Monday, February 28, 2011

Gonzaga University: Ending the Word.

GU students, staff, and faculty took a giant leap towards inclusion and acceptance during the short week following Presidents day. Over three days between February 22nd and 25th (Classes were canceled Thursday due to weather), members of the Gonzaga community had the opportunity to sign a pledge discontinuing the use of the "R-word," otherwise known as the derogatory term retard(ed). Last year, 279 community members signed the same pledge; in 2011 that number increased by nearly 100 signatures! Call it luck, promotion, or a new freshman class, call it whatever you want, the reality of a more socially conscious Gonzaga University cannot be overlooked.  True, the Gonzaga community as a whole may still have a great journey towards the total elimination of this disparaging and offensive word, but the first steps were made during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Week 2011.

DDAW kicked off on Tuesday (2.22) with a free T-shirt campaign focused on raising awareness about the "R-word." The 250 students, faculty, and staff who received shirts were asked to wear them on the upcoming Friday to promote the signing of the pledge (pictured above: a group of dedicated and painfully cold t-shirt wearers). Wednesday night featured a live concert at the Crosby student center, sponsored by Gonzaga University Specialized Recreation (GUSR) and the "R-word" campaign. Attendees were asked to watch and reflect upon Soeren Palumbo's speech dedicated to the campaign (found here) after an introduction by GUSR coordinator Jessica Jacobson. Unfortunately a public showing of Autism: The Musical had to be postponed due to a school wide closure on Thursday, but this event will soon be rescheduled.

The "R-word" means different things to different people. Some users claim "I don't use it in that way," or "I would never say that word to a person with a disability," and that's fair, that's their perception. However, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail famously writes "Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere," and we at GUSR consider using the word "retard(ed)," in any context, as a threat to the millions of people living with disabilities, often unable to share the way in which the use of the word continues to marginalize a specific community.  We urge all members of Gonzaga University to consider those affected, those without the ability to speak for themselves, whenever we think to use the "R-word."

It's time to promote a new "R-word" here at Gonzaga: Respect.

Bryan Rinkus (Graduate Coordinator, GUSR)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Water: A Necessity for Life

   Written By: Gina Meucci  (CCASL Student Leader)     
Water, you view it as a resource that has always been there, so how can we imagine for one day it to be nonexistent. Water is one of the basics of life that we often might not think about that much. Most people that read this article probably have no problem getting clean drinkable water. This article serves the purpose of getting us to think about those who struggle daily to gain access to drinkable water and raise awareness to our frivolous water wasting.
We use water for many related and random activities. We use it to wash ourselves, our cars, our clothes, dishes, and various things around. You can travel on it or you can jump in it on a hot day to cool off. Almost all products that you use every day contain it or were manufactured using it. One thing to consider is what happens if our water resource runs out. While the planet is 70 percent water the freshwater makes up just three percent of this water supply and less than one percent is freely available.
On a macro level the water cycle ensures that roughly the same amount of water is always on this planet. However on micro levels, for individual communities, this does not always remain true. It is hard for people who never have had a problem getting a glass of water to imagine places where communities struggle to get a sufficient amount of clean water. Millions of people die each year from preventable diseases, after drinking water from an unsanitary source.
Rivers are becoming “dryer” due to the installation of dams and the use of water for agriculture. But in many cases the decrease of flow is because of climate change, which is altering rainfall patterns and increasing evaporation because of higher temperatures. Another factor to this water crisis is the global population boom. As populations grow, so do their demands for water. These people must be fed and agriculture must have water to grow crops and livestock.
 Now that you are aware of the water crisis that is happening I have listed some advice on how to cut back on your water use. 

1.       Use a bowl of water to shave. You could also install a shower head that can be turned off while you are shaving and then turned back on when you are finished.
2.       Purchase large trash containers and place them under the downspouts of your gutter. The water that you catch in these buckets can be used to water outdoor plants instead of using the hose. 
1.       Adjust sprinklers, so that you water your lawns, not your house, the sidewalk, or the street.
2.       Wash your pets outside, in an area of your lawn that needs watering.
3.       Turn the water off, while brushing your teeth and you can save 25 gallons per month.
4.       Use a commercial car wash that recycles its water.