What We Learned: Campus Life and Culture

We are so happy that we were able to host the first Catholic Council Network Conference in January, uniting Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, University of Dallas, and Ave Maria University together to share our thoughts and ideas about higher Catholic education.

Here are some of the things we learned in our discussion on Campus Life and Culture.

How is athletics integrated into campus?

  1. University of Dallas has a freshman-athlete integration program, where certain athletes are assigned to freshmen. They believe it's key is to be approachable, welcoming, show genuine care, and know who your student-athletes are.

  2. University of Mary has a program where the football team helps the freshmen move into their dorms during orientation.

 

How will we have helped our communities once we graduate?

  1. Ave Maria students volunteer through the Mother Teresa Project and Champions of Charity - two of the ways students are encouraged give back to their community.
  2. University of Mary has a Day of Service, where students volunteer to help the local area, working with United Way on various projects around town.

What We Learned: Catholic Identity, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and Academics

Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, and University of Dallas joined us for a conference in January and we couldn't be happier with the outcome.

Not only did we build friendships, but we also exchanged ideas that will lead toward the improvement of our institutions and, hopefully, higher Catholic education.

Here are some of the things we learned in our discussion with Dr. Seana Sugrue, Dean of Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Ave Maria University. Our discussion focused on three questions, and here we've included the questions and many of our notes.

What challenges do we face as Catholic leaders, as students and beyond, and how can we help to solve them?
  1. We need inspiration rooted in faith. Our inspiration often comes from others, who support and encourage us. Most importantly, it comes from God, and through the sacraments, spiritual direction, coming to terms with our imperfection and dependence, and getting back to the basic realization that Christ is with us, we are able to stay inspired.
  2. We need to be reflective on truth and knowledge. We need to have a connection with the deepest truths of the faith and truth in general - this is a university, after all. Reality is much larger than us. However, looking at different areas of knowledge (such as our majors and programs), we can get a glimpse of the unity of truth.
  3. We need to be faithful and serve others. As Christians, we are called to bring the light of our faith into our vocations, with a humble spirit and joyful attitude.

 

How can we help our respective schools stay true to our Catholic identity?
  1. When we are excellent versions of ourselves, we can help others be the best versions of themselvesWe can use our gifts to serve our schools, even after graduation. As government leaders, we should be open and practical, test each other's ideas, and maintain a spirit of awe for truth.

 

How can we promote academic research and ideas on campus?
  1. Discovery Day.  Benedictine College brought a unique idea to the table. At BC, Student Government helps facilitate "Discovery Day," where students are encouraged to share about their most fascinating discovery from the year.
  2. Books.  At the University of Dallas, the Student Government Executive Board reads different books throughout the year to instigate discussion. We think this is an interesting idea worth exploring.

While the notes on this page give a good overview, unfortunately we can't encapsulate our entire discussion on the web. There's still much more to be said, and as The Network develops, we are optimistic about the future development of these ideas.

The Conference: In Short

Student Government leaders from Benedictine College, University of Mary, and University of Dallas joined us last weekend for a conference and we couldn't be happier with the outcome.

Not only did we build friendships, but we also exchanged ideas that will lead toward the improvement of our institutions and, hopefully, higher Catholic education.

LTR: Annamica Reding, Lili Serna, Rachel Nistler, Moey Brown, Andrew Hicks, Daniel Lang, Elise Huntley, Brian Curran, Karmina Martinez, Stephen Akers, Genny Say, Peter Liffrig, John Gargano, Philip Rhein, Nick D'Adamo

LTR: Annamica Reding, Lili Serna, Rachel Nistler, Moey Brown, Andrew Hicks, Daniel Lang, Elise Huntley, Brian Curran, Karmina Martinez, Stephen Akers, Genny Say, Peter Liffrig, John Gargano, Philip Rhein, Nick D'Adamo

Our guests arrived Friday, January 20th, and joined us for a quick tour, dinner, and meet and greet. The action began on Saturday morning. Beginning with Mass by Padre, we learned about St. Agnes' commitment to loving Christ. We then started with presentations from each school, which gave context and helped us better understand the other institutions and their students. Later in the day, we were joined by Dr. Seana Sugrue, who challenged us to think about tough decisions and how to work through them. Afterward, we discussion more in-depth the culture and events on our campuses, which moved smoothly into leadership and how our governments operate. Finally, we discussed how we envision The Network developing in the future.

We were truly honored to host our guests. Prior to the conference, it seemed as though everyone was wondering if this idea of a "network" for Catholic schools could really work in this age of competition. However, we are now confident that this idea is one worth pursuing. There is so much potential, and with the right mindset, it was obvious that our new friends are extremely talented and motivated to make a difference.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to be posting a series of articles giving more detail about what we learned. We hope you will join us in learning from our friends.

The Catholic Council Network is an initiative to connect student government leaders from Catholic schools around the country. The Network started with these four schools, and we envision it reaching many more in the years to come.