John Francis Regis was a Jesuit saint who worked in the mountains. Simple as that.”
STORY OF COURAGE
The confusion as to why Sacred Heart College became Regis College in 1921 is indicative of the larger point that there is much we do not know about the Ku Klux Klan and Catholic higher education in the 1920s. We can say definitively that Notre Dame was not the only Catholic institution of higher education that had direct encounters with the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan harassed and attacked both the University of Dayton and Regis College, and it may very well have harassed and attacked other Catholic universities. Moreover, and as with Notre Dame, UD and perhaps Regis, students were not passive victims; instead, they responded aggressively to the Klan attacks, more aggressively than did their school’s administrators.
As I told students at the August 2013 academic convocation, in chasing off the Klansmen UD students were saying, “we are true Americans.” But they were saying more than this. They were also making clear that while the Klan could hold gigantic rallies two blocks away, light crosses on campus and even explode bombs, the Klan was not going to keep these students from a university education, from a University of Dayton education. It was too precious.
This gift of a university education was precious in 1923; it is precious today. Of course, and as I also said to the students at convocation, UD students today don’t have to deal with Klansmen lighting crosses and exploding bombs. But there are still obstacles to overcome. Those obstacles include the fact that we live in a culture that repeatedly tells all of us that thinking about ideas is a waste of time, that seeing the world in simple terms is better than seeing it in its complexity, that seeking beauty and justice and truth is a frivolous quest, that understanding the “other” is irrelevant.
As in 1923, then, there are challenges to securing a university education. So it behooves us here at UD to remember our history, to remember the time when — just 90 years ago — UD students tore down burning crosses and the UD football team chased the Klan away from campus. Forgetting history is never good, and in this instance the UD community has a story of determination and courage to draw upon. So we should.
William Vance Trollinger Jr. is professor of history in UD’s history and religious studies departments and director of the CORE program. He and his wife, Susan Trollinger of UD’s English department, are writing a book on young earth creationism to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press. This article is an abridged and revised version of an article that appeared in the spring 2013 issue of American Catholic Studies: “Hearing the Silence: The University of Dayton, the Ku Klux Klan, and Catholic Universities and Colleges in the 1920s.”
Pay attention. That’s what jurors promise to do. But what happens to justice when social media provides more compelling evidence?
@JurorNo1: Here we go again. #ihatejuryduty
@JurorNo2: He’s obviously guilty. Wish we could go home.
@JurorNo1: Guilty? With that @justinbieber hair? His barber even started a “Free Willy” Facebook page.
@JurorNo2: LOL #weallhatejuryduty
Imagine this Twitter exchange happening in the jury box during a trial.
Now imagine you’re the defendant and your future depends on the jurors paying attention to the evidence you believe will exonerate you.
But while you’re sitting at the defense table, palms slick with sweat, knees trembling, nervously tapping your foot like Ringo Starr on the drums because you know if you’re found guilty you’re going to prison, maybe for a very long time, the jurors are busy Tweeting and texting and updating their Facebook pages with details about you, your alleged crime, your bad haircut and the awful way your plaid pants clash with your striped shirt.
It could happen.
It has happened.
“Oh yes, it’s happened,” says University of Dayton law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister. “It’s already been done in the box, in the jury box itself, unfortunately.”
The telltale sign?
“The juror’s head was down all the time,” Hoffmeister says.
If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be.
Social media is as ubiquitous as naked photos of Anthony Weiner. No matter where you go or where you are — the movies, church, even the urinal — you can find someone texting, Tweeting, Instagraming, Tumblring, Digging, emailing, Facebooking, Amazoning, eBaying or just searching for information on Wikipedia about Miley Cyrus twerking. It has changed the way we work, the way we interact, the way we live.
The difference of course is that, mostly, someone’s life isn’t on the line.
When jurors are sworn in for duty they tacitly agree to listen to all the evidence presented to them when they swear to judge as fairly and impartially as possible. The concern is that all the distractions and, worse, the almost instantaneous ability to gather “facts” not in evidence, compromise a defendant’s ability to get a just and unbiased trial.
“I worry about that, yes definitely,” says Montgomery County [Ohio] Common Pleas Judge Timothy O’Connell ’77.
O’Connell, a 1980 graduate of the UD School of Law, leans back in a leather chair in his cluttered fourth-floor office in the Montgomery County Courthouse, his fingers tented as if in prayer, his brow furrowed as he contemplates the question of jurors going outside the boundaries of the courtroom to gather information they shouldn’t have.
“There have been cases reported where convictions have been reversed, new trials ordered and even dismissals of charges in some instances because of the use of information that wasn’t presented in the courtroom,” he says.
Attorney Jon Paul Rion ’96 remembers a civil case in Dayton that was settled in favor of his client just before closing arguments.
“We spoke to the jury afterwards, before they were discharged, and they’d read all about the case, knew what the judgments were, knew all the information,” Rion says. “It was unbelievable the amount of information they had that was not presented in the courtroom. And they openly admitted about getting the information about the case while the case was ongoing. We were shocked, one, not only by the openness but, two, the amount of information they felt they needed to do their job correctly.
“Clearly when you have information like that coming in through the back door, it’s of great concern. It’s impossible to monitor.”
Therein lies the rub. We live in an instantaneous world. We can connect to each other as well as to huge stores of information in the blink of an eye. Or more precisely, the flick of a finger. We now have the ability to check a defendant’s background, his or her prior record, and read personal comments about the person that may or may not be true. We can go to Google Earth to view crime scenes, check out lawyers, judges, witnesses and fellow jurors, “Friend” the victim, the defendant, their families and friends, and leak details to the public that are supposed to remain confidential.
“I particularly worry about jurors who can fairly easily go online … and go into the clerk’s records and find out about prior charges and prior convictions of the defendant,” O’Connell says.
Hoffmeister, who writes a blog about juries (juries.typepad.com), points to a sexual assault case in Louisville, Ky., where the victim, unhappy with the sentence of the two juveniles convicted of attacking her, went online and named them, even though the court kept their identities sealed.
“She said something to the extent of, if this is all that reporting a rape got me, then I’m mad I reported it,” Hoffmeister says of her reasoning. “There’s a lot of things going on with that particular case, such as can we keep legal proceedings quiet in the age of social media? It’s very hard. There are so many different ways you can get information out to people, courts are going to struggle with that.”
Twitter, Facebook and the like have turned ordinary citizens into what Hoffmeister calls “social media vigilantes.”
In 2009, for instance, an American couple visiting the Bahamas decided they wanted an exotic meal … of endangered iguanas. Like all good Facebookers, they felt the need to document their feast and posted pictures of themselves “cleaning the iguanas, and barbecuing the iguanas, and grilling the iguanas,” Hoffmeister says.
“Somebody saw the pictures on their Facebook page and called the authorities down in the Bahamas and these people were arrested. All because of people watching and seeing what was on somebody’s Facebook page. There’s so many different ways that social media is now impacting criminal law.”
Two years ago, Hoffmeister, who joined the UD law faculty in 2007, didn’t consider Twitter as something viable.
“I thought, 140 characters, how does this work?” he says.
Now he teaches a class on social media and the law and, in early 2014, will have a book, Social Media in the Courtroom: A New Era for Criminal Justice, published by Praeger.
