Sexton changes cause controversy

JILLIAN SCHULZ • [email protected] • Earlier closing times have students annoyed at the Sexton Caf, while Johnnie Java takes on a new role.

By Cormac Quinn
[email protected]

A new school year often brings new changes, but not all of these differences come with approval. Changes in management at Sexton have subsequently brought changes to their operations that has left some students disgruntled. To cut costs and improve student workers’ livelihoods without sacrificing student satisfaction, the Sexton Caf began closing at 10 p.m. this year, with the Johnnie Java space operating new late-night hours. Now they must survive student scrutiny, some of whom feel their punch has lost value, or that the dining area has lost some social appeal.

The new management team, Julie Neuwirth and Br. Richard Crawford, started in February, giving them the summer to envision a profitable and effective new design. With a noticeable drop in sales in the late evening, there was a financial incentive to close the Caf earlier. An earlier closing time meant the clean-up process would finish-up earlier, so student workers could get home quicker. Despite these new efforts, workers have said they still aren’t returning to their dorms until past midnight; some of whom have 8 a.m. classes. The new closing time was compensated for through converting Johnnie Java into a snack bar and having it open until midnight. This reduced costs by requiring less space, products and personnel late at night.

Student responses have been mixed, with upperclassmen adjusting their habits, and first-years content with how things are.

A common critique of the new system came from Johnnies on the continuous plan. In the past, after dinner at the Reef, they used their “one-punch-a-day” on a midnight sub for the energy to keep studying into the morning hours. Since Johnnie Java doesn’t accept punches, they feel their punch has lost value.

Other upperclassmen were disappointed that their late-night hang out space had become desolate of student activity. With the Caf closed at 10 p.m., but the dining area remaining open until midnight, students have been reluctant to do homework or hangout there. A lack of communication gave a rocky landing for the new management’s overhaul at Sexton. They left the dining area open until midnight so student life could still be fostered within; but, without the Caf,
most students don’t find themselves in there past 10 p.m. When asked if they ate their late-night snack from Johnnie Java in the dining area, there was a look of surprise on the faces of first-years and seniors alike. Most were unaware Johnnie Java is open late, and that it serves pizza. The management at Sexton has been reactive to student opinion, and since Sunday have extended their hours to 10:30 p.m. every night. After an open forum during a SJU Senate meeting last Monday, by the end of the week they had changed their hours of operation. At the meeting, concerns were raised by students about their post-event get-togethers; citing Praise in the Pub and Sunday mass as examples.

The management has expressed its primary desire is to fulfill students’ needs, but finances cannot be overlooked. Neuwirth realizes this. “And now we know,” Neuwirth said.

A lack of clear communication has left students sour at the changes, but the management has reacted accordingly. The new system has left students vying for the old days, their traditions askew and stomachs rumbling. Over the semester, the new management must juggle economics, student life and customer satisfaction in the spotlight of the new academic year.

Lectio Divina

SIERRA LAMMI • [email protected] • Br. Joe Schneeweis (Above)

By Sierra Lammi
[email protected]

CSB/SJU continues to provide students with opportunities for prayer with a new form of contemplative practice through the reading and reflection of scripture known as Lectio Divina. These readings began on Sept. 11 and will take place every Monday from 8:30 -9:15 a.m. in Reinhart Learning Commons 351. They are led by Br. Joe Schneeweis.

This form of prayer involves reading passages of scripture and then taking time to reflect on what was read. Lectio Divina is open to students and faculty alike.

Faculty creates petition due to events in Charlottesville

JILLIAN SCHULZ • [email protected]@csbsju.edu • Theology Professor Vincent Smiles (left) speaks with history professor Jonathon Nash (middle) and theology professor Laura Taylor (far right) about their joint statement on the events in Charlottesville.

 

By Bridget Lenczewski
[email protected]

On Aug. 11 at the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, a group of white supremacists marched at a rally, spreading messages of racism, hate and violence. Many of those involved in the rally and protesting the rally were injured.

Among this divisive, shaky climate, CSB/SJU professors are looking for ways to unite, bringing together people of all different backgrounds.

Theology professors Vincent Smiles and Laura Taylor, history professor Jonathan Nash and political science professor Jim Read drafted a statement in response to the Charlottesville incident and other demonstrations that have broken out across the U.S. Drafted on Aug. 28, the statement reiterates the Benedictine values that members of the CSB/SJU communities strive to embody.

“[We wrote the statement] to confirm the values that our community holds and to show students that we are in support of them in the community because, despite political statements, actions at Charlottesville, hate speech and other things that are going on, we want to create a different kind of environment here,” Taylor said.

