Saint Mary’s names 2013 Valedictorian

first_imgSaint Mary’s announced the valedictorian of the Class of 2013 will be Allison Sherman of Batavia, Ill. Sherman, a computational mathematics major, said she originally liked Saint Mary’s because of the professors’ commitment to teaching and the College’s small class sizes. “There is a strong sense of community and the personal attention that each student receives was very important in my final decision to attend Saint Mary’s,” Sherman said. Professor Joanne Snow, chair of the mathematics department, said she hired Sherman as a teaching assistant after having her as a “star student” in Calculus III. “Sherman has the rare ability to explain concepts that she clearly has mastered to other students who have not yet achieved the same level of understanding,” Snow said. Sherman said her experiences as a teaching assistant in the department have encouraged her to pursue a career in education. She is in the process of applying to several teaching certificate programs and has not decided which program she will attend after graduation. “In the future, I hope to teach at the collegiate level and further my study of mathematics,” Sherman said.”I want to always be learning new things and I hope to inspire my own students to do the same.” Mary Connolly, professor of mathematics, said she helped Sherman develop her love for mathematics and encouraged her to decide on a math major. Connolly said Sherman’s skills extend beyond academics. “Computational mathematics is a major which combines significant computer science with higher-level mathematics classes,” Connolly said. “Allison is a very talented computer scientist, but one of her truly outstanding qualities is her generosity towards other students.” Sherman said her key to success is entertaining a healthy balance of friends, academics and extracurricular activities. She balances school with her roles as treasurer of the Mathematics Club, president of the Saint Mary’s chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon and participant in the National Mathematics Honorary Society. Sherman’s former roommate Erin Masko said Sherman is a diligent student. “She never puts off work for the next day but instead tackles it right away,” Masko said. “She is wonderful and deserves this honor of valedictorian.” Sherman said she is grateful to be honored as her class’s valedictorian. “I was extremely surprised, and I feel incredibly honored to represent my class,” Sherman said.  “I owe a great deal of gratitude to the entire Mathematics Department faculty at Saint Mary’s and in particular, Professor Snow, who has encouraged me throughout my collegiate career.” Contact Kelly Konya at [email protected]last_img read more

Howard Hall teeters, totters for water

first_imgOn Thursday, Howard Hall will host its annual Totter for Water event, aiming to raise $4,000 to build a water well in Cameroon.Photo courtesy of The Water Project Sophomore Mary Kate Marino, Totter for Water commissioner, said Howard’s 24-hour, teeter-totter fundraiser raises awareness about water needs around the world.“The Totter is fun and builds a good sense of community,” Marino said. “It also provides a good way to start conversations about the world population’s water needs.”Although the event begins Thursday at 5 p.m. on South Quad and ends Friday at 5 p.m., Howard already has started fundraising efforts.“Totter [for Water] is technically a week-long fundraising event,” Marino said. “We have sent e-mails to everyone in the dorm requesting that they gather donations from their friends and families.”This year, Howard changed the partnering organization for their project.“Last year, we worked with The Water Project,” Marino said. “This year, we partnered with Engineers Without Borders at Notre Dame. We are able to operate under the same principle of improving water development worldwide, but we are now more specific to a Notre Dame group.”Partnering agencies are not the only change, she said. Howard has also raised the fundraising goal from last year.“We beat our goal last year by roughly $2,000. So this year, we made the fundraising goal $4,000, and we hope to beat even that,” Marino said.Hannah Miller, a junior in Howard, said she looks forward to tottering from midnight to one a.m. on Friday.“Totter for Water is a really good cause and a good way to build dorm community,” Miller said. “It serves as a reminder about the needs of others, especially with something that we take for granted.”Marino said the project is having a positive effect on dorm residents’ habits.“Totter is an environmental reminder to all the members of our dorm,” Marino said. “The project is influencing the girls [in Howard] to turn off water when it is not needed and turn off lights to conserve electricity.”Marino said water should not be such a scarce resource for the world’s population.“We have to look at the international community and not just our own needs,” Marino said. “This project provides one opportunity to go out there and help people access this resource.”For more information, Marino said log onto and to donate log onto 24 hour totter, fundraising for water, Howard, Howard Hall, totter for waterlast_img read more

