Dominican Student Experiences Aftermath of Paris Terrorist Attacks

December 1, 2015

By Sarah Tinoco

Senior Jordan Krikie planned an overnight leisure trip to tour the City of Lights. However Krikie plans changed when the ISIS planned terrorists attacks struck Paris, France on Nov. 13.

Krikie, who is currently studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), and a friend had planned to travel from Dublin, Ireland to Paris that Friday night and return Saturday evening.

It was on a bus from Beauvais–Tillé Airport in Tillé, France to Paris when a Parisian passenger stood up and announced what had happened in Paris.

Krikie and her friend arrived in Paris at around 11:45 p.m., after the explosions on the Stade de France and the shootings at bars and cafes in the 10th and 11th Arrondissements had unfolded.

“Because all the metro stations were closed and no one wanted to walk with what was going on, people rushed from the bus to the street to try and get a taxi,” Krikie said. “Parisians who were driving by were offering to drive people places to help people get off the street.”

Krikie and her friend attempted to get a taxi for 15 minutes. Once they finally got a taxi, Krikie showed the driver the address of their hostel. The driver quickly informed Krikie that the hostel was only a half a mile away from one of the attacks. The driver told Krikie that he would not go in that direction, and neither should she and her friend.

“When we first heard about the attacks we were nervous, but it wasn’t until we realized that we couldn’t get to our hostel and we were on the streets during a terror attack that I broke down. We were both terrified and wanted to get inside as fast as possible,” Krikie remembered.

Krikie and her friend scrambled to find a place to stay for the night to get off the street. They found a Hyatt Regency hotel near the bus stop in the 17th Arrondissement, where they begged security to let them in to book a room. At that point, the cost of staying in a four-star hotel in Paris did not matter to Krikie and her friend.

They barricaded themselves in the hotel room that night, calling their families, friends and the US Embassy to let them know they were safe, but very scared.

“We heard police cars driving by all night with their sirens blaring. Every time we heard a siren we would go to the window and try and see what direction it was going,” Krikie said.

At this time, the shootings and hostage situation were still underway at the Bataclan concert hall in the 11th Arrondissement.

“We watched the news all night until about 6 a.m. We got minute by minute updates as the Garda stormed the Bataclan concert hall and found 112 hostages dead,” Krikie said.

Krikie and her friend finally left their hotel room at around 11:30 a.m. the next morning to take in the sights of Paris. Everything was closed, including the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, and police officers and soldiers with riffles stood on almost every street throughout the city, Krikie said.

“My friend and I walked to the Bataclan concert hall to pay tribute to the victims and their families. Besides news vans and the reporters talking, it was strangely quiet as the police stood and blocked the street near the theatre,” Krikie said.

Krikie returned safely to Dublin that Saturday. The following Saturday while in Dublin again, Krikie saw flowers, candles, artwork and notes laid in front of the French Embassy in the Irish capital city.

Krikie, a psychology major, has since returned to Limerick, but not without experiencing a tragic event that has altered her worldview.

“It’s an experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It’s hard to completely process right now because it just happened but my chest still gets tight when I think about the attacks or I see posts about it. It’s hard to explain.”

Diversity on Campus: A Work in Progress

December 1, 2015

By Melissa Rohman, Jocelyn Cano and Amanda Ybarra

The Nov. 12 “Silence No More” protest led by Dominican’s African-American students has sparked immediate conversation and a call to action on campus. Four days after the protest, President Donna Carroll sent a letter to all Dominican students, faculty, and staff. “They protested in the spirit of mission and told us that the university is not living up to its values and promise. Specifically, they do not feel at home at Dominican, and we are not truthful enough to admit that we are failing them,” said Carroll in her letter.

“Specifically, we will address issues of access and retention so that our African American student population will continue to grow. We will find ways to accelerate faculty diversity through policy and partnerships. We will enhance the cultural competencies of faculty, staff and students, so that we are better equipped to live and work together inclusively. And, we will continue to build the infrastructure to sustain an inclusive campus. Such a transformative agenda requires heightened communication and accountability,” said Carroll.

The letter is an important first step to elevate and accelerate diversity planning that is already ongoing‎ on campus in addition to identifying new initiatives, but nonetheless it is one of many steps that need to be taken.

“Increasing cultural competency across campus and, thus‎, decreasing the likelihood of incidents of micro aggression is a complex effort, so I do not want to pretend that Dominican can address this overnight,” said Carroll. “Since the protest, almost every department and school has been discussing strategies. The ‘Complicit No More’ campaign was one attempt for faculty and staff to tell the campus that they heard students’ call to action and are committed to responding.”

An immediate response to the “Silence No More” protest on Nov. 12 was the release of the “Complicit No More” campaign, organized by Dominican’s faculty, staff, and administration.

