Broken Places

In an act of protest and civil disobedience, Mike O’Grady, S.J., a graduate theology student and Jesuit brother, climbed a chain link fence a year ago and dropped onto the grounds of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation—formerly the School of the Americas (SOA)—where the U.S. military trains foreign soldiers. It’s believed the school’s graduates participated in the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests and two women in El Salvador. O’Grady was charged with trespassing and sentenced to three months in jail. While in prison, he wrote letters to his Jesuit brothers at the Claver Community in Cincinnati. The following are excerpts from his letters.

DAY 17
Dec. 9, 2003 | Conditions are very bad here. I still have not adjusted to the changes that I must accept to do this time well. My paperwork for jail visits and to receive a Bible keep getting lost/misplaced. I think the guards don’t want us here.

DAY 18
Dec. 10, 2003 | The diet here is beyond bad. My vegetarian disposition is not adaptable to the food, so I eat some of the meat to survive. I am in a cell block 24 hours a day without any opportunity for outside exercise. The lack of healthy food and exercise weigh on me and is affecting my moods.

There is a television going full blast 21 hours a day. Inmates fight for control of programs and so we get jumbled snippets of violent movies, violent videos, violent cartoons, violent sports. We’re kept in a constant state of agitation. The whole environment is fluorescent lit 24 hours a day. Lights go a little dimmer from 11 p.m.-2:30 a.m. but the environment is numbingly lit. With no clocks or watches it is difficult to tell time. The cell block is always cold and drafty. We wear plastic sandals, canvas pants and short sleeve pullover shirts. We’re given a blanket to keep us warm. The absolute lack of privacy is very difficult to adjust to, and television noise is impossible to avoid, making reading, writing and praying a challenge. This stuff would be overwhelming if I, God forbid, got angry or resentful.

Some of the guards here seem to enjoy acting vicious and mean. I hold my tongue—these guards are excellent teachers about how to not treat people. Most of the fellows in here are black guys waiting to be moved to state prison. What is coming clear as these days progress is that this SOA witness action is also giving me a deep, grace-filled perspective on our culture’s outsiders. I feel like I am in privileged space, sharing in a small way the same burdens our brothers carry. The word comes to mind—solidarity.

DAY 26
Dec. 18, 2003 | Each week we receive a towel/washcloth and bedding to cover our foam mattresses. Yesterday the guards gave me bedding that was shredded from top to bottom. I asked for a replacement and was told “You get what you get.” It took a little while of being angry at this and then I realized I should be grateful for whatever I get. Later one of the same guards came by and I said to him, “Sorry I got on you for these bedding things.” The fellow was genuinely shocked. An opportunity to gather anger and turn it into resentment turned into an opportunity to connect with a fellow human being.

There’s a large group in my cell block who see their time in here as a time to play the tough guy and glorify their past exploits while waiting to get back out there. There’s a much smaller cohort who are desirous of changing their behavior. One of the guys last night was saying, “I finally get it. I can’t do this stuff anymore. I get caught.” I say this only to reflect that people change only when they’re ready to change.

DAY 31
Dec. 24, 2003 | There are guys who are carrying the stresses of the confinement so heavily that they are depressed and “shut down.” I see fellows who are clearly mentally ill. I’m really being changed by this experience. I think God invites us into the broken places of our world, and if we persevere, he invites us into the broken places of our hearts. I think that’s one of the reasons I’m here.

Save the Date

Bow your heads on Dec. 5, 2004 as Xavier alumni gather with their chapters around the country for Communion Sunday.

Raise your voices, count your blessings, and while you’re at it, say a little prayer for another successful basketball season.

Reunion Union

As the luncheon for Edgecliff College alumni drew to a close during reunion weekend, 1974 graduate Michael Schooner rose, tapped on his glass and asked for everyone’s attention. He had an announcement. He said he was asked by Edgecliff alumni coordinator Joan Thompson to be a class liaison for the event, and had called a former classmate, Pam Futvoye, for help. She agreed to help, and in the process of working together the two rekindled their friendship—in a new way.

“In the recent months,” Schooner said, “we made a startling discovery that we’re really in love with each other.”

He then turned to Futvoye and in front of the entire lunch crowd asked her to marry him. She said yes. The two became friends their freshman year, but Futvoye later transferred and eventually moved to New York. They kept in touch for the past 34 years, but things didn’t progress until they started working on reunion weekend.