Student Government hosts refugee dinner

first_imgIn light of the recent refugee crisis, Notre Dame Student Government held a dinner to discuss the issue and provide a forum for several refugees to share their experiences Tuesday at the Morris Inn Ballroom.According to a Student Government email, the dinner was intended to “[bring] together refugees, students, faculty and members of the South Bend community for a night of conversation … and [focus] particularly on religious persecution as a means of forced migration. This dialogue helps students build relationships with members of the community, while learning about a global issue.”According to the email, over 135 Notre Dame students and faculty members attended the dinner, which featured commentary from refugees from Iraq and South Sudan.“It’s the perfect time to be having this conversation, with all the political rhetoric and the fear-mongering that we’ve been exposed to since the Paris bombing,” Barbara Szweda, former director of Notre Dame Immigration Clinic and Legal Aid Clinic, said.Szweda, now a refugee lawyer for Catholic Charities, was the first speaker of the evening. She explained the extensive process refugees must undergo in order to gain entrance to the United States.“A refugee is a person who because of well-founded fear of persecution [due to their] race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion … is unable or unwilling to avail themselves to the protection of the country and is unable to return,” Szweda said.Szweda called on members of all faith traditions to accept refugees, mentioning the emphasis both Islamic and Judo-Christian traditions place on aiding and sheltering those seeking refuge.“Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world. They are fleeing their homes and all that is familiar to them because of war or natural disaster. They come with absolutely nothing, some leave with just the clothes on their back,” Szweda said.Haider, a refugee from Iraq who did not wish to share his last name, spoke of the difficulty he had when deciding to come to the United States.“I did not have any plan to come to the United States until 2009, when I lost my wife in a car bombing. At that time, I had two kids — the youngest one was nine months old. At that point, I decided I needed to keep the rest of my family in a safe place,” he said. “I thought, if I flee out on Iraq, who is going to [make the country better]. Why am I going to make those American boys take the heavy load of making my country better, while I flee to another country. I decided to stay, until that horrible accident.”According to Haider, there is a common misconception that refugees are only looking for government handouts.“I just want everyone to know that refugees they are just normal people. They have jobs and have families,” he said. “My house [in Iraq] was decent, with a big garden. The house we rent now is half the size of my garden. I hear my son talking, saying ‘I remember when we used to be rich,’ and I try to explain to him, it is not important to be rich, it is important to be safe.”Ngor Majak Anyieth, a Notre Dame junior and refugee from South Sudan, also spoke.“I am not an expert on the topic,” Anyieth said. “I am just going to tell you about my experience with the hopes it will help you think through the crisis at hand.”According to Anyieth, life in a refugee camp is both a struggle and a joy. He said there is an overwhelming sense of community in the camp but also challenges during everyday life, including dealing with overcrowding and food scarcities.“My experience as a refugee started 10 years ago, when I left my home country and went to a refugee camp in Northern Kenya, where I would spend the next six years,” he said. “Now, every time I [leave Notre Dame] and go home, I go to Uganda, to the refugee camp.”Madison King, director of communications and event coordinator for Student Government, concluded the event with a call to action.“Take a rose outside as you leave, give that rose to your roommate or someone else that was not able to attend the dinner. Tell them something that you heard here tonight,” King said. “This will help us start the conversation around here on campus, as Notre Dame students, community members and friends of the human family.”Tags: refugee dinner, Refugees, Student governmentlast_img read more

University to take over Holy Cross food service

first_imgNotre Dame’s Campus Dining service will manage the Holy Cross food service starting July 30, including the dining hall and a campus cafe, according to a South Bend Tribune report.According to the report, the college announced Wednesday that the commercial food-service operation Sodexo — Holy Cross’s current food service provider that has been managing food service at the college since 1997, will end its agreement with Holy Cross when Notre Dame takes over food service on the campus.The college’s senior vice president, Mike Griffin, said the 15 Sodexo food service employees currently working at Holy Cross have the opportunity to apply to be University employees through Notre Dame’s Campus Dining operation and work in similar jobs, according to the Tribune.“We wanted to be certain that the staff would have the opportunity to continue working on our campus,” he said in the report.Under Notre Dame’s management, the menus and options in both the campus dining hall and Jazzman’s Cafe — a small cafe in the Vincent Classroom Building which will be renamed and redesigned — will be updated.Tags: Campus DIning, Food Services, Holy Cross College, tri-campus communitylast_img read more