Sitting in his cramped office in the lowest level of Joseph E. Keller Hall, Hoffmeister, dressed in khaki pants, a blue checked shirt and sandals, is practically giddy while talking about the impact of social media on the judicial system. Words spew from his mouth faster than the Twitterverse reaction to Ben Affleck as the Batman.
After it occured to him that almost all his jury blog posts were about the effects of social media on jurors, Hoffmeister began to look at the entire judicial system.
“How are the criminals using (social media)?” he asks. “How are the attorneys using it? How is law enforcement using it? How do judges use it? How do we get it admitted into evidence? How do we get your Facebook page where you either contradicted the statement you made earlier or you foolishly posted a picture with you standing there with the stolen property admitted against you?”
And, as the man who consulted on the jury instructions for U.S. v. Barry Bonds, he understands the fears of a defendant about getting a fair trial.
“They have a valid argument,” Hoffmeister says.
Highly publicized cases such as that of Jodi Arias, who was convicted of brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend, make it virtually impossible to sit an unbiased jury, he says.
In a story about the penalty phase of Arias’ trial, CNN quoted jury consultant Richard Gabriel as saying, “(Social media is) incredibly powerful because it is a juror interacting in their natural environment. It’s them unedited, uncensored and not trying to couch things in way that’s politically correct. So you have a candid view of the juror, and it allows you to see how they view the world and how they express themselves.”
To his point, an alternate juror allegedly ignored instructions by the judge and posted on Facebook something about Arias’ temper.
“If (Arias) does have Latina blood, it may explain a temper lol,” the juror wrote.
Jurors aren’t the only ones with smartphones, of course. Judges and lawyers can also abuse technology — and get in trouble.
Says UD law professor Denise Platfoot Lacey, “Oftentimes it’s personal social media abuses that have gotten them disciplined. For instance, a lawyer asks for a continuance because he’s got too heavy a workload and then posts on social media that they’re really hungover because they were out too late the night before.”
Lacey served for two years as the secretary to the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism for the Supreme Court of Ohio, investigating complaints against lawyers and judges. Social media now adds more challenges.
“Lawyers and judges have taken an oath to be a part of the system that will be fair and impartial, ” she says. “If there are abuses, people see this and they wonder about the officers of the court to whom we’ve entrusted the system.”
So what can be done about it? Can anything be done about it? As Hoffmeister says, the court system “changes at a glacial pace.”
One thing judges can do is change their instructions to juries — something O’Connell has done — cautioning them to not speak or use social media to communicate with anyone about the case. The Ohio State Bar Association amended its recommendations on jury instructions in 2010 to include just such a social media clause.
But, says Hoffmeister, expecting a juror to keep quiet about a case has never been practical — or realistic.
“I never believed that people went home after jury duty and didn’t talk to their wife or their husband about it,” he says. “You’re kidding yourself if you believe that. I think people always went home to their spouses, they talked about the case, and their spouses responded by saying, ‘Oh, I think he’s guilty’ or ‘not guilty.’ I just think it’s at a higher level now where you can reach out and talk to people outside your immediate vicinity.”
Judges could also confiscate any device — phone, tablet — that could connect a juror to the Internet, or consider something as drastic as sequestration.
Neither is entirely effective.
Sequestration, Hoffmeister and O’Connell agree, is expensive and an invitation for jurors to lie their way out of service.
“It turns people off,” Hoffmeister says.
Meanwhile, seizing phones and tablets could send some jurors into jittery fits.
“I’ve read some stories,” Hoffmeister says, “that say the Internet can be addictive. When you get an email it releases endorphins in your mind. It’s a pleasant sensation to you.”
For some, it’s a sensation they can’t live without. Last fall, the Behavioral Health Medical Center in Bradford, Pa., rolled out a 10-day inpatient program to help users kick their Internet habit. It may not be the same as asking a junkie to quit popping pills, but it’s an acknowledgement that some people just can’t give up their smartphones and tablets without help.
There are more extreme measures for judges, of course, such as sending jurors who violate the social media instructions to the slammer.
“That would be the last solution,” Hoffmeister says. “We in this country don’t punish like they do in England and other common law countries. In England, I’ve seen them give someone six months, which I thought was outrageous, for violating the rules. In England they hammer the jurors. In this country, we don’t hammer jurors.”
O’Connell agrees that sentencing jurors to jail time would be onerous.
“We always try to do the least invasive thing,” he says. “We’re always walking on eggshells now about making things convenient and easy and pleasant, if you will, for jurors.”
Pleasant for jurors, maybe, but not so much for defendants who must not only face the judgment of their peers but also hundreds, sometimes thousands, of anonymous “friends.”
“I know one case,” Hoffmeister says, “where a woman juror in a sexual assault trial took a Facebook poll and said, ‘OK, what do you Facebookers think I should do?’”
Scary, yes, but not the end of the world — or our justice system — says attorney Rion.
“For the most part, I believe jurors, citizens, try to be fair,” he says. “Examples to the contrary are always there, but I think you can rely on the jurors of this county, or any county, to at least try to be fair. Whether that translates into perfection, it never does, but it seems like people are well-intended in our judicial system and there is a great pride people have of it.
“Due to the extent that we have to be careful and watchful of (social media), I agree completely. But it’s not as if we’re in a situation where we need to scrap the jury system and start over. It’s still the best mechanism for justice that we could possibly have.”
Curbing the social media vigilantes
Can there ever be uniform instructions to juries about the dos and don’ts of social media? University of Dayton law professor Thaddeus Hoffmeister doesn’t think so.
“From state to state and county to county, things are different,” he says. “There are just so many jurisdictions, I don’t see how we could come up with a set of standards that everyone could use. There are some approaches you can use, but there is no surefire method.”
Among those approaches:
Better jury instructions. “Ask them if they can do without their phones for days or weeks. If they can’t, excuse them. And tell them why it’s important they don’t use social media. Juries need to know why they shouldn’t be using their phones.”
Attorneys and judges should set an example. “If the judge is using his phone and the attorneys are using their phones, jurors logically ask, ‘Why can’t I use my phone?’”
Use the juror oath to promise to hear the testimony fairly. “I do believe people take that seriously.”
Offer rewards for good behavior. “In one case, the judge promised to keep a journal for every juror with every story written about the case if they stayed off their phones.”
Allow the jurors to ask questions. “If there’s an accident scene and you’re not going to take us there, or you’re going to use legal terms I don’t understand, well, you could get away with that 20 years ago because I wasn’t going to go to the library and look up ‘reasonable doubt’ or ‘respondeat superior.’ Now, I can just ask Siri and she’ll tell me what that means. So let them ask their own questions.”
Even though the standards for social media in the judicial system can’t be consistent, he does say things need to change if courts want jurors to be fair and impartial.
“The law doesn’t want to change,” he says. “The law says we’re going to change at a glacial pace. We are in charge. The judge and the lawyers say, we’ll tell you what you need to know. No, technology is going to force you to change and, in my opinion, it’s empowering jurors.
“I think the rules of evidence, as they are, are too restrictive. I think juries should see more. I think they should see more evidence. I don’t know how much more or where to draw the line. But I think they should see more and I think they will see more because, if we don’t give it to them, they’ll find it themselves.”
