Buried Treasures

Xavier, like most universities, has its fair share of fine art.

Statuary graces spaces and places indoors and out. Paintings large, small, old and new adorn the walls of most buildings and halls. But buried behind and below the common grounds are a gold mine of archives and artifacts—letters filed away, books tucked onto shelves and mysterious technological devices squirreled away in forgotten corners—that tell another story about the University.

Xavier magazine went looking for those items and that story. We looked in the library, searched the storerooms and even uncovered a few treasures hidden in plain sight. In some cases, we helped the University discover valuables it didn’t realize it had.

Then we contacted Wes Cowen, owner of Cowen Auctions in Cincinnati and featured appraiser on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow,” to take a look at our findings. He sent over Graydon Sikes, head of the auction house’s paintings and prints department.

Here’s what we found—and how it appraised.

[lightbox link=”http://youtu.be/o-Z7BeWDeIk”]archivedivevideo1[/lightbox]

 

The Paper Trail

Before texts there was telegrams. And before email, letters. Now imagine the flow of correspondence to a University president. From Elet to Graham, everyone from papal representatives to commanders-in-chief sought the attention of Xavier’s highest office. Some of the more notable include (below) John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy and John Phillip Sousa.

 

Booked

Of course the University has books. Lots of them, in fact. But not all books at the University are created equal. Some are aged to extremes. Some have a signature attraction. None of them can be read on your Kindle. And all are worth more than the cover price.

In the collection are: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (circa 1936); Tales Told of Shem and Shaun by James Joyce (circa 1929); The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (circa 1928); 20 Hours 40 minutes by Amelia Earhart (circa 1928); The Nuremberg Chronicle (circa 1500); and An Antiphonary (circa 1300).

 

Medals of Honor

Today, graduating students receive honors cords and different colored sashes to designate their area of study. Back in the day, after students learned their Latin verbs and polished their philosophy, they were given medals at commencement to honor their achievement. The medals, below were awarded to Albert Poetker, upon commencement in 1909 for among other disciplines, poetry, philosophy and “The Creation and its Purpose.” Poetker’s purpose was indeed lofty as he went on to become a Jesuit, was President of the University of Detroit and later taught physics at Xavier. His sister donated the metals in 1980, in conjunction with Xavier’s sesquicentennial celebration.

 

A Furnished History

Who knew you could experience a stately moment of Edgecliff’s past just by taking a seat?Originally located in Emery Hall, these magnificent pieces now elevate the A.B. Cohen Center administrative office to museum status. A 1976 brochure detailing Emery Hall describes the Louis XVI-style desk, end tables and as “some of the estate’s most valuable and authentic pieces of furniture.”

 

 

The Flotsam of Science

Research is often not a tidy process—it leaves a trail. Not just in new knowledge, but a procession of devices and instruments that have outlived their usefulness and are often discarded or hidden away in store rooms and closets.

Psychology left to its own devices

This is a test.  What does the term “Experimental psychology” conjure up in your mind? If your answer has anything to do with a person (or “volunteer”) strapped to a device, you are correct, both from Hollywood’s and academia’s historical perspective. These days at Xavier, a professional career path in psychology usually leads students more toward clinical psychology, which involves the assessment and therapy of patients. But back in the early 1960’s, with the rise of Alter Hall and “modern” education, there was a bit of mania for device-driven experimental psychology. Which usually meant someone strapped into something. What kind of things? Here are a few:

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/memorydrum1.jpg”]memorydrum1[/lightbox]• The Memory Drum: The Memory Drum was used to teach students the basics of scientific research. A series of meaningful words, nonsense syllables or grouped letters were shown to the subjects, with the number of items and amount of time allotted to view the information varied. The results recorded. Just to make things more interesting, another task or some sort of distraction could be thrown in to see if it created any kind of interference with short-term recall.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/automaticmirrortrace.jpg”]_automaticmirrortrace[/lightbox]• Automatic Mirror Trace: The Mirror Trace was a way of studying perceptual motor behaviors—the coordination between what one sees and how one reacts to it (seeing a star shape, for instance, and then tracing the star shape). What added to the difficulty was having the object reflected in a mirror, which required a much higher level of hand-eye coordination.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/biotelemetry.jpg”]biotelemetry[/lightbox]• Biotelemetry Receiver: A child of the 1970s, biofeedback entered the academic mainstream when equipment allowed for the measurement of brainwaves, heart function, skin temperature and more. These responses were measured while the psychological study took place.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/constantcurrentshocker.jpg”]constantcurrentshocker[/lightbox]• Constant Current Shocker: In 1961, Stanley Milgram, professor of psychology at Yale University began a series of experiments to measure the willingness of participants to follow instructions that may conflict with their own conscience. The tricky bit was that participants, who were asked to administer the “shocks” to other people, had no knowledge that there were actually no shocks being delivered. Rather, the subjects who were supposed to be receiving the shocks were actually trained actors skilled at howling in pain. What researches found was that participants who were administering the shocks experienced tremendous guilt and remorse—but gave the shocks anyway. These experiments were replicated all over the world, including quite probably at Xavier, until the experiment was deemed unethical by the American Psychological Association. Even today, with books like Behind the Shock Machine: The Untold Story of the Notorious Milgram Psychology Experiments published in 2013, the world of experimental psychology is still attempting to measure the effects of those experiments.

 

The Uncivil Fight for Rights

By the time Ken Blackwell returned from Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in Atlanta in early April 1968, the worst of the riots in Cincinnati were over.

Two people died during the melee on April 8, and the National Guard was called in to restore order. Still, anger hung in the air like a combustible fog and it would only take a small spark to reignite the whole thing. 

