After a recent review of the Transpo weekend bus system, student government officials said the initiative has been a “popular” and much-appreciated service for students since it began operations Dec. 4, 2009.Student body president Grant Schmidt said he is pleased with the ongoing value Transpo has provided to members of the Notre Dame community by enabling Notre Dame students to travel to popular off-campus establishments for free.“Overall I think that this has been a great collaboration with Transpo and essentially, the city of South Bend,” Schmidt said. “It’ been a convenient way for students to go off campus and a safe means of them getting home.”On the first Friday Transpo was available, 496 Notre Dame students used the service. Since the second weekend of operation, the number of riders has consistently totaled roughly 150 students on Fridays and Saturdays, with the only major decreases occurring on the weekends of midterms and finals.The high rider numbers have led to a certain amount of foot traffic at pick-up locations near the local restaurants and bars Transpo serves, Schmidt said.“All of the establishments on the Transpo route seem to have a heavy amount of traffic, especially during late-night hours when demand is high for a cab,” he said.Schmidt said the Transpo system came from a student government concern about safety of students traveling to off-campus venues. After the Jan. 17 assault of three Notre Dame students who were waiting for the Transpo bus, Schmidt said student government has taken additional measures to ensure the continued safety of students using Transpo.“The day after that happened, I talked to Transpo about how to address future incidents,” he said. “Student government also printed maps on cards with the Transpo route and times on it. It was one initial way to inform students of where they should be and at what time.”Schmidt said the incident was “extremely unfortunate” but pointed out it was the only violent altercation that has occurred in relation to Transpo.Ryan Brellenthin, Schmidt’s chief of staff, said the exchange was regrettable but overall, Transpo has been a “phenomenal” service over the past few months.“From the beginning, Transpo has been all about safety of students when they are off campus,” Brellenthin said. “The incident was isolated and I think people would be hard-pressed to say that Transpo caused the incident.”As a result, student government has taken steps to ensure University students are never waiting around for the bus and thereby exposing themselves to potentially danger
Students had the opportunity this week to air their complaints to student government representatives during the first Whine Week. Student government posted student leaders around campus to field questions and take suggestions for improving the Notre Dame experience. “We have been in the dining halls, LaFortune, and we’ve had a member of student government go to almost all the Hall Council meetings, and we’ve also had suggestion boxes in the office,” student body president Catherine Soler said. “Right now we’re in the compiling process.” Soler said Whine Week, a new event this year, was a result of discussion in Student Senate about the need for improving dialogue between student government and the student body. “Actually the idea came out of Senate, just conversations about how people don’t know what student government does, or don’t know how to communicate with us, we figured it would be our responsibility to reach out to them, to kind of open up the channel of communication between students and student government,” she said. Student body vice president Andrew Bell said student feedback is essential to having effective student leadership. “I think we can sit in here and try to think of ideas to change student government all day, but it wouldn’t be as effective as going out and listening to students directly,” he said. Soler said that the most frequent suggestions involved dining halls, campus venue hours and campus safety. “We’ve gotten a lot of dining hall suggestions,” she said. “A lot of other things too. Some safety things, there’s not enough lighting at certain parts of campus, and there were a lot of calls to open up the tunnels. There was a suggestion to get a “Red Box” movie rental location in LaFun, and I got a lot of responses about keeping different hours for venues at LaFun.” While most of the suggestions pertained to the more daily aspects of campus life, Bell said there were also some more bizarre complaints. “I think the best one I got was I think from Zahm,” he said. “Someone complained their roommate was abducted by aliens but the administration wouldn’t believe them and come to their aid or something like that.” Regardless of how outlandish the suggestion, he said student government would be looking into every one of them. “Even though we’ve seen some farfetched ones, we’re going to look through every complaint and consider which are the ones that can be fixed now and what long term problems we should address and go from there,” he said. Soler said collecting feedback highlighted the need for greater communication between students and student leaders. “It’s been interesting for us because there’s a lot of things we’re hearing that we have answers to or have been addressed in the past,” she said. “I think it’s just a sign that we’re not communicating well enough with them with information they should be privy to.” Soler and Bell encouraged students to bring questions, suggestions and complaints to student government at any time. “We’re always available in our office to come up and talk to us, and we’re available personally by e-mail or on our student government e-mail,” Soler said.