Gene Williams is a freelance writer who misses the day when letters were written by hand, calls were made from phones attached to the wall and movies were never interrupted by smartphones too dumb to stay dim in a darkened theater.
He wore out three street maps — folding and refolding, finding new territory and retracing his steps — as he explored Nanjing, China. Professor Sean Wilkinson spent six weeks in fall 2012 as an artist-in-residence at Nanjing University of the Arts, but his desire to make photographs drove his explorations and discoveries. The resulting 66-piece exhibit, Here and There, Now and Then, will be on display, alongside select images from his Dayton work, in Nanjing in November. Click the image at left to view images from the exhibit.
My purpose in going to China was not to produce a documentary record of my time there, nor was it to create a flattering or a critical portrayal of that country. I sought simply to make images of what attracted my attention, just as I have done for many years in Dayton.
I have constructed a sequence of images that begins with overt references to traditional Chinese aesthetics. This influence gradually dissolves, but never completely, as the pictures come to reflect my own sensibilities more overtly. The majority of my images are rooted in modernist, Western explorations of form and abstraction, and in postmodern examinations of illusion, appropriation and irony. So there is a fusion of ideas and perceptions, the historical and the contemporary, the foreign and the familiar. I seek to immerse myself in what I find to be beautiful, intriguing, provocative, evocative and compelling. And I hope that those who encounter this work will find those qualities in my pictures and in themselves.
Photographs, at least in their traditional form, are precise coordinates on a grid of time and space. They mark a point that identifies a here and a now, which became, in the moment the picture was made, a there and a then.
While these relationships are intrinsic to every photograph, the pictures I made in Dayton and in Nanjing are particularly concerned with the meanings of here and there, and the way the locus of those terms shifts back and forth, as each set of images informs the others.
Every photograph is also about a particular then, but by being present with it, we may revive something of its original essence as now.
Photography, as an apparently neutral witness, seems to have no need for interpretation or imagination, and is thought to rule out invention. It has always, however, been a medium that serves the proclivities of fiction as readily as it provides objective data.
I make photographs entirely within the traditional framework of straightforward representation. There is a direct correspondence between what was in front of my camera and what appears in my pictures. And yet, even as they are rightly seen as statements of facts, I believe that my photographs constitute a form of fiction. I fashion my pictures from things I find into things of my own.
The practice of art, after all, is one of trans- forming the world one finds into a world one makes. Taking in the results of this process, the observer, the listener, the reader, the audience that apprehends a work of art may thus in turn become, to some degree, transformed.
Many of the photographs I made in Nanjing depict marks. They were often just remnants or fragments of marks, or they were marks that were made in an effort to cover other marks. I am intrigued by defacement and effacement, by cancellation and obliteration, by assertion and negation, and by overlapping layers of condensed histories. The walls I photographed announced and declaimed, they whispered and they shouted, and they were shouted over, muffled, and silenced; yet they continued to speak.
Most of my photographs of marks are about the gestures of making those marks as much as they are about the marks themselves. We can feel in our own hands and bodies the movements that other hands and bodies made in the making of these marks.
Perhaps one reason I was drawn to in- decipherable marks on walls in China is that they represent my experience of being cut off from language. I could not understand anything people said as they conversed with one another in the street and on the bus. I could not read a word of signs that appeared everywhere. All this communication was unintelligible to me, impenetrable yet eloquent at the same time, very much like the language of the marks that I photographed.
There is in photographs an odd conflation of intimacy and distance, the real and the surreal, and of revelation and deception. I am drawn to each of these elements as well as to their contradictions, and to the impossibility of reconciling them completely.
The blue ink of the tattoo ran in unsteady lines atop a caramel-colored foot. And Pope Francis, dressed in immaculate white, got down on his knees and kissed it.
This man understands the power of symbolism. On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis again cleansed away preconceptions, extending the ritual washing of feet — a re-enactment of Christ with his Apostles — to women and non- Catholics.
“Among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others,” he said during Mass at a Rome detention center, where he washed the feet of 12 juvenile offenders. “This is a symbol, it is a sign. Washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are too, among each other.”
There is something different about this pope, something felt by the thousands of youth who packed the Copacabana sands during World Youth Day celebrations and by a single UD student who cried on the phone to her Argentinian mother at the announcement of his papacy. This first Francis is also the first pope who is a Jesuit, a member of the Society of Jesus religious order whose mission and formation both forged the man and his approach to the papacy. His solidarity with the poor is obvious. More subtle are the ways this man — all the way from Rome — is influencing our lives with his call to holiness.
HOLY SEA CHANGE
He is rightly called the leader of one of the largest populations on the planet: 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. And he has the ear of the world, both secular and religious. When the media want a holiday message to broad- cast, they hand the pope the mic.
“And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace,” he pro- claimed this Easter, as reported by Fox News.
What Francis says, matters. And what Francis does, matters.
Nevermind that he’s unlikely to do anything too shocking.
“Those that might expect some dramatic changes on issues like gay marriage or women’s ordination are probably going to be disappointed,” says Sandra Yocum, UD associate professor of religious studies and president of the College Theology Society. Remember, she says: He was elected by 115 other men, and all of them were appointed to their positions because of shared perspectives and agreements on fundamental church teachings. Still, his humble demeanor and words of compassion some- how feel like a change, she says.
There’s a sense of a holy sea change under way. Francis is a different kind of pope in a very powerful, symbolic way.
Have you heard the one about the pope who carried his own suitcase? Or the bishop-soon-to-be-pope who rode the bus?
“If you’re a bishop and you’re spending a half an hour on a bus, that’s a half an hour you’re not spending in a parish, you’re not in the office, you’re not doing other things,” says Father Thomas Reese, S.J., senior analyst at National Catholic Reporter. “Now that adds up after awhile. But on the other hand, that has spoken to the world, that has been a witness, that has said something to the people. And maybe that’s more important than all the half hours that he would have spent doing something else.”
During World Youth Day, much to the consternation of his body- guards, Francis shook nearly every hand and kissed nearly every baby extended to him. He extended indulgences — remission for sins after absolution — to those who followed his Twitter account (@pontifex). In the Rio de Janeiro slum of Varginha, he hugged children who waved gold and white flags. It’s an energy and accessibility unseen in 40 years.
In Brazil, Francis said, “We need saints without cassocks, without veils. We need saints with jeans and tennis shoes. … We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the Internet and that listen to their iPods. We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends.”
In that same speech, he said, “We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change.” It is his focus on the poor that, in these first months, has captured the most attention.
First, there’s his name — Francis — for the saint from Assisi reputed to have emptied his purse and traded clothes with a mendicant to beg at the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica. Then there’s the papal palace, which Pope Francis eschewed for a two-room apartment in an adjoining hostel. He replaced his papal limousine with a four-door blue Ford Focus. Gone is the bling — there’s a plastic black watch on his wrist and a silver ring on his finger.
Father James Martin, S.J., author of The Jesuit Answer to Almost Every- thing, says Pope Francis is someone who knows intuitively the value of symbol in the way Jesus did.
