The CBU Department of Religion & Philosophy hosted a lecture by Jason Stanley on “Propaganda, Race, and Mass Incarceration” on Thursday, November 12 in Spain Auditorium. History regards Stalin with horror for incarcerating such a large percentage of the population of his country in forced labor camps. Yet the current US incarceration rate rivals that of Soviet citizens sent to forced labor camps during the worst period of Stalin’s Gulags. If we are to address the problem of mass incarceration, we must change the political culture that has allowed us to demonize and dehumanize so many of our fellow citizens. This talk was an attempt to understand the propaganda that has hidden from us a reality that history will condemn. Jason Stanley is Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of How Propaganda Works (Princeton UP, 2015). He donates a portion of the proceeds from his lectures and the sale of his book to the Prison Policy Initiative. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Memphis Philosophy Department and Rhodes College Africana Studies Program.
The Visual and Performing Arts department proudly presented A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, November 5-8 in CBU’s University Theater. The play featured Alani Lee, Corey Parker, Elizabeth Hayes, Darious Robertson, Kierra Turner, and Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald.
The Story: Greg and Kate have moved to Manhattan after twenty-two years of child-raising in the suburbs. Greg’s career as a financial trader is winding down, while Kate’s career, as a public-school English teacher, is beginning to offer her more opportunities. Greg brings home a dog he found in the park—or that has found him—bearing only the name “Sylvia” on her name tag. Sylvia becomes a major bone of contention between husband and wife. She offers Greg an escape from the frustrations of his job and the unknowns of middle age. To Kate, Sylvia becomes a rival for affection. And Sylvia thinks Kate just doesn’t understand the relationship between man and dog. The marriage is put in serious jeopardy until, after a series of hilarious and touching complications, Greg and Kate learn to compromise, and Sylvia becomes a valued part of their lives.
The Tenth Annual Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium will feature Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, a well-known advocate for the poor and disenfranchised, and leader of three “Nuns on the Bus” tours which placed the spotlight on the Catholic Church’s long standing commitment to social justice. Sister Simone will speak at the Symposium, held Thursday, April 16, from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. in the University Theater at Christian Brothers University.
Since 2004, Sister Simone has served as Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic Social Justice lobby. She is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare, and economic justice.
During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous letter supporting the reform bill which was signed by 59 Catholic Sisters, including the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious. Cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act, Sister Simone was thanked by President Obama and invited to the ceremony celebrating its being signed into law.
In 2012, she was instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose the “Ryan Budget” approved by the House of Representatives. That tour was followed with a cross-country trip focused on immigration reform in 2013, and a “We the People” tour that encouraged people to vote and called upon candidates to commit to crafting a budget that benefits everyone, secures healthcare for all, protects immigrant rights, and promotes nonviolent solutions to conflict.
Sister Simone has often been featured in the national and international media, including appearances on 60 Minutes, Tavis Smiley, The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She has received numerous awards, including a “Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award” and the “Defender of Democracy Award” from the international Parliamentarians for Global Action.
Prior to coming to NETWORK, Sister Simone served as the Executive Director of JERICHO, the California interfaith public policy organization that works like NETWORK to protect the interests of people living in poverty. She also participated in a delegation of religious leaders to Iraq in December 2002, just prior to the war, and was later (while at NETWORK) part of a Catholic Relief Services delegation to Lebanon and Syria to study the Iraqi refugee situation there.
Before JERICHO, Sister Simone served as the general director of her religious community, the Sisters of Social Service. She was the leader of her Sisters in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan and the Philippines. In this capacity, she negotiated with government and religious leaders in each of these countries.
In 1978, Sister Simone founded and served for 18 years as the lead attorney for the Community Law Center in Oakland, California. She served the family law and probate needs of the working poor of her county.
She recently authored A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community, published in April 2014 by HarperCollins, and plans to be available to sign copies of her book following the talk.
Also that evening, a Mid-South university student will be recognized with the Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar Student Peace Award. Annually, this award is given to a student who best exemplifies the spirit and practice of nonviolence consistent with Dr. Vanderhaar’s life and work. The recipient will make a brief presentation of his/her work prior to the lecture.
The Vanderhaar Symposium was founded in honor of Dr. Gerard A. Vanderhaar, a professor of religion for 28 years at Christian Brothers University, who spent his lifetime promoting peace and active nonviolence. Each year, the Symposium invites a noted scholar and/or activist to address social and moral issues related to peace and justice and/or Catholic social teaching.
The Symposium is free and open to the public. For more information visit www.gvanderhaar.org.
