Members pledge for peace

first_imgStudent Senate pledged official support for peace efforts in the face of possible civil war between the northern and southern parts of Sudan at its meeting Wednesday. The northern and southern parts of Sudan have been in conflict for more than 50 years. In 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement formally ended civil war and scheduled a referendum for Jan. 9, 2011. The citizens of Southern Sudan will then vote for or against secession from the country. Social concerns chair Patrick McCormick presented a resolution to Senate to officially support all sustainable efforts for Sudanese peace. The resolution passed unanimously. “We are trying to encourage students to act on this,” McCormick said. “We hope that we can put pressure on those who have the opportunity to shape policy in the United States so they pay attention to the Sudan.” The purpose of the resolution was to officially engage the support of the Notre Dame student body to work with this issue, he said. “We need to continue spotlighting the issue,” McCormick said. “We need to recognize that this is not just another conflict, but one that could define our generation.” The resolution comes after a delegation from the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference visited the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies Tuesday. They presented on the urgency of the crisis in their home country. After their visit to Notre Dame, the delegation will proceed to Washington, D.C., and New York City to meet with government officials and the United Nations. McCormick said University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh envisioned Notre Dame as both a crossroads and a lighthouse. “The fact that a conference of Catholic bishops from Sudan would come to Notre Dame is indicative of that crossroads,” McCormick said. “And right now we have an opportunity to be the lighthouse.” More information is available at or through the Center for Social Concerns.last_img read more

Alum starts sustainable clothing company

first_imgChris Yura, a 2003 Notre Dame graduate, is revolutionizing clothing production through his company SustainU, which is dedicated to changing the way clothing is made to improve the environment, reinvigorating America’s manufacturing sector and educating the world about how clothing can positively impact people’s lives.   A native of Morganstown, West Virginia, Yura said he came to Notre Dame to play football as a fullback, and that experience changed the way he looked at clothing. “The thing that struck me most at Notre Dame was The Shirt,” he said. “When I ran out of the tunnel and the whole student body was wearing the same shirt, it was such a powerful symbol of unity.” After graduation, Yura said he went to Miami for his first job and was soon scouted by Ford Models to be a fashion model in New York City. “I listened to people talk about where they were getting the clothes and how they were made,” he said. “The clothes were coming from third world countries where they did not have enough water to properly make a product, for example. It did not help anything economically or socially … This got me thinking about making a product that really was better, as opposed to just seeming better.” To learn more about how to make clothing, Yura said he began to write down terms relating to clothing that he heard and then went to the library and did research on those terms. As a sociology major at Notre Dame, Yura said he learned about the devastating job losses that occurred in North Carolina after the North American Free Trade Agreement outsourced manufacturing jobs outside of the United States. “When I was in NYC, I wanted to find factories in this area that were still manufacturing,” Yura said. “What I found was that not only were there factories that had the infrastructure and trained workforce to produce products but they had also pioneered recycled fiber technology.” Yura asked if he could intern with such factories and learned how to sew, cut and manufacture clothing, which led him to forming SustainU three-and-a-half years ago. “My parents took out a third mortgage on their house to get collateral to help me start the business,” Yura said. “We have factories centered in Tennessee, South Carolina and West Virginia.” The company’s mission is to promote social, economic and environmental sustainability, Yura said. The company makes clothing solely made in the United States and from 100 percent recycled materials. For example, the company recently made T-shirts in Bristol, Tenn. for Bonaroo, an outdoor music festival in Tenn., all from recycled materials. Yura has spoken about SustainU three times at the White House, and even earned a meeting with President Barack Obama, he said. “I’m going to talk with the president about different issues that are facing us about green technology,” he said. “We will talk about trying to stimulate different parts of the countries that used to make clothing by investing in these areas. It makes so much sense for our country.” Yura said the most rewarding part of his job is the opportunity to advance progressive goals. “We invest in young ideas that are progressive and that can help turn our country around,” he said. “We present a different way of doing business.” Contact Katie McCarty at [email protected]last_img read more