The search for terrestrial exoplanets is heating up by finding them around cooler stars. Freimann Assistant Professor of Physics Justin Crepp was part of team that recently discovered the most Earth-like exoplanet to date, Kepler-186f, around an M-star, the most-stable, slowest-burning class of star in the universe.“This one is special because the planet is 1.1 Earth radii,” Crepp said. “Kepler-186f is the most Earth-like planet that we have found yet. 1.1 Earth-radii is in the habitable zone — and the error-bar overlaps; it could be the size of the Earth, maybe a little more real estate than the Earth.” The planet was detected as part of NASA’s Kepler Mission, a research project based on using the titular telescope to monitor some 150,000 stars hundreds of light-years away and to uncover potential exoplanets via the transit method, Crepp said. Since detection relies on planets passing in front of the star and blocking some portion of its light- – that is, transiting – it turns out that it is relatively easier to pin down a planet transiting a smaller star because it blocks a greater fraction of the light, producing a larger signal for researchers, Crepp said. This is the case with the M-star Kepler-186f, a class of star comparatively tiny on the stellar scale, and this fact entails other exciting implications.“The habitable zone is closer because the star is smaller and has a lower luminosity,” Crepp said. “So if you’re giving off less light, then the planets need to be closer to be in the warm/temperate region where they could have liquid water. Last time, we called this region the ‘Goldilocks zone,’ where it’s not too hot and not too cold. Well, we’re again looking for Goldilocks-like planets, and Kepler-186f is in the habitable zone. But it’s closer to the star, and this is important because it increases the probability of the transit.”Crepp’s previous work uncovered larger exoplanets of super-Earth-sized radii orbiting stars around a still larger star in the Kepler-62 system. What makes this finding so incredible is the smaller size of Kepler-186f, which means that the composition is almost certainly rocky, he said. “If I did the thought experiment where I made all the material completely gaseous, I have to heat it up to room temperature because it’s in the habitable zone,” Crepp said. “Well, it turns out that it’s not massive enough; if it’s all hydrogen and you heat it up it will just evaporate – it will just go away. You have to have so much mass, so how do you do that? You have to have really high density. So what’s that made out of? Rock. We suspect strongly that it’s high-density, that it’s rock. It turns out, unfortunately, that we cannot measure the mass, only the radius, for this particular planet.”The type of star the exoplanet orbits is intriguing as well, Crepp said. The super-sized, self-destructing supernovae-to-be that are O-stars are at one extreme of the size and volatility spectrum, with our sun, a G-star, somewhat intermediate in both size and volatility. “And the other extreme is an M-star, so small that it’s just barely fusing hydrogen,” Crepp said. “So it’s sitting there, just burning, burning very slowly, very stably. And the age of universe is 13 billion years. This star, Kepler-186, will burn its hydrogen for 56 billion years. So why should you care about that? Well, that gives you a lot of opportunity for life to develop.”One of the more provocative realizations from the Kepler project is the sheer abundance of this phenomenon, Crepp said.“Why is this profound? M-stars are 75 percent of all stars,” he said. “And we can calculate the occurrence rate of planets around these kinds of stars, and we find that it’s tens of percent – it’s not one percent or 0.1 percent; it’s tens of percent. One out of every five stars has a terrestrial planet in the habitable zone. This is a result that Kepler is telling us – we did not know this a few years ago.”Not only are the chances of finding an exoplanet similar to Earth around any given M-star surprisingly high, but also the enormous number of these systems in the universe makes finding an incredibly Earth-like entity almost a foregone conclusion.“There’s another thing that’s going on here,” Crepp said. “How many stars are in the Milky Way? 400 billion. So 300 billion of them are M-stars. Kepler is telling us one out of five – so 60 billion, to an order of magnitude – 60 billion stars with a terrestrial planet comparable in size to the Earth, in or near the habitable zone. 60 billion. And that’s just one galaxy. There are a trillion galaxies. … I do this for a living, and I still don’t comprehend it.” To further the search for these highly probable occurrences of exoplanets, Crepp is building the iLocater, a near-infrared Doppler spectrometer to be used in the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona, which will work with NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) to gather data on nearby exoplanets.