University hosts memorial services honoring Parseghian

first_imgLegendary Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian was a “tremendous individual,” former football coach Lou Holtz said.“A lot of people can be successful, but Ara was significant,” he said. “Significance is when you help other people be successful. Of course, that lasts many a lifetime.”Holtz spoke Sunday at a ceremony honoring Parseghian, who died Wednesday at the age of 94, following a memorial Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.University President Fr. John Jenkins said in his homily that during his era as Notre Dame’s football coach, Parseghian, who led the program to a 95-17-4 record and national titles in 1966 and 1973, was “revered” by the student body.“When it would rain during football games, a chant from the student section would go up: ‘Ara, stop the rain. Ara, stop the rain.’ His accomplishments as a coach were so remarkable that we attributed to him almost supernatural powers,” Jenkins said in the homily. “The confidence was well deserved.” Observer File Photo Former Irish head coach Ara Parseghian collects his thoughts before addressing the press following Notre Dame’s 51-0 win over USC on Nov. 26, 1966. The Irish won their first of two championships under Parseghian that year.In his first season as head coach, Parseghian turned around a team that had finished with a 2-7 record the previous year, finishing the season at 9-1. Jenkins said this improvement was largely due to Parseghian’s mentorship of his players.“To accomplish that feat, a coach needs — and Ara certainly had — a mastery of the complex technique and strategies of football,” he said. “That’s not enough. A coach needs the ability to lead and shape a group of young men to believe in themselves and to dedicate themselves to a common goal. … Ara Parseghian was much more than a football coach. He was, most of all, a teacher and leader of men. As such, he not only achieved success on the field — he changed lives.”One of the lives Parseghian changed was that of Peter Schivarelli, a former football player and member of the class of ’71. Parseghian, who Schivarelli said “had a bigger influence on me than even my own father,” inspired his players with his work ethic.“I quickly realized that no matter how hard we worked, Ara always outworked us,” Schivarelli said at the memorial ceremony. “We always felt that we were totally prepared for any situation. Ara always brought a special strength to the team — especially when he would say to us that, ‘We have no breaking point.’”Parseghian also served as a mentor to other coaches at the University, former Notre Dame basketball coach Richard “Digger” Phelps said during the ceremony.“I would say, as a young coach, the success I had as young as I was — that part of my life, it was Ara being my big brother and my mentor,” Phelps said. “He was incredible when it came to being who he was and how he was, especially in letting me learn and know and understand how to coach here at Notre Dame.”After Parseghian left Notre Dame, he continued to serve others through his work with the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, which he started in 1994 to fund research for a cure for Niemann-Pick Type C disease (NPC) after three of his grandchildren died from the illness. Despite painful losses in his life, Jenkins said, Parseghian refused to be broken.“After his coaching career ended, Ara lost his daughter, Karan, to [multiple sclerosis],” Jenkins said during his homily. “And with his son, Michael, and his daughter-in-law, Cindy, he endured the pain of losing three young, beautiful grandchildren to Niemann-Pick Type C disease. Such losses crush many people. They did not crush Ara, Michael, Cindy, Katie and their family. … Again, the work of Ara and his family [has] helped change the lives of future generations of children, and of those who love them.”It was this work, Jenkins said, that set Parseghian apart from other legendary football coaches in the University’s history.“Ara Parseghian was a great coach because he won football games,” he said. “He was a great man because he changed the lives of those around him. Many here can attest to that. For that reason, we gather to give thanks for Ara’s life, and give thanks that — in some way — each of us were part of that life.”The legacy Parseghian left as a coach and a man will live on, Holtz said.“Ara Parseghian will live for many, many generations,” he said during the memorial ceremony. “Why? Because of the people he affected. He affected me, and the players that I affected were affected because of Ara Parseghian. I cannot say enough. Yes, we’re sad. I lost a friend, I lost a mentor, I lost a fellow coach and I lost a golfing partner. But ladies and gentlemen, I tend to focus on how fortunate and how blessed I was to be around such a positive influence in my life as Ara Parseghian.”Parseghian’s nephew, Tom Parseghian, who delivered a eulogy following the Mass, said Ara felt just as blessed to have been a member of the Notre Dame family.“Ara many times had spoken to how meaningful it was for him to be chosen to join the Notre Dame family,” he said. “He described the first time he drove down Notre Dame Avenue, and as the Golden Dome came into view, it sent a chill down his spine. In 1964, before being offered the job, [then-University President Fr. Theodore Hesburgh] asked him a question: ‘Ara, will you adhere to the standards of integrity we expect here at Notre Dame?’ He verbally answered that question that day, and he continued to answer that question for the next 53 years.”In his opening remarks at the Mass, Jenkins said the memorial was particularly relevant because it fell on the anniversary of the death of one of Parseghian’s granddaughters, Marcia.“[Today] we celebrate Ara’s life,” he said. “It’s also the anniversary of the death of Marcia — who was Ara’s granddaughter — today, and so we remember her. We remember her with hope. Because our hope is that Ara is now with [his] grandkids and [his] daughter, who preceded him in death, playing and laughing and smiling.”Phelps closed his remarks during the ceremony by paying tribute to Parseghian’s relationship with his wife, Katie.“There’s a lady on the Dome,” he said. “She’s the Blessed Mother. But Katie, she was the heart and soul by his side until he passed. May he rest in peace. Ara, we miss you.”Tags: Ara Parseghian, Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foudation, Digger Phelps, Fr. John Jenkins, Lou Holtz, Memorial Servicelast_img read more

