Campus Life

Seeking inclusion

Priest uses Zoom to call for LGBTQ+ respect in Catholic church

By Joselyn Hildebrand/Feature Editor/April 20, 2023

Father James Martin (on screen at left) wrote a book calling for the Catholic Church to build bridges to the LGBTQ+ community following the deadly shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in 2016. He says reaction to his book revealed homophobia among some in the church. About 60, in-person and online, attended Father James Martin’s presentation (Times photo by Joselyn Hildebrand)

A message of inclusion and respect for the LGBTQ+ community was issued by a Catholic priest March 31. The department of DEI and the faculty Gender and Sexuality Alliance co-hosted Father James Martin for “Building Bridges in a Campus Community.” The virtual event watch party was in Flaherty Community Room. Nearly 60 attendees joined online and in-person.

Martin is a Jesuit Catholic priest known for several novels and his work in LGBTQ+ ministry. In his virtual visit to campus, he connects his book, “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity” to lived experiences of everyone, religious or secular. March 31 is transgender day of visibility, so Martin acknowledged that “it’s a great day to have this talk.”

He began the event with an introduction to what inspired him to write the book. After the 2016 Orlando massacre at Pulse nightclub, a gay bar, Martin posted a Facebook video speaking about the shooting. At the time, this was the largest shooting in U.S. history. He said this video went viral and he spoke at an LGBTQ+ ministry, which led to the writing of his book.

“Even in death, this community is largely invisible to the Catholic church,” Martin said.

Martin was shocked by readers’ reaction to the book. He didn’t expect it to be a strong manifesto, nor challenge church teaching, but a resource for parishes and colleges. He says the initial reaction was very positive.

“I think there was something about having someone in a collar talk about this,” Martin said.

Martin received some pushback for his book. He spoke about receiving personal attacks, homophobia, protests and name calling. It revealed a level of homophobia in the church that he didn’t expect. He reveals that even outside of the Catholic church, there are secular reasons to protect at-risk populations.

“One of the primary reasons that youth are homeless is because they’re LGBTQ+ and rejected from their family,” Martin said.

He also refers to Catholic social teaching, which asks individuals to “stand in solidarity with those on the margins,” and says, “there is really no one in the church that feels as excluded as LGBTQ+ people.”

Martin briefly read Gospels and dissected them to explain how they relate to treating LGBTQ+ individuals with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. He shared that the community is no less human than any other human being, and they have to go to great lengths just to do what everybody else does. He says it is important for individuals in the church who hold power to do something.

“It is the responsibility of the one who has power or privilege to raise them up, listen to them, bring them into the community,” Martin said.

There was time for questions at the end of the event. Martin answered one question about how we can be a welcoming campus for the LGBTQ+ community regardless of religion.

“Take them seriously, as you would any group that feels marginalized, right, befriend them, listen to them, celebrate them when life is good, cry with them when life is bad, and advocate for them,” Martin said.

Flashback :

Memories of the MMU Times SGA is organized, Regina Hall opens

Compiled by Delcie Sanache/Editor-in-chief/April 20, 2023

1945: 78 years ago  

Student government gets under way.

A student government association was organized this fall, and Marcella Schott, secretarial science student, was chosen as president. 

Oct. 5, the Student Council of the SGA held its first meeting to elect officers and start writing the constitution. Virginia Becker was elected as vice president, Helen Toale as secretary, and Marjorie Burger as treasurer.

SGA plans on meeting once a month; each member is able to express their concerns and opinions regarding student life on campus.

1965: 58 years ago

New Regina Hall to open in fall.

A new dormitory named Regina Coeli Hall will open in September and will provide dorm rooms for 189 girls in seven stories.

A reception lounge, parlors, offices, guest rooms, some dorm rooms, a student infirmary, and a large recreation lounge will all be located on the main floor. 

The building is being paid for by a $1,085,000 loan, while furnishings and equipment will be covered by college funds and donations. 

2005: 18 years ago

Never-ending job hunt plagues graduating seniors.

Graduating seniors who are excited about obtaining their college degree are stuck in what seems to be a never-ending job hunt.