“So here’s the problem: Kepler-186 is 500 light-years away,” Crepp said. “If it has life, even if it can communicate with us, it’s a really slow chess game. Even if you travel at the speed of light, it takes 500 years to say ‘pawn to E6.’ So, we’re building an instrument at Notre Dame, iLocater, and it’s going to find these planets around that type of star. It’s specifically designed for infrared wavelengths; it turns out that to see an M-star, you can’t just look up in the sky and say, ‘Oh, there’s a nice M-star, and there’s a nice M-star.’ Your eyes aren’t sensitive to the light they emit, near-infrared. So there’s a technology hurdle there; iLocater works in the near-infrared, and it’s going to find planets around M-stars that are ten light-years away instead of 500. And we know, thanks to Kepler, that they must be there.”In addition to finding these Earth-like planets much closer to Earth, the iLocater will gather unprecedented data on the planet’s mass and atmosphere to complement the radius measurements from TESS.“And here’s what’s really profound about iLocater: When a planet transits, some of the light goes through the atmosphere, so you can actually figure what it’s made out of because it will absorb some of that light,” he said. “iLocater’s not just going to tell us the mass of the planet – by the way, when you combine mass and radius, you get the density of the planet, and that tells you what it’s made out of – iLocater’s also going to tell us the composition of the planet’s atmosphere. It’s going to give us low-resolution spectra. iLocater is tuned to find planets in the habitable zone around the stars that Mother Nature likes to make the most and also the planets that Mother Nature likes to make the most.”Although there’s still a lot of work to accomplish, Crepp said he plans to have the iLocater launched in 2017-2018. “It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “I insist upon having fun at work. It’s basically my one rule.”Tags: exoplanet, Physics
Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon hosted the organization’s annual “For the Kids” 5k (FT5K), Wednesday evening in order to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. The neon-themed run/walk FT5K began at the College’s Welcome Center parking lot and ended with a party on the island in front of Haggar Parlor.Dance Marathon is a student run organization hosted by hundreds of colleges throughout the nation that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). President of Saint Mary’s Dance Marathon and senior Kristen Millar said all the money from the group’s fundraising events throughout the school year will go to Riley Hospital for Children.“CMN is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing medical treatment for critically or chronically ill children, free of cost,” Millar said. “CMN gives Riley Hospital for Children the opportunity to provide medical treatment to all children, regardless of a family’s ability to pay.”After the 5k, the party on the island had food, water, music, glow sticks, a raffle and shirts priced at $2 for participants to buy.“Each year we have done a 5k on campus to try to incorporate community involvement with our events,” Millar said. “The FT5K is also a great way to spread awareness on campus and embodies the marathon’s mission of staying on one’s feet for those who can’t.”At the end of the 5k, Dance Marathon announced that the 2015 Dance Marathon theme will be superheroes.Co-fundraising chair, Maranda Pennington, helped organize the 5k, and said she is excited for the superhero-themed marathon. She said, her goal is to make 2015 the best year for the club and encourage more students to attend the fundraising events.“It is something that I have become extremely passionate about after hearing personal testimonies from Riley families that our funds have helped and I can’t imagine dedicating my free time to anything else,” Pennington said.Dance Marathon will be hosting numerous events for students to get involved and help a great cause. Millar said she wants to encourage more students to participate as Dancers during the marathon and to attend the other fundraising events.“Throughout the year, we will host give back nights at local restaurants, such as Five Guys and Let’s Spoon,” Millar said. “We also normally host a salon rouge night and last year, we hosted a Riley trivia night on campus. In February, we will have a week dedicated to Riley with various events such as Zumba, crafts and dinner with some of the Riley families.