Classics club commemorates Saturnalia feast

first_imgWhile many students are preparing to celebrate the holidays by decorating their dorms or shopping for presents, classics club is bringing an ancient celebration to campus Thursday: Saturnalia.“Saturnalia was a Roman holiday or festival that occurred around Christmas time, and it was in celebration of the Roman god Saturn,” senior Olivia May, the club’s vice president, said. “It was a lot of public festivities, feasting, banqueting, gift-giving — so some parallels with Christmas.“There was also this idea of an inversion of the social order, so masters and slaves would swap positions temporarily, which is kind of interesting also — masters would be serving their slaves meals.” Photo courtesy of Olivia May Students attend a Saturnalia feast hosted in 2016 to learn about ancient Roman culture. The holiday was originally celebrated in ancient Rome in honor of the god Saturn and takes place during December.Sophomore and classics club parliamentarian Nicole Larkin said Christmas has its roots in Saturnalia.“Classics is sort of ingrained in our Western society because Christmas is sort of based on Saturnalia,” she said. “I guess you don’t really see it in minor things, but more in the general concepts of society.”The celebration is a fun way to de-stress before finals week, Larkin said.“It’s a fun time to be with friends and to just hang out and take a break from finals, especially since it’s going to be on the last day of class,” she said. “I know last year, I was in the middle of working on my final project, too, and I took a break to go.”The festivities will include refreshments, Christmas carols and a lecture about the history of Saturnalia, May said.“I really love the Latin Christmas carols, personally,” she said. “I always think it’s fun when we can pull in the ancient languages and apply them to our lives today. It’s hard sometimes when you study a language a lot of people call dead, and it’s people who do stuff like this that keeps it alive. I think that’s really cool.”Classics club allows students to learn about ancient cultures outside of the classroom in a fun environment, May said.“Our goal is to promote the ancient languages, Latin and Greek, and ancient cultures at Notre Dame,” she said. “We do a lot of events that kind of pull in a little bit of what classics is in academic disciplines, but also more of the fun stuff.”May said these events allow students to interact with the classics in a more concrete way.“I think classics club tries to tie humanities in with what we’re learning with how we interact with each other on campus, kind of intersecting the academic and the social,” she said. “ … Especially for disciplines that don’t necessarily have that practical application, it’s a good way to make sure we’re still kind of engaging with what we learn.”Tags: Classics Club, Greek, Latin, Saturnalialast_img read more