“So, the symbolism of moving out of the apostolic palace, the symbolism of washing the feet of Muslim youth on Holy Thursday in a detention center rather than washing feet of priests at the church of Saint John Lateran … and the symbolism of something as seemingly frivolous as the Ford Focus — people understand that.
“And like Jesus, people say he speaks with authority as a result of the way he lives.”
AMONG THE POOR
Poverty makes this pope different, in more ways than one.
For most of history, popes have been elevated from diocesan priests — priests who serve in a definite geographical area, a diocese. Diocesan priests do not take a vow of poverty.
Unless they are best-selling authors like Father Andrew Greeley, diocesan priests are unlikely to become rich. But they can earn and keep a salary. Priests of orders — including Jesuits and Marianists — do not. Poverty, Chastity and obedience are unifying oaths for memo- beers of religious orders.
So is Francis popular because he’s a Jesuit? Unlikely, says Martin.
“I don’t think the Jesuits are that well known,” he says. “That might appeal to people who know the Jesuits already. I think that he is so popular because he’s so authentic, and he’s so popular because he’s living so simply.”
Instead, it’s likely Francis commits acts we consider popular because of his Jesuit formation.
“We’re all Catholic, we’re all part of the church, but there is a little difference in style, a little difference in background, accent and nuance,” says Father David Fleming, S.M., professor at UD’s campus in Bangalore, India. “He has a pastoral sense that flows from his Jesuit style.”
Not all Jesuits have the same style or priorities. They discern their individual calling through 30-day silent retreats, during which they meditate on the Gospels and Scriptures, asking for God’s mercy and committing to serve Christ in concrete ways through their lives and actions.
These Spiritual Exercises, set forth by Society of Jesus founder Ignatius Loyola, are not just about a life’s path; they are a daily challenge. “What is God calling us to do today?” Reese asks.
Francis has demonstrated his calling to live in solidarity with the poor. This requires breaks with tradition.
“You can’t just say to him [Francis], ‘but we’ve always done it this way,’” Reese says. “Being open to the Spirit means being open to surprise and to change. He’s talked about that, about how the church is a human being changing over its lifetime, and we shouldn’t be afraid of change.”
That ability to change is also found in Jesuit history. Known as the soldiers of Christ, early Jesuit priests carried Catholicism — through evangelization and education — with them throughout Europe and as far away as Japan and Brazil. Reese says priests often traveled alone and worked within their faith and local circus- stances to discern the work to which they were called. “St. Ignatius would … write these long letters to people who were way off in Germany or the Far East, and he would give them a long list of instructions, but typically he’d always end his letters with, ‘If this doesn’t make sense in the place you are in, do what makes sense.’”
So it makes sense that Francis, in his new position, would decide to swap his ride.
The pope’s humility — something highly at- tractive to his followers — also has Jesuit roots. In addition to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, Jesuits make a special vow of obedience to the pope and pledge not to seek higher office. Ignatius wanted to avoid the scourges of ambition and careerism and to prevent having his best men be picked off for service to others.
“Jesuits make a promise not to ‘strive or ambition’ for high office in the church or in the Society of Jesus,” Martin says. “We are trained not to want to desire or aim for any of those high offices. So the fact that you have someone who has made that promise and who is now in the highest office means that he will be very free about letting things go.”
By odds, you’d expect the pope to be a diocesan priest — two-thirds of the world’s priests are. Of the third in orders, the greatest number belongs to the Society of Jesus. Established in 1534, there are 19,000 Jesuits in the world to- day — a number that is growing in places like Vietnam and Latin America as it decreases in the United States and Europe.
As unlikely as a Jesuit pope was, a Marianist pope is even more unlikely. There are more than 10 times as many Jesuits as are brothers in UD’s founding order, the Society of Mary, and only a third of Marianist brothers are also priests. Says Fleming, “Marianists try to focus more on the grass roots rather than on high offices. And most Marianists are not ordained priests but are religious brothers instead.”
Being from an order makes Pope Francis different. Knowing he’s a Jesuit further refines our understanding of his papacy. But in the end, what does it matter to us or to a Midwestern university like UD? Hannah Petko-Bunney, a senior chemical engineering major, calls Francis the “people’s pope.” She says faith is very important in her family, who are nondenominational Christians.
“I think that the humility and open- ness of the new pope is refreshing,” she says. “There is a real chance for him to bring about welcome changes in the Catholic faith, bring about a new view of acceptance in faith.”
Senior electronic media major Scott Zingale says he was fascinated by the story of Francis picking up the phone to cancel his newsstand subscription. “I like the new pope because he seems down to earth,” says Zingale, who adds that he and other Jewish students on campus are interested in the pope’s words and actions. “He is a consistent authority figure that also makes time for the people that look to him for spiritual guidance.”
Francis’ model of leadership strikes at the heart of the learn, lead, serve tradition at the University of Dayton, says Yocum. By not taking on the trappings of the papacy, Pope Francis is serving as an inspiration of how those in leadership positions can conduct themselves.
While the pope can be a role model, he can also be a distraction, she says. We wait around for him to give us permission to do what we already know we are called to do. Following Francis’ example — and that of Jesuit founder Ignatius, who took first vows six years before receiving official recognition for the Jesuits from Pope Paul III — we should simply act, she says.
“That’s a significant piece, recognizing both our part in this and not waiting for the pope to do the work that we need to do here,” she says. The call to holiness is a universal call and we recognize, through him, that we are part of something much bigger, she says, “which includes Marianists and Jesuits and Benedictines and lay people and diocesan priests and people from all over the world.”
And all over the world, people are watching. And they see, in a simple act of example — of washing feet, of letting go of trappings and pre- conceptions — the promise of Francis’ young papacy.
Michelle Tedford is editor of UD Magazine. She once shared a ZIP code with Pope John Paul II when he moved to her block during World Youth Day 1993.
Still waiting for Rome
There has never been a Marianist pope. And the wait could be very long, indeed.
Father Paul Vieson, S.M. ’62, director of the Marianist Archives, tells us, “There has never been a Marianist who was created a cardinal.”
Popes are chosen from the ranks of the cardinals. Cardinals are priests appointed by the pope to help with the running of the church. Cardinals are often chosen from the ranks of bishops. Three Marianists have been appointed bishop, but none are currently serving.
Raymond Roussin, S.M., was the archbishop of Vancouver from 2004 to January 2009. Now archbishop emeritus, he is retired.
Paul Vollmar, S.M., was an auxiliary bishop of Chur, Switzerland, from 1993 to 2009. He is now retired.
Oscar Alzamora, S.M., was bishop of Tacna, Peru, from 1983 to 1991, when he became auxiliary bishop of Lima, Peru. He died in 1999.
Beat X? Really?
If you know just one thing about the Jesuits, it may be one letter: X.
Xavier University, UD’s longtime athletics rivalry (the future of which remains murky given athletic conference shifts), was founded by the Society of Jesus and is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the United States and among more than 3,700 Jesuit educational institutions throughout the world. It is named after St. Francis Xavier, the first Jesuit missionary.
Off the court, the rivalry dissipates.
