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Serious Fun

One of the women’s soccer team’s traditions is allowing the players to conduct a themed practice in which they dress up before taking the field.

Last year the theme was the most outrageous shorts. This year was Halloween.

Amber Silvis, Ashley Silvis and Sara Doutt dressed as the three blind mice; Christine Chuck was a Christmas tree; head coach Alvin Alexander was Batman. Assistant coach Tiffany Crooks stole the show by dressing as the Blue Blob. To see a photo gallery of the costumes, go to the women’s soccer page at www.goxavier.com.

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Xavier Magazine

Hallowed Halls

Three new members were inducted into the P. Douglas O’Keefe Xavier University Athletic Hall of Fame in November— Joe Sunderman, Pete Spoerl and Jennifer Phillips. Sunderman is a former basketball standout and longtime radio voice of the Musketeers. He played in 97 career games and averaged 9.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game as a senior. Spoerl is a former baseball standout who holds the second-best career batting average mark at .377 and led the team in seven categories as a senior. He was the 1982 MCC northern division player of the year and later played on the 1987 U.S. Pan Am softball team. Phillips is Xavier’s first-ever Atlantic 10 Player of the Year for women’s basketball. She led the team to a 31-3 record and to the Elite Eight in 2001 and finished her career sixth overall with 1,633 career points and fourth overall with 742 career rebounds.

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Xavier Magazine

Digging In

The women’s volleyball team battled an egregious foe both on and off the court this year—breast cancer. Off the court, the team raised $500 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation by spending three hours volunteering as servers at a local Cold Stone Creamery ice cream store. It then took on the University of Dayton in a match that was billed as a “dig for the cure.” Through sponsors pledging a flat fee or a certain amount for each dig in the match, the team raised more than $6,000. The dig for a cure effort was part of a conference-wide initiative among the Atlantic 10 volleyball teams this year in which each team dedicated one match to raising funds and awareness for the Komen Foundation. To see a photo gallery of the team in action serving ice cream, go to the volleyball page at www.goxavier.com.

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Xavier Magazine

Back on the Field

It began inspiring and intense, invigorating and incredible. The result was not as intended, but that was inconsequential. The Oct. 21 football game against Marquette University was more than just a game. It was a piece of history. It marked the day football returned to campus for the first time in 33 years and when students were, at last, able to spend their fall Saturdays cheering on their own team rather than sitting in front of a television rooting for someone else.

 

And many did.

The Family Weekend game brought together a crowd of nearly 3,000. And while what they witnessed was a far cry from the glory days of Xavier football when Corcoran Field was packed, future NFL players roamed the sidelines and winning mattered, everyone was OK with that. Bringing back the days of old wasn’t the intent of bringing back football. And it never has been. The students who pushed for football’s return and the administrators who granted its approval never want to give an impression that football at Xavier is now or will be anything more than a club sport. Its purpose, says head coach Tom Powers, is much more broad, philosophical and altruistic.

“Our goal is to bring football back right and to be successful,” he says. “Yes, we want to win, but that’s not our main focus. We want to have a good reputation on and off the football field. We want to make sure we do not lose sight of why these students are on campus, and that’s to get an education. Football is part of that education, but it cannot be allowed to consume it. We want them to feel they are a part of a team. And, at the end of the day, if the students like it, if the players enjoy it, if we have a decent fan base and everybody has a good feeling, we’ll consider it a success.”

Despite the disappointment of the opener—a 16-6 loss—the team seems to be on its way to achieving such a goal. While the club rugby team has filled a portion of the students’ desire for a full-contact sport since the football program’s demise, the whole notion of having football as a sport back on campus has been widely and wildly accepted from the start. Last fall, three students running for student government positions—Steve Bentley, Joe Moorman and Willie Byrd—made the idea of bringing back football one of their main platform items, and they rode their agenda to an election victory.

Once in office, they pushed it through and then collected 105 signatures from students interested in playing. They collected contributions—both in-kind and financial—from a number of alumni, including, perhaps most notably, former varsity football player and former chairman of the board of trustees Mike Conaton. He attended a few practices, as did University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., who huddled the team together one afternoon and offered encouragement.

As a whole, though, the University’s involvement in the football program is minimal—a small financial contribution from the club sports council. The students run the program and willingly support it by holding fundraisers, selling T-shirts and agreeing to meet the required $200-per-player price tag.