Saint Mary’s hosts conversation about women’s role in the Catholic Church

first_imgSaint Mary’s Campus Ministry and the Center for Spirituality hosted a dinner and conversation Tuesday evening titled “The Catholic Church Needs Women; Do Women Need the Catholic Church?” featuring Sr. Sharlet Ann Wagner, CSC, the President-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.The event consisted of small group discussions between three to four students, an adult layperson and a Sister of the Holy Cross over dinner before Wagner delivered remarks about the role of women in the Church.“I wanted to take a few minutes to affirm the statement [that the Catholic Church needs women],” she said. “We know that the Church has always counted on women. We have been the backbone and workhorse of Catholic parishes — we’ve staffed the altar society, we’ve been the sacristans, we’ve taught the religious education classes, we’ve provided the bereavement ministry, taught in the schools and taught the children in the Catholic faith.”However, Wagner went on to say women are more than just the labor by discussing her recent experience at last year’s United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference.“More than the labor, I would say the Catholic Church needs the prospective and voices of women,” she said. “Our Church is not whole when half the voices are missing. And we could do and be so much more.”Wagner then addressed the question of whether or not women need the Catholic Church — which she said she personally believes is an “emphatic yes” based off her own reflections.“Growing up, to me ‘church’ meant basically the hierarchy, the bishops, the priests, the institutions [and] the buildings,” Wagner said. “ … Later in life, ‘church’ came to mean, to me, the people of God. I rejected the hierarchical view and said church was the people sitting in the pews. At this point in my life, I’ve settled in the middle and church has become all of the above. … When I say I need the Catholic Church, I mean all of us together in this glorious mess of a church.”That mess is shown in the occasional “flaws” of the Church and its leaders, Wagner said.“My disgust with behaviors and attitudes has led me to genuinely struggle with remaining a member [of the Church], but I have come to realize that the Church is made of people,” she said. “Of you, of me — of people like us. And I know very well that I’m not perfect; I’m deeply flawed. So how I can ask my Church, which is made up of people like me, to be perfect?”Even so, Wagner insisted the Church still has room to improve and should call on her to grow as a person just as she hopes to ask it to continue growing.“I need the Church because its where I connect most deeply with God,” Wagner said. “Yes, I can pray without the Church. I can and do experience God walking this beautiful campus. I don’t have to go into the Church of Loretto to experience God, but I know that we human beings are communitarian by nature. And I experience God in and with my worshipping community.”Her communion was not just with her local worshipping community, she said, but with the Church as a whole, across space and time. In sum, Wagner said women need the Catholic Church because people need the Catholic Church and women are people.“I spent a week in Rome recently, participating in some meetings and Vatican City is such a wonderful mixture, of languages, of cultures and colors,“ Wagner said. ”There are people from all over the world and when I met from Vatican officials they came from all over the world [which reminded me] that I’m part of a vertical community that stretches backward for millennia and stretches forward to future generations.”Tags: Catholic church, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Saint Mary’s Campus Ministry, Sr. Sharlet Ann Wagnerlast_img read more

Notre Dame alumnus reflects on student riots following Ku Klux Klan parades in ‘Notre Dame vs. The Klan’

first_imgTodd Tucker, a member of Notre Dame’s 1990 graduating class, spoke on his book, “Notre Dame vs. The Klan” on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Hesburgh Library Scholars Lounge.“Notre Dame vs. The Klan” was originally published in 2004 after Tucker received offers from multiple publishing companies interested in publishing his story. “Why are we still talking about this book today after 16 years?” Tucker said. “I think because it is still a pretty shocking, almost unbelievable story.”The book centers around the events that transpired in South Bend during the height of the Ku Klux Klan’s influence in Indiana. The two main players of the story are Father Walsh, the then-president of the University, and D.C. Stephenson, one of the most powerful members of the Klan at the time. “Every good story needs a really compelling bad guy, and that’s D.C. Stephenson,” Tucker said.Stephenson was mostly involved in the Klan as a way to make money, though, as Tucker notes, “he was certainly racist.” After being involved in a kidnapping that resulted in the death of a woman, Stephenson was thrown in prison, where he continued to operate the Klan’s actions. He planned for the Klan to organize a parade in South Bend for two main reasons. “The Klan in Indiana used these parades as a recruiting vehicle, and it was natural for them to hold one in South Bend, the second most populous city in the state,” Tucker said.It was likely that the Klan put on the parade in South Bend in order to get a reaction from the Catholic students at Notre Dame, Tucker said, most of which lived off campus in the city at the time. The Klan’s actions elicited a major reaction, with the students rioting at the parade and causing general mayhem by stealing many of the Klansmen’s robes. The Klan did not take these actions sitting down, however, Tucker said.“They called the campus and said they were holding a Notre Dame student hostage,” he said. “The Notre Dame students went back, but this time the Klan was waiting for them and the law was waiting for them.” Nobody was killed in the ensuing riot, though many bones were broken and many shots were fired. The situation raged on for several hours until Walsh brought the boys back to campus and away from the violence. Interestingly, Tucker said, the event spurred much of the dorm building that took place during the 30s and 40s as Walsh wanted to keep the students on campus to avoid another incident.Shortly after this occurrence, the Klan’s power in Indiana diminished exponentially, and they were soon completely out of power by the 1930s, he said. “When you have lived with this story for 15 years, the Klan never really goes away,” Tucker said. Tags: D.C. Stephenson, Father Walsh, Ku Klux Klan, Notre Dame vs. The Klan, riotslast_img read more