Notre Dame falls to Michigan

first_imgThe Irish traveled to Michigan Stadium this weekend to face off against one of their historic rivals: the Michigan Wolverines. In a nighttime battle under the lights, the Wolverines defeated the Irish 41-30 and left ND fans disappointed. Saturday’s game marked the second time that Notre Dame has played a night game in the Michigan Stadium “We just came up short on a couple of key plays … we weren’t able to come up with [them] offensively,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said after the game. John O’Brien, a senior studying mechanical engineering, said that Michigan Stadium was an extremely exciting environment.   “It’s a great rivalry,” O’Brien said, “There were 115,109 people there, but there was a lot of yellow.” Junior defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt’s fourth-quarter end-zone interception, which cut the Wolverine lead to 34-27 raised hope for many Notre Dame fans.   Sophomore Luke Kiefer said that the small section of Notre Dame fans around him at the game got very excited.   “People just went crazy during the interception in the end zone,” Kiefer said, “The small patch of green that was around me went nuts.”   Kiefer said that although there were an overwhelming amount of Michigan fans, plenty of support could be seen from Irish fans as well. Thy Notre Dame Marching Band returned to Ann Arbor for Saturday’s game despite an aggressive run-in between band members and Michigan fans in 2011.  Freshman band member James Ryan said he experienced verbal insults but little physical hostility this year from Michigan fans.        “Yells of ‘Go home,’ and ‘Play a song,) could be heard from their fans,” Ryan said. “One woman behind me insisted on hitting me with her pom-pom whenever she could since I was in the back row.” Despite a few unpleasant encounters, Ryan said the Michigan band was respectable and cordial. “It was a really cool place to be, even though we lost,” he said While fans are upset over the loss, others are more upset that Michigan is being dropped from Notre Dame’s schedule.  The teams are not scheduled to play again after 2014. Last week, Michigan head coach Brady Hoke said Notre Dame was “chickening out” of the rivalry.last_img read more

ND amends harassment protocol

first_imgIn an attempt to streamline treatment of sexual and discriminatory harassment, the Office of Institutional Equity published revisions to the University’s “Policy on Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment” in late December.“This is an overarching policy that applies to everyone at the University that says we have no tolerance for instances of sexual or discriminatory harassment,” Sarah Wake, director of the Office of Institutional Equity, said. “It is also a general policy statement about what the University expects of every member of this community.”The policy applies to students, faculty and staff members, but the “du Lac” student handbook, and not the “Policy on Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment,” governs student-on-student sexual harassment.Steph Wulz | The Observer The revised policy combines two previous policies: one on sexual harassment and one on discriminatory harassment, Wake said. She said the sexual harassment policy largely mirrored the student-on-student sexual harassment policy in “du Lac,” whereas the discriminatory harassment policy contained some different procedures.“There wasn’t as specific of a time frame, it wasn’t as clear I think who to contact and what the process was,” Wake said. “By condensing the two policies … we have the same policy and procedure governing both sets of conduct.“It also shows that we take discriminatory harassment just as seriously as we take sexual harassment. They’re treated the same way, they’re investigated in the same way, they have the same time frames involved. It shows to me that they’re treated on equal footing here and that we’re committed to having a zero tolerance policy for both types of harassment.”The revised sexual and discriminatory harassment policy eliminates the option of proceeding informally to attempt to resolve a case. Wake said under the previous policies, a department of the University could conduct its own investigation about an instance of alleged harassment. She said this informal procedure was troublesome because different departments used distinct processes and sometimes reached different outcomes.“We want these to be treated consistently … across campus, so we want to know that all of our students, all of our faculty and all of our staff who are ever making a complaint, that they know that they can trust in the process and that they’ll get a consistent result any time that they come forward,” Wake said.The revised policy provides students with two options to make complaints: communicating directly with the alleged defender or undergoing the University resolution process. Wake said this new set of options provides consistency among cases of alleged harassment.“It allows us to track what’s going on on campus,” she said. “Before, if things were handled informally, we might not ever know, someone at the University might not ever know, that in a given department there was whatever complaint. … Now, with this process, … we’re going to have an accurate picture of where potential problems might be and where we might need to do more, to conduct additional training or make people more aware of a policy and of what the University expects.”The “Policy on Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment” also states that the University aims to complete investigations of complaints within 60 calendar days of the initial report, as opposed to the 60 business days mentioned in the previous, separate policies.A provision of the revised policy ensures the confidentiality of people who report instances of harassment. A separate provision protects them against retaliation.“When [University President Fr. John Jenkins] speaks about these issues, he says that it never serves Notre Dame to keep issues like this quiet,” Wake said. “We want people to come forward, and we want people to feel comfortable, not only with the process, but with people here at the University who are designed simply to help deal with situations like this.”Wake said her office recently redesigned its website,, to make clearer the avenues through which people can report harassment. She said policies regarding sexual and discriminatory harassment also have become more integrated into faculty and staff orientation programs.Additionally, Wake said so far in the 2013-14 academic year, her office has received four times as many complaints of sexual or discriminatory harassment involving a staff member as it did in the entire 2012 calendar year.“I just think there’s been a huge renewed commitment to making sure people are aware of and understand these issues,” Wake said.Although the student-on-student sexual harassment policy outlined in “du Lac” is not currently up for revision, Wake said the University is conducting focus groups with students and is open to considering improvements that could be made to the “du Lac” policy in the future.Wake said she hopes the revisions to the “Policy on Sexual and Discriminatory Harassment” help people to understand the avenues through which students, faculty and staff can report issues or receive guidance.“I hope that people also gain confidence in the process, that if I come forward, I’m always going to be treated with respect,” Wake said. “I’m going to have a fair process, it’s going to be a prompt process, it’s going to be a thorough process, and at the end of the day, that they feel the resolution is fair.”Tags: Discriminatory Harassment, Office of Institutional Equity, Policy change, Sarah Wake, Sexual harassmentlast_img read more