Blackwell was a sophomore at Xavier at the time, as well as a volunteer for a local community agency. Realizing the delicacy of the situation, he chose to skip class and go into the streets to keep an eye on both protesters and police. As he was standing at his post, a nationally broadcast speech by activist Stokely Carmichael provided that spark and a surge of protesters washed down Rockdale Avenue toward Blackwell. Before he could react, he was swept along by the crowd and taken to jail with the mob.

Watch: 1995 Urban League conversation with Civil Rights leaders

[lightbox link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eNzdnDt_Vg&feature=youtu.be”]civilrightsvideo[/lightbox] As he was being released from the holding pen, Blackwell marveled at the irony of the moment, of how just two days earlier he was marching peacefully behind the casket of the assassinated leader of the Civil Rights Movement. Xavier administrators had sent him and three other black students to the funeral as a delegation from Xavier. It was a significant and meaningful gesture by the University that it was recognizing race relations. The Civil Rights Movement had been underway for a decade, mostly fought in the hot cities of the South, but had found its way even onto the mostly white Xavier campus. Though hardly a hotbed of radicalism, Xavier had its share of activist students who wanted to shake things up—even in the early days of the movement. They formed student groups, held protests, joined community boycotts, wrote editorials. They stuck their necks out, took risks, challenged authority. Some even went to jail.

The legacy left at Xavier by the Civil Rights movement Civil Rights at Xavier today

Most of these students finished their degrees. Some did not. But in the end, their actions on and off campus succeeded in making Xavier a better, more open place for the students who came after them. Today, as the nation celebrates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, their legacy still reverberates. Here are a few of their stories.

[divider] • • • [/divider]

FREEDOM RIDER

On a hot Friday in July 1961, young Bill Hansen boards a Greyhound bus with seven other riders and settles in for the three-hour trip to Jackson, Miss. They sit in the back—whites and blacks together.

Hansen, a white Xavier student whose civil rights activism in Cincinnati has drawn the attention of the national leaders of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, is scared to death. The group has brought him to Montgomery, Ala., to join the throngs of Freedom Riders who are riding buses across the South to converge on Jackson, where they are routinely rounded up and jailed in their efforts to integrate the stations.Map 02 08/11

Images of a burning bus and riders being beaten keep playing in his head as they get closer to Jackson. There are a few others on the bus. Hansen learns later they’re undercover police assigned to protect them. And for good reason. As they pull into Meridian, Miss., he sees a mob of people packed into the town square. He stays in his seat, studying the angry faces through the window. 

At 6:00 p.m., the bus pulls into Jackson. This time, there are no crowds. The driver lets the Freedom Riders off first. They file quietly into the whites-only waiting area. Twice, police tell them to move. When they refuse, they’re arrested and jailed. At trial, they’re convicted in minutes. When they refuse to pay their fines, they’re taken by paddy wagon to the state prison at Parchman Farm. Hansen’s sentence is six months.

Hansen was no stranger to jail. The first time he was arrested was when he and his roommate, a Xavier student from the Bahamas, went to look at a place in an upscale neighborhood of white homeowners near campus. When the landlord saw the two students standing there—one white, one black—he quickly tried to shut the door. But Hansen was ready. He stuck his foot in the door and refused to budge. The landlord called the police and the students were arrested. Two hours later, they were out.hansenjail

They didn’t get the apartment, but the experience made its mark on Hansen. “It was the beginning of a long career,” he says. 

Hansen’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement began when he came to Xavier in 1957 and met two people who would change his life—William Mason, a fellow student who was black, and David F. McCarthy, S.J., a progressively minded theology professor. 

Because of them, Hansen began to ask questions. “My social focus began to change, and I began to think about race,” he says, including the racist views of his family’s all-white community. McCarthy helped them start the Xavier Interracial Council—the first race-oriented group on campus. The most important thing it accomplished was to convince the dean of students to post a list of approved landlords who would rent to blacks.

Hansen soon became involved with the local NAACP and CORE. They picketed Woolworth’s and boycotted Coca Cola. In May 1961, they took on Coney Island amusement park, where the pool remained whites-only. Hansen and Mason joined the protest group that refused to leave when the blacks were refused admission. Three times, they were arrested, and within a few weeks, the park opened the pool to blacks. They had won, but by then, Hansen had become a Freedom Rider and was soon heading to Parchman Farm, one of the most notoriously brutal prisons in the South.

At Parchman, blacks and whites are segregated in separate cells. When Hansen complains, he’s placed in isolation with no bed. For four days, he sleeps on the concrete floor. When he’s let out, he complains again and lands in isolation for three more weeks. Finally, after 43 days, he’s freed.

Hansen was one of more than 300 Freedom Riders to serve time at Parchman. But by then he was broke, so he withdrew from Xavier and went to work as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). He was beaten several times, including by a jail guard in Albany, Ga., suffering a broken jaw, broken ribs and broken teeth. But he kept working for the cause, bill_hansen_todayspending most of the next 10 years in Little Rock, Ark., where his marriage to a black woman caused a stir and threats of arrest. Eventually Hansen—and the movement—ran out of steam. He left for Europe, earned a master’s at the University of Maryland and studied toward a doctorate at Boston University. He’s been teaching at the American University of Nigeria since 2005.

Looking back, Hansen feels indebted to Xavier. It’s where he met the first black people he’d ever known and was awakened to the injustice that stirred his activism. He believes he made a difference. “I wish I had finished at Xavier, but at the same time, I don’t regret doing what I did,” Hansen says. “It was something that needed to be done.”