“Students should participate and attend Dance Marathon in the spring because it is truly an amazing and inspiring event that benefits a wonderful hospital, and without marathons such as the one at Saint Mary’s, Riley Hospital for Children would not be able to provide care for all children regardless of their financial situation,” she said.In honor of it being Dance Marathon’s 10th year as a recognized club on campus, Millar said the goal for the year is to raise $90,000 for the children of Riley Hospital.“It is [also] our goal to collaborate with different clubs and organizations on campus, but ultimately, our goal is to raise awareness and to tell the stories of families who have benefitted from the amazing care Riley provides … It is truly amazing to hear the stories of Riley patients lives [we have] been able to touch,” Millar said.Tags: Dance Marathon, DM, FT5k, FTK, riley hospital for children, superheroes
The Belles of Saint Mary’s College are working together to ease the emotional burden that survivors of sexual assault experience by collecting clothes for them through the organization Belle’s Closet.Belle’s Closet was created in Fall 2014 by Brandyn Blosser, Saint Mary’s College social work professor and 2003 alumna, to provide clothes to sexual assault survivors whose clothes were collected as a part of hospital exams. The donations provide the survivor an alternative to clothing from the lost and found or paper scrubs.“Many survivors share they feel ‘dirty’ after a rape and have no desire for additional attention,” Blosser said. “Wearing paper scrubs will definitely cause people to stare and not knowing if the donated clothing you are putting on is clean can cause even more anguish for a survivor.”Blosser said that the idea for this project came to her when she witnessed a hospital employee offering to buy clothes for a rape survivor.“My hope is survivors will know they are not alone and our community cares,” Blosser said. “A pair of new sweat pants may not seem significant to some. However, when every choice has been taken from you and you have been violated in the worst imaginable sense, new sweatpants and t-shirt are a start to feeling clean again.”Belle’s Closet not only meets community members’ needs but creates an opportunity for students in Blosser’s course Sexuality, Intimacy, and Relationships (SW341) to engage, the social work professor said. Blosser said that the organization requires students to be a part of project development and exposes them to different kinds of relationships, she said.“They receive an in depth presentation from the Special Victim’s Unit related to rape, sexual assault and domestic violence that will only help assist them to be stronger professionals when in each student’s prospective career,” said Blosser.The students involved in Belle’s Closet deliver donations of new clothing articles such as sweatpants or sweatshirts to the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center to subsequently be distributed to survivors in need. Senior Morgan Carroll took Blosser’s class last fall and said those involved in Belle’s Closet plan to reach out to larger companies for donations and holding community-wide clothing drives to help re-clothe survivors everywhere.“Providing new clothing to victims of sexual assault signifies a fresh start and gives them hope for the future,” Carroll said. “At a time when they may feel helpless and robbed of their dignity, we want to show them that they are still being cared for, that they really do matter.”Saint Mary’s senior Elizabeth Maloney said when Blosser presented the idea of Belle’s Closet to the class that her classmates were interested in right away and looked forward to getting involved.“The project means a great deal,” Maloney said. “You know, you hear of a sexual assault and you keep parroting on to others that one shouldn’t attack another person, or rape another person, but that doesn’t help the current situation, that may only influence the future. With Belle’s Closet, my classmates and I are actively helping the current victims.“I’m glad to be working behind the scenes to end a great social injustice.”Blosser said that she hopes to ignite students into action — especially when it involves a horrible situation such as sexual assault or rape.“Each of us can choose to accept the uncomfortable and gut wrenching realities of the world by saying there is nothing to be done or we can choose to fight for positive change by doing something regardless of how small,” said Blosser.