“I think we’re good friends,” says Father David Fleming, S.M., professor at UD’s Ban- galore, India, campus, who had occasion to work with the future Pope Francis during the 2001 Synod of Bishops. “The fact that we live in communities and work in communities and have our training in communities brings us close together and gives us an understanding.”
The Society of Jesus is primarily comprised of priests but also brothers. It does not have women religious but does have associate groups of lay people. The Marianist family includes lay people, vowed women religious (Daughters of Mary Immaculate) and vowed men religious (Society of Mary, primarily brothers but also priests, all of whom share equally in membership and authority posts).
Orders adapt their missions to their times but always by the compass set by the founder. Therefore, the time and place in which the order was begun tells us much, Fleming says. Monastic orders, like the Benedictines of the fifth century, lived apart from society, creating community for those who participated in the work of God.
Breaking out of the cloisters were the mendicant orders, beggars who daily preached and attended to the people in the growing cities of the Middle Ages. These included St. Francis of Assisi and his followers. “Their style was appropriate to a growing population and had an urban sensibility,” Fleming says.
By the 16th century, the spread of Protestantism became the church’s primary con- corn. To its rescue came Ignatius of Loyola, a hotheaded Spanish soldier whose mystic- call experience led him to form the Society of Jesus. He is best known for the Spiritual Exercises — in which an individual’s calling is discerned through meditation and prayer, using intellect and emotion to deepen one’s relationship with God.
“It’s true that we have more than our share of Ph.D.s and intellectuals,” says Father James Martin, S.J., editor at large of America, of the Jesuits. “St. Ignatius put a great deal of emphasis on education because, when he was at the beginning of his ministerial life, he decided he couldn’t do much without an education.”
Says Father Thomas Reese, S.J., “We Jesuits have been changed dramatically by the fact that we went into higher education, which meant we had to send people off to get doctorates. … If you send people off for higher education, my God, they start thinking, and all that has an impact.”
In the 1800s, Father William Joseph Chaminade founded the Society of Mary in Bordeaux, France, to combat secularism and religious in- difference in the wake of the French Revolution. Its path of formation — first as a group of lay people, then as an order of sisters, finally adding a congregation of brothers — reflects the Marianist value in community and equality, says Sandra Yocum, UD associate professor of religious studies.
“The Society of Mary see themselves as bringing Christ in the world in the way that Mary did — the focus is on community,” she says. “They were trying to respond to another way of thinking about fraternity, equality and liberty within a more traditional Catholic context.”
Yocum says this is the root of the unique community feel we associate with UD and two other Marianist universities, St. Mary’s in San Antonio and Chaminade in Honolulu. The Marianists are known for providing primary and secondary education, first to boys in France and now to schoolchildren in 31 countries.
“There are many dimensions to being in- tellectual that include the affective as well as the rational side of our lives,” she says. Mary accepted God’s invitation, but not without asking questions and speaking her mind. When the wedding at Cana runs out of wine and Jesus tells his mother that it was not yet his hour, she instead turns to the servants and commands them, “Do whatever he tells you.”
“There are many ways to be intellectual in the Catholic Church,” she says. “Sometimes we think about it in the small tent but there is this big tent. Both the Marianists and Jesuits reflect certain aspects of Catholic intellectual tradition. Both are needed in service to the world.”
Just as the Marianists are more intellectual than they are often given credit for, the Jesuits are more affective than often thought.
Martin says Jesuits have renewed their com- fitment to community. “For us, community was supposed to be primarily apostolic in nature, in the sense that it supported the work of the ministries. But recently, our superior general stated that community is part of our miss- scion,” he says.
Other similarities? Mystical experiences led both men to found their orders. Just as Ignatius safeguarded against the evil of careerism, Chaminade said the Marianists should not be interested in the “ecclesiastical dignities.” Ignatius told his missionaries to do what the local circumstances dictated; Chaminade wrote, “New times call for new methods.”
Each new religious founder borrows from the past, says Reese. “What can I learn from the earlier people and what makes sense changing … and what’s the special charism of my group? I think Ignatius did that in the 16th century when he looked back at Francis and Dominic and Benedict. … I think later generations have picked and chosen from different orders and come up with their own ideas.
“It all goes back to Jesus and the Scriptures — we’re all united there.”
Though should we expect unity in the stands during basketball games? That would take a miracle.
When Pat Hurley ’85 graduated from the University of Dayton, anything seemed possible. Almost 30 years later, the father of three college-age children has become an unwitting participant in a radical experiment conducted by his alma mater. He’s glad that he did.
“I feel better today than I have in the last couple of years,” says Hurley, who “started too late … and fell behind” in setting aside the savings he would need to send his kids to college.
Dayton’s experiment involves shining a light on that blackest of post-secondary education’s black holes: calculating and budgeting for the real cost of a degree. Most colleges provide families of prospective students with a partial estimate of the cost to attend the first year of college only, neglecting to fully disclose expenses not covered by tuition, room and board. A ProPublica report characterized undisclosed fees as “a kind of stealth, second tuition imposed on unsuspecting families.”
Instead of continuing to be part of the problem, the University is proposing a solution. For first-year students who enrolled at UD in the fall of 2013, the University promises that there will be no hidden fees, no increase in net tuition and no extra charges for textbooks — for four years. UD officials say that by giving families an honest, four-year financial prospectus, students and parents can make informed choices and be part of the national conversation about college cost transparency, a conversation UD is propelling.
UD’s leaders believe the four-year tuition program is in accordance with the institution’s deepest values. In a world of opaque higher education costs, says Rob Durkle ’78, the University’s assistant vice president for enrollment management and market development, becoming more transparent about costs “is the right thing to do.”
CALCULATING THE REAL COST
Pat Hurley and his wife, Christine, vowed to pay for their kids’ undergraduate educations. (“If you go to graduate school,” Hurley told them, “it’s on you.”) So far, they’re making good on that promise. The couple’s oldest, Annie, graduated from the University of Dayton last spring. Their middle child, Patrick Jr., is a junior biology major this fall, which also marks the first semester of college for Margaret, the Hurleys’ youngest. “I have had two at UD for the past two years and will have two at UD for the next two years,” Hurley says. “This tuition thing is very relevant in our house.”
The Hurleys have sat together at the kitchen table and asked tough questions: How much to pay out of pocket and how much to borrow? Whether to take out loans or draw on a line of credit? How to avoid leveraging equity in the house that would put their home at risk? How to pay tuition for kids in college, save for those who are still in high school, pay down the mortgage and set aside funds for retirement?
Planning was hard, in part because the scourge of college fees is widespread. According to U.S. Department of Education data, degree- granting institutions in more than half the states reported that fees constituted “a greater portion of combined tuition and fees in the 2010-11 school year than they had in 2008-09,” ProPublica reported. At some institutions, the total cost of fees is several times the cost of tuition.
When Annie went to UD and Patrick Jr. joined her two years later, it all suddenly seemed overwhelming. “My anxiety when I had two [in college] was the reality of ‘Holy cow! We are spending a lot of money,’” Hurley says. “It’s just hard on a family budget.”
Forced into setting priorities, he and his wife decided their primary goals were to pay for the kids’ college and save for their retirements. Other financial goals became secondary concerns. “It took a year or two for me to get serious about taking a longer-term view,” he says.
