Tis’ The Season

With final exams fast approaching for the NDNU campus, the holiday season and all its festivities come to mind. Once the semester ends and grades are in, students, faculty and staff are free to travel back home and spend the merry holidays with their families. By having such a diverse student body from countries all over the world, many cultures, traditions and experiences are celebrated during this joyous time of year.

According to Angelica Perales, a NDNU junior, her family celebrates a Latino tradition called Nacimiento, in which “[her mother] builds a miniature diorama [of the Three Kings in religious history and the family] starts a prayer on the night of Christmas Eve at eleven-thirty P.M.” and opens their presents at midnight, making it Christmas Day when the family opens their presents.

In addition to decorations, the family also prepares holiday dishes such as “tamales [of both savory and sweet variety], pan dulce [Latino sweet bread], posole [a traditional Mexican stew] and abuelita chocolate [Mexican hot chocolate].

While many of the younger members of her family want the latest video game systems, Perales and her family will be shopping for clothes, especially since several of her cousins “are having [kids].” Perales prefers “buying something [for someone] from the heart [rather] than buying something because it is expensive.”

While Justin “Link” Eddy, a NDNU junior, cannot travel easily due to his limited mobility, he enjoys his time immensely with his friends and family during the holiday seasons. Some of his favorite family traditions are to “decorate the Christmas tree and bake chocolate-chip and M&M cookies, but nothing with nuts or oatmeal.”

In honor of his Greek heritage, Eddy’s family prepares traditional Grecian dishes such as baklava [a rich pastry with layers of nuts and honey] and tiropita [a layered pastry pie with feta cheese filling].”

For holiday gifts, Eddy intends to shop for “everyone,” including his friends, family, and himself. He recommends to holiday shoppers to shop online rather than in stores, as “there are some things that [people] can only find online and not in retail stores.”

The holiday season this year is looking to be an spectacular one for NDNU students, faculty and staff, as many members of the community are returning home to their families for the three week or so holiday break. However, even with all the Christmas spirit being carried throughout the world, there are many students who cannot return home due to personal matters.

Fortunately, University Housing is offering residents who cannot return home at this time of the year temporary housing during the winter break for a moderate fee compared to Bay Area housing. If students would like to learn more about this, please contact Annabelle Bautista, Associate Director for Student Life, in the Housing and Residence Life Office on the first floor of St. Joe’s.

For those traveling or returning home to their families, Perales and Eddy had these final words to say to the Argonaut’s readers respectively: “Enjoy your holidays and the time with your family,” and “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!”

Agents of Change

Having been assigned the position of Dean of Students on April 13, 2011, Jean Conde will be retiring from the Office of Student Affairs by the end of the Fall 2015 semester. Before her initial start at NDNU in 2010 as interim Dean of Students, Conde had “worked at such institutions such as University of San Diego, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, and CSU Stanislaus, where she most recently served as senior director of campus life…,” as detailed in a 2011 press release by NDNU.

At NDNU, Conde has been regarded as “friendly” and “remembers [your] name after one conversation”, as stated by Jessica Foresti, a NDNU junior. Foresti even remembers that “when she was on crutches, [Conde] wanted [her] to move so that [Foresti] would not have to go the third floor where [her] dorm was.”

In the public face, Nathalie Moutal, a NDNU senior, stated that Conde “takes the initiative…is open [to change, and] embodies [NDNU].” Moutal states further that “[Conde] has done a lot for the school, really cares about the people,” and has participated in countless events on campus.

With Conde’s retirement fast approaching, Craig Brewer, Dean of the School of Business and Management at NDNU, has nominated three candidates for the next Dean of Students. These include Joseph Onofrietti, a Massachusetts-based nominee who has worked in many institutions across the state such as Emmanuel College and Fisher College, Phillip “Flapp” Cockrell, a Mississippi-based nominee with an equal amount of work at universities such as Jackson State University and Mississippi University for Women, and Andre Coleman, a California-based nominee with extensive experience at Whittler College and Concordia University.

In a thorough examination of the three candidates’ resumes provided by Brewer, all three of them have very broad backgrounds in student affairs and have even served in high positions of authority at their respective institutions. In fact, all three are more than qualified for the Dean of Students position at NDNU.

However, students such as Moutal and Foresti insisted that the next Dean of Students be an “[agent] of change” and to “care…, listen…, and implement” progressive advancements to the university. Moreover, Moutal stated that she wishes for the future Dean of Students to have stronger “interaction between students and the university…and [make] a presence on campus by going to student events such as clubs [and celebrations].”

While Conde declined a personal interview with the Argonaut’s reporters, Moutal and Foresti had these final words to say to the next Dean of Students: “Don’t let the university or the world change your vision” for the school and “be open-minded to the limitations of the students. On behalf on the students, faculty, and staff, Brewer would like to thank “Dean Jean for her many contributions and accomplishments during her tenure at NDNU” and to have a memorable retirement. The university community eagerly awaits the legacy of the next Dean of Students.

“Hidden” Disability

Justin “Link” Eddy, a Nore Dame de Namur  Junior majoring in Graphic Design, was born with Spina Bifida, a severe disability that “restricts [him] from walking” like everybody else. As such, his mobility relies heavily on his “legs” and can prevent him from experiencing regular daily activities such as driving, cooking and cleaning that many people take for granted.

However, this restriction on his lifestyle does not prevent Justin from working hard, having fun with friends, and playing video games such as Super Smash Bros., a popular Nintendo fighting game.