[divider] • • • [/divider]

FREEDOM SUMMER

Shortly after his last exam, Joe Meissner hops on a Greyhound bus and heads for Birmingham, Ala. It’s May 1963, and the city is the hot spot for lunch counter sit-ins and demonstrations.

He’s been debating the events with other students at Marion Hall, Xavier’s off-campus residence for its brightest honors students. Sheriff Bull Connor has been unleashing dogs and fire hoses on black people who want to order burgers and milkshakes with the rest of Birmingham’s residents, and Meissner wants to see it firsthand. meissnerrotcHe takes a room at the local YMCA and stays a week, interviewing people and writing about what he learns. He goes to meetings at the headquarters of the movement’s new leader, Martin Luther King Jr., takes pictures, attends church rallies. When King delivers a speech urging the people not to take to the streets again, Meissner is there, in the back row of the church, the lone white face in the crowd. [lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/meissnerrotc.jpg”][/lightbox] “Dr. King was saying we would not break our pledges, and I was thinking, boy he’s got a hard speech to give. It’s not what people were expecting. They wanted to go back out and he was saying, no, we would get [city officials] to honor their agreements,” Meissner says.

A week later, he returns to campus in time to give the valedictorian speech, in which he talks about witnessing King’s theory of passive resistance. “I included what I saw going on in Birmingham,” he says. “I came back and told people about it.”

meissneryoungMeissner reveled in the political and philosophical debates in Marion Hall. They stoked his interest in the social issues of the day—Korea, Communism, civil rights—but the issues of segregation and poverty left him deeply troubled. As president of the student body, he pushed for change. By the time he’s ready to graduate in May 1963 with an Honors Bachelor of Arts, he is primed to do battle, or at least to do good.

He returns to Alabama the next summer after a year at Harvard Law School. This time, he’s in Mobile with a group of law students working on voter registration and desegregation issues. The work is performed against a backdrop of violent resistance to change throughout the South. The Freedom Riders of 1961 ended their campaign to desegregate the bus system, and now during Freedom Summer of 1964, the Civil Rights Movement is focused on helping blacks exercise their right to vote.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/meissneryoung.jpg”][/lightbox]One of the most violent events of the movement—the murders of three young civil rights workers—takes place that June in Mississippi, one state over. On July 2, 1964, shortly after their disappearance, President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into law.

Page-4-Joe-and-Cong.-LewisDespite the tensions, young people like Meissner throw themselves into the tedious work of going door to door, to homes and shops, churches and offices, to register voters and monitor desegregation efforts in both Alabama and Mississippi. He is assigned the job of testing public places to see if they’re following integration laws. 

Meissner finds himself on a golf course one day with three black men. They play a round without incident. But he can’t stop wondering what has happened to the three civil rights workers who are still missing. In August, he learns their bodies are discovered buried in an earthen dam. 

Meissner is so affected by the experience that he devotes his life to working for the poor as a Legal Aid attorney in Cleveland. “I wanted to be a lawyer because I had ideas of making the world better,” he says. 

[divider] • • • [/divider]

TOUGALOO

Just before Christmas in 1963, Rudolph Hasl and a handful of Xavier students climb into his car and head south toward Jackson, Miss. They’re going to get an education about the South and the state of race relations at Tougaloo Southern Christian College.

The city is at the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi, and the historically black college is the movement’s focal point in Jackson.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/HASL_young.jpg”]HASL_young[/lightbox]Hasl is a senior Honors Bachelor of Arts student. He’s also president of the Student Council and is focused on waking up the student body to the social and racial issues fracturing the South. At the end of the 700-mile drive through Kentucky and Tennessee—before the days of interstate highways—is a college brimming with activity and civil rights leaders.

Tougaloo students, including English major Jerry Ward, open their dorm rooms to the Xavier students. Hasl and his colleagues spend a week interviewing students and community activists about the Civil Rights Movement. Hasl pulls out his tape recorder and records all the interviews—including one he gets with Ross Barnett, the Mississippi governor renowned for his racist rants and defense of segregation.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/newswire2-150×150.jpg”]newswire2[/lightbox]“It was a highly volatile time in Jackson,” Hasl says. “It was right before the three Civil Rights workers were killed. He’s the same governor who sent the Freedom Riders to Parchman Farm.”

Then Hasl invites Barnett to speak at Xavier. Barnett accepts. “I thought, What better way to reveal the attitude that was reflected in his policies than to bring him to Xavier and let him reveal what was motivating him?”

But Xavier administrators don’t quite see it that way. By the time school starts back up in January 1964, Dean Patrick Ratterman, S.J., notifies Hasl that Barnett won’t be allowed to address the student body because, as he tells The Xavier News, his position on segregation is un-American, anti-Christian and “basically immoral.”

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/jerry-ward-at-levee.jpg”]jerry-ward-at-levee[/lightbox]The campus erupts when word gets out. The Xavier News reports that about 200 students carrying signs march down University Drive and give speeches decrying the decision. A red swastika is painted on the guard shack and an explosive device is tossed on Ratterman’s lawn. 

“They were unwilling to have the University exposed to the attitudes expressed by Ross Barnett,” Hasl says. “He was a very controversial figure and was very much a focal point for anti-integration efforts.”[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/hasltoday-300×200.jpg”]hasltoday[/lightbox]

A month later, Tougaloo sends Ward and three other Tougaloo students to Xavier. Ward, who became an English professor at Tougaloo, finds most Xavier students are apathetic to the racial issues of the day. But Hasl and his group of council members are the exception. They were curious enough and courageous enough to go into the volatile South, where black students had to think twice before leaving campus. 

“You knew these were people making tremendous sacrifices so you could have the rights you were being denied,” Ward says.