Paying for post-secondary education is indeed a long-term proposition, yet most colleges and universities promote short-term thinking. Institutions provide prospective students and their families with one-year cost estimates that omit mandatory fees, sidestep annual tuition hikes and ignore the fact that financial aid awards can shrink or lose purchasing power over time.
“There are certain things that schools hold close to the vest,” Durkle says.
The poker analogy is apt. Families are able to calculate the real cost of college about as well as a card player can guess the hand of an opponent who raises the stakes. “It’s challenging when tuition goes up every year,” Hurley says. “It’s tough to budget. … At some point you just want to know.”
A survey by Human Capital Research Corp. found that 40 percent of parents with children in their first year of college at 21 private institutions were “very confident” of their ability to finance the education of those kids. In the second year of college and beyond, confidence fell by half, to 20 percent. Financial crises can ensue, forcing families to cut corners and students to go without required books. In the worst cases, a child drops out of school.
When Pat Hurley and his wife received the four-year financial aid prospectus that UD prepared for Margaret, it included much more information than the documents received two and four years earlier for the Hurley’s older children. Yet the disclosure is simple enough to fit on two pieces of paper.
Margaret’s prospectus listed all projected costs for four years. The first sheet shows net tuition cost (“sticker price” minus grants and scholarships) for years one through four. Should UD raise tuition, it will increase the value of scholarships, dollar for dollar. If state or federal aid declines, the University will cover those shortfalls, as well. (All but about 2 percent of UD’s students receive aid totaling more than $100 million in grants and scholarships.)
The prospectus listed Margaret’s on-campus housing and University meal plan costs (both of which are required of residential students in their first two years), as well as her estimated transportation and discretionary expenses. The prospectus showed no fees of the type he paid for Annie, which before this year totaled more than $2,000 annually for some students. In the interest of transparency, UD eliminated them. The orientation fee that UD charged Annie? Gone. The basic university fee? Gone. The lab and counseling center fees? All gone.
A line item listed as “books & supplies” shows entries of “$0” for four years. Margaret and other students in good standing receive $500 each semester to buy required texts at the University bookstore — eliminating what the University considers another hidden cost. Nationally, 70 percent of college students say they have gone without a required book because the cost was too high, according to a 2011 survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. At Dayton, prospective students qualify for the book stipend ($4,000 over four years) if they make an official visit to campus and file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Under a heading labeled “the real cost of your degree,” the prospectus lists Margaret’s total billable and non-billable costs for four years. Even though she is undecided about her major, her parents know how much their daughter’s bachelor’s degree will cost. The last section of the document lists customizable options for paying first-year expenses.
The University guarantees the terms of Margaret’s prospectus if she will file a FAFSA every year, maintain a 3.0 grade point average, enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester, and remain “a responsible member of the University of Dayton community.” If her GPA dips below the 3.0 threshold, the University will renew her financial aid and recommend that she meet with an academic counselor.
“We look at these students as members of our family,” says Kathy McEuen Harmon, the University’s assistant vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. “We want to give them the opportunity to be successful.”
And Patrick Jr.? While as a returning student he does not qualify for the guaranteed tuition program, his bill and that of all returning, full-time students will also include no fees.
The University has given Pat Hurley peace of mind. “I now have my college tuition plan for the next four years laid out. I know exactly what I borrowed, and I know what I have to plan for out of cash flow,” he says. “It’s a big weight off my shoulders.”
‘NICKELED AND DIMED’
In a sense, the need for Dayton’s trans- parent tuition program was 50 years in the making.
On Sept. 15, 1961, an item in the UD stub- dent newspaper, Flyer News, reported that the University had collected $25 from every student who registered for the fall semester. “This is the first time UD students have paid this type of fee,” the article noted. The purpose of the basic fee was “to pay the costs of student seer- vices … not covered previously by a special fee.”
Over the decades, add-on charges piled up like grime on a windowpane. Getting a clear view of four-year education costs became difficult. By the time Annie Hurley was on cam- pus, the University was assessing some 40,000 fees on the bills of some 10,000 students annually. “We created a system that almost masks the real cost of education,” says Sundar Kumarasamy, the University’s vice president of enrollment management and marketing. “We were part of the problem.”
Students and families began to complain. “I often felt as if I was getting ‘nickeled and dimed’ by the University of Dayton,” wrote a student who filled out the 2012 Graduation Sur- vey. With tuition rising annually, tolerance for fees had reached a breaking point. “The public outcry caught our attention,” Kumarasamy says.
He began devising a more transparent sys- tem, one that would inform families of the real cost of attending the University and make it easier for them to plan. He took inspiration from the teachings of the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the founder of the Society of Mary, which in turn founded UD. Father Chaminade encouraged “fearless creativity” and the concept of “new times, new methods,” Kumarasamy says.
The University also has a history of nimbly responding to shifting markets and conditions. In the 1950s, the Flyers men’s basketball team played in Madison Square Garden, generating publicity and creating a pipeline of students who traveled from New York and New Jersey to attend college in Ohio. When the oil crises of the early 1980s dampened enthusiasm for travel and curtailed out-of-state enrollment, UD focused attention on the local market, and enrollment of Ohio students surged. More recently, the University has enlarged its recruiting foot- print and developed new markets outside the state.
UD also was one of the first institutions of higher education to accept college applications exclusively online. It was 1999, and “people were up in arms,” Durkle says. “Now everybody is online.”
In 2012, the time seemed ripe for another bold move. Several years of record enrollments and more selective classes had put the University in the enviable position of actually needing to enroll a smaller class. If greater financial disclosure somehow resulted in UD’s enrolling even fewer students than planned in the 2013- 14 academic year, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. (Projections based on marketing models showed a potential 200-student drop.)
Following a series of executive session meetings and presentations by University President Daniel J. Curran, UD’s board of trustees adopted Kumarasamy’s vision for more transparent dis- closure and a tuition policy that held students’ net costs steady for four years. “We couldn’t lose the opportunity to do what is right,” he says.
CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME
The University of Dayton’s transparent tuition program is unique. The forces that drove its development are not.
Between 2008 and 2013, “the United States cut higher education spending by a combined 10.8 percent,” Governing magazine reported in February, citing estimates calculated by Illinois State University. During the same period, household incomes for many families were stagnant or in decline.
The gap between the cost of college and the ability of families to pay it has grown, as well. In 1976, tuition was equal to 10 percent of household income, on average. “Today it’s closer to 30 percent,” says Jonathan Robe, a research fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. UD’s emphasis on transparency and its net-tuition guarantee “is a good step,” he says. “There is an information gap.”
There is also a troublesome financial short- fall for many families. Last December, the General Accountability Office reported that fewer than 3 percent of families used a 529 plan or Coverdell Education Savings Account to save for college. “The economic downturn may have reduced income available for education savings … [at a time when] paying for college is become- in more challenging, partly because of rising tuition rates,” GAO wrote. Nationally, total student debt, estimated at more than $1 trillion, has surpassed accumulated credit card debt.
Other pressures are buffeting the higher education sector. A shrinking number of high school graduates is stoking competition among colleges and universities for a smaller pool of traditional full-time, college-age students. The decline is expected to be particularly steep in Ohio. Nor is enrollment in college a guarantee of success. Nationally, 40 percent of first-time, full-time college students do not graduate within six years. Many don’t return for the second year of college.
Durkle recalls a young woman from a blue- collar family in Chicago who enrolled at UD. “The family pulled the money together … but they couldn’t do it in year two,” he says. “The outlay was more than they had anticipated. We think this program will help to retain students. Now they’ll have the ability to see all four years.”
By providing the information families need to make sound financial decisions, UD hopes to retain more students. Requiring undergraduates to maintain good academic standing to preserve the net-tuition guarantee should further promote persistence, University leaders say.
“This is a sociological challenge of our time,” Kumarasamy says. “We need to become part of the solution rather than only identifying the problem.”
A WAY FORWARD
The experiment seems to be working.
Total number of applications for the fall semester was 6 percent higher than last year, even though UD’s sticker price for the 2013-14 academic year ($35,800) went up 5 percent. The average net tuition — per year, after scholar- ships and grants — is $19,613. The average annual bottom line as found on the four-year prospectus is $31,103.
Families are reporting, through UD’s admit- ted student survey, that the tuition plan and its explanatory materials are helpful. More than 62 percent responded that the information was “very useful” in helping them plan and budget for college; 3 percent responded it “detracted.”
Among the families who decided not to enroll at UD, 24 percent responded that the information on cost transparency enhanced their college decision.
A number of experts have endorsed UD’s transparency initiative, among them David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert who publishes FinAid.org. Clark Howard, a nationally syndicated consumer expert, said on his radio show May 20, “The University of Dayton has come up with an idea that I think is really smart.”
Not surprisingly, there have been a few bumps in the road, mostly in the area of managing expectations. In the past, engineering students paid a surcharge due to the school’s extensive lab requirements. The elimination of that fee means that tuition paid by other students will subsidize those taking labs, critics have asserted.
Some parents were taken aback this year when they received a prospectus indicating that there would be no cost for books. The old financial awards sheet listed a cost for books and an offsetting “book scholarship.” The change in presentation had no impact on the bottom line, but some families were unhappy about “losing” their book scholarship.
UD is listening to the feedback, using it to tweak the experiment and better communicate the plan that is sometimes difficult for those familiar with the old formula to understand, University officials say. It’s also giving families tools to help them compare schools offering different prospectus models (see “7 questions,” story, below).
Families approach college choice and cost in a myriad of ways based on a number of factors. Those perceptions could influence perceptions of UD’s tuition experiment. “The role of parents runs the gamut, from driving the [college selection] process to sit- ting back and allowing children to drive it,” says David Hawkins, director of public policy and research at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. “The way in which a family responds to price sensitivity … depends on socioeconomic status.”
Families of first-generation college students tend to be averse to debt. So too low- income and ethnic minority families, Hawkins says. For high-income families, debt is a way of life. “If they [UD] can offer predictability, that is a selling point,” he says.
It was for Pat Hurley. In the final analysis, sending a child to college is about more than cost. Hurley wanted his children to get a faith-based education and a quality education, and “the University of Dayton is on a short list of schools that offer both.”
“I’m a big UD fan,” says Hurley, who counts among the University’s alumni three brothers and a sister, three first cousins, and two nephews. “The fact that they’re trying to make the tuition predictable and a little more affordable shows me that they are committed to the kids they are recruiting and educating.”
John Pulley has covered higher education for more than 20 years and has led The Pulley Group, a higher ed communications agency, for the last seven. He and his wife are saving to send their boys to college.
7 questions to uncover the true cost of college
Sometimes education costs can be hidden. Other times, they are simply unconsidered. To help families understand and plan for the total cost of an undergraduate education, UD’s Rob Durkle and Kathy McEuen Harmon offer questions to ask and expenses to examine.
Questions to ask schools:
1. How much has tuition increased historically? Use those figures to estimate the cost of tuition over a four- or five-year period.
2. Does the university attach fees to certain services, such as career or personal counseling or tutoring? How about credit fees for required internships?
3. Are books and other required supplies included in the stated cost?
4. How much does it cost to participate in social activities like club sports or the Greek system? While they aren’t required for graduation, many students consider such activities an essential part of the college experience.
5. Are required courses available and plentiful? If classes fill quickly or aren’t offered on a regular basis, it might take more than four or five years to graduate, adding to the overall degree cost.
And questions to ask yourself:
6. What is my student’s annual cost of travel (driving or flying) between school to home? Such expenses should be factored into the family’s budget.
7. How can my student cut costs before enrolling? Taking AP and summer program courses for credit can reduce the number of credit hours they’ll need to take — and pay for — as an undergraduate. Achieving a solid GPA and test scores in high school will benefit their bottom line for years. “By doing those two things, students in- crease their chances of getting good scholarships,” Harmon said. “That’s the biggest thing you can do.”
–Shannon Shelton Miller
Chorus of concern
A growing chorus of concern from education experts and political leaders indicates that the issue won’t go away anytime soon:
“We must make it easier for parents and students to finance their col- lege education and understand their financial obligations,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a letter to college presidents.
“If colleges don’t start providing more comprehensive information to prospective students, the government will step in,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director and research professor of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, in an article published last fall by The Chronicle of Higher Education. “If we don’t get transparency, we’re going to have to regulate.”
“Many schools market themselves to students without explaining the real costs of attendance. Letters informing them about financial aid awards often blur the distinction between loans and grants to make the school look like a better deal than it is,” ac- cording to a New York Times editorial published last year.
“The polls are really starting to show resentment toward higher education,” said Patrick Callan, president of the Higher Education Policy Institute, in San Jose, Calif., in a story published this May by the Dayton Daily News.
No huddled masses here. Today’s immigrants and refugees are using their strength to help rebuild Dayton with help of the city’s Welcome Dayton initiative.
When Islam Shakhbandarov first stepped onto American soil, he clutched his chest and gasped for breath. The air in Atlanta that September night in 2005 was so hot and thick with moisture it had to be gulped into his lungs.
“I took one step off the plane and I almost lost my breath,” he says, his dark eyes falling out of focus as he recalls his introduction to a new life. “I thought, ‘How am I going to survive here?’”
But there was something else on the breeze that evening besides the heat and humidity. The smell of fear. After deplaning, Shakhbandarov entered the sprawling Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and found himself awash in a sea of humanity that ebbed and flowed and broke over him like waves on a beach. There were thousands of people, strangers, dressed in clothes he didn’t recognize, speaking a language he didn’t understand and casually ignoring one another and the din that enveloped them.
It was nothing like Uzbekistan, where he was born, or Russia, from where he and his family had fled.
“I got scared,” says Shakhbandarov, a soft-spoken 29-year-old with the good looks of a young Al Pacino. “I thought, ‘I’m going to get lost in all this.’”
But he didn’t, and seven years later he finds himself in Dayton, a city that has spread its arms to welcome not only him and the Ahiska Turkish-American community to which he belongs but also immigrants from all over the world.
Welcome Dayton: Immigrant Friendly City Initiative is a community program to let foreign-born people know that there is no place better to live, work and grow families than the Miami Valley area of southwest Ohio. More a set of broad guidelines than anything else, Welcome Dayton is the city’s commitment to help immigrants integrate into the community. To that end, it has hired a program manager and invested funds — perhaps as much as $200,000 over the next several years — to support local organizations in forming policies and practices to implement the plan.