“It put us in a perfect position,” says Schooner. “It was like a light going on. It probably couldn’t have happened until now.”

Knowing that she was coming into town for the reunion, Schooner says, he wanted to make the visit special. “It was kismet—all these things were falling together as they’re supposed to happen,” he says. “You couldn’t have written a script better.”

Putting a Face on Xavier

Beth Bowman and her husband, Ted, were all set to help their son, Charlie, with his college search when they realized they had a daunting task in front of them. Not only were they searching for a perfect match to Charlie’s thirst for Latin and Greek languages and history, but they were struggling to find any firsthand insight about the schools they looked at. “We didn’t hear anything from parents or alumni of other schools,” says Beth. Except, she says, from one school: Xavier.

Last fall, the University created the parent and alumni recruitment team, better known as PART. The interdisciplinary organization spawned from a collaborative effort between the office of admission and the national alumni association as an effort to generate alumni and parent involvement and to help ease the burden from the University’s nine admission counselors. PART’s goal is to train parents and alumni on how to help recruit students to Xavier.

PART volunteers represent Xavier at college fairs, deliver materials to high schools, place phone calls to parents of prospective students and participate in other admission events. Those who know the University are always the best sources of advertising. Charlie Bowman—now a sophomore in the honors bachelor of arts program—is a good example.

Eager to share the positive influence they had with helping Charlie, Beth contacted Lisa Burns, PART director, to see what she and her husband could do. After receiving a list of area high schools in the Toledo, Ohio, area where they live, they agreed to host a luncheon for guidance counselors. Everyone who was invited showed up—plus some extras.

Counselors and parents approached Beth and Ted, chatting with them about the Xavier experience, eventually asking them if they worked for Xavier. “When I would say, ‘No, I’m a parent,’ they’d be blown away,” says Beth. “There was a human face attached and not just an admission viewbook. Parents enjoy talking to other parents.”

Next on the Bowman’s agenda is a send-off party in honor of the 30 newly accepted freshmen from Toledo, giving them a chance to connect with each other before heading off to the University in August. As for the Bowmans, they have never been more proud to spread the word about Xavier.

“I can unabashedly say to parents that it is a wonderful place,” says Beth.

Parents and alumni are already natural recruiters because of their interest in and enthusiasm about the University, says Burns. When combined with some training, they have the potential to become some of the most powerful and effective ambassadors for recruiting students.

Just ask Charlie Bowman.

Patriotic Pitch

In a dusty Internet tent constructed on an Army base about 60 miles north of Baghdad and several thousand miles from Cincinnati, Jeff Brown, a 1997 graduate and 1st Lt. in the Kentucky Army National Guard, checks his e-mail. He finds a new message from fellow classmate Bryan Kirby saying that he’s arranged for a special event when Brown returns home on leave in July. He’s going to throw out the first pitch at a Cincinnati Reds game.

For Brown, it’s a true honor. Brown loves the Reds. He regularly reads up on the team via the Web. Friends mail him game programs. His wife, Suzi, sends him Cracker Jacks to commemorate Opening Day. His mother clips and mails daily sports columns. And when he’s on a convoy, he always travels with a ball he got at batting practice before a Reds game.

Knowing his dedication to the team, Kirby connected with Cincinnati Enquirer sports columnist Paul Daugherty and made a pitch to the Reds: Let Brown throw out the first pitch at a Reds game on July 4. It doesn’t get more patriotic than that. The Reds agreed, so Brown found himself on the pitcher’s mound prior to the game against the Cleveland Indians making the ceremonial first pitch. It was a strike—at least with Brown.

“It’s nice to share that moment with my wife and my best friend and our city,” Brown says.

Membership Privileges

There are a number of benefits to alumni status besides discounted basketball tickets and networking opportunities, one being the chance to take classes without ever having to sweat through a final again. At this year’s reunion weekend, 272 members signed up for the “classes without quizzes” seminars, which ranged in topics from tai chi and Jesuit history to wine-tasting and gender communication.

The entire weekend celebration honored Xavier and Edgecliff classes with years that ended in a 4 or a 9, with approximately 1,000 alumni coming back to campus for the celebration. Events throughout the weekend included a golf scramble, lectures and cocktail parties. Those attending also had the option of staying at one of the on-campus residence halls in order to help relive their college days—this time without the resident assistant hounding them to keep it down.