[divider] • • • [/divider]

EVICTION NOTICE

The eviction notice arrived about three weeks after Alvin Gay moved into the Cleneay Avenue house with roommate and running mate Gene Beaupre. He’s disappointed but not surprised.

Together, the two of them succeeded in being the first mixed-race ticket to ever win election as president and vice president of Xavier’s student body. After three years of working personally for racial equality on Xavier’s campus, Gay thought they would be beyond this kind of racism.

Gay arrived at Xavier in 1965 from Dayton, Ohio, one of a handful of blacks on campus. He stepped immediately into leadership positions, getting elected president of his freshman and sophomore classes, organizing forums to discuss issues of race and joining groups like the Organization for Interracial Awareness. He helped found the Afro American Student Association and worked as a summer intern in Washington, D.C., for Congressman John Gilligan. He put himself out there to try to change things and felt a level of success when he and Beaupre were elected.

GAY_YBBut he also suffered for it, drawing attention from some people who just weren’t ready for the kind of change he was advocating. One white student in particular became his nemesis, blurting racist expletives at him at every turn, threatening him on the intramural football field, goading him to fight. When King was killed in April 1968, the student, a member of the football team, confronted Gay in the elevator. “I’m glad they killed that n—er,” he said, leaning into Gay’s face.

As usual, Gay ignored the taunt and walked away. So when their landlord wanted them out because he learned that Gay was black, Gay paid little attention. He was used to such treatment, though he thought that Cincinnati—and Xavier—should be past all that. Beaupre was not. He picked up the phone and dialed the landlord. 

“You don’t really want to do that,” said Beaupre, now Xavier’s director for government relations. 

“Why not?” 

“Because he’s the vice president of the student body, and if you do, you’ll have 50 students protesting on your front lawn.”

The issue never came up again. But the racism that dogged Gay all his life was never far off. Then, in the spring of his senior year at Xavier, something unusual happened. Gay went to Dana’s with friends and saw across the bar the student who so mindlessly harassed him since he set foot on campus. The student got up and headed his way. Gay told his friends there was no way he could avoid the confrontation, not this time. He expected the worst and steeled himself for a fight.

The student came up to the bar and, instead of taking a punch at Gay, said, “You know, we tried to hurt you on the football field and you hurt us instead. I admire that. But I still hate n–gers.” He then walked away.

Gay was incredulous. For that young man, so full of hate, to come up and show respect to him, albeit while still clinging to his racist identity, took a lot of courage. For Gay, it was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless. Gay often felt caught between two worlds at Xavier, finding it difficult to be an effective black leader of a nearly all-white student body. “I was between a rock and a hard place, not being black enough and being too black for whites,” he says. “I was in no-man’s land.”

AlvinGay-copyGay went to Santa Clara University that winter for a student government conference and fell in love with everything—the weather, the people, the progressive environment, the absence of racism. He transferred in the spring, grew an afro and a beard and became a spokesman for race issues at Santa Clara. He graduated in 1970. 

But he holds no bitterness for Xavier, where he counted many students and faculty as friends. “If I made a difference at Xavier, it would have been with the people I knew or with that racist in an odd kind of way. For him to do that in the bar was amazing. Maybe I helped people understand we put our shoes on the same way, and there are cultural differences, but we’re smart people and we’re dumb people just like you.” 

[divider] • • • [/divider]

THE POWER OF THE PEN

Deep in his heart, Mike Henson knew he was through with marching band. He wanted to become involved in something more important, something that would make life better for people.

He saw the social changes happening all around him—marches, protests, black people being arrested—and it triggered in him a sense of social justice. He wanted to help.

Coming in from the farm fields of Sidney, Ohio, just north of Dayton, Henson was wowed by what was, for him, the big city of Cincinnati. As he drove by the Taft Theater while visiting a friend at Xavier, he recognized the name on the marquee—Bob Dylan—and decided right then that he had to go to Xavier.

“I thought it was pronounced ‘Die-lan’,” he says with a laugh. hansen

But standing at practice on Xavier’s football field early in his freshman year, he realized he wanted to be a writer. So he traded in his trombone for a job as a reporter on the student newspaper, The Xavier News, and over the next four years, worked his way through every writing and editing job available.

“It was very exciting,” he says. “The injustices were so glaring and the heroes so engaging that it was just the place to be.”

Henson made sure the paper promoted the social issues of the day, particularly the civil rights movement. His editorials excoriated white students to get more involved in the issues, and he made sure the paper covered all related events and speakers, beginning in 1966 with the young civil rights activist Julian Bond, then a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

Bill Hansen, the former Xavier student and Freedom Rider, accompanied Bond to Xavier and gave Henson a short interview. Henson wrote about Bond’s speech, a lengthy recounting of the movement up to that time.

But he was more inspired by Bill Hansen’s indignation over Xavier’s handling of its appearance at the segregated Sugar Bowl basketball tournament in 1962. It triggered his first editorial in which he said the University must be “aware and respectful of all people.”

“I was so inspired because I wanted to live a heroic life and that’s what heroes were doing at the time—standing up. This was something I wanted to be a part of,” he says.

His big chance came when activists in Cincinnati staged a boycott of Hudepohl, claiming the beer company discriminated against blacks. So Henson pulled an ad the beer company had paid for.

“I just didn’t run it,” he says. “Our faculty advisor was in charge of selling ads, and he was apoplectic.”

After graduating with an English degree in 1969, Henson earned a master’s in English at the University of Chicago and spent a lifetime serving the Appalachian community in Cincinnati as a longtime employee of the Urban Appalachian Council and working as a drug and alcohol counselor. He still finds time to play music and write and has published three novels and four collections of poems.