“This response is really just to say we hear you. This doesn’t immediately fix it, but we want students to know we hear you, and we don’t want to be complicit in the problem. We want to take responsibility because it’s our problem to fix,” said assistant professor of psychology Tina Taylor Ritzler.

In addition, President Donna Carroll met with the members of the “Silence No More” protest to have an honest conversation about the students’ concerns. “The students were hopeful, not angry, and as I said to my colleagues on the President’s Cabinet, that hope ‎is an even greater responsibility, which we need to address with care,” said Carroll.

However, it has been made clear that although a few steps have been taken, many more need to be taken in the future, including further discussion, progress, and eventual change concerning racial equality on campus.

“The “Complicit No More” campaign is not enough, but the reason we are doing it is to show solidarity, to show that we value our African-American students, that we appreciate them, we hear them, we see them, and want for them to know that we want them here and we can do better,” said Ritzler.

“But it’s not the first step,” says Sociology and Criminology department chair Janice Monti in regards to the Complicit No More Campaign. “Many of us have been having this discussion for quite a long time, and while I certainly feel a genuine importance to stand with our students in solidarity, I think that we are long past the time to address in concrete ways what we can do to make our climate, curriculum, and our faculty and staff better at what we need to do. I’d like to see the faculty use the role that we have in governance to finally effect meaningful change in line with the student recommendations,” said Monti. One key curricular change in this regard may be coming soon.

On Nov. 16, faculty at an Undergraduate Academic Council meeting successfully voted yes in regards to changing the multicultural requirement (MC) set in place for undergraduate core curriculum (a discussion that has been going on since 2014). The new MC requirement (when implemented likely in the 2017-2018 academic year) will have a social justice emphasis, asking students who take MC courses to investigate multiculturalism broadly, yet politically, with specific emphases on injustice, bias, equity, and cultural expressions, particularly through an investigation of non-dominant groups of people in the U.S. or a global context.

Many steps have already been taken and more are in the works. Amongst those is the appointment and chairing of a President’s Student and Alumnae/i Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with the Vice President for Mission and Ministry. She has also asked the university diversity committees to ensure quality conversation and progressive change.

“It’s not the finish but it’s a start,” said Chief Diversity Officer Sheila-Radford Hill in regards to the diversity committees. “In issues like this, you need to start somewhere. The advisory council will work if we work it–if we actually use it to make the changes that are important to do in a diversity plan.”

Since she began her tenure at Dominican this July, Radford-Hill has been working with students, faculty, and staff making and implementing change initiatives and strategies in order to ensure that Dominican is a place of diversity, equity, and inclusion and is a safe and welcoming campus for everyone.

“There is a willing mission driven DU community interested in making changes so that all students succeed. What we have now is leadership and focus. These assets can be deployed to remove institutional barriers to equity-mindedness. This term, embraced by the Center for Urban Education and the American Association of Colleges and University, means paying attention to student outcomes and noticing gaps between groups of students. Now with leadership at all levels and focus across operational and academic units, we can examine equity gaps, launch interventions, measure their impact and institutionalize the projects that make the biggest impact on gaps in student outcomes,” said Radford-Hill.

Five students organized an open forum to explain the reasons for the protest, the impact of issues discussed earlier and opportunities for students to participate in strengthening Dominican’s commitment to an inclusive campus.

Students are also invited to attend an on-campus diversity discussion group. The discussion group was launched in response to the I’m not a Racist diversity series event at Dominican.

Senior Justin Wheeler, who is a campus Diversity Advocate, attended the discussion group and described what the group means to him.

“I think it is important for us to have these follow up conversations and continue to have these conversations because that’s the only way people are going to learn and get something positive out of it.”

The next Dominican Diversity Dialogue will be on Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Lewis Lounge. The students will determine the topic of conversation and the format will be simple – an open dialogue where students can ask questions, learn, challenge, and engage in conversation regarding diversity.

Junior Ahriel Fuller encourages student to come join the discussion with an open mind and respect. “I think it offers students a change to present their opinion and learn. Don’t be afraid.”

“There needs to be a level of respect in the discussion of race and black culture. People think that we can’t talk about black culture because but we can we just want to take out the prejudice/ negativity. There is a level of respect that needs to stay in place for instance the vandalism of boards for how we feel and asking for support have been vandalized – one says get a job and go to school. There is no respect in that kind of interaction. People have to be educated and be uncomfortable; it’s very important to step outside your comfort zone in order to make progress,” said Fuller.  