“I’m going to be graduating, but I don’t have a stable job to go with it,” said Chanda Burds, senior communication major, “But, I do feel that my schooling here has helped me become a successful individual.”

Burds has been busy sending out resumes and believes many seniors have mixed feelings about graduating. 

“I’m hopeful because I had an interview at the end of March. Since I haven’t heard any bad news yet, I’m hoping that’s good. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll just keep looking. That’s all you can do,” said Christina Smith, senior.

Divided we fall?

Olson argues in book that political schisms threatens democracy

The increasingly sharp divide between left and right, red and blue, Republican and Democrat isn’t just a problem—it puts the future of our democracy in peril.

That’s the central point of a new book recently co-authored by Dr. Todd Olson, Mount Mercy University president. In “A Liberal Democracy in Peril: Where We Stand and Where We Must Go,” Olson co-writes his observations about liberal democracy in higher education with engineer and businessman Gjalt Smit.

Any complex policy question has more than two answers, and regardless of a person’s political place on the liberal-conservative spectrum, it’s important to preserve the ability to communicate and make rational policy choices that are not based on that spectrum. The idea of having two sides of the spectrum Olson saw as “impoverishing our national discourse and conversation and it was holding us back from the ideals of liberal democracy.”

He wanted to further understand what is happening and suggest his ideas for what could be done to mend the divide.

The first part of the book Olson begins with his analysis of liberal democracy, in the present sense, interviewing students and people in leadership from both the U.S. and across Europe about their perspectives on democracy. Smit finishes the book’s second half with a look at where liberal democracy can take society and how it can affect the world on a socio-economic and political view with his knowledge in industry and sciences. 

The pair were united by Olson’s brother. Smit, originally from the Netherlands, lives in Switzerland. Smit was also intrigued by the conversation about liberal democracy and saw a role it played both in the U.S. and in Europe.

The two met prior to COVID, in February 2020, and spent hours talking about ideas and their prior observations and knowledge from their respective occupations. 

Olson describes liberal democracy to be “about a system of government and economy and individuals, both rights and responsibilities: it is about separation of powers and limitations on government, both individual responsibilities to making institutions work and based on free market economy but not an unlimited free market. It is about responsible approach to economy and politics that features free and fair elections, free expression.” 

It is not about having two sides, but about having and understanding of all options, Olson said.

“A conservative republican can support liberal democracy; it is not about one side of the political spectrum,” he notes.

Inspiration for the book came when Olson was working with many student leaders and local governments. The idea of having two sides of the spectrum Olson saw as “impoverishing our national discourse and conversation and it was holding us back from the ideals of liberal democracy.”

During his career at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Olson said he felt unsettled by what he saw and heard around the country and at his school. At Georgetown, Olson interacted with the Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition – a student led, intentional effort to bring together students with varying political views to have conversation and to “build understanding and to help people think more openly and benefit of listening to multiple perspectives.”

Braver Angels is another group that encourages bringing various sides and creating conversation in a respectable and progressive manner.

Olson had the chance to interview both the students of the Bipartisan coalition and one of the founders of Braver Angels on where they see liberal democracy today. Olson notes that a section of his part of the book is a statement from the Bipartisan group, which he finds very “valuable and pragmatic.” 

When drafting the book, Olson addressed challenges. The idea was sparked before COVID-19 and was finished during the pandemic. Through the pandemic, Olson and Smit interviewed sources via telecommunications such as Zoom and connected via emails. The process of the book came together after two editions, multiple interviews, and one face-to-face interaction between the authors.

Klein is leaving MMU at end of spring term

By Joselyn Hildebrand/Feature Editor/March 2, 2023

Yet another transition in Mount Mercy leadership was recently, unexpectedly, announced.

“It is just time for me to try something new,” said Nate Klein, VP for student success, after nine years serving the Mount Mercy community.

The news from the president’s office was announced via email Feb. 21. Klein also serves as assistant professor of business. Previously, he has served as advisor of Enactus and JV men’s soccer coach. Klein graduated from MMU in 2007. Earlier this month, it was announced that Dr. Tom Castle will serve as interim provost, replacing Dr. Tim Laurent who will focus on external grant support.