Being a club sport, anyone affiliated with the University was eligible to play—even faculty, staff and grad students—and those who made the commitment varied widely in their talents and skills. Two played on state champion teams in high school. Others, such as Moorman, had no experience at all. Players range in size from Mike Sullivan at 5-foot-9, 150 pounds, to Jon Baker at 6-foot-6, 375 pounds. Victor Wallace is a 35-year-old father of two who is in grad school. Brian Siegel is a 6-foot-7, 260-pound grad student who works at Procter & Gamble during the day. Sean Cook is a former Marine who served in Iraq.

Even Powers, the coach, is a grad student, studying to become a biology teacher. A former football player at Villanova, he spent 12 years as a dentist before deciding to pursue a career in teaching and coaching. Now he finds himself at the helm of history.

“This first year is an experiment,” he says. “We’re not looking beyond the first year. At the end of the season we’ll see how things go, what needs to be improved upon and reevaluate matters. What we don’t want to do is be a one-hit wonder; we want to be a successful club football team. It’s not like the old Xavier football, but we’ve got to make ourselves successful where we are at.”

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Xavier Magazine

X-Panding Markets

On-campus entrepreneurship is on the rise. This fall, the University’s entrepreneurial center opened two new student-operated businesses and made subtle changes to one more. The new businesses include X-press Laundry Service, which picks up and delivers student laundry and dry cleaning, and Victory Perk, the coffee shop in the Gallagher Student Center, which is still owned by Sodexho but is now managed and staffed by students. FliX, the student-operated video/DVD rental store, addressed its most serious issue, returns, by requiring a credit card prior to renting a video. There’s more business on the horizon, too.

Students are planning to dip into the e-business works with three more start-ups. One is an informational site with tips on how to dress for an interview with a specific employer. The second is an unofficial guide to fun in Cincinnati, with such listings as where to take mom when she visits campus or where to go for group outings. Students can buy the information in booklet form or access it online for a fee. The third is yet undefined. In the midst of all this growth, the center has another important goal. “We’re looking for a central spot on campus where we can group all student-operated businesses in one place,” says Tom Clark, the center’s director.

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Xavier Magazine

Swimming in Talent

Last summer, senior music major Dana Hunter worked as a management assistant for Makin’ Music Inc., a music publishing, production and consulting company located on Nashville’s famed Music Row. She not only created set lists for performances and managed shows at the popular venue, Tootsies, but she had the opportunity to perform as well. Although the songstress studies classical music at Xavier, there’s no shortage of country tunes in her repertoire.

For her senior recital, the Noblesville, Ind., native is giving a completely country music concert on May 5 on the campus green. “I want to give the audience a Nashville experience, so I will be performing many songs that are popular in the Nashville venues,” she says. “I will also be performing some original music I was introduced to while working with songwriters this past summer, as well as some songs I have written myself.”

In addition to her singing talents, Hunter is also a member of the women’s swim team, holds four school records, and is the co-president of the student-athlete advisory committee.

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Xavier Magazine

Going Off Site Again

The Williams College of Business opens the third off-campus site for its M.B.A. program in January. The college’s newest site is in the northern suburb of Deerfield Township, which is the region’s fastest-growing area. It joins other off-site locations in suburban Fairfield and at the General Electric Aircraft Engines plant in Evendale. The locations hold classes mostly in the evenings and are set up to help working professionals in those areas who may not be able to make the commute to Xavier’s campus. The Fairfield branch, which opened last year, hosts about 60 students. Another 70 GE employees and contractors take courses in Evendale. About 900 students still take M.B.A. courses on campus.

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Coming of Age

It took four years, but Xavier’s department of school and community counseling is finally enjoying the national exposure it was previously denied. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Education awarded the graduate counseling program its first accreditation this year. The lengthy process involved an exhaustive self-assessment that evaluated how the program met the national standards and what steps were being taken to improve the areas that did not.

The process led to several major changes, including making students be admitted to the program instead of just the school of education; making counseling a separate department within the school; and evaluating students on their preparation as professionals. “This gives us national recognition,” says assistant professor Bill O’Connell. “It’s a huge achievement.”

