Dominican wishes for MLK day to have an “ImpACT” on campus

By Jackie Glosniak

January 15, 2014

While it has become commonplace for American schools to observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with no school, Dominican has decided to turn a day of no classes into a call for social activism.

Dominican will be hosting its ImpACT workshop on Monday, Jan. 20, with several faculty members hosting seminars and introducing guest speakers with the hopes to inspire students to get involved with causes dedicated towards modern-day civil rights movements.

The morning is set to begin with a keynote address by Mariame Kaba, founding director of Project NIA, a grassroots dedicated to bringing down the number of young people incarcerated through incorporation of restorative justice practices.

The rest of the day will consist of concurrent sessions, including presentations from English Professor Gil Cook on poetry raising social justice awareness, Communications Professor Jennifer Dunn speaking on the importance of debating on large social arguments and students presenting on their work to improve conditions for undocumented children, protest the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. for alleged human rights abuses and combat representations of rape culture.

Throughout the day, Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the Wellness Center, will be hosting sessions on relaxation and how stress management can help people focus during seminars and times of activism. She is conducting the sessions because she believes a relaxed mind leads to better management of thoughts and information absorption.

“What I’m going to do is induce relaxation and teach people how to teach other people to go to that relaxed place; that deep-centered place that your brain can go to,” Ritzman explained. “Partly, I’ll use guided imagery and breathing. It’s just really cool. I’ve done it several times for freshman seminars and we’re going to take it to the next step so people going to ImpACT can do it themselves with groups.”

During breaks, University Ministry’s liturgical choir will also be singing across campus.

“We are singing a lot of soul music and spiritual music so we can serve as something that relates to the topics of the day,” Erin Winkeler, sophomore member of liturgical choir, said. “We started practicing Wednesday, Jan. 8 and we’re rehearsing all through the week.”

Student Involvement Coordinator Ian Van Anden hopes the event will draw students from across the disciplines to attend.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn how to be a social justice advocate,” he said. “I think that’s a skill in our world that we can’t have enough of.”