Some of Klein’s most enjoyable memories from the Hill include sledding down the hill on lunch trays with students, UC takeovers like Vegas Night, and the record-breaking slip-n-slide this past year.

“Other memories took me away from the hill on international service trips to Belize in 2016, to build a home for the Coba family with 20 students, and then this past year to Guatemala, with 11 of our students to build two homes while becoming immersed in the culture,” he said.

Most of the work Klein does is usually behind the scenes. However, his ability to make personal interactions impactful for those on campus is what makes him well-known around MMU.

“Some of the most memorable moments will be the one-on-one conversations I had with first-year students to learn about their aspirations, my monthly lunches with the Sisters down at Sacred Heart Convent to learn about their courage, service projects with the Student Services team, hugging it out with seniors that have walked across the stage realizing their dreams at commencement including my dad, my wife, and my brother, as well as the colleagues that I’ve had the joy to work alongside these last nine years, hopefully making an impact on their lives as they have on mine,” Klein said.

Klein’s accomplishments at MMU include helping to establish the Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity, working to develop the JEDI room, and crafting the Mustang Leadership Program.

While Klein is unsure what his next step may be, he says “it will be important that I’ll be able to continue to continue to live out my values that I’ve shared often with students: Learn every day, inspire those around me, volunteer my time, and enjoy what I do.”

Many communities’ members value Klein, as his role serves as a bridge between students and faculty and staff. His role will have some big shoes to fulfill, although he is confident that the professionals have students at the center of why they are here.

“I have faith that President Olson will work with the leadership team to identify someone that will continue to build trust and connect with students in a way that helps them feel a sense of belonging here on the Hill,” he said.

Prez’s lecture Speaker seeks ‘original’ feminism

By Elaina Sanders/Assistant Editor/March 2, 2023

Erika Bachiochi delivers the spring President’s Lecture Feb. 23 to a packed University Center. (Times photo by Elaina Sanders)

With the University Center packed Feb. 23, Erika Bachiochi, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute where she founded the Wollstonecraft Project, gave a lecture by invitation of the president of Mount Mercy. Bachiochi proposed that “sex realist” feminism is the single best way to grow women’s rights in our society.

Bachiochi started off her lecture by describing how Plato and Aristotle both had a misunderstanding of what a woman is, “For a woman is not a malformation of a man, nor is she incapable of intellectual thought,” like Plato and Aristotle assumed.

Women of their time and after also disagreed with this thought process calling to high moral principles. Since both women and men are human, they are called to the same moral and intellectual capacities, including all virtues, for this is what differs human from animals.

Pre-industrial economy gave great opportunities for women with them not only having a hand in family business but also acting as “guardians of the private realm.” Yet with the rise of industrial work and with men leaving trades and rural environment, the asymmetry between the sexes became more apparent. Women lost the security in the family and ‘the work of the home’ became devalued greatly.

The first feminist not only called for women to have the right to vote, but also for discrimination in the workplace to end, and for the value of women at home to be respected. These first wave feminists also called for men to participate in chastity to allow women to be voluntary mothers to decrease the asymmetry between the sexes when it comes to the responsibility of the child.

After the birth control pill was invented, promiscuity of both men and women along with the pill not being perfectly effective lead to the increase of unintended pregnancies, she said. In conclusion, this brought feminism to the idea that for women to be successful, they must be like men. Bachiochi calls for society to go back to the ideas held by original feminists where the responsibility of pregnancy and the correction of asymmetry between men and women are acknowledged. That being a man or a woman are diametric parts of being a human who is called to moral and intellectual virtues, she said.

Rapid rise Bread Club quickly gains 60 students soon after start

By Tiara Muñoz/Staff Writer/Feb. 16, 2023

Various Mount Mercy clubs and organizations signed up prospective members at the Spring Involvement Fair, Jan. 24, in the Sisters of Mercy University Center. (Times photos by Delcie Sanache)

What started with a baguette from Target, quickly rose into something larger.

Some suite mates in Andreas House were with Eric Heitland, sophomore, biochemistry major, when he was eating the fateful bun.

Bread Club started that night in November, as Heitland’s friends, bored, were wondering what they could do to pass the time. As Heitland was eating his baguette, the idea of Bread Club was born.

First greeted with laughter and jokes, the idea of a club was quickly kneaded into something more. The friends researched what is needed to become a club, following SGA guidelines, and how they can make Bread Club a real thing.

“It started off as a joke,” Heitland said. But later, it became more serious.

“We want to bring a sense of home for students,” he said.

Heitland and his friends saw many possibilities they could create to make Bread Club about more than just bread. Bread has a history and culture, and with the various international students and diverse population on campus, Heitland and his friends saw an opportunity to bring students together through baking.

“If international students miss home, some foods can bring them back,” Heitland said. “We hope that creating foods such as breads can give them that taste of home.”

Heitland also emphasized the opportunity to give back to the community by creating bake sales and giving proceeds to local food banks and even possibly donating bread to food banks in Cedar Rapids.

As Bread Club continues to rise, Heitland hopes to see it teaching students valuable cooking skills, learning about cultures they may not have known or had much information about and bringing the community together.

Right now, Bread Club has permission to use the McAuley Dining Center kitchen for meetings and the kitchen to make the bread. Heitland hopes to see students taking the skills they learn in these meetings and using them in various places across campus such as the Penthouse, Regina Hall basement and Andreas House kitchen.

The club rose quickly, going from the November conversation to gaining SGA official status in December. Members simply spread the word directly to other students, and now, Bread Club has 60 members as it continues to grow like live, yeasty dough.

Bread Club meets once a month, nothing is required to be involved and anyone can join. The next meetings are Feb. 20 and March 20, at 8:30 p.m. in the McAuley Dining Center.

Heitland notes that even if you’re not an experienced cook, there are many opportunities and connections you can create by joining. If you are interested, you can contact any of the Bread Club executive team: Eric Heitland, Caleb Rutherford, or Will Davidson, and your name will be added to the email list for information about Bread Club events and meetings. As Heitland said, Bread Club can bring you “a taste of home.”

MMUANS hosts LGBTQIA+ speaker

By Kevin Fiedler/Staff Writer/Feb. 16, 2023

MMUANS hosted a public event and invited a guest to come speak about providing health care to members of the LGBTOIA+ community.

Francis Kuehnle (they/them) is a psychology nurse at the University of Iowa who visited students on Feb. 6. MMUANS met Kuehnle when they attended the Iowa Association of Nursing Students conference last year in October. Francis was a guest speaker there and they made an impression on MMUANS president Jaelin Berger.

“The speech they gave left a lasting impression on me and the members of MMUANS, so much so that I asked the MMUANS board if Francis can come to Mount Mercy and speak to us again,” said Berger. 

Kuehnle shared their knowledge with nursing students and faculty about providing compassionate care to members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

They communicated that you should always ask your patient about their pronouns, so not to offend them. This is the first step to making sure that patients feel comfortable and safe in their environment. They talked about their own personal experiences, not only as a nurse but also as a patient. They ended their speech by answering questions from the audience.

New SGA president seeks to improve campus communications

By Delcie Sanache/Sports Editor/Feb. 16, 2023

The new leader of student governments says she will emphasize student engagement.

SGA held elections for new executive council members in November. Taking over as secretary is junior Nathalie Primbs, sophomore Autumn Puffer as treasurer, sophomore Houston Hamlett as vice president, and sophomore Amelia Frimml as president.

“I ran for SGA president because I love everything, we were able to accomplish as a team last year,” said Frimml. “Therefore, I wanted to continue to lead our team to advocate for the students in continuation of making MMU a great university to attend.”

Frimml is a secondary education major with endorsements in instructional strategist and in social services. She has already created many goals.

“First, we want to create better engagement with students,” she said. “Within this, it includes bringing the feeling of belonging, advocating, and promoting more involvement and school spirit within all MMU students.”

To dig deeper into their main goal, Frimml has more specific ambitions. She said she wants to improve communications, particularly through social media. She also wants to foster better relationships with MMU employees.