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Xavier Magazine

Classic Rock

Morten Kristiansen brings a true European flair to Xavier’s department of music. The newest hire hails from Copenhagen, Denmark, is fluent in German and is an authority on German composer Richard Strauss’ 19th century opera “Feursnot.” So what’s he teaching this semester, in addition to the department’s other music survey and seminar courses? The History of Rock ’n’ Roll, of course. “I created this course while I was an adjunct at Georgetown University several years ago,” he says. “This course will supplement all the other courses we have—Music Now, the Art of Listening, Women in Music.”

Kristiansen, whose personal specialty is vocal music—he sang across Europe in the Vienna Singverein, one of the largest choral groups in Vienna where he lived for a year—was inducted into the world of classical music by his father, who was a symphony musician in Copenhagen. He majored in music and German at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., and earned a master’s and Ph.D. in musicology at Yale University.

Though a fan of modern rock music, his first love is classical. His favorite musician, after all, is Wofgang Amadeus Mozart—whom some may call the original rock star.

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About Facebook

It’s the first truly cold day of fall on the campus green, but that doesn’t deter Algis Aukstolis. The junior advertising major grins as he grabs a megaphone and bounds toward the Gallagher Student Center, intercepting sleepy-eyed students on their way to class.

 

“Hey, you,” he yells. “Come take a survey. It’s about Facebook, it’ll only take 15 minutes and we have free candy.”

A handful of curious students follow him to the booth, where junior Rachael Jarnigan and sophomores Lindsay Cornell and Becky Hoerr register them for the survey.

The group is helping assistant professor of communication arts Thomas Wagner with a research project on Facebook.com, which is arguably the most popular web site today among college students. Wagner is trying to find out how much someone can learn about another person based solely on the information garnered from a few minutes of reading his or her Facebook profile.

“Facebook is becoming, at Xavier and other schools, a normalized part of a student’s everyday habit,” says Wagner. “We wanted to see why that is, and, from a communications angle, if the web site helps users reduce insecurities about people they meet just from accessing information found in their profile.”

So Wagner and his students set up a Facebook booth for two days on the campus green, persuading more than 160 students to take the survey that will form the basis of the research. Begun by two Harvard students in 2004 as a way of electronically updating the university’s yearbook, Facebook.com now has 10 million registered users—including nearly 5,000 Xavier students and alumni—with about 20,000 new accounts being created daily worldwide. Students create profiles of themselves in which all areas of personal information— from photos to blogs to dating status—are shared with other users. It is this sharing option that has made many people critical of the site. Students can censor their own data, but it is commonplace for them to willingly post personal information and photos of themselves on their profile. Some fear that this exposes the students to unnecessary threats and dangers—and not just from other students but also from those in authority positions. It’s not uncommon for others to monitor Facebook for inappropriate activity. At several universities, including nearby Northern Kentucky University, students were disciplined after school officials saw photos on a Facebook page of illicit drinking. Other students have been disciplined—even expelled—for posting threatening or suggestive comments. Some have even lost potential jobs because employers search the site as a means of reference.

Xavier keeps close tabs on the profiles of its resident assistants and other student leaders, reminding them to keep clean, parent- and student-friendly profiles. But Facebook remains a top web site at Xavier, and Wagner and his students can confirm that, as they are busy reviewing the results of what turned out to be a popular survey. Although the complete results of the research will not be finalized until later this winter, Wagner is optimistic. “I feel that the study, so far, has reasonably reflected the reality we assumed,” he says. “Facebook is really a proxy to communication. It reduces uncertainty and helps the user gain knowledge about others. That way, they can retain information and get to know someone better and sooner.”

The survey, he says, has confirmed that users at Xavier spend an average of one hour a day on the site, and they use it mostly to gather information about other users.

It is this time spent that also concerns some faculty and parents. Does Facebook distract students from homework and other activities? “Sure, the same way that television or video games distract students,” Wagner says. “But it seems to be a healthy distraction, in that it can enhance relationships. So far, this study has shown that this is not the most important thing that students do all day, but it is just a part of their daily life, like checking their e-mail.”

And that routine will most likely be around for a while.

“I think this is a lasting tool,” Wagner says. “I can see video ability being added to the site in the next year or so, and that will only heighten its popularity.”

And that seems to suit Xavier students just fine.

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