In a lecture in the Hesburgh Center auditorium Tuesday hosted by the Kellogg Institute, visiting Kellogg fellow Bumba Mukherjee and Notre Dame assistant professor Alexandra Guisinger spoke about their joint research on financial crises in developing countries and the conditions associated with the success of International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs in those countries.Mukherjee said based on the duo’s research, they believe the success of programs suggested by the IMF, which lends money to countries facing economic and financial crisis, is largely dependent upon the financial and political power of non-bank financial institutions — more commonly referred to as “shadow banks.”“As financial globalization has taken off in the last 20, 30 years in the developing world in particular, [shadow banks] are becoming important business actors,” he said.Guisinger said countries turn to the IMF to avoid the possibility of deep economic recession in times of financial and economic distress — specifically when there is danger of a “sudden reversal” or the abrupt decline in the inflow of capital. However, Guisinger said the IMF can complicate the economic situation, bringing in “a new set of actors, a new set of incentives and can interact with this more general pattern of the ebbs and flows of capital.”The standard recommendation of the IMF for a country to avoid a sudden reversal, Mukherjee said, is to impose regulations on shadow banking. He said a problem arises when the shadow banks of a given country are powerful enough to effectively oppose the IMF regulations.“When you have these extremely concentrated, very strong, large, financially powerful shadow banks, that’s precisely when IMF programs won’t work,” Mukherjee said. “If anything, they’ll make things even worse.”Guisinger said the result is the departure of foreign investors and a stock market crash, which can have “cascading effects on the economy and on political conditions.”“Stock market crashes are not trivial,” Mukherjee said. “They have terrible consequences. Investments collapse, the economy collapses, unemployment rates go up, there’s political riots — people respond.”Mukherjee said citizens associate the IMF, and thus the government responsible for asking the IMF to help, with the financial crisis. He said this puts enormous political pressure on government officials, who resort to fraud out of fear for their political careers.“It’s this deadly combination in terms of IMF programs and financial crises that leads to these bad political outcomes,” he said.Mukherjee said his research with Guisinger led him to conclude that the IMF should reform its approach and consider countries on a case by case basis.“The problem here is that the IMF is not really talking to governments who come to them desperately looking for help,” Mukherjee said. “They are coming up with this blueprint without really looking at local conditions, which is not working.”Tags: financial crisis, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Kellogg Institute, NBFI, non-bank financial institutions, Recession, shadow banks
Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer Saint Mary’s students examine “The Hunting Ground” and the issue of sexual assualts on college campus during a Monday panel.The Student Center Atrium at Saint Mary’s was standing room only as ten student panelists and the audience discussed CNN’s documentary “The Hunting Ground” and how to take action against sexual assault. The discussion was co-sponsored by the Justice Education Program and the Gender and Women’s Studies department.Senior and panel moderator Elizabeth Maloney said she has two friends at Harvard Univeristy and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, neither of whom had heard of the documentary. She expressed gratitude for the College’s screening.“I want to thank Saint Mary’s for showing [‘The Hunting Ground’] here,” Maloney said. “Saint Mary’s empowers women to seek change, and we are here today to talk about change.”Panelists were senior Callie Brown, junior Angge Rocal, junior Maggie Langenfeld, junior Kaitlyn Baker, senior Amy Piekosz, junior Bri O’Brien, sophomore Caylin McCallick, senior Meredith Mersits, freshman Alex Shambery and freshman Nicole Caratas. (Editors note: Caratas is a news writer for The Observer.)Brown, president of the Student Diversity Board, said her initial reaction to the documentary was fear for herself, peers, faculty and staff.She said the documentary showed that sexual assault is happening not only at Saint Mary’s and at Notre Dame but across the nation.Brown said “The Hunting Ground” showed the difficulties of faculty being penalized for advocating for student rights.