Entrepreneur alumna shares start-up experience

first_imgSaint Mary’s College alumna Vanessa Cooreman Smith shared her entrepreneurial experience as the owner of Flourish Boutique, a woman’s clothing store located in Granger, Ind., with students Wednesday during a lecture co-sponsored by the business and economics department as well as the Career Crossings office. “The mission of the store is to help women flourish — hence the name — in fashion, so looking good providing women with clothes that have a special flourish or flair, but also on a deeper level, ” Smith said. “It’s part of my goal to help women beyond their appearance.”Smith said her story is one of determination and persistence in a time of economic turmoil. The 2004 graduate majored in art and minored in education during her time at Saint Mary’s.  “I had a love for everything artistic and creative, but I also had an entrepreneurial background,” Smith said. Smith said nearly every one of her family members owns their own business. “I knew what it required to be a small business owner,” Smith said. “I knew it was a large part of my life, and yet I had this passion for fine art.”Smith said she struggled to satisfy her interest in varied career paths that seemed to occupy opposite ends of the working spectrum. Finding a way to combine these two parts of her life posed an interesting challenge, Smith said.“I felt like I didn’t fit wholly into either world at times,” she said.It was not until her junior year, when Smith began working at Inspire, another boutique in the South Bend area, that she realized she wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry, she said.“I enjoyed the marketing aspect of the boutique, organizing the merchandise and coordinating outfits,” Smith said. “I could see the potential. “You’re dealing with profit margins and all those things and it was a nice combination. I had an awakening where I realized that fashion was a way for me to satisfy my love for art and still be in the business world too.”Smith, who now receives a consistent profit margin of 10 percent, said she had an awakening that paid off.“Ten years later I am a wife and a mom and also the proud owner of Flourish Boutique,” she said.The journey to success was hardly fluid, Smith said. She said experiencing the difficulties of starting her own business posed challenges on multiple levels.“As with any new business, I was headed for some trials,” Smith said. “The success rate of start-ups is very, very bleak. Most go out within five years, regardless of the industry. Retail is notoriously worse.” Prior to launching her own business, Smith needed money, she said, so she worked for her father’s real estate company and saved the necessary funds.“In some ways it felt stagnant,” Smith said. “I was working in real-estate and regularly thought to myself, ‘Okay, this is not fashion.’ “Even though I felt frustrated, I was planning and I was researching and I was learning. It wasn’t the same industry it’s all the same kinds of things I deal with now.”After three years of saving, “It was just a burning fire inside of me and I really had to get going,” Smith said. “My dad, who was my mentor, was telling me ‘Do what you love and the money will follow.’ If you pursue your passion it will give you the energy to do what it takes to be successful.”After writing a business plan and researching small business loans, Smith opened the store in 2008, just two months before the recession hit the stock market. She said she received a small business loan, which she augmented with consignment.When the impact took its toll on her personal business and her family’s realty business, Smith and her husband had to sell their home, she said. Flourish really took off when Smith launched their online store in 2011, three years after the store’s grand opening, she said. “Last year at this time we had five thousand Facebook fans, now we have 60 thousand Facebook fans,” Smith said. “We’re up year over year [in sales] 60 percent in store and 200 percent online.”Smith said Flourish has been featured on CNN and appears regularly on noteworthy Pinterest contributors and other fashion bloggers’ websites. Flourish also received the South Bend Tribune’s readers’ choice award for clothing boutique, she said.“We hope one day to turn Flourish into a mega-boutique,” Smith said.Tags: business, economics, Flourish, start-uplast_img read more