(Contribution reporting by Eric Smith and Gabriella Fusco)

University Officials Respond to Recent Events

December 1, 2015

By Cory Lesniak

President Donna Carroll is entering her 22nd year leading Dominican University. While Carroll was appointed in 1994 at the age of 39, many things have changed for the campus since such as the name change Rosary to Dominican, Priory was built, and most of all enrollment has increased significantly.

With an increase in enrollment at Dominican comes the increase of a large widespread number of diverse students on campus. With Dominican being blocks away from Chicago residency and just a few minutes from downtown, the feeling of racial inequality from the city certainly hits home for President Carroll. While away from campus on Nov. 12, many African-American students gathered in front of her office in the Lewis lobby and protested against racial inequality, being black on Dominican’s campus, and standing in solidarity with Mizzou. At the time Mizzou was having school wide protests about race it ignited a countrywide discussion on diversity.

“Diversity is a mix of difference in view points and perspectives and backgrounds and zip codes,” Chief Diversity Officer Sheila Radford-Hill said.

President Carroll later watched a 20-minitue YouTube video of the protest held on campus not once but twice to ensure she captured the message being relayed to her by the students who protested.

“I wont say it wasn’t painful for me to hear some of the individual students experiences. It really was… One of the things about a small institution is that they are not strangers, they are individual students that I say ‘hi’ to in the hallways everyday. To recognize that something so painful was happening to the student makes me wince. But I truly appreciate the courage and determination they demonstrated and we will use it as a launching pad for some of the work were doing,” Carroll said.

During the protest, a student was alleging a university professor of racially insulting comments by referring to a discussion between the African-American student and professor during class. The professor used the term “drug dealer” to the student who was on his or her phone.

“When an accusation or an allegation emerges and we receive a report, it is very important to investigate the report. I think in terms of what to do about it, you start with the complainant and you talk to the complainant about what the options are in this case. The particular complainants options were discussed and the process is moving with the complainants wishes,” Radford-Hill said.

These allegations are being investigated and President Carroll does not condone the behavior by her staff.

“There are certain thresholds where you also say certain behaviors are absolutely inappropriate. And the university has to take that stand and make a statement,” Carroll said.

Many faculty and staff took to their own personal social media accounts and stood with the students who protested on campus. Those same professors and staff wore a “Complicit No More” pin to show their support the days following. African-American students voiced their opinions during the protest and poster signings in the Social Hall on Nov. 18 and demanded that all faculty and staff on campus be trained in intercultural competence.

“We can all benefit from the type of intercultural competence training within professional development that the students talked about. Intercultural competence is a developmental process so its not like I give you one training session…we all have to make the commitment,” Radford-Hill said.

Still other student communities have voiced out privately in conversations with President Carroll and have expressed their concerns about the movement on campus.

“I have received that feedback. Students, faculty and staff at Dominican hopefully are creating some shared values as a community but because one student or set of students has certain experiences and another doesn’t, don’t negate the reality of the experience for those students. So I say that I respect your point of view and appreciate you sharing it and I respect the point of view of these students and I am listening to both and reconcile that difference in a campus community. Faculty and staff have expressed that too,” President Carroll said.

While the university tries to get a grip on the situation, Radford-Hill expresses that diversity is not a “zero to sum game.”

“It’s not a situation where if I give something to you I am taking something from another group. If we do this right and learn to live with each other inclusively and put these plans in place it will benefit not only our African American students but also all students,” Radford-Hill said.

President Carroll encourages all staff and student organizations to take time and discuss not only the protest but also the larger issues in a diverse community and how individuals feel. Dominican is placed in a suburban environment with many residents on all sides of campus. President Carroll and Chief Diversity Officer Radford-Hill both are in agreement that things need to remain under control.

“They (protesters) did that by being very Dominican about how they protested. By anchoring their concerns in the mission of the institution, by framing it as truth seeking. It was more of a “teach-in” than a protest and was constructive from the beginning. When I met with the students, they weren’t angry they were thoughtful and hopeful and as a President that hope is a much bigger burden than anger,” President Carroll said.

Radford-Hill continued saying,” I think it is very important that the administration hasn’t been tone deaf on the issue unlike some other campuses may have been. We are going to listen, we are going to talk about it and we are going to think about it. I think that is the most important way to keep the situation under control because people are talking to you because they want to be heard and that kind of respect is one of the most important things that should occur.”

Since the protest, President Carroll created a Diversity Council that she will chair. While the appointing doesn’t begin until early next semester, the plans of the council are already being made.

“The first primary focus is two-way communication because it was clear to me in that moment that I needed to be more present and listen more to diverse voices. This will open communication it will raise student leadership up around the issue of diversity. It will broaden the conversation beyond simply the experience of African American students but to all as many diverse voices as we can identify. It will bring in our most powerful and underutilized resource is the experience and voice of our alumni,” Carroll said.