“I think it’s very sad that professors or administrators would treat me with anything but trust and respect, could be targeted or terminated for standing up for what they believe in and advocating for students, when I think it’s an educator’s first priority to advocate for students and act on their behalf,” she said.Brown said college and university marketing campaigns and statistics are partially to blame for the low number of sexual assaults handled appropriately.“I think that something that is the most difficult aspects of this issue to change, but probably the most important, is how universities market and brand themselves,” Brown said. “I think it’s time for universities to stop branding themselves as, ‘University X proudly reports zero sexual assaults a year, but University X, which reports 100 sexual assaults and 100 expulsions a year.’ I think that’s at the core of this problem and absolutely needs to be changed, and I think Saint Mary’s could be a leader and should be.”Lagenfeld said one of the biggest things students can do is to change the way they talk and educate about sexual assault and consent.“Being asleep doesn’t mean yes,” Lagenfeld said. “Being drunk doesn’t mean yes. Wearing a short skirt does not mean yes.”Baker, the Saint Mary’s student body president, said she wants to understand the concerns of students moving forward,.“My plan is to continue the conversation with the students and the administration, and my goal is to act as the liaison and make sure [the administration] is hearing us and that we’re hearing them as well.“I want to make sure [the administration] knows where we’re coming from and make sure they know that we’re not attacking them, and we’re just trying to have this conversation and trying to move forward as a college.”Baker said she attended the screening of “The Hunting Ground” at Notre Dame last Friday and heard the panel discussion.“I know that a lot of [Notre Dame] students are ready to talk to Saint Mary’s [students],” she said. “They are ready to have this conversation with us and they want to change the way our relationship is. They want to change the way they talk about Saint Mary’s women.”Baker said she plans to work with Notre Dame’s student body president and student government to address to issue of sexual assault on both campuses.Junior and audience member Vanessa Troglia addressed the email sent out to students answering questions about “The Hunting Ground.” She said the email was the first time she had heard Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame addressed as two separate entities.”Ever since I came to Saint Mary’s, everything has been about Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s as one community, whether it be through academic, extracurricular or socially,” Troglia said. “The thing that I critique most about that email is saying that we are two separate entities. We are not two separate entities, we are one community. We may have been admitted to two distinct schools but we are one community.”Piekosz said she felt unbelievable sadness after watching the documentary. She said she wanted more explanation from President Mooney after the screening of the film on April 9.Piekosz said “The Hunting Ground” shows viewers that sexual assault is not just a Saint Mary’s problem.“It’s a problem in school systems across the nation, and if we’re going to fix this, we need to be the spark,” Piekosz said. “We need to be the ones to start that domino effect at Saint Mary’s.“I’m not going to place blame on the administration. What’s done is done. It’s in the past. Let’s move forward and discuss ways we can potentially fix our system.”O’Brien said it is important to note that what was shown in the documentary were short segments, which she said don’t cover the whole story of sexual assault on Saint Mary’s campus.O’Brien said it is not sufficient to say that alcohol is responsible for sexual assaults.“Alcohol isn’t the one assaulting our students; it’s other students.” she said.“The Hunting Ground” revealed that much of sexual assault on college campuses involves repeat offenders, and bystander intervention is not enough, O’Brien said.McCallick said the director of the Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO), Connie Adams, will support students and present students with options for proceeding with a sexual assault charge. BAVO provides resources and education on sexual assault to Saint Mary’s students.McCallick said reporting can be difficult for survivors of sexual assault, and she believes the legal system is skewed in general, though this is not necessarily an issue with BAVO.Mersits said Saint Mary’s is the perfect place to start change.“Often sexual assault feels far away, but this film put it in my face,” Mersits said.Senior and audience member Nora Clougherty said “Take Back the Night” on Wednesday could be the start of making change regarding sexual assault and a demonstration of support by both campuses. “Take Back the Night” is an annual event hosted by BAVO and the Gender Relations Center at Notre Dame for students to show support of survivors of sexual assault.