Virtual BAVO panel sheds light on how the 2020 election will affect Title IX

first_imgSaint Mary’s hosted a virtual discussion titled “How Voting Impacts Title IX,” co-sponsored by the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), the Title IX Office and the Office for Civic and Social Engagement (OCSE), Wednesday.Senior Elizabeth Day, the BAVO Event and Campaigns Chair, moderated the talk between Title IX Office advisor Dr. James Gillespie, political science professor Marc Belanger and OSCE director Rebekah Go.Gillespie began the conversation by explaining what Title IX is and how its coverage adapts to each presidential administration based on how the law is interpreted.“Title IX covers sexual discrimination and assault on college campuses,” Gillespie said. “There is huge leeway on how the executive branch can interpret laws like Title IX. The Obama administration expanded its scope [while] the current administration made Title IX less victim friendly.”Belanger added to Gillespie’s point by speaking about how far Title IX has come since it was first established.“I had never heard of the term ‘sexual harassment’ before Title IX,” Belanger said. “[Title IX] is an achievement of the women’s movement.”Once Title IX adaptations are embedded in the Department of Education, however, they are very difficult to change in the future, he said.Go brought up the difference between law and policy, and emphasized the importance of knowing the distinction between the two. She referred to a major change the Trump administration recently made to Title IX, giving universities the option to implement the preponderance of evidence or reasonable doubt standard in examining allegations.Gillespie offered a further explanation, stating that preponderance of evidence standard is meant to support victims who make accusations, while the reasonable doubt standard makes it more difficult to prove wrongdoing. The Trump administration changed the definition of harassment from “creating a hostile environment” to “severe and pervasive” actions, he added, a major shift away from the previous definition.Belanger noted another change from the Trump administration, which requires the victim to face their accuser when they give testimony against them. He claims this change will allow perpetuators to use the victim’s trauma to their advantage.Gillespie echoed Belanger’s statement, saying the Department of Education is predicting sexual misconduct cases will drop by 39% because of these changes. This is problematic, he said, as many victims will not want to report sexual misconduct if they do not wish to face their accuser during the proceedings.Gillespie also reminded students that the College is equipped to support them with resources and guidance if they choose to use them.“We are on your side here,“ he said.Since leaders on the national and local level have influence on how Title IX is carried out, Go encouraged the audience to pay attention to candidates in all elections.Belanger reiterated this point, citing how Title IX is now being used to discriminate against the LBGTQ community. While political apathy can be a result of a broken system, he said, voters need to elect leaders who share their opinions if they want to fix it.“Elections matter and there’s a lot of issues in this one,” Belanger said. “You need to elect people you agree with.”Go echoed this sentiment, saying politicians create change that affects generations. Although there are many obstacles to voting today, she believes it is necessary in order to make people feel less disenfranchised. By learning to participate civil discourse, individuals can gain an understanding of others around them rather than simply attacking them for having a different opinion, she added.Gillespie spoke to Go’s idea and said everyone deserves respect and to avoid picking fights with those who those who want to argue.“Respect is universal across cultures … Some people love to argue,” he said. “Avoid picking battles with them.”Go ended the conversation by urging students to submit absentee ballots this week to avoid delays in the postal service, and to not feel discouraged if there are not official results on election night.Tags: absentee voting, BAVO, civil discourse, OCSE, Title IX Office, votinglast_img read more