“I focused on Appalachian migrants living in poverty and being discriminated against in in ways similar to blacks,” he says. “That’s the channel I’ve gone down.” [divider] • • • [/divider]

ANDY WARHOL AND XAVIER

Jack Goger is asleep in his dorm room when he’s awakened by a knock on the door. The dean of men bursts in. “Mr. Goger,” he says. “You’re going to have tell these people they can’t come.”

“These people” are pop artist and film-maker Andy Warhol and his entourage. Goger knows it’s too late to stop them. He tells the dean they’re already on a plane from New York. But Patrick Nally says, “You can’t have them, not after that film.”

It’s April 1968, and Goger, who’s in charge of the speaker’s bureau for student government, has arranged for Warhol to show two of his underground films and appear in person. Administrators had previewed one of the films, which involved homosexual themes and nudity, and want to cancel the event. Who knows what the other film contains? But Warhol is on his way.

Watch: Video of the Warhol protest on campus

warhol videoThe dean insists on riding with Goger to meet Warhol at the airport and tell him he can’t show the film. The message doesn’t sit too well with Warhol or his assistant, Paul Morrissey, and superstar actress Viva. They aren’t shy about letting the dean know how inconvenienced they are coming all this way for nothing.

By the time they get to Xavier, the situation has gotten worse. News of the cancelation has gotten around campus, and the Students for a Democratic Society are picketing. One of the professors persuades the administration to let the film be shown and he will moderate the discussion afterward.

It turns out to be an anti-war film that takes on the American government. Afterward, students challenge the film as anti-American, but Warhol and Morrissey reply that they only make the films to make money. It isn’t much of a debate.

“It was standing-room only,” Goger says. “Everyone turned out to see the great debate and at the end of the day, it was a great experience for everyone. It was a wonderful night. I’ll never forget it.” goger

Goger, who graduated in 1969, was one of Al Gay’s best friends at Xavier and understood the importance of the movement. Now a judge in Atlanta, Goger tried to shake things up by bringing in activists who weren’t quite as controversial but had more to do with civil rights than Warhol. In 1969, he landed James Farmer, a founding leader of CORE, which had spearheaded the Freedom Riders in 1961, and Dick Gregory, the comedian-turned-activist. Both drew large crowds.

“Farmer was the most articulate guy I’d ever heard,” Goger says. “He had an edge to him.”

But Gregory’s speech “was absolutely electrifying. He was really into the war thing. What did resonate at Xavier was the war more so than civil rights. Those issues sort of blended together. Both involved government and oppressive policies and society issues. It was all there.”

A New Post

When the Pope speaks, people listen. So in June 2013, when meeting with the writers of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica at the Vatican, the Pontiff said, “Your proper place is on the frontiers. This is the place of Jesuits.”

For 2003 grad Eric Sundrup, S.J., those words were music to his ears. He had already helped stake a Jesuit claim in perhaps the most untamed frontier on Earth—the Internet.

It was while studying philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago, that Sundrup and fellow Jesuits-in-training Paddy Gilger and Sam Sawyer also pondered a project familiar to many 21st-century hipsters—launching a website. Their topic: Life in the Jesuit world. Content? Not a problem. It was as easy as recruiting other Jesuits in formation to write about their lives, aspirations, observations and challenges.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/jespost.jpg”]jespost[/lightbox]Thus were the humble beginnings of The Jesuit Post, or TJP, a digital digest where phrases like cura personalis and “Come at Me, Bro!” mingle. It’s that mix of the sacred and urbane that has made TJP a cyber hit with Jesuits, the spiritually curious and website trolls looking for a good fight. It’s a reasonable question to ask why Sundrup—who serves as editor-in-chief as well as author of posts like “Come at Me, Bro! (Why I Love The Crazies)”—would bother to wander into cyberspace when there’s a real world in need of ministering. Surprisingly, his rationale springs from the very origins of the Jesuits themselves.

“The idea of The Jesuit Post evolved from one of the exercises of St. Ignatius—‘We should speak as one friend speaks to another,’” Sundrup says. “We weren’t seeing young Jesuits speaking to each other like if we had just called them up or posting on Facebook.”

Every Jesuit experiences his own unique calling and takes a different path into the order, and Sundrup’s path was not without its own interesting digressions. Originally enrolled at Xavier in the Honors Bachelor of Arts program, Sundrup’s aim was squarely pre-med. Then he got bit by the Jesuit bug and almost dropped out—not to join the circus, but the Jesuits.

“I wanted to do what a Jesuit did, but I didn’t know why they do what they do.”

He stuck it out, graduated in 2003 and joined the Society of Jesus. In May 2014, Sundrup was fully ordained and assigned to the Newman Center at the University of Michigan. He continued to see the value of social media as a space and a way of talking about all things religion.

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/sundrup2.jpg”]sundrup2[/lightbox]“We looked around and said ‘How do we communicate with our friends?’ and for us, that was social media,” he says. “In social media, most stuff spreads through a friend of a friend. We were hoping to tap into the very impressive alumni network of the Jesuit schools.”

And tap they did. As preparation for the “soft launch” of the site, they sent a preview link to Jim Martin, S.J., himself a social media guru, author and “resident chaplain” of Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report.”

“He launched us inadvertently,” Sundrup says.

Martin shared it on Facebook and Twitter, and while the founders expected to have perhaps 15 or 20 views at its launch, they had 20,000 visitors in the first two days. Martin still serves as chief cheerleader.

The Jesuit Post is one of the best things that U.S. Jesuits have done in the last 10 years,” Martin says. “And what’s most amazing is that it was done by young Jesuits—men still in formation.”