“This is the start of the two campuses working together … ” Clougherty said. “I want all of these people in this room to go, because that’s where we’re going to make a difference and show we care.”Senior and audience member Claire Boyd said the dialogue around sexual assault needs to be a tri-campus conversation.Boyd said a new initiative this year, sponsored by the Office of Residence Life, was “Belles Banding Together.” The initiative is a bystander intervention program for incoming first-year students during orientation.O’Brien said students will not change without the administration on board. She also noted that BAVO is under the administration.“We need to make sure that we are not only putting responsibility on students, but we’re holding everyone accountable,” she said.Shambery suggested further education of first-year students on how to report sexual assaults.Sophomore and audience member Chisom Igwe said students need to look at the sexual language they use on a daily basis.“We can talk about changing the system, but if you don’t stand up in your daily lives, nothing is going to happen,” Igwe said. “ … Individually we need to look at ourselves before we try to change the system.”Student panelists created a recommendation list for the administration, and they asked audience members to help them critique the list, which will be submitted to the administration after they make the suggested edits.One of the recommendations suggests that faculty and staff should undergo training on sexual assault, not limited to Title IX training.Vice President of Student Affairs Karen Johnson, along with other members of the College administration, was present and said faculty and staff go through training regarding Title IX, sexual harassment and sexual assault.Maloney said students attending the panel were able to leave their emails and have the finalized letter forwarded to them for them to sign.Tags: Gender and Women’s Studies, Justice Education Program, saint mary’s, student panel, The Hunting Ground
Jae Woong Lee, deputy consul general for the Republic of Korea, spoke on Korean-Japanese relations Monday night in a lecture sponsored by the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.According to Lee, Japan and Korea countries have shared — and continue to share — a long and complicated history. Their geological position and common culture should create favorable conditions for diplomatic relations, Lee said, yet Korean-Japanese relations continue to be strained.Lee said ancient Japanese and Korean art display “striking similarities,” though ancient Japanese art is usually sculpted from wood and Korean sculptors preferred to use a bronze medium.“This is evidence of the close interactions and close relationship between Korea and Japan more than 1,000 years ago,” Lee said. “We like to boast that Korean ancient history moved to Japan and had them give birth to their own Japanese culture.”Though the countries share a related history, Lee said tensions remain in the current Japanese-Korean relations, yet have not kept the countries from working together on prominent issues.“There is a prolonged, unstable relationship from various factors. Even though Korea and Japan have a close history, there are still problems,” he said.These problems stem from the way the Japanese government portrays this shared history, Lee said.Lee said the Korean people are worried the Japanese are promoting a type of revisionist history, through endorsing textbooks that incorrectly portray the invasion of Korean lands, and by authorizing such books, the Japanese government is refusing to depict past wrongs.“This is just one of the main headaches, one of the stumbling blocks over which there is a divide between Japan and Korea,” Lee said.Many Koreans are offended by Japanese politicians’ visits to to Yasukuni Shrine, Lee said.“This is just one of the shrines that Japan has. But this specific shrine, they have the names of the war criminals … ” Lee said. “Politicians of Japan go to this shrine, giving a certain impression to Koreans that they do not truly regret their past wrongs against the people in the region.”Japanese-Korean relations were previously strained by the issue of “comfort women.” The term refers to the practice in countries occupied by Japanese rule, including Korea, in which young women were taken from their homes and taken to “comfort stations,” where they were forced into sexual slavery.Lee said Korea and Japan reached a tentative agreement in December to resolve the dispute over this issue, and this agreement represents a large success for the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.“Japan is finally accepting more responsibility for this issue and they agreed to provide us compensation. The Japanese government clearly said ‘sorry’ to Korea,” Lee said.Lee said Japanese-Korean relations can only continue to prosper if both countries continue to be sensitive to and aware of past events.“They have to acknowledge the correct history,” Lee said. “There is no compromise on that.”Tags: Liu Institute
