Saturday, October 25, 2008

Midnight Madness

Barbara Roti, Kacey Hahn, and Megan Vacarro are happy about their dancing success!

The 2008-2009 Dance Team

Mylene Esparza and Valerie Martyka smile before their performance.

Every year, Midnight Madness has been a huge hit at Dominican. Here are some pictures of the Dominican Dance Team taken Wednesday night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Dominican Diverse?

It's been almost four years since I graduated high school, but in the interim during my years at Dominican, I've realized something about diversity.

I don't think that Dominican will ever compare to the type of atmosphere I had in high school - even in grade school and junior high as well. By atmosphere I mean a diverse population of students. Maybe I was just lucky that the area I lived in was a "melting pot" (overused term, I know) of different cultures and ethnicities. Prior to attending Dominican, I felt that I was exposed to many more different cultures than I have ever been exposed to in college. From grade school through high school, I thought it was completely normal to have friends from very different backgrounds i.e. Filipino, Cambodian, Sri Lankan, Indian, Korean.

But either way, I recall something my older sister (who went to the same high school I went to) said about her undergraduate years at another university. She noticed that going from a diverse high school to a university was a culture shock for her. Reverse culture shock in the way you wouldn't expect. She was miffed that her university (a medium-sized university in Indiana, not a small one) was less diverse than her high school. The student population was majority white, German and Lutheran. Like me, she had good friends from different backgrounds - i.e. Thai, Jewish. She used to joke that she herself being Polish and Catholic - she was a minority at the university.

Now with my own college experience, I've kept my sister's words in mind as I notice the difference in diversity at Dominican. I don't feel the diversity as much as I did in high school. College, especially a liberal arts university, is all about broadening your horizons, right? I personally think that my high school experience interacting with different people was a richer experience than Dominican has ever offered. At my high school, we had a huge 'International Day' held annually on a Saturday. It was a great showing of all the different ethnic clubs (more ethnic clubs than I've seen at DU) at our school through food and entertainment. I miss that.

Now I know that Dominican is a small private Catholic university, so it may not have the same resources and opportunity to have the type of diversity I've grown up with. And judging by my sister's experience, it's like this at other universities as well. The high school I went to was a public one with 2,200 total students. I never thought I would ever decide to go to a Catholic university - it just worked out that way. The whole idea was weird to me since I've had a good experience with the public school system. The thought of going to the underfunded Catholic school (for grade school and junior high) associated with my church was not a desirable option.

And while in high school, everyone mixed with each other, I don't see that as the case at Dominican. Just at dinner tonight, I noticed that people of similar ethnicities/race sat with each other. I remember some of my friends at DU commenting a while back that there is more separation of people with different ethnicities. Black students sit together, Latino students as well as white students...all at separate tables. There are exceptions of course, but from my observation, the problem is still there. I've noticed that I have more white friends at Dominican than I ever had in high school. While I have other friends who are not white, I just have to say that my experience with diversity at my high school is incomparable to anything I've learned diversity-wise at DU. Like my sister, I feel like I was hit with 'reverse culture shock' too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cause of Fire Alarm: Popcorn?

Today at about 3:00 p.m. the fire alarm went off in Lewis causing the entire building to evacuate. At the time I was in the technology center and very upset I had to leave my work behind, but I was curious as to the cause. Our building was obviously not burning down, so what caused the alarm to sound?

I spoke with security guard William Dezynski this evening regarding the cause of the evacuation. He said he had not been on duty during the time of the alarm, but had heard it was caused by someone in the admissions office burning popcorn.

This would not surprise me if this was the true cause, as this has occurred earlier in the year in the residence halls. So, I ask everyone in the Dominican community to please not overcook your popcorn...

Dominican Video Updates

The University has once again updated its videos page, adding two noteworthy clips.

The first clip is a 3-minute clip from the recent lecture by social activist Dolores Huerta, recorded on October 7. The second clip is something we haven't yet seen on the videos page: a news story. This clip, one-and-a-half-minute preview clip for the upcoming "Mr. Dominican Pageant," features a brief interview with Fashion Club president Shelley Hintmann describing the event as well as portions of a few contestants' auditions. The video clip straddles the balance between actually informing you of the event and giving you a preview of the hilarity that will probably ensue at the "Mr. Dominican Pageant."

This could be the start of something big, as I hinted at in a previous post. More video features like this one could be a great thing. Not only would these little videos arouse more interest in future events, but they're also fun and informative. Instead of students, faculty and staff reading the same old boring announcements on myDU or the Dominican homepage, they can actually get a good look at events and occurrences on campus.

I'm personally looking forward to seeing more of what the folks in the A/V branch of the OMC come up with here. we go!

Photograph by Jamie Zwijack

Here we are...the first generation Dominican University bloggers! (Joe and Charlotte are not pictured) All nine students in Tracy Schmidt's journalism class are now on a new, mega-blog: DominiNET.

Co-Editor in Chief of DU's very own, The STAR, Tom Blackwell, came up with the name. It's catchy, and I like it. With time, Dominican students will be familiar with the term. Instead of covering a specific beat, as we've done so far this semester, we're expanding our horizons by writing on all topics relevant to the DU community.

This class has been AMAZING this semester. We've learned so much about the always-changing world of journalism many of us will follow on our career path. Dominican is taking one step in the right direction for journalism students! I hope many will frequent our collaborative blog not only as a source for DU news coverage, but also for entertainment. We have some very colorful, talented writers all on the same blog.

I think many will follow us (AND comment) on our journey as DU's FIRST GENERATION BLOGGERS!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Midnight Madness

Since I was a Dominican cheerleader for my freshmen and sophomore year, I performed at Midnight Madness every year. This is my first year not performing because Dominican does not have a cheerleading squad anymore.

Midnight Madness promotes school spirit, but in my opinion but it is more stressful than fun. My freshmen year I had to leave night class early in order to make my call time. Last year our squad had to learn a cheer quickly since our tryouts were in mid September. The pep rally is early in the year, so it is hard putting together a cheer or a dance with new members. For cheerleaders, perfecting stunts, a dance and cheer could take months. It is difficult to put a routine like that together in only a month and a half. Also, the rally goes until 1 a.m. I know that if Midnight Madness was on a Friday night there would be less of a turn out, but it was always hard for me waking up for my classes the next day.

However, Wednesday night is the 10th Annual Midnight Madness pep rally. Both the mens and womens basketball team will have a scrimage to kick off the new season.

Think Pink

In my family, my Aunt Angie and my cousin Kim are both breast cancer survivors. Since breast cancer has affected my family, I am very passionate about supporting different causes to find a cure. There is nothing more devestating than seeing someone you love sick and weak. It is also hard to know that many other women are suffering from the same sickness. According to the American Cancer Society, about 182,460 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. And about 40,480 women will die from the disease this year. However, there are now about two-and-a-half million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

On October 22, 2008 Dominican invites you to wear pink to honor those who are fighting or recovering from breast cancer. It is also to support further research and awareness. Information and give-aways will be available at the Lewis Alcove on 10/22 from 10am – 2pm.

Let's wear pink to support a great cause!

IMPACT....."A Life Changing Experience"

Those were the words of Dean of Students Trudi Goggin on the 24-hour self defense class, IMPACT. Students are encouraged to enroll in the class to learn the necessary tools to escape a possible offender. Rob Babcok and Diana Costanzo will be teaching the class this weekend, Oct. 25 and Oct. 26, and next weekend, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. The self-denfense instruction will take place in the rec room of the residence hall commons. Goggin said every woman should enroll in the class. Goggin herself attended a session a few years back and said it was a "life-changing experience."

Interested? Good, I think all women should enroll in self-defense. I did a self-defense class a couple years back and learned a lot. So if you're considering the class you should keep in mind a minor detail. This detail is the fact that the course costs $800!!!!

That's almost a Chanel bag! BUT would a Chanel bag save your life in a threatening situation? It could...but I don't think the average attacker would want the bag. So, yea, as a former self-defense enrollee, I suggest that all chicks should take some kind of self-defense class.

Common Ground

As more and more people accept the presence of homosexuals in our society, more gay rights groups pop up. IIn recent weeks, there's been a ton of coverage on whether or not Chicago will have a gay high school. The story even made national news when CNN's story made headlines. So how does Common Ground feel about this? There are several GLBT staff/faculty members at DU. Are they involved with Common Ground? I will be following this up with an interview with Common Gound's Vicki Whooper. Stay tuned!!

Photo source:

Controversy Last Night?

Last night Stephen Kinzer was part of a panel of journalists leading a discussion about the nature of reporting. I heard in my political science class that some of the journalists (not Kinzer)made some controversial statements about reporting and the government. I would REALLY like to know more about what was said. If anybody was there and knows more about it, please let me know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The same five students

Now, this is all my personal opinion, but I've noticed that the majority of clubs and organizations at Dominican typically include the same five or six students. It seems that these groups on campus are not very diverse at all. But why is that? And what could be done to diversify the organizations so it's not just a group of friends or the same five kids who are involved with everything?
Is this even a problem? Maybe not, but it's something to think about.
If you have any insight or opinions on this issue, please comment.

Do you think Dominican is Haunted?

I recently spoke to CSA member Tim Keenan about the annual CSA Haunted Tours event, which will be occurring Oct. 30 in the Social Hall. Apparently this is a huge event. Last year they had about 250 attendees, which would explain their desperate need for volunteers as Diana questions below. Keenan mentioned that many of the attendees in the past have been families from the outside community because it is a free event.

Keenan also expressed concern about this year's event though because of an article published in today's issue of the Dominican Star entitled "Dominican Ghosts Stories: Fact or Fiction." The story claims that Dominican ghost stories are false and quotes a few sister's. Keenan does not seem to agree with this because he claims his group has been doing research on the ghosts stories for a few years now. He says they have conducted interviews with many faculty and staff who believe Dominican really is haunted. This is where their event begins because they tell the staff and faculty stories during the CSA Haunted tours.

So will the Dominican Star story effect CSA's Haunted tours? Probably not, but the question of Dominican being truly haunted still lingers. It is up to you to decide?

Do you attend Mass?

Every Sunday I do my best to attend the 7 p.m. Mass in the Chapel and it always makes me upset to see the lack of participation. The same students, professors, and sisters are at Mass every week. We are a Catholic community and a large part of our community has grown up around the church, gone to Catholic grade schools, high schools, etc. If we have this background, then why do we never fill the chapel on a Sunday night?

It is such a convenient time for students, especially residents, to come to Mass. I can understand if commuters do not go because they are most likely at home, but I even go in sweatpants sometimes, as it is better to go looking like a bum, then not go at all.

Are we all just worn out with Mass? Are that many people not Catholic? Are we cramming in our homework, which we put off the entire weekend, during this time? Are we just too lazy to walk up to the second floor of Lewis on a Sunday night? Please enlighten me.

DU Email Hypocrisy

One thing that had always been stressed here at Dominican is to check your DU email. Check it, check it, check it. Anything from class work to important campus news could be sent to that email address so CHECK IT!

Why then, may I ask, do half the faculty and staff NOT use their Dominican email address? This may just be a silly pet peeve of mine,
but I hate it when professors refuse to use their DU address and insist that you send messages to their Yahoo account instead. I understand that when you may have 12 different addresses it can be hard to check them all, but IT offers ways to forward all email to a different account, so it shouldn't be that big of deal.

I just feel that because students can always find anyone at DU email (through the universal address book on Outlook) and it's the way all us students are required to communicate, faculty and staff should be required to use their DU email.
Photo taken from myDU.

Always entertaining...

I attended last Wednesday's Resident Student Association (RSA) general meeting, which continued to prove to me that it's one of the most entertaining/fun meetings to attend. It may be due to there being a large pool of residents who can attend the meetings (versus other clubs that are more specialized in interest), that's true, but the energy at the 10 PM meetings is always at pretty high levels. I've been to RSA meetings in years' past, and I don't recall it being as lively as the recent meetings. I do notice that the same group of residents attend the meetings, which helps the liveliness of the meetings considering the group's overall energy.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because of something that happened at last week's meeting. One of the residents who usually attends meetings came to the meeting pretending to be a foreign student looking for where the RSA meeting would be held. He adopted a ridiculous foreign accent (it did its job at making others laugh) and commented on the reception he got from members at the meeting.

An RA who was sitting near him calmly explained to him that he was in the right place. I was sitting in my seat and wondering what was the point of this acting stint. Either way, I have to admit it was pretty funny. It was a good way to get people energetic in the evening when they're probably worn out after a day of classes and homework.

Later on in the meeting, the resident who did the 'foreign student' act asked the others at the meeting about their opinion on his performance. No one could deny it was memorable, though I would love to find out if it was planned. Did the RSA executive board have prior knowledge that it would happen?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh. I guess she just went home?

In regard to missing ELS student Trang Nguyen, Jessica MacKinnon, director of public relations, emailed the Dominican community last Friday afternoon with another update: The River Forest Police Department confirmed that Ms. Nguyen flew from Chicago back home to Vietnam on October 8, the day before she was reported missing. "This announcement confirms the police department’s original contention that Ms. Nguyen left her dorm room at Concordia University on October 7 of her own accord," the email read.

We may not find out the reasons why, but it's curious how one can pack up, withdraw from school and fly to the other side of the world with NOBODY being aware of this. Even Nguyen's aunt, who told the press her niece was spotted at the 7-11 on October 7, said she believed the student was still in the United States.

I would imagine that there was somebody out there that knew she was leaving, but no one has spoken up. Sure, she could have packed her belongings in silence, booked a flight, hopped the CTA Blue Line to O'Hare, and flown to Vietnam of her own accord without telling anyone, but for someone who speaks little English and is new in this country, that's pretty bold. Her instructors didn't know? She didn't say goodbye to any friends or acquaintances? Or her family? I wonder what they have to say about all this! Especially since it was reported that she last told her friends that she "needed to get something from her dorm room."

Anyhow: it's possible, but not so plausible, and still quite strange to me.

Green Academics

I, like everyone else in consumerism America, have been swept up in the green movement. Yipee for the environment, sustainability, and chalk free classrooms?

In my latest read The Green Book, there are countless ways to go green in nearly every aspect of life, including school. There are little tips and tricks that can save a school some money and save the earth some green. One of the things that was brought up was using white boards instead of chalk in classrooms. The elimination of chalk dust can aggravate asthma and reduce the amount of chemicals in the air that are used to clean classrooms.

Another tip was to use online resources as much as possible to cut down on the amount of paper that is used for handouts and textbooks. With the internet being so accessible now, this seems like a small task that could make a big difference.

Dominican prides itself in being a "green" university, but what else can still be done? I know that many of my professors have started putting material on Blackboard or myDU in order to save some paper. Parmer Hall is a certified "green building" because of the steps the school has taken to reduce waste in its construction and upkeep.

What else has the school done in order to do its part in the environemnt? What types of things can still be improved?

Image courtesy of

Amazing Possibilities Campaign Wraps Up

Dominican's "Amazing Possibilities" financial campaign has finally finished collecting money. The outcome? A cool $53.5 million, according to a headline on the Dominican homepage. So where is all this money going?

According to the campaign brochure, available in .pdf format here, the initial goal of the campaign was to raise $50 million for four different items: facilities, endowment, program support and the annual fund. The purpose of this fund raising was to expand Dominican's enrollment to potentially include 4,000 students by 2012. The plan designates certain amounts to be granted to each item on the list described above: $33.5 million going to facilities, $5.5 million to the endowment, $5 million to program support and $6 million to the annual fund.

So now that the campaign is complete, where does the extra money go? Is the university still paying for the new buildings, or is this extra money going to be put towards academics?

According to the brochure, a good chunk of the initial $50 million raised that doesn't go toward Parmer Hall, the parking garage and the Early Childhood Education Facility should be going toward academics. Program support and the endowment include academic programs and financial aid money for students, in addition to other issues that require money, such as student retention and recruitment.

Coming off such a successful campaign, I'm anxious to see what this extra financial boost brings to Dominican. We've already seen the incredible new buildings. With all that extra money, hopefully students will see more great academic programs and unique educational opportunities. That is, if our new buildings are fully paid for.

More information:
Amazing Possibilities Campaign Video
Amazing Possibilities Website