Birthed and nurtured in no small measure with help from the University of Dayton, the strategy seems to be working. Though the immigrant population constitutes slightly less than 4 percent of Dayton’s total population, it’s growing and, more importantly, thriving.
You can look no further than Shakhbandarov and the Ahiska (pronounced hiss-ka) Turkish immigrants.
“It’s a community that has exploded,” says Theo Majka, a professor of sociology at UD and co-author of the Dayton Refugee Community Assessment study, which was researched and written to complement and assist the implementation of Welcome Dayton.
Majka has researched during the past 20 years the experiences of immigrants and refugees moving to the Dayton area. In the assessment study, the co-authors identified the issues that often create barriers to integration and made recommendations for how Welcome Dayton could overcome those obstacles and — like the Ahiska Turks — thrive.
When Shakhbandarov first migrated to Dayton after brief stops in Abilene, Texas, and Boise, Idaho, there were, he says, but seven or eight Ahiska Turkish families living here. Five years later, there are nearly 400.
“There are so many here now, I don’t know them all anymore,” he says with a thin smile.
Why are so many Ahiska Turks coming to Dayton, Ohio? And Ecuadorians? And Rwandans? And Congolese? And Iraqis?
For that matter, why is Dayton putting out the welcome mat when other states — notably Arizona, Alabama and Georgia — and cities are doing just the opposite?
The simple answer: economics.
Manufacturing left much of the Midwest, and with it, Dayton lost half its population since 1960. Houses that were once filled with prosperous families now stand like rows of broken teeth, empty and shuttered.
By welcoming immigrants, Dayton believes it has found a way to reverse those fortunes.
“Immigrants are extremely beneficial to the Dayton economy,” says Melissa Bertolo, program coordinator of Welcome Dayton. “They are two to three times more likely to start businesses than people born in the United States. Meanwhile, homes are being bought and revitalized in the Dayton area.”
The very presence of immigrants in Dayton, says Majka, is like a mini-economic stimulus.
“They shop, they spend, they open small businesses and create jobs,” he says.
Because the program is not yet 2 years old — the Welcome Dayton resolution was passed by the City Commission in October 2011 — there are not yet hard figures to assess the financial impact of immigrants and refugees in the community.
But there is anecdotal evidence that many neighborhoods have seen crime rates fall and property values rise.
“We bring many positive things to the community,” says Shakhbandarov, who, despite his youth, is founder and president of the Ahiska Turkish Community Center on East Fifth Street, where he works full time. “Right now, they might not see what we can do, but they see the potential of what we can do.”
It’s not all about the money. The city has a long and rich history of helping its own. Welcome Dayton is more or less an extension of that munificence.
“Why do it?” Majka asks. “It touches on our core values as a society to offer a helping hand to people in need.”
Tom Wahlrab, generally considered the father of Welcome Dayton, agrees.
“For others, it was the economic factor,” says Wahlrab, the now-retired director of the city’s human relations council. “For me, it was the human factor. If I see people suffering, how can I in my life live with that knowledge and not help?”
That suffering is real. Shakhbandarov was 6 years old when his family fled a bloody pogrom in Uzbekistan against Ahiska Turks and resettled in Russia.
“I saw many, many friends killed,” he says. “I was afraid all the time. But it was more scary to see the older people, the adults, being so afraid. You never think your father will be scared of anything. He is Superman and you don’t think he is ever scared or helpless.”
In Russia, things weren’t much better.
“We could not get jobs without paperwork, and they gave us no paperwork,” he says, holding an unlit cigarette and a lighter in his left hand that he absently taps against his thigh. “You had to pay the police, the government under the table just to work. If you didn’t, they would put you in jail for days, for months. There were segregated classes and no medical treatment. We were nothing.”
It’s those sort of stories that led City Commissioner Matt Joseph ’94 to help lead the Welcome Dayton movement.
“From a moral standpoint it was the right thing to do,” says Joseph.
For Joseph, the decision to back Welcome Dayton was “more on a personal level than a commissioner level.”
“I guess it’s whatever’s left of the Marianist philosophy after all these years,” he says about his UD education, which taught him to be committed to a common good. “Bottom line, immigrants were already here, and we needed to do something to make sure they weren’t marginalized.”
Indeed, Dayton has been resettling refugees through Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley for more than 70 years, says Dorothy Balser, manager of refugee resettlement and mission services. She estimates that about 140 refugees are settled in Dayton through the U.S. State Department each year.
“We do this and have been doing this regardless of the [Welcome Dayton] initiative,” she says.
Still, her department works in collaboration with Welcome Dayton to ensure achievement of mutual goals: self-sufficiency for immigrants and refugees as soon as possible after arrival, and community integration.
To that end, Welcome Dayton has brought together several entities — Dayton Public Schools, UD, the Dayton Metro Library, law enforcement and clergy, among others — to provide the necessary tools for integration.
“It’s about synergy,” says Wahlrab, who earned a master’s degree from UD in 1984. “It’s about connecting and talking and helping one another in ways that weren’t happening before.”
Working together to achieve a common goal is something with which Dayton is familiar. It’s the same sort of model that worked in saving lives during the 1913 flood and now ensures smooth transitions for those coming to Dayton from foreign lands.
“I think for me, I’ve always viewed the city as being open,” says Nan Whaley ’98, a city commissioner for eight years. “At the core, that’s how we grow, as an open community. … Anyone can come here and follow their dreams and make a difference.”
Whaley was raised in a little town south of Indianapolis. She says her first experience with Dayton was when she attended UD; her first experience with public office, being elected at age 29.
“[I]t says something about who we are as a community,” she says.
The message is clear. Nobody, not even those born in the U.S., can — or has to — do it alone.
“It’s easier to acclimate when others are there to help,” says Bertolo of the coordinated effort to provide assistance.
It will be easier still for the children of current immigrants.
“My grandfather was born in (Eastern European) Georgia,” says Shakhbandarov. “My father was born in Azerbaijan. I was born in Uzbekistan. My son was born in the United States.”
He knows that his 3-year-old son will never have to watch his friends butchered in a military pogrom or pay grubby-handed bureaucrats just to get a job.
This is what Welcome Dayton has to offer. Assistance. Opportunity. Freedom.
For Shakhbandarov, a life that seemed so strange and terrifying that night in Atlanta is now filled with promise.
“When I first came here and saw all the buildings and high rises and computers — I never had a computer before — and the food, lots of food, it was a very unique experience,” he says. “To open the refrigerator and it is full … many people don’t know what it is like to open the refrigerator and find it full of food and drinks.
“For the first three, six months I can’t sleep. I was always worried what will happen. How will I keep my identity? It causes a huge depression. But little by little, it gets better. Dayton is very welcoming, and now I have a vision of a life. And for my son, I have a better vision than I had for myself. What is happening here in Dayton could be a great example for others.”
He sighs, able to breathe easy.
Gene Williams is a former executive editor of the Cherry Hill, N.J., Courier-Post. In the course of reporting this story, he drank his first-ever cup of hot Turkish tea. Make that two.