University president Fr. John Jenkins released a statement Tuesday in support of Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) students at Notre Dame.“I was encouraged to learn today that Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will continue to respect Obama-era protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children,” he said in the statement. “They include DACA students who have been admitted to Notre Dame, thrived here and whom the University fully supports.”Jenkins also expressed concern that undocumented community members who are not protected by DACA will not be afforded the same respect.“We welcome this development, yet remain concerned that other undocumented members of our communities are treated fairly and compassionately,” he said. “We call on our leaders to recognize that, throughout our nation’s history, immigrants have immeasurably enriched us culturally and have been the lifeblood of our economic vitality.”Jenkins’s statement comes two weeks after he announced in a letter to faculty senate that he will not designate Notre Dame a sanctuary campus.Tags: DACA, Jenkins, undocumented students
Drawing on the results of 80 interviews from members of the private sector of the workforce in Cuba, Carmelo Mesa-Lago, distinguished service professor emeritus of economics and Latin American studies at the University of Pittsburgh, delivered a lecture Tuesday called “Voices of Change from the Non-State Sector in Cuba” at the Hesburgh Center. The lecture focused on economic changes in Cuba over the past several years. The results of the interviews have already been published in the book “Voces de Cambio en el Sector no Estatal en Cuba,” which Mesa-Lago co-authored. An English version of the book will be available in the fall of 2017.According to Mesa-Lago, the rise of the private sector in Cuba can be attributed to economic reforms made under Raul Castro. While there is some information available on the impact of these reforms, Mesa-Lago and his co-authors wanted to look at the reforms from a new angle.“Although we have substantial information in terms of this non-state sector, we didn’t know what the feelings of the people involved in that sector were,” he said. “We wanted to find out, ‘What do they think about so many important issues that they are dealing with?’”As a result of the research and interviews, Mesa-Lago said this project has been a unique one for him.“I have written a lot of books, and I have never been more involved in a book like this because for the first time I was hearing the Cuban people talking, and that was fascinating for me,” he said.The project is also relevant due to the growing private sector in Cuba, Mesa-Lago said. In 2015, 71 percent of those employed worked in the state sector, which was a decrease from previous years, he said.Mesa-Lago said the interviews were primarily conducted with people who work in non-agricultural production and service cooperatives, usufruct farmers and those who buy and sell private dwellings.The group of people who work in cooperative farms is especially important, according to Mesa-Lago.“It’s a tiny group, but they play an important role because Cuba gives preference to the cooperatives over self-employment because it’s a more advanced socialist form of organization and therefore they have an advantage over self-employment,” he said.Mesa-Lago described the private workforce as “young, male, white, with very high education.”While he said this is not typical of the Cuban population, he was more surprised by the satisfaction of the workers than the lack of a representative population. From the interviews, 80 percent of the workers were satisfied in the non-state sector, and only five percent identified themselves as unsatisfied.“This is very interesting and surprising because they face a lot of problems – regulation, inspections, taxes, etc.,” Mesa-Lago said.The main problems these workers face involves their inputs and state interference, Mesa-Lago said. Since 25 percent of the inputs can only be obtained from a state shop, according to Mesa-Lago, the workers have a lack of options in obtaining their resources.The interviews also revealed that state interference and bureaucracy was a common problem with the private sector, with 27 percent of the interviewees mentioning it as a problem they faced in their business.Aggregating the results of the interviews, Mesa-Lago said people working in the non-state sector want three primary changes — more liberty, less state regulation and interference and more estate incentives and guarantees. These requests signal to Mesa-Lago the desires of the voices in change in the country moving forward.Tags: Carmelo Mesa-Lago, Cuba, Private Sector Employment