Fortunately, the Academic Success Center, a program designed to help students with documented disabilities succeed at an equal or higher level than average students, has assisted Justin immensely in his academic studies, providing accommodations such as extended time on tests and even moving an entire class location from a higher floor to a lower floor for one of his classes.

Dr. Peggy Koshland-Crane, Director of the Academic Success Center, whose duties consist of “[operating] the Tutorial Center, running the first generation program, the early warning system, and working with all students with documented disabilities,” started at NDNU in 2003 with plenty of experience at “many of the school districts in the Bay Area,” with educational levels ranging from “preschool all the way up to adults,” along with “a tremendous amount of consulting work…” for these institutions. At NDNU, Dr. Peggy stated that she loves “working with the students, faculty and staff” and seeing their interactions.

To assist students with documented disabilities with their academic endeavors, Dr. Peggy provides general accommodations for her students, such as “extended time for test taking, note-takers, and recording of [lectures].” The DRC even created a unique accommodation specifically for a blind student “…whom [the DRC] provided a reader for…” and later for students with “low-vision.”

To improve accommodations and resources for the growing number of students with documented disabilities, Dr. Peggy stated, “At some point in time when we are able, I would like to…[create] a larger space for the whole Tutorial Center.” By doing so, she hopes this will allow the Tutorial Center “to offer more support in classes and more tutors for different courses.”

She also aims for any student with a documented disability to “know and understand what their disability is,…how it impacts their daily living whether in or out of a classroom,…and what they need to do to be responsible for their learning.”

Dr. Peggy had these final words for the Argonaut’s readers: “I…want all students to get to know each other,…to understand that a lot of people have a ‘hidden’ disability, one that you cannot see,…not to judge each other, and not be afraid to reach out to the Disability Resource Center…,” which is located in the Academic Success Center across from St. Mary’s Hall.

Best of Oktoberfest-Homecoming 2015

On October 9 & 10, NDNU kicked off the year with Homecoming 2015. On Friday, students and staff danced on the Gellert Library Lawn to the best of rock and pop, performed by local Bay Area dance party band Rewind. The musicians did a marvelous job, playing retro and modern tunes such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and PSY’s Gangnam Style.

While the first night started off well, the next day was even more exciting, as alumni, faculty, and students, rocked out to the live vibes of local band Fractured Hans, which played classic tunes like The B-52’s Love Shack and Lynrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama. All the while, attendees received fine catering from the campus’ very own Bon Appétit, which provided delicious salads and mouth-watering burgers.

The drinks for the Biergarten were provided by San Francisco based brewing company Armstrong Brewery, represented by NDNU alumni and Armstrong team member Jason Cardoso, who stated that the feature drinks for the event included “chocolate and coffee flavored beers such as South City Brown and 415 Fog,” some of the brewery’s finest and most popular beverages.

During this time, the main event was the NDNU Iron Chef Competition between the Belmont Fire and Police Departments, in which both teams were instructed by Elizabeth Valente, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations and MC for Homecoming, to grill up “the best of Oktoberfest”, where either side was told to prepare “bratwurst, their choice of mixed vegetables…[and a special] dessert.”

For this year’s competition, the Police Department, consisting of several NDNU alumni, cooked up a savory sausage, saucy zucchini and a scrumptious s’mores brownie drizzled with caramel, while the Fire Department grilled a sweet sausage, seasoned onions and glazed apples topped with caramel and nuts.   While the Police Department had absolutely delicious dishes, the Fire Department took the lead and won the competition.

Throughout the course of the main events on the lawn, the athletics department held two soccer games at Koret Field, where the women’s soccer and men’s soccer teams went up against Dominican University of California at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. As stated on the NDNU Athletics website, while the “Dominican comeback [sank our female] Argonauts… the huge second half [of the second game propelled our male] Argos to victory.”

After the Homecoming Day Athletic Events, the Golden Jubilee Wine & Cheese Reception was held from 3-4 p.m in the Taube center, where the event was focused on mainly honoring the Class of 1965 with fine wine and handcrafted cheeses. Soon after the reception, there was a Community Mass held in Cunningham Memorial Chapel at 4 p.m. to bridge into a peaceful and reflective evening.

To round off the night, the NDNU Theatre & Dance department put on a complimentary performance of Picasso at the Lapin Agile at 7:30 p.m., a comedic show written by famous actor Steve Martin, that “imagines a comical encounter between the young Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein,” as detailed in the NDNU Theatre and Dance Performance Calendar.

Elizabeth Valente, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations and MC for Homecoming, had these final words for the Argonaut’s readers: “Join in on the fun! Homecoming is for everyone, on campus, off campus…to have fun, and [the alumni] themselves to always remember their alma mater and make memories. That is what it’s all about.”


Get Your Grub

In recent years, NDNU residents have begun to discuss the lack of creativity and spontaneity in the cafeteria’s dish selection. While the menu is meant to appeal to a wide variety of cultures and food preferences such as vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free, residents have started to grow tired of the same dishes day after day, arguing that the “food is not as diverse as the student body,” as stated by resident assistant and upperclassman Angelica Perales.

Although the cafeteria supervisor, Susan Mamlok, bases the variety of dishes on ingredients available in the local area, she stated that the menu is “mainly prepared based on the needs of board students” and prices the dishes to accommodate the student meal plans and stay in competition with local food providers.

Despite the fact that a decent portion of the three main parties on campus, including residents, commuters and faculty, agree that the quality of the food is much higher compared to surrounding schools, residents argues that now is the time for change in the cafeteria menu.

After speaking to several residents, commuters and faculