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We’ve Moved!

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Hello everyone,

The Dominican Star has a new home! In order to keep receiving your Dominican University news, look for us at dominicanstar.com.

We hope that you enjoy our new site!

Kelly Butler, Web Editor

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SGA pushes for student friendly enviroment

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With the spring semester well underway, the Student Government Association has been actively working towards focusing their mission around enacting and enforcing new campus legislation in order to create a more student-friendly environment.

This past fall, SGA initiated a new campus-wide smoking policy. After initiatives created last school year to improve health on campus, SGA passed regulations outlining new outdoor smoking areas. With the help of Campus Security, SGA created signs and re-located ashtrays and furniture to their current designated locations. This semester, members are working to co-sponsor an event with Campus Security, “to educate the student body about the new smoking policies,” SGA President Sara Vicente said.

This new policy, although done to secure health for the student body, is controversial because some think SGA has not carried out these policies to the best of their capabilities. Sophomore Dwaine Porter points out that the smoking areas are unclear and there are not enough signs designating approved locations. The access to the locations is also an issue at times, especially recently considering the constantly changing weather. “During winter, smoking areas are not kept up,” says Porter, in reference to a smoking area at the Priory Campus. After the last big snowfall, plows pushed snow piles directly in front of the entrance to the designated smoking area in front of the garden.

Jackie Glosniak, DOMINICAN STAR

With this policy being brand new SGA is working to help students understand that the policy is in place to benefit the student body. Sophomore Brandon Forrest says smokers are also a little upset about the new policies, but believes they are effective. “I think they do a good job for the most part,” Forrest said.

Last semester, SGA also collaborated with Physical Plant and IT to provide a filtered water dispenser and network printer in the Coughlin Commons to accommodate resident students. This became a focal point because water fountains in the residence halls often do not work, and many students have complained in the past about having to leave the residence halls to print out assignments.

SGA already has a lot on its plate to accomplish this spring. They are currently helping Student Involvement by overseeing the organization development judiciary process necessary for reviewing and approving constitutions, as well as reviewing budgets for annually funded groups.

The group will also soon be focusing on officer elections in late March. “[We] encourage students to vote in our second annual online elections in March,” Vicente says. SGA will be looking to fill open positions within the Senate and University Committees, all seats which are up for grabs.

Along with moving new policies forward, SGA is striving to spark interest in more students across campus. Members of SGA work to stress the idea that general meetings are not only open for all students, but a good way to listen and speak up about issues across campus. Between tables at Involvement Fairs to flyers and banners created on behalf of Secretary Jonathan Rodriguez and the Publicity Committee, SGA tries to attract as many new people as possible to the organization.

Norah Collins, faculty adviser for SGA, says that speaking up at meetings “allows students to use their voice in constructive ways.” SGA strives to approach student concerns first before any other initiatives that have to get done. “We’re focusing on Dominican as a whole, [but mainly] with students and student organizations,” says Elizabeth Dunn, SGA student trustee.

“I don’t feel like a lot of people know about SGA efforts. I only know because I’m involved,” says Porter, who is not a member of SGA but who serves as treasurer for Resident Student Association and Black Student Union. And even though he does not necessarily want to become involved with SGA, Forrest thinks the organization should send mass emails to students simply to publicize about what they’re doing. “I just like to be informed,” he says.

On Thursday, Jan. 26, SGA held a Meet and Greet in the Lewis Alcove. Students had the opportunity to meet executive members and gather information about upcoming events.

On Feb. 14, SGA will welcome the League of Women Voters of Oak Park-River Forest to campus to provide students with information and encourage them to become registered voters in time for the March 20 presidential primary election.

SGA is also hoping to host another Town Hall meeting so students can voice their concerns directly to faculty.

Students who are interested in SGA still have plenty of opportunities to attend general meetings this semester. Their next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6 in the Cusack Board Room.

– Jackie Glosniak, Staff Writer

DU students to serve in Haiti for first time

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During spring break in March 2012, Dominican students will travel to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for a service-learning opportunity. This is the first time the university has organized a trip to Haiti, and it was spurred on by the tragic earthquake that devastated the nation two years ago.

The worst earthquake in the region in more than 200 years struck Jan. 12, 2010, leveling most of Port-au-Prince and, according to the Haitian government, killing more than 300,000 people. More than a million residents lost their homes, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians still live in displacement camps.

“Right after the earthquake, Dominican University organized an exploratory trip with the intention of forming partnerships with organizations in Haiti,” MaDonna Thelen, director of Service Learning, said.

She and another faculty member traveled to Haiti to uncover various service learning opportunities, and they managed to establish partnerships with three major organizations there.

“Wings of Hope is a home for severely disabled children,” Thelen said. “The children need help getting dressed; they need to be fed. The students will be helping with that.”

Dominican also has partnered with the St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, which provides shelter for boys living on the streets, and with Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying, which shelters and cares for babies who are terminally ill, suffering from tuberculosis or diagnosed with HIV.

“These kids’ families are too poor to take proper care of them,” Thelen said. “Haiti is the poorest country in Southern Hemisphere, and it’s the 20th poorest in the world.”

Dominican has partnered with Matthew 25 House, which will provide student accommodations. A flyer about the trip, provided by Thelen, states that “Matthew 25 House is a safe environment where we will stay. They will provide us with good meals, filtered water and transportation. Accommodations are simple, but adequate.”

All students who plan to study abroad must attend orientation sessions where they are thoroughly prepared for the trip by reading books and studying the nation to which they are traveling. Students traveling to Haiti will be taught how to handle some of the extreme situations and tragic sights that they will be faced with.

“The students need to be well prepared because nobody here has had to live through anything close to what they’re living through,” Thelen said.

The earthquake wasn’t the only thing to hit Haiti in 2010. Six months after the quake, a cholera epidemic erupted, killing thousands more Haitians.

Addressing any lingering concerns about the epidemic, Thelen said, “Cholera is a disease of the poor.” She said students will only drink bottled water and will not go near areas where there is standing water that might be contaminated.

Rather than discouraging students from traveling to Haiti, the recent suffering there has drawn students that want to make a difference.

Thelen said 12 students registered to go on the trip right away.

The maximum number of students allowed to travel abroad in a group is 15. The last day to register was Nov. 21, but Thelen said she is willing to extend the deadline and make exceptions for students still interested.

– Kinga Kasprzyk, Staff Writer

Call to action: save student aid

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Due to recent budget deals and budget cuts, $30 billion has already been cut from student aid in states all around the country. With 134, 233 supporters, the Save Student Aid movement is growing bigger by the day.  Students all over the country, like Candace Haywood, senior, are taking the time to sign an online petition in order to protect their future.

“Although I will be graduating next semester and school is almost done for me, I will be attending graduate school and hoping that I will have the funds to further my education. I not only signed that petition for myself, but for the many students to come after me,” said Haywood.

According to the Save Student Aid website, by the year of 2018 there will be 22 million jobs available for new workers with college degrees, but because of financial aid budget cuts, three million workers will miss the opportunity. These three million cannot afford to further their education because their resources have been limited. “Cuts to student aid will make college an unrealistic expense for some students. Jobs are hard enough to find with a degree; I cannot imagine what would happen if suddenly multitudes of students had to give up their college aspirations and join the thousands who are looking for work now,” said Dominican’s own Financial Aid Director, Marie von Ebers.

As far as Dominican University students are concerned, the financial aid office has come up with ways to make sure we get as much help as possible. The Office of Financial Aid encourages students to file their FAFSA as early as possible in order to meet deadlines, get involved with scholarship opportunities provided by the university, as well as attend the literacy programs provided to teach students how to budget their money.

“Most importantly, we are here to listen and assist in any way that we possibly can. Students who are struggling financially should not be afraid to come to the financial aid office so we can explore our options. In the end, it is our goal that all Dominican students graduate and go on to be successful alumni!”  von Ebers said. Be a part of the call to action and sign your name on the Save Student Aid petition today!

– Quiana Miller, Staff Writer

Is a radio station in DU’s future?

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While Dominican offers majors in communications and journalism, there is no major available for students who want to work in radio or television. Students interested in broadcasting careers are advised to walk a few blocks to Concordia University and enroll in a radio or television class there.

In the 1980s, Dominican had its own radio station, but one with limited programming and reach. But interest in the station waned towards the end of the decade.

Now, some faculty and staff think it’s time to revive radio broadcasting on the Dominican campus.

John Jenks, professor of journalism, said this is “an exciting time” for media at Dominican and it’s important for the university to have a radio station.  In an era of multimedia communication, “audio is important; you can do very creative things with it.”

Jenks said Dominican’s IT Department is interested in starting a Creative Media Lab. Unlike the obsolete radio and television technology of the past, this venture could include the use of broadcasting through digital media, such as podcasting. Podcasts are radio versions of stories that can be downloaded anytime.

CarrieLynn Reinhard, a professor in the communications department, wants to help develop the Creative Media Lab. She believes the lab would be a good way for students and faculty to work on communication research and enhance their video and audio production skills.

“Convergent media has been going on for years now,” Reinhard said. “I think it is the future, but it is also the present.”

The Creative Media Lab could eventually have the capabilities  to create an online streaming station for music and video projects, but first equipment and lab space is necessary.

“[For communications], creating a space for different disciplines is needed,” Reinhard said.

She said perhaps the university and the IT Department could seek a grant that would help pay for equipment and also fund a student digital production club.

Ideas are still up in the air about what manner of digital media the lab would use, but Reinhard said the lab would probably start out with podcasting  rather than streaming online or  going through the process of applying for an FCC broadcast license.

In the 1980s, Dominican’s radio programming was broadcast only in the dorms through a process known as leaky AM, where the radio signal was run through the regular electrical wires of the buildings. But now, with podcast, the radio station would be able to reach more students through a better system.

Interest in radio returned in the early 2000s. In the spring of 2002, falculty and students attempted to bring radio back to Domican’s halls.  Former faculty member Kate Stout was named adviser of the Radio Club and about a dozen students from the club worked with the administration and Student Involvement to establish a permanent station location.

The club raised money to buy broadcasting equipment, since equipment from the ‘80s had been scrapped. The club also partnered with the technology department to receive an FCC license and a specific FM designation.

During the proposal stages of the Radio Club, members agreed that Radio Dominican would be “on the air” up to 20 hours a week. Programming was expected to include sports, music, campus news and debate forums. Unfortunately, after all the planning, Radio Dominican remained silent; no first broadcast ever came about.

In 2005, a few individuals brought up the radio idea again, but it was put on hold. Since Concordia had its own station it was argued interested students from Dominican could just take part in their program.

Jackie Glosniak, Contributing Writer

DU Professor and students cross borders for multicultural experience

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When students “cross the border,” for a weekend away, what usually comes to mind is spring break and margaritas on the beach – not a weekend in Windsor, Canada. But for those Dominican students who went on Campus Climate’s first international trip this semester, they got a mini-vacation out of the country, without the price tag of a week in Cancun.

On Friday, Nov. 11, Dr. Nkuzi Nnam, philosophy professor and director of Black World Studies, along with 13 undergraduate students, started a weekend-long trip from River Forest, Ill. to Detroit, Mich. ultimately ending up in Windsor, Canada. They came back to River Forest, Ill. Nov. 13.

The trip, planned by Dominican’s Campus Climate Committee, was meant to help students get a multicultural experience away from home without the hassles and expenses of a long-term study abroad trip. According to Nnam, Campus Climate was started in 1980 as a way to increase cultural and racial harmony on the Dominican campus. The group’s goal is to increase awareness of intercultural relations, and Nnam saw this trip as a chance to do just that.

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Nnam drove with the students to Detroit, Mich., first to learn about the automobile industry and the economic difficulties the city has faced in the past few years. The group visited Plymouth City Chamber of Commerce, where Mike Brace and two of his workers lectured them on the economy of Plymouth City and Detroit in general. The lecture was followed by a visit to Henry Ford Estate.

Shannon Meyer, a senior at Dominican, was one of the student leaders on the trip. Meyer said that crossing the U.S. – Canada border was an interesting experience in itself.

“I feel the trip enhanced my overall knowledge of Canada and Detroit and we met different people with different views. We were learning about the economy even crossing the border back home and dealing with the border patrol,” Meyer said.

While in Windsor, important stops included Mackenzie Hall and the Windsor Community Cultural Centre, where the group analyzed a comparative study of Canada and the United States, with particular reference to Detroit and Windsor, and immersed themselves in Canadian culture.

Nnam said that the trip, which ended Nov. 13, was a way for students to immerse themselves in another culture for a short time, while comparing it to the culture in the United States. Nnam said that the students presented their findings to the school a week after the trip.

Meyer said that the trip was educational but also a way to bond with other students in an entirely new way.

“I feel that you learn a lot about your fellow peers at school and it is a great way to connect with them. You start the trip by not knowing each other but by the end of it, you have made friends from all different cultures, which is the best part,” Meyer said.

Katherine Kulpa, Editor-in-chief

Scientist helps African-Americans trace ancestry through DNA testing

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Imagine not knowing where your family comes from and where your bloodline originated. This is the plight of numerous African Americans today. Many have no records that indicate where their ancestors resided. But Dr. Rick Kittles, Scientific Director of African Ancestry, Inc., found one way to map out African-American’s familial histories: DNA testing.

On Nov. 4, Kittles spoke about his research at Dominican during the 5th Annual African Heritage Lecture, presented by Dominican’s Elders’ Council. Kittles is known for his research that focuses on the studies of population history through genealogy. He uses DNA to trace the ancestry of African Americans, as well as the history of disease in patients’ families.

During his lecture Kittles spoke about how DNA testing can trace originality to ethnic groups and ancestry. He explained how we get DNA from both of our parents and that Y chromosomes are only from males, and if no male children are born in a family, then the Y chromosome is not passed on to future generations.

Kittles discussed how our DNA affects our susceptibility to disease. Kittles said that genealogy allows you to learn about yourself, your identity and your ancestry and that it helps answer questions of origin and break that barrier.

He also spoke about mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on through women. Men receive it but do not pass it on because it is located inside the tail of sperm. As there is a constant mutation in DNA, Kittles and his team compare nucleotides looking for changes and substitutions. They can trace back up to 80,000 years; the older the strand, the more common it is. According to Kittles, there have not been many ancestral disease findings, as many don’t date back very far.

Kittles talked about working with Oprah, who thought she was originally kin to the Zulu tribe of South Africa, which was why she funded a school there. But after working with Oprah, Kittles found through DNA testing that she is actually from a very specific part of Liberia.

The work of Dr. Kittles and his team can be life-changing. Kittles says that if someone is raised to believe one thing and finds out they actually originate from elsewhere, it impacts their lives emotionally: they need to reconcile who they are and who they thought they were.

Katherine Kulpa, Editor-in-chief