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/jespostbook.jpg”]jespostbook[/lightbox]“As a brother, Jim has been phenomenal,” says Sundrup. “I can call him anytime, he can give great advice. He’s always helping out in any way he can.”

Which is a good thing, since TJP is only picking up momentum. It has a new book anthology available at Amazon, and discussions are taking place in providences like Rome and Spain on how to replicate the TJP model.


TJP
video coups include coverage of the 2013 World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, the Pope’s first visit to the Americas since his election and rare access to interview Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus—which is where Sundrup learned that pushing the envelope occasionally leads to the painful paper cut.

“I got a bit of furrowed brow from Father General when I said ‘Join the Jesuits and See the World,’” he says. “But we joked about it later in our video interview.”

[lightbox link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM-rAzKeW9c&list=PLgYkRQF4sGG3BUXtyHGPdE0lewK9WdSLw”][/lightbox]Two years after its launch, founders Sundrup, Sawyer and Gilger are passing the Post on to a new editorial staff of Jesuits in formation. They’ll leave behind “a crazy idea from a bunch of Jesuit scholastics” that today attracts more than 100,000 page views per month. Sundrup also leaves behind no regrets.

“We founded The Jesuit Post to talk to our friends who had one foot in institutional religion and one foot out. One of the side effects to that has been it’s helping to train Jesuits to be more effective at talking to young adults in a wide variety of places that allows us to provide content they can share with a person that’s even further on the fringe than we can reach.”

And online, no worries. The fringe will find you.

A Classic Change: Moving the Music Series in a New Direction

Almost from birth, Polina Bespalko’s life has been filled with music. Records of the great classicists spun endlessly in her Russian home. Her first piano lessons began before she was old enough to count all 88 keys.

“My mother was my first teacher,” she says.

Showing ability beyond her age, she was plucked from the population at the tender age of 6 and enrolled in the Central Music School and later the elite Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow to hone her burgeoning skills.

It worked. She emerged as a significant talent on the world’s stage, and proof of her prowess is as close as the nearest Internet browser. A quick search of YouTube rewards you with her virtuosic performances at the 2008 New Orleans International Piano competition. Her style is physical, fearless and dramatic. In the hands of Bespalko, classical music is a contact sport. Her musicality commands the stage. 

[lightbox link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvgZLfMZoao”]polina video[/lightbox]Life on the international tour, while glamorous, is also exhausting. So as an alternative to a life on the road, Bespalko came to Cincinnati to continue her studies, recently earning her Doctorate of Musical Arts. She also joined the faculty in Xavier’s music department and became director of the Xavier Music Series.

Her goal is to bring a fresh perspective to the Series and move into a new era—and she’s doing so with the same force and fervor she brings to her piano playing. What hasn’t changed in the year since she’s taken over is that the Xavier Music Series remains one of the longest-running and most prestigious music series in the United States featuring classical piano, classical guitar and swing. What has changed is nearly everything else.

Bespalko has dusted off the Series and put her stamp on it—although she hasn’t totally abandoned all the traditions of classical music, composers and pianists, especially her adoration of Franz Liszt. “Women would go crazy over him,” she says. “They even collected his cigar butts.” 

Liszt’s butts aside, it was his devotion to live performance that inspires Bespalko’s own approach to reinventing the Series. 

See this year’s Music Series lineup.

“The biggest thing about Liszt was that he was not only a genius who reinvented classical music and elevated the performer to rock-star status. But what other people tend to forget is that he supported so many other composers like Schumann, Brahams, Wagner and Chopin.” 

With such motivation, the performers she’s identified to feature in the upcoming series are ones she wants to experience live. And, to those people who have banished the live performance of classical music to hoary halls and well-heeled patrons, rest assured that this is not your grandmother’s brand of Bach.

Take, for example, Anderson and Roe, a piano duo who describe their approach as a mix of “physical friction, charged chemistry and emotional danger.” It may be of interest to the classical music death-watchers that their video Libertango has garnered more than 1.4 million YouTube views.

“It’s more than just the music, it’s also the personalities behind the music,” she says. “Everyone has a very interesting background and story. They also represent diverse aspects of music. And they make the experience less intimidating.”

This challenge of bringing classical music into the 21st century isn’t new to Bespalko. It’s part of her doctorate, she created a multimedia presentation, giving a recital and projecting program notes simultaneously on a large screen, providing a historical and inspirational background. Her subject? Liszt.

A Slow Karter Goes Full Throttle

Full disclosure: I like racing. But going fast in a car? Not so much.

My 14-year-old son calls me Mr. Slow. So the day he came home with the fastest lap from a birthday party held at a go-kart track, the challenge was clear. Mr. Slow needs to quit putt-putt-puttering around and pick up the pace. Luckily, Joe O’Gorman offers a solution. 

The 1986 communication arts graduate is a racing enthusiast, self-confessed “serial opportunist” and the owner of Full Throttle Indoor Karting, an indoor racetrack designed to satisfy those with the racing bug and a need for speed. 

But abandon all preconceptions of a mom-and-pop roadside kart track. Full Throttle proclaims itself as “Go Kart Racing Like You’ve Never Experienced.” Built in a 50,000-square-foot structure originally designed as a candy factory, it now satisfies an insatiable speed tooth. Or, as O’Gorman tells me, “We have everything you need. Just arrive and race.”

Watch as author Michael Shaw takes a lap around the track. Slowly.

[lightbox link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu7Voogovo4&feature=youtu.be”]speedishracer[/lightbox]

And while 95 percent of customers just show up for fun, many professional drivers now get their start behind the wheel of a kart. “Sam Hornish Jr. was up at the Kentucky Speedway for a charity event. NASCAR invited a lot of the press here to run a challenge against Sam. He was pretty quick.”