Experimental Methods and Statistics students will present their research projects on Tuesday, May 5th from 2:00 – 3:00 in St. Joseph 10. All are welcome to discover what they learned. We’ve got lots of really interesting projects this year, so please join us!
Presentation topics include but are not limited to the following:
Binaural Beats and Brain Activity
Victimization and Empathy
The Effect of Media Depictions of the Mentally Ill on Stigma of Mental Illness
Perceptions of and Exposure to Stuttering
The Effects of Optimism and Stress on Frustration
The CBU Honors Program, the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, and Students With Artistic Talent(SWAT club) team up each year on ArtBreak, a unique opportunity for students to learn about a particular artist or art medium. Led by Professor Nick Peña, Associate Professor of Visual and Performing Arts, the event is very popular and a welcome break from the books.
Because of the imminent demolition of CBU’s Kenrick Hall, this year’s ArtBreak was a fond farewell to the grand old building. And what better way to say goodbye than with graffiti? Professor Pena was joined by well-known Memphis mural artists Brandon Marshall and Michael Roy, who gave the students a short lesson on graffiti art. After the lesson, the artists painted a signature mural on the north wall while students employed their newly learned skills to leave their mark everywhere else.
Christian Brothers University in partnership with Christian Brothers High School offered a workshop for educators featuring Dr. Justin Whitmer on “Facilitating Questions and Creating Problems” on Friday, March 20. Participants applied the basic principles of scientific inquiry and design thinking integral to Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (STEMM) education; participated in collaborative breakout sessions to build lesson plans with compelling problems and case studies in various disciplines such as English, Literature, Social Studies, Sciences, and Fine Arts; learned tips to transform a classroom into a collaborative learning environment in multiple academic disciplines in grades K-12; built project-based and problem-based lesson plans, and developed assessment strategies to employ in classrooms.
Come to the Table, Faith and Our Food System Dr. Jennifer Ayres spoke in the University Theater on March 26. Dr. Ayres is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church and Assistant Professor of Religious Education and Director of the Religious Education Program at Emory University. She is the author of two books: Waiting for a Glacier to Move: Practicing Social Witness and Good Food: Grounded Practical Theology. The event was sponsored by the CBU Department of Religion & Philosophy and the Memphis Center for Food and Faith.
Feeling My Neighbor’s Faith: Aesthetics and Hindu-Christian Encounter
The CBU Department of Religion & Philosophy also recently presented a lunch and learn with Dr. Michelle Voss Roberts of Wake Forest University on April 13. Christian encounters with other faith traditions can evoke strong aesthetic reactions, both positive and negative. At the same time, the intensity and meaningfulness of aesthetic experience have often been described in theological terms. Dr. Roberts brings together these insights in her study of Hindu traditions. In this lunch and learn discussion, she talked about how Hindu theological aesthetics can illuminate the role of art and emotion in interfaith understanding.
The tenth annual Gerard A. Vanderhaar Symposium at Christian Brothers University presents Sister Simone Campbell, sss. Sister Simone has served as Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic Social Justice lobby, since 2004. She is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. In Washington, she lobbies on issues of peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare, and economic justice.
Thursday, April 16th, 2015. 7 p.m. in the University Theater – Free Admission! For more information visit: www.gvanderhaar.org
Nick Peña, Associate Professor of Art at CBU, and recent recipient of the The Harold R. Krelstein Chair In Performing Arts & Communications, exhibited his paintings at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens earlier this semester. The exhibition, titled “Processing the Ideal,” featured large-scale paintings that re-visualize perceptions of the “American Dream” and the effects that pursuit has on our environment. During the exhibition Peña also conducted an oil painting workshop and gave a lecture during a “Munch and Learn” titled Processing the Ideal: Stability and Instability in our Pursuit of Happiness.
Many of Peña’s paintings begin with personal nostalgia and culminate in serious, social, or political inquiries. He considers both changing social norms and the physical appearance of the American landscape in his work. Questioning if the ground that we live upon is both physically and ideologically solid, “Processing the Ideal” presented an interesting conundrum.
As Fredric Koeppel wrote in his review for The Commercial Appeal, “What Peña would have us process, in seven beautifully realized paintings and one immense wall installation, is that the ground beneath our feet, actually and metaphorically, is ever shifting and that our complacent conceptions of living in good faith are built upon tectonic plates of massive influence and frightening fragility.”
Gloria Sweet Love presents the charter to Taylor Flake, CBU chapter president
Before I begin, I would like to first thank everyone for attending the historic chartering of Christian Brothers University Collegiate Chapter of the NAACP. As, you have heard before we are the FIRST LaSallian Institutte in the world to have its very own chapter of the NAACP. Christian Brothers University has historically been a leader within its community and still today this is no exception.