Project HEAL promotes healthy living

first_imgSaint Mary’s senior Mackenzie Woods has seen Project HEAL make a difference on campus since it was recognized as a campus organization last spring. HEAL stands for Help to Eat, Accept and Live, and the Saint Mary’s chapter is one of several in a larger national non-profit organization that aims to contribute to education about eating disorders and support for those who struggle with such diseases.Photo courtesy of SMC Project HEAL Woods said eating disorders affect roughly 30 million Americans, yet the diseases are often overlooked, especially on Saint Mary’s campus. Project HEAL is a resource for those who are faced with unhealthy body images and eating disorders, providing women with a positive outlet and support system, she said.“Project HEAL’s national goal is to provide scholarship funding for people with eating disorders who cannot afford treatment, to promote healthy body image and self-esteem and to serve as a testament that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible,” Woods said.Woods said it is estimated that 25 percent of college students suffer from eating disorders.“Those statistics are staggering, and I believe these are issues we must bring to the limelight, especially on an all-women’s campus,” Woods said.Woods fully understands the struggles brought on by eating disorders, as she herself has faced the challenge of overcoming anorexia.“As a recovered anorexic, I know all too well the feelings of loneliness and unworthiness that accompany an eating disorder,” Woods said.  “Saint Mary’s is a tight-knit sisterhood, and we need to be empowering and building each other up. You never know what your fellow sister may be going through.”As the founder and chapter leader of Project HEAL at Saint Mary’s, Woods has big plans for the semester, including fundraising and awareness events. On Wednesday, the Five Guys franchise located on Eddy Street will host a Dine and Donate night for the chapter.“Mention Project HEAL SMC [at Five Guys on Wednesday] and a portion of the day’s sales will be donated to our organization,” Woods said.The Saint Mary’s chapter of Project HEAL also plans to contribute to the national scholarship fund for treatment, which is made possible through donations of more than thirty Project HEAL chapters.“Each quarter, [the national chapter of] Project HEAL reviews applications for the scholarship and grants money for treatment to a qualifying individual,” Woods said. “Since its founding in 2008, Project HEAL national has raised over $400,000 and has sent eleven applicants to residential and intensive outpatient treatment.”Woods said Project HEAL hopes to host guest speakers, screen documentaries and open-forum discussions to educate and promote healthy body image and self-esteem.The chapter also plans to sell merchandise on campus and offer a canvas-painting event to create awareness of Project HEAL’S mission.As interest grows from Activities Night and by word of mouth, Woods said she hopes to expand the mission into an awareness certification program to reach the larger community.“… Members of Project HEAL learn how to lead by example in being positive in their comments toward others and refraining from body bashing,” Woods said.Woods said more information on Project HEAL is available on the club’s Facebook page — Project HEAL Saint Mary’s — or on Instagram @projectheal_smc. Students can also get in contact with the chapter at [email protected]: club, eating disorders, HEAL, saint mary’s, SMClast_img read more

New Starbucks opens on Eddy Street

first_imgThe Starbucks in LaFortune Hall has competition — it is no longer the only one in the immediate area for Notre Dame students after a new Starbucks officially opened on Eddy Street on Thursday morning.Store manager Lindsay Egilmez said it is a place for students to gather and enjoy each other’s company.“[The store] is for football games, a great place for student to come enjoy and study and for off-campus students and local guests,” Egilmez said. “Eddy Street Commons is a great halfway point intersection for all the above.”The new Starbucks replaced a Romy’s Cafe in the Eddy Street branch of Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, Jim O’Connor, vice president of sales and operations for Follett Higher Education Group said.“When the cafe originally opened as Romy’s Cafe, the Eddy Street Commons was establishing itself as an off-campus shopping, restaurant and residential supporting the South Bend community and Notre Dame,” O’Connor said. “As the development matured and grew, the cafe needed to evolve to meet the consumer expectations of a high quality brand. This would be accomplished with a partnership with Starbucks.”Egilmez said his mission is to give each costumer a personal one-on-one experience.“We will serve through great service and quality Starbucks drinks,” Egilmez said. “I want to know each guest and engage with them in a way that makes them feel this is ‘their own’ café.”Egilmez said he wants to the new Starbucks to cater to Notre Dame students — in fact, Notre Dame faculty, staff and students with a valid ID card will receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases at the new location.“This is a beautiful, brand new Starbucks with a Notre Dame inspired atmosphere and a very large seating area both indoor and outdoor, which is conducive to everyone, whether they are studying, having a good conversation over a latte or meeting with a professor,” Egilmez said.Caitlin Kinser, marketing manager of Notre Dame Retail Operations, said the cafe does not offer student discounts, but will find other ways to draw in students.“We would love to partner with student musicians to provide them with a place to perform,” Kinser said. “We are also looking into partnering with academic departments and professors to bring public academic readings to the cafe.”Kinser said the cafe will be a full-service Starbucks.“The full line of drinks, seasonal beverages and foods will be available at the cafe,” she said. “All of your Starbucks favorites and future new offerings will be in-store.”Kinser said the cafe is open to hiring student workers.“Starbucks at Eddy Street has and will continue to accept applications from all interested individuals,” she said. “We highly encourage any students who are interested in working at this beautiful new cafe to apply.”Tags: Eddy Street Commons, Notre Dame Bookstore, Starbuckslast_img read more