So who gets behind the wheel? Birthday parties, leagues, aspiring Formula 1 drivers, boy’s-night-outers, even just someone just walking in off the street. “Our customers run from someone who has never done it before, casual customers who love go-karting, to semi-pro and pro drivers.”

The expertly designed, 14-corner track can accommodate all the skill you can muster behind the wheel. The karts can also be remote-controlled by a transponder, so if you’re naughty and get black flagged—racing lingo for disqualified—someone will flip the switch and literally park you. There are three flag stands located throughout the course that allow employees to get to customers quickly, usually to turn a kart around after a spin or perform a tire-wall extraction.

O’Gorman offers me a little rookie advice: “Passing usually doesn’t happen through the straightaway. At the narrowest it’s just over16 feet and it’s possible to go three-wide at any point.”

FullThrottleMemEmailThe secret to speed? Being smooth and finding “the fast line.” I’m informed that the fast line is not always obvious to a beginner but becomes apparent after a few sessions. Plus my propensity for slowness comes from a sense of self-preservation, which is not usually a bad thing, except for a racer. But these karts are fast, small, precise and designed to be driven full-out. The 270cc Honda engines can hit 40 mph.

Up to 10 karts can race at a time making for a pretty full field. And it doesn’t take long to get lapped—or at least it didn’t for me. Basically, the driving technique lives up to the name “full throttle,” with only three or four turns where braking is needed (and even then only optional). “Make sure you get some heat into your tires. And have fun.”

So that’s what I’m doing. Zipped into my racing suit, helmet strapped, gripping the wheel at two and 10, Mr. Slow takes off. As far as my lap time? Hey, what’s a fast time really matter when you’re having a good time?

Check out the Full Throttle website

Human Trafficking: 21st Century Slavery

Harold and Dancy D’Souza arrived from India in 2003 excited about the future in America for them and their two boys.

But their dreams were soon dashed when they realized the family friend—a man they called “uncle” who promised a great life in America—had no interest in their well-being. To him, they were something else: slaves.

By 2007, out of work, homeless and destitute, the family was turning to charity to get by. Through a local church, they were introduced to Jessica Donohue-Dioh who knew right away what was going on. “They were victims of human trafficking,” she says.

While it’s somewhat hard to believe slavery still exists in the 21st century, human trafficking for sex or labor is the second fastest-growing criminal network in the world. The U.S. is a top destination for sex trafficking; the average age of forced prostitution in the U.S. is 13.

Donohue-Dioh, a 2004 social work graduate who now teaches at Xavier, has become a nationally recognized authority on trafficking and victimization and a sought-out speaker and educator on the subject. She’s also the founder with a local YMCA of End Slavery Cincinnati, a non-profit organization that provides education to the community and services to victims.

“I was blown away with the realization of what was going on in our community,” she says. “I realized a lot of people I’d known in Cincinnati were greatly at risk. The D’Souzas were our first case. The most important thing I did for them was to identify what had happened to them as human trafficking.”

That allowed the Department of Health and Human Services to label D’Souza as a certified victim of human trafficking. Their case was classic: working long hours for no pay; their savings and official papers taken; access only to food from the restaurant where they worked; the constant threat of deportation. When they finally went to the police, the uncle kicked them out.

As official victims, however, the family became eligible for services such as rent support, food stamps and Medicaid. During their ordeal, the D’Souzas never gave up hope, and Harold eventually got permission to work and is now celebrating more than five years at Children’s Hospital. This spring, the whole family received permanent residency status.

Most important, though, they are now free.

Educating Youth…and All That Jazz

Kathy Wade is a jazz icon. For proof, you need look no further than the logo created for the Crown Jewels of Jazz Festival. The highly stylized chanteuse bears a striking resemblance to her.

“Everyone tells me that, but only the designer knows for sure.”

This also is one diva with advanced education—a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in art administration. “I’ve been singing since I was 4 years old. I always sang. It is nice to have a talent. It’s better to have some degrees.”

And to put those degrees to use. Which she does. In 1992, Wade combined her passions for the arts, education and community development by co-founding Learning Through Art, a non-profit using art as a means of creating community engagement and understanding. That serves as her day-to-day vocation.

Learn about Learning Through Art
Learn about the Crown Jewels of Jazz Festival

She also helped launch the Crown Jewels of Jazz Festival, a two-day outdoor festival in Cincinnati celebrating the history, legacy and joy of jazz—including a jazz camp for high schoolers organized through Learning Through Art. That serves as the showcase for the talent that helped lift her into the spotlight—her voice.

When Wade first launched the festival in 1996, it was a one-night-only, black-tie, sit-down dinner cabaret featuring vocal luminaries the likes of Rosemary Clooney, Eartha Kit, Nancy Wilson, Shirley Horn and others. In the past few years, though, the festival itself has undergone an impressive metamorphesis, evolving into a two-day, multi-venue music festival. Wade sees this as part of her mission not only to keep jazz alive, but also to thrive.

“In growing anything, you have to keep the audience growing.”

For Wade, jazz and education produce a parallel passion. As CEO of Learning Through Art she has helped to produce Art Books Alive for Kids, a nationally recognized performing arts literacy program. Proceeds from the festival help fund these programs while promoting a “global jazz village for literacy.”

 So while the “crown jewels” evolve with the times, Wade’s devotion to jazz and education remains fundamental. “For me, in the evolution of music, jazz will always influence the mainstream. It’s America’s classical music.”