“The statement tries as far as possible not to be partied political – it is Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, all political ideologies. Things like white supremacy and cruelty to LGBTQ people everyone should reject,” Smiles said. “It is an attempt to bring
different political parts of the spectrum together.”

In addition, the statement pushes a message of unification and acceptance of diversity, regardless of political affiliations.

“When things come out in the public arena which are very much contrary to our values of inclusivity and non-discrimination and of respect for peoples no matter who they are, then we cannot just leave our values on a website,” Smiles said.

“We have got to be able to articulate what they mean in practice. There are all kinds of different ways in which we can do this – by the way we conduct ourselves, by the way that we teach, by the way that we have discussions in classes and by the way we treat one another on campus.”

The statement currently has 364 signatures from many people affiliated with the colleges – former and current staff members, former and current faculty members, Catholic sisters and Catholic monks.

“I welcome all individuals on this campus, particularly people I disagree with, because I think that I have an opportunity to have dialogue to try to understand their perspectives. I can grow as a human being, and so I relish the opportunity that students will have in the future to have these dialogues that might be difficult at the time but then allow them to grow in which they are going to be the future leaders of the world,” Nash said. “Perhaps, as leaders, if they embody the Catholic social teachings of the Benedictine values they will work to improve the lives of all human beings, all members of the community.”the public arena which are very much contrary to our values of inclusivity and non-discrimination and of respect for peoples no matter who they are, then we cannot just leave our values on a website,” Smiles said. “We have got to be able to articulate what they mean in practice. There are all kinds of different ways in which we can do this – by the way we conduct ourselves, by the way that we teach, by the way that we have discussions in classes and by the way we treat one another on campus.”

The statement currently has 364 signatures from many people affiliated with the colleges – former and current staff members, former and current faculty members, Catholic sisters and Catholic monks.

“I welcome all individuals on this campus, particularly people I disagree with, because I think that I have an opportunity to have dialogue to try to understand their perspectives. I can grow as a human being, and so I relish the opportunity that students will have in the future to have these dialogues that might be difficult at the time but then allow them to grow in which they are going to be the future leaders of the world,” Nash said.

“Perhaps, as leaders, if they embody the Catholic social teachings of the Benedictine Values they will work to improve the lives of all human beings, all members of the community.”

Alcuin renovations complete

Alcuin renovations complete

By Cullen Trobec
[email protected]

Alcuin Library is back and fully open following the completion of the Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons, a roughly 20,000 square foot addition that follows last year’s renovation of Alcuin’s main building.

The Learning Commons includes a plethora of new and improved resources for both students and visiting scholars. Students can now enjoy new group study spots, an outdoor terrace and St. John’s newest coffeehouse: The Schu. Alsofeatured are two new classrooms, a media lab and equipment rentals for the media arts.

Central to the new space is the goal of group discussion and collaboration.

“We were thoughtful about designing the existing Alcuin and the Learning Commons to have spaces where people don’t feel constrained whenhaving conversations,” CSB/SJU Director of Libraries, Media and Archives Kathleen Parker said. “We really want this place to be student-centered instead of book-centered.”

Reception from students has been positive. One of the only Commons-related hiccups has been confusion over the new Link stop located just outside of the building’s east entrance. Based on the current schedule, the Link stops at the Learning Commons on weekdays on the :45 of each hour, but only after 5:30 p.m. The schedule change caused some confusion for returning students who were accustomed to the previous Sexton-only stops of last year.

“I don’t like it because there’s no indication of when the bus will be at Alcuin on the Link App or on the TV by Johnnie Java,” sophomore Jack Cassidy said. “It definitely could have been communicated better. I missed the bus twice.”

Students with further questions about the Link schedule are encouraged to visit the transportation page on the CSB/SJU website.

PHOTOS BY SAMUEL BUTTERFASS • [email protected] • Students have a new place to study in the Learning Commons, with a convenient location next to the new coffee shop, the Schu. Students can also enjoy relaxing views while studying.

 

Johnnie alumnus launches into space

SIERRA LAMMI • [email protected] • Audience members look on as Mark Vande Hei is launched into space.

Space: The Final Frontier. One that is now being explored by a St. John’s University graduate Mark Vande Hei of the class of 1989.

On Sept. 12, 2017 the first Johnnie astronaut was launched into space from Kazakhstan at 3:17 a.m. To celebrate this event, the CSB/SJU Physics Club hosted a viewing of the event in Pellegrene Auditorium, although the time difference allowed for a 4:17 p.m. viewing.

Vande Hei has spent decades working toward this achievement, starting with his time on campus. While at SJU, Vande Hei was a physics
major and prominent member of ROTC.