BridgeND hosts open debate on immigration

first_imgCooperation, civility and compromise: The words at the core of BridgeND’s mission statement formed the basis for an open debate on immigration Wednesday night between several student groups in the LaFortune Ballroom.The club, which strives to promote dialogue between students of different political philosophies on campus, and Women in Politics invited five student leaders representing College Republicans, College Democrats, GreeND, Notre Dame Right to Life and Notre Dames to come together and offer their opinions on all aspects of the immigration issue.“[The event] turned out great. The reason why is because … people want to have a say in a really important, complex and sometimes confusing issue,” Alex Caton, vice president of BridgeND said. “If the event and the questions that came up during it showed anything, it’s that there are a lot of different angles that should be taken, and by inviting six different clubs to give a take on it, we clearly demonstrated that.” [Editor’s note: Alex Caton is a Viewpoint columnist for The Observer.]Mark Gianfalla, representing College Republicans, and Tyler Bowen, from College Democrats, both stuck largely to their party platforms in addressing the issue. Gianfalla said the most important aspect of the issue was securing the border, while Bowen said immigrants currently living in America should have a path to citizenship.“… Those in line to achieve permanent residency should receive priority over those currently in the U.S. illegally,” Gianfalla said.“Anyone that wants to be an immigrant and enter into American society and can prove that they can do that should be able to, and we should guarantee that,” Bowen said.However, both agreed the current process for legal immigration in the U.S. is desperately in need of reform. Both wanted an increase in the quota numbers which currently limit immigration into the country. Gianfalla said he thought the number of visas available should increase from its current number of 650,000 to 690,000, and Bowen said streamlining the application process is the one aspect of immigration reform he would most like to see move forward.Alison Leddy, president of Notre Dames, emphasized the emotional and physical damage many women who immigrate suffer and said legislators should consider additional laws to protect them.“Often immigration status is what allows domestic violence to occur,” Leddy said. “ … Abuse is often a tool of someone who’s trying to take advantage of women, and without opportunities women have no way to save themselves from a bad situation or report things to the police, so in terms of policy decisions, that’s definitely something to consider.”Representing the Right to Life club, Kristina Flathers said while immigration may not typically be thought of as an topic related to the right to life movement, it is fundamentally an issue of human dignity, which is related to the mission of the club.“People migrate in order to create better lives for themselves … societies should be oriented in ways that set up as few obstacles as possible for this to happen,” Flathers said. “And that’s the basis of my proposal. I think we as a society must improve services like childcare and education to immigrants who are already here.”Garrett Blad, of GreeND, also said environmental issues related to immigration in terms of migration patterns and the ability of disadvantaged people to move away from areas affected by climate change.Tags: BridgeND, College Democrats, College Republicans, GreeND, Immigration, ND Right to Life club, Notre Dames, Women in Politicslast_img read more