Girl Geeks: Computing Education

A funny thing happened to Jill Pala on her way to becoming a high school math teacher. She found out she was a computer geek. And she liked it. A lot. Better than math.

“I had no idea what it was before I took it, but the logic was so interesting.”

Naturally, she wanted to ditch the math and study computer science. Trouble was, the classes at Xavier were guy-heavy—which was only sort of a problem—but mostly she was at a huge disadvantage because her all-girls high school in Chattanooga, Tenn., never offered computer science. 

So she took extra classes at Xavier to catch up with the boys and joined a small group of like-minded girls majoring in computer science as encouragement. And it worked. She graduated in 2001 and landed a job right away in private industry.

Not giving up on her original desire to teach, though, Pala is now in the classroom at that same all-girls high school she attended, only teaching computer science instead. And doing quite well. Of the 71 girls in Tennessee who took the AP computer science test in 2013, 30 were from her class.

“It’s sad that one school can make such a difference. I wish more schools taught computer science
so that one school could not skew the data so much,” she says. “It’s great that our program has grown so much, but it shouldn’t be such an anomaly.”

Learn more about girls and the computer gap.

It wasn’t always the case, though. After a slow start, she began recruiting girls in honors classes and held computer contests and demonstrations to raise the image of girl geeks. Her numbers jumped. Suddenly computers were cool.

The school eventually made computer science its own department, which Pala now chairs, and now offers a range of courses. Pala says computer science should be required for graduation to increase the diversity of students going into the field, where jobs are plentiful and pay is good.

“In some sense, every girl that goes into computing has to be a little bit of a pioneer because today, only 17-18 percent of computer science degrees awarded are to females,” she says. “The computing field recognizes diversity is important because a diverse set of people finds a diverse set of solutions.”

A Career of Amusement: Life on the Merry-go-round

Back in the day, most kids wanted to be president when they grew up. Or run away to join the circus. Vic Nolting managed to do both. Sort of.

The 1970 business grad grew up to become president of Coney Island amusement park, making him commander-in-chief of one of the region’s most popular playgrounds as well as one of the softest spots in Cincinnati’s collective heart.

And don’t even think of it as a job, he says. “It’s kind of a calling. Most everybody that works here are not just workers, but keepers of the flame.”

For most Cincinnatians, the flame that has attracted them to Coney for so many generations hasn’t been work but play as they sought the cooling refuge from the summer sun beating down on them in the park’s famous Sunlight Pool. It’s the center of the park’s attractions and the bulk of Nolting’s business.

But Nolting’s typical day doesn’t begin with turning on the pool spigot or making sure chlorine levels are up to spec. “When I arrive, I take a quick tour of the park and see what’s going on, see if all is right with the world. Then it’s back to the office. I kind of bounce back and forth all day long.”

Nolting’s earned his privilege of “managing by wandering around” after bringing Coney back from the brink of extinction. Because of its location along the Ohio River, the park regularly flooded, so its owners, Taft Broadcasting, decided in the early 1970s to all but give up on the park and develop Kings Island in Mason, Ohio. Rides were relocated and shows were shifted. The pool continued to operate, but Coney Island was all but forgotten.

In the mid-1980s, the park was sold and the new owners brought in Nolting to bring it back to life. “I got here in 1983 and we started renovating in 1984. By 1988 we had renovated the entire grounds. And we started to add rides back. Today we have 23 rides.”

The growth has, Nolting admits, made work like a circus sometimes. “In 2000, we had a millennium party and brought in Nick Wallenda who walked a tight rope over the pool before he ever attempted Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. We also had a trapeze act and Benny ‘Boom Boom’ Koske, the human bomb, who blew himself up three times a day.”

Still, even though his job has an amusement value, Nolting borrows a phrase from Joe Nuxhall when considering what’s next: “I’m rounding third and heading for home.” Even to the point of grooming his own replacement to ensure a smooth passing of the flame—although, he admits, it won’t be one-time headliner Santini Demon who set himself on fire, swallowed swords and made the insanity of amusement parks just another day at the office for Nolting.

Behind the Alter Hall Renovation

Dedicated in December 1960, Alter Hall was Xavier’s class of the classroom.

It was called “the million dollar building” because it featured air-conditioning, a 300-seat lecture hall and 33 classrooms.


Now, rising from the original concrete bones, a new Alter Hall is emerging, even more innovative than the original. One of its key components is its environmental friendliness. One of the principal architects of its transformation, Nestor Melnyk of MSA Architects, presents a quick tour:

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/AlterHall2-300×203.jpg”]AlterHall2[/lightbox]• “Reflective roof materials and a high-performance wall system insulates the building.
Overall, it will consume just half the energy of the average building on campus.”

• “An energy recovery ventilator draws outdoor air into the building to maintain air quality. Carbon dioxide sensors calculate the number of occupants in various rooms within the building and adjust environmental controls accordingly. Plus many windows can actually be opened.”

• “Water from roof drains flows down through several tiers of rain gardens including a bog garden with its own native ecosystem that will be maintained as a biology student project. Using all native plantings means no dedicated irrigation will be installed, just the natural flow of water from the drainage system.”

• “Light sensors measure the amount of daylight coming in the windows and adjust the interior lights accordingly.”

[lightbox link=”http://xtra.xavier.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/alter3.jpg”]alter3[/lightbox]• “The way buildings meet the sky on campus is rarely a straight horizontal line. Alter was transformed so that there’s a lot of articulation at the roofline—ups and downs and cutouts. Glass is used to create an expansive sense of space while stone creates the accents. We’re picking up on the visual grammar of the campus, but using a more sophisticated vocabulary.”

• “Subspaces within the landscaping around the building create natural environments for an outdoor class.”