So, as you are sitting here this evening you might be wondering why I felt the need to bring the NAACP to CBU. From the moment I stepped foot on campus I’ve fallen in love with CBU. The professors are great, the campus is beautiful and everyone… literally EVERYONE knows your name. All of these things are amazing and are no doubt reasons why I love my University. I’m sure that all of you have heard the saying by Alexander Hamilton “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything” Our University stands for something! Our mission is built on the LaSallian tradition and it is something that we live by daily.
Not only does CBU stand for something, but the NAACP does as well. The NAACP thrives to advocate for equality and justice for individuals of all races. This ties in with LaSallian mission.
Now, more than ever we need advocates for equality and justice for all.
Last night, there was a Diversity Workshop for all leaders on campus. The workshop was AMAZING. The workshop forced us to talk about disparities in a comfortable setting. After the workshop last night I am more convinced than ever that we desperately need a group like the NAACP to lead in breaking down barriers both on and off of campus.
CBU’s Collegiate University will stand for something. We will make a conscious effort to talk about about “the elephant in the room.” We will make it our daily mission to eliminate the unspoken divide. We will strive to be inclusive to people of all races and nationalities.
So, to my members and future members it’s time to get to work!
Christian Brothers University ’17
CBU’s NAACP- Founder/ President
Tonight, as a faculty advisor for the CBU NAACP Chapter, I have been offered the opportunity to say a few words to mark this important event in CBU’s history. I am honored. The Lasallian Christian Brothers have long had a commitment to educating the poor and underrepresented as a means to bringing about a more just society. On the grounds of this campus, Br. Terence McLaughlin acted against the orders of Church leaders who told him it was too soon to integrate Christian Brothers High School. Defying the wishes of Church leadership, Br. Terence acted in defense of fairness and equality, admitting Jesse Turner as the first African American student on August 16, 1963. Christian Brothers High School became the first high school in Memphis to desegregate. Bishop William L. Adrian chastised Br. Terence for moving too swiftly, writing, “Up to this, we have followed the policy that integration be authorized only when the pastors of Shelby County approved; this included high school integration. Evidently you misunderstood or ignored this.” Br. Terence had not misunderstood the Bishop’s directive; rather, he understood that acting justly required breaking unjust policies.
Today, CBU is one of the most diverse university campuses in the South, but we cannot rely on our past and present. As a university, we must prepare students for future challenges. A college education is an investment in futurity—future careers and earnings but also future civic engagement.
Why do we need a chapter of the NAACP on a college campus in 2014? As someone who teaches about race, culture, and history, I see the difficulty students often have in participating in open discussions about race. For too many students, the topic feels taboo. An NAACP chapter on this campus ensures that students will have the opportunity to discuss and learn about the ways prejudice affects people. Education creates a foundation for advocacy and empowerment. Education is the foundation of justice.
We need the NAACP at CBU because…
We need our students to be future leaders. I hope this chapter includes future legislators, school board members, superintendents, doctors, teachers, professors, mayors, governors, district attorneys, public defenders, and community activists. Memphis hungers for innovative and compassionate solutions to inequality and poverty, to climate change and environmental pollution, to education shortfalls and public health crises, to racial profiling and unequal sentences, and to violent crime and mass incarceration.
Dr. Jeffrey Gross
We need citizens who are brave enough to imagine alternatives to the New Jim Crow, to use Michelle Alexander’s term for the caste system created by disproportionate arrests and unfair sentencing. Instead of a school to prison pipeline, we need a school to social mobility pathway. We need leaders who say “no more”—no more Trayvon Martins, Jordan Davises, Eric Garners, or Michael Browns. When CBU students enter to learn and leave to serve, we want them to embody CBU’s Lasallian tradition and the NAACP’s mission, both of which demand that we work toward a society that respects, without prejudice, the rights of all persons.
I believe that a college campus has to be a space where we can be our best possible selves. If we cannot imagine and work toward a more just world here, then we have no hope beyond these grounds. Today’s chartering of the NAACP is both a landmark event in CBU’s history and a continuation of the legacy that began with the Brothers’ arrival in Memphis in 1871 and the NAACP’s formation in 1909.
Tonight, we gather because a group of students saw a need and opportunity on this campus. They understood that the legacies of the NAACP and Christian Brothers University should go hand-in-hand. Thank you Taylor, Sam, Amber, Justin, Jasmine, Rakesha, Darianne, and all the other involved students for making tonight possible. In your hands, we are all assured a better future.
Dr. Jeffrey Gross
Assistant Professor, Literature and Languages