Notre Dame alumnus finds passion in service

first_imgTags: Azikiwe Chandler, Black Man’s Think Tank, Finding your passion, Wabruda Azikiwe Chandler, a teacher at Veritas Prep Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts and 1994 alum of Notre Dame, presented a talk on his search for his passion with his travels, his social justice work and his commitment to finding identity.Chandler’s talk was hosted by Wabruda, an organization based on brotherhood amongst African Americans on Notre Dame’s campus, as their signature event “Black Man’s Think Tank.” The theme of the event was “finding your passion.”“We talk about finding your passion, however, for me there were three passions: travel, community service and community development. These were the things I wanted to do, and I was figuring out how to tie these things together,” Chandler said.Chandler outlined seven lessons in his presentation that were important to the process of discovering your passion. Chandler said these lesson included knowing and loving yourself, knowing what makes your soul smile, understanding for whom and what will you work for, listening to the universe, recognizing what you want and what will you sacrifice to get it, finding your tribe and keeping the faith.Chandler said he derived his inspiration and vocation from his service work from the example of his parents. Chandler said his parents were heavily involved in their community in Charleston, South Carolina, and led several projects for the school and community residents.“While I realized that I loved architecture, my responsibility is to go out and try to make the world a better place, and see how I can do that for African American men. I can’t be their father, and I can’t give them the mother and father that I had, but if I work with them and surround them with love and empower them and help them understand who they are and who they can be, I can do for them what my parents did for me,” Chandler said.Chandler said he credits his parents with providing him the environment and influence to not only pursue his academic aspirations as an architect but also discover his vocation for service and community engagement. Chandler recalled his extensive work in AmeriCorps, Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity as a manifestation of his love of service and experiential learning. Chandler served as a project director and team leader for AmeriCorps for five years and as a teacher and youth leadership initiative developer for Peace Corps.Chandler said he graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in architecture in 1994, but decided his vocation laid in service and engagement after spending several years after graduation performing service initiatives in Central America.“I realized that the last time I really was happy was when I was backpacking through Central America. I didn’t feel like I was doing worthwhile work because I was enjoying myself … so the universe was telling me “go on and try that again.”Chandler also recalled how his love of travel helped him narrow and understand his passion more fully. Chandler, who has travelled to more than 30 countries in six continents, said his love of travel coincided with both his upbringing and his desire to engage more fully in relationships with others.“All kinds of people say they want to make enough money to be able to travel, but for me, it wasn’t about making money and being able to travel two weeks out of the year, that to me wasn’t going to make a difference. I wanted to be somewhere for months at a time and be able to live with folks and have a conversation.”Chandler encouraged audience members to surround themselves with individuals who shared and welcomed their passions and recognize the experiences indicating where vocation and passion are found.“You have to surround yourself with people who have the same passion as you do,” he said. “ … find someone in the profession that you want to be in and talk to them, have them serve as a mentor, because that what’s going to make things better for you in the long run.”last_img read more

Play explores impact of sexual abuse

first_imgExploring the themes of manipulation and control within American family life, the Notre Dame Student Players will present “How I Learned Drive” by Paula Vogel from Nov. 1 through Nov. 4 in the Washington Hall Lab Theatre.The play follows a woman nicknamed Li’l Bit as she reflects on the sexual abuse she suffered by her Uncle Peck as a young adult.Junior and director Maria Amenabar Farias said the play offers unique insight into the often complex relationships victims have with their abusers. While Uncle Peck abuses Li’l Bit in secret, he maintains the facade of a respectable family man, she said.“[Peck] is presented as this amazing guy,” she said. “He’s charming. The author even wrote in this play that he should be thought of as an Atticus Finch.”Senior and stage manager Maria Pope said watching the events of the play through Li’l Bit’s eyes allows the audience to view her relationship with Uncle Peck with greater depth.“It lets us examine [Li’l Bit] as a character and the complexities with which she views her uncle who is abusing her,” she said. “He’s not just this evil figure in her life, she sees him in many different ways.”Amenabar Farias said delving deep into the text of the script was crucial to gain an understanding of the “psychology and the objectives” of the characters.“Everything we do, I ask myself, ‘What’s the purpose of the scene? How do we get the actors to tell the story that we want them to tell,’” she said.Senior Alexander Daugherty, assistant director, said the play refrains from showing the physical abuse in order to place greater emphasis on Li’l Bit and her growth as a character.“The focus is on her, her words, what she’s saying,” he said.Amenabar Farias said despite the fact that no assault is shown, the play communicates the gravity of the abuse just as effectively.“We don’t sugarcoat [the abuse],” she said. “We’re not pretending they’re not happening, but we present them in a very elegant and graceful manner, I would say, because we know we’re dealing with very delicate subjects.”Though the play does not ignore the hardships abuse brings into the lives of its victims is not absent of, it also does not neglect to celebrate victims overcoming their pasts.“It’s such a beautiful story about something that’s so awful,” Amenabar Farias said. “We find the beauty in the character’s life and how she’s not defined by what’s happening to her.”Amenabar Farias said she hopes the play offers a means for understanding victims of abuse as well as inspiration for all those facing adversity.“This play is sort of a way to see that you are stronger than all problems you’ve had to face in life,” she said.Tags: How I Learned to Drive, Notre Dame Student Players, sexual abuse, sexual assault, Student Playerslast_img read more