3 Former Track Athletes Suing NCAA, Coach Over Alleged Abuse

first_imgShare:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) Photo: PixabayANN ARBOR — Former Olympic high jumper Erin Aldrich planned to die with a secret she kept quiet for two-plus decades: an affair with a college coach she began falling in love with as a teenager and with whom she had an sexual relationship as a young woman.When Aldrich watched “Leaving Neverland,” about a year ago, the documentary featuring stories of men who say the late Michael Jackson sexually abused them as boys, she decided it was time to share her story.“I had always told myself I was going to take this to the grave,” Aldrich said during an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday night in which she he claimed John Rembao began grooming her for a romantic relationship when she was a high school junior. “When I watched “Leaving Neverland,” it suddenly dawned on me that I was one of those boys, just a little bit older.”Aldrich is one of three former student-athletes who say, in a lawsuit filed against the NCAA, that they were sexually abused by a track coach and allege the governing body and its board of governors didn’t do enough to protect them. Londa Bevins, Jessica Johnson and Aldrich — who represented the U.S. in the 2000 Olympics — are seeking class action status for the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California. The women say they were sexually abused and harassed by Rembao while he worked at the University of Texas and the University of Arizona.The suit aims to include NCAA student-athletes, who also say they were put at risk by the inaction of the governing body since 1992.Rembao led the Longhorns’ cross country program and was an assistant for their track team from 1997 to 2001. He was an assistant coach for the Wildcats’ track program from 1993 to 1997.“The behavior alleged in this story is disturbing,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said. “Our current coaches and staff know that such behavior is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the University of Texas.”Rembao declined to comment, via email, on the allegations in the lawsuit.The suit filed by law firms FeganScott and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein says the NCAA failed to stop sexual abuse and harassment of student-athletes by coaches at all member schools.The Associated Press left messages seeking comment with the NCAA as well as the University of Arizona.Rembao was suspended Dec. 18, 2019, for undisclosed allegations of misconduct by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an organization that investigates sex-abuse claims in Olympic sports. He has worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz, for more than seven years, according to his LinkedIn profile, and is currently the assistant director of employer relations at the school.In an interview on Tuesday with USA Today, Rembao denied the allegations brought against him by the three women in the lawsuit.“This is ridiculous,” Rembao said in a story published by USA Today. “It never happened. This is completely false. This is just making me angry because this is all crap.”The NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, is a member-led organization comprised of nearly 11,000 colleges and universities and nearly a half-million student-athletes competing in 24 sports.The plaintiffs are asking for new policies to be adopted immediately regarding coach-student relationships and for compensation for those subjected to abuse because the NCAA did not implement best practices.The filing comes in the wake of revelations at the University of Michigan along with allegations and investigations of sexual abuse made by patients of sports doctors at other universities, including Michigan State, Ohio State and Minnesota.Aldrich was on Arizona’s track and field and volleyball teams during the 1996-97 season and she transferred to Texas to compete in the high jump from 1997 to 2000. Rembao was one of her coaches. The Olympian and NCAA champion runner claims Rembao sexually abused her at Arizona and later harassed when she was competing for the Longhorns.“He was my first sexual experience,” Aldrich recalled in a telephone interview. “When we were going to world juniors, when I had just turned 18, he put a blanket over my lap and he penetrated me with his fingers.”Johnson and Bevins say Rembao sexually abused and harassed them while they were on Texas’ track team as a freshman during the 1999-2000 season.“We had been at Texas for eight months and had enough,” Bevins recalled in a telephone interview.Both Bevins and Johnson gave up their scholarships after one school year and transferred to Arkansas.“After the spring semester of 2000, I was depressed, anxious and cutting myself,” Johnson recalled.Johnson said her concerns about Rembao were expressed in a formal complaint to the University of Texas in the summer of 2000, detailing alleged abuse in a 22-page document.“I thought because they’re adults, I’m going to tell them my story and they’re going to believe me,” Jonson said in a telephone interview. “No one did. None of them had my best interest in mind.”New York-based lawyer Annika K. Martin, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said the three brave women are speaking not only for themselves, but for all student-athletes who the NCAA put at risk and allowed to be harmed.“They are not just asking the NCAA to pay for past wrongs, they are also asking the NCAA to change to protect current and future student-athletes,” Martin said.The lawsuit raises the second issue of serious misconduct by a Texas women’s track coach in the early 2000s. Former women’s head coach Bev Kearney was fired by the school in early 2013 after one of her former athletes alerted them to a consensual relationship between the pair a decade earlier.In dismissing Kearney, Texas officials said she had crossed a line between athlete and coach. Kearney sued Texas on race and gender discrimination claims and later reached an undisclosed settlement with the university.And in 2009, former football assistant Major Applewhite was disciplined for an improper relationship with a student trainer on a bowl game trip. He was not fired.Martin said a team of attorneys is willing to represent anyone who says they were put at risk by the NCAA after the U.S. Olympic Committee stated all sexual contact between coaches and student-athletes should be prohibited 28 years ago.“The NCAA should have made that same prohibition to its member schools in 1992, if not before,” Martin said.last_img read more