Look Mom, No Wires

Xavier students can now go online without going indoors. This summer, the University installed wireless technology in the academic mall, making that area the fourth wireless computer environment on campus, along with the Gallagher Student Center, the Cohen Center and the McDonald Library.

Wireless technology allows users to access the University’s computer network or the Internet without plugging into a wall jack. JoAnne Young, associate vice president for library services, says going wireless reflects the changing face of education.

“It allows us to respond to the way students learn today,” she says. “They’re much more flexible. They’re not used to sitting in a fixed, rigid environment.”

And this isn’t the end, says Dorinda Giles, associate vice president for information systems and services: “There are plans to expand our capabilities every year.”

Home at Last

Xavier alumni will soon have a place to call their own. This summer, the University began remodeling a portion of the Alumni Center to create a reception and banquet facility for visiting graduates and dignitaries. The area’s creation came as a result of a gift from 1968 graduate Phil Gasiewicz and his wife, 1974 graduate Mary-Beth (Surkamp) Gasiewicz.

Plans include a lobby and welcome area, a conference room, bar and banquet hall that seats 200 people. The banquet hall is outfitted with the latest technology for use in seminars, workshops, meetings and informal business events, as well as alumni gatherings.

“Phil’s vision is to make a positive impact upon the University,” says Fred Sansone, director for planned giving for the Eastern region. “His donation represents a very structured and well-thought-out planned gift that will help with all alumni who come through.”

The idea of a central gathering place for Xavier alumni has been a long-term goal, says Joe Ventura, executive director for the national alumni association. “This has been in talks for many years and now, finally, it’s like a dream come true,” he says.

The Gasiewicz family also set up a scholarship and donated funds for the Brueggeman center for dialogue.

Helping Your Child Succeed at Xavier

You may be wondering how your student can achieve academic success. You, as the parent, are an important resource for your child’s support and success. Therefore, it is important for you to know what tools are available on campus to help your student succeed.

At Xavier, the learning assistance center (LAC) is committed to helping your child succeed and provides several services with this goal in mind. If your child needs extra help developing study skills, such as note taking, time management or test taking strategies, the LAC has certified peer tutors who offer individual and group workshops to help your student improve these skills.If your child needs assistance understanding the content of a course, he or she can sign up for an appointment for one-on-one tutoring through the LAC.

For students who need occasional help in a class, the LAC offers drop-in tutoring in economics, French, Spanish, music theory, philosophy and others. No appointment is necessary; the student needs only to stop by during the designated time.

The LAC also organizes study groups in general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and college physics. These groups are facilitated by a trained peer tutor, meet once a week and foster community learning.

The LAC also provides disability services. If your child has a disability, please remind him or her to send documentation to the LAC. At the beginning of each semester, your student needs to fill out the form to request faculty letters. If you think your child may have a learning disability, encourage him or her to make an appointment with Ann Dinan, the director of the LAC. She can refer students to psychological services for testing.

Coaching is the most recent service that has been added to our office. Coaching is an ongoing partnership between the coach and the student to help the student set and achieve goals in his or her academic live. Both the director and assistant director can provide this service. We invite your child to visit our office to discuss his or her academic needs. We can then suggest which services would best fit these needs. Our services are free to Xavier students, and we are here to help at all levels in their academic careers.

Learning Assistance Center 3800 Victory Parkway Cincinnati, Ohio 45207-2612 Phone 513 745-3214 Fax 513 745-3387

Office hours: M-F 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

(Stephanie Mosier is the assistant director of the learning assistance center.)

Easy Rider

“I hung up my long distance spurs today,” says Fred Evans, an hour after walking through the door of his Sunapee, N.H., home. In June, the 73-year-old Evans rode his 2001 Harley-Davidson motorcycle more than 3,000 miles to Xavier to attend reunion weekend. The 1954 graduate left on May 28 and arrived in Cincinnati on June 2 after a short stop in Washington, D.C., to visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

“Not everybody gets to go to their reunion, but hardly anyone arrives on a Harley,” Evans says.

This isn’t the first time Evans has made such an arduous journey. A graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Evans often attends its reunions via his hog as well. As a Xavier student, he regularly rode a motorcycle to school and went on long-distance rides with fellow classmate Don Hills. In fact, he’s ridden through every U.S. state—minus Utah and Hawaii—and six Canadian provinces.

During the alumni brunch, the University inducted Evans and his classmates into the half-century club and presented them with a “doctor of durability” award. And Evans certainly earned it.