After graduation, Vande Hei was commissioned by the military, and later became an assistant professor of physics at West Point Academy. He became involved with NASA in 2006, and in 2009 was selected to be a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class.

Throughout his 5 months living on the International Space Station he will join several other NASA astronauts, and the crew will conduct research into the effects of microgravity on manufacturing and will attempt to slow muscle atrophy in low gravity environments.

Vande Hei is also creating an opportunity for students at CSBSJU to learn more about his experience by offering a NASA Inflight Education Downlink session from the International Space Station. This session will be offered on Jan. 29, 2018 and will be open to students and the public. Through this event, the physics department is hoping to encourage students to choose CSB/SJU for the integrative liberal arts education as well as the opportunities of the physics program.

“Mark Vande Hei has inspired students in CSB/SJU physics classes because now students feel a connection for the hard work we are putting in and the results of our fantastic curriculum, since he was in our position learning physics from the same profs and using the same equipment,” sophomore physics student Hugo Virgen said.

Although Vande Hei has had an accomplished career in his field, he never aspired to be an astronaut while at CSB/SJU; however, this was one of benefits of his integrative college experience.

“I think if you were to ask him, the experience that he had here was more of a springboard for his life than for anything specific in it. [His education here] gave him the foundation, the confidence, and the inspiration to do everything he did post-graduation—not just becoming involved with NASA,” said Dave Deland of Institutional Advancement.

CSB/SJU is one of the few liberal arts school in the midwest to boast an astronaut alumni, and hopes to encourage current and future students to work to achieve prestigious positions such as this, particularly with the benefit of a liberal arts education.

“[Vande Hei] is demonstrating to prospective students that Bennie and Johnnie alumni are doing fantastic things all around the world,” Virgen said.

Vande Hei is proving that not even the sky is the limit for Bennies and Johnnies.

The Hill Museum and Manuscript Library receives largest grant to date

COURTESY OF HMML WEBSITE • The Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) contains various physical and digitized manuscripts. After recently receiving a large grant, HMML will have the resources to develop Virtual HMML (vHMML) 3.0.

By Samuel Butterfass
[email protected]

Unknown to many students and visitors to the SJU campus, the lower level of SJU’s Alcuin Library is home to the world’s largest virtual manuscript preservation project.

For over five decades, the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) has been photographing and more recently digitizing manuscripts for preservation from high-risk areas around the world. And the project just got even bigger.
This past summer, HMML was awarded an grant of $323,958 outright and $42,430 in matching funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), a federal agency.

“They gave us the full amount that we requested so that was great,” Fr. Columba Stewart, a monk of the Abbey and Executive Director of the HMML since 2003, said. “We applied in an opened competition. It was a very complex process, complicated application. You need lots of letters of recommendation and so on, but we were successful.”

Only about 17 percent of the applicants for the NEH grant were funded.
“The fact that the NEH chose us really helps to boost our
national profile,” Stewart said.

The money will help the HMML to accomplish several of its online development goals.

“This grant will help us improve both [our manuscript education resources and web gallery], keep them current and add a lot of features we couldn’t do in the first round,” Stewart said.

Specifically, the funds will be used to develop Virtual HMML (vHMML) 3.0, a platform for the virtual preservation and study of manuscripts.

After creating the first version of vHMML in 2012 and developing it over the past five years, the virtual library is now home to the largest online collection of resources for the study of manuscript in both Western and Eastern cultures.

The manuscripts are often photographed by local people working with their own heritage. The images get sent back to the HMML where the data is
archived and put online.

“[vHMML] is now up to about 22,000 manuscripts online, and we’re adding hundreds of them every week,” Stewart said. “Eventually it will have well over 100,000 complete manuscripts online—the largest online collection in the world.”

HMML has been preserving manuscripts across the world for over 50 years, but Stewart thinks the HMML’s project has taken on a new significance since he began overseeing the library.

“I became director just as we were starting to work in the
Middle East,” Stewart said. “We’ve spent all these fifty-plus years photographing manuscripts around the world, and many of them are from places the manuscripts have been lost, destroyed, moved and [made] inaccessible, like Syria and Iraq. Now they’re all available online.”

Additionally, Stewart thinks the diverse religious content of the manuscripts has a particular relevance in our modern setting.

“In most of these traditional societies, back in manuscript days, most of what they wrote down was somehow related to religion,” Stewart said. “They’re both Christian and Islamic. It’s an example of how we can work across that great divide.”

Stewart noted that religious texts are not the only types of manuscripts being preserved by HMML.

“There’s also history, scientific treatises, dictionaries and grammars—really anything that [traditional societies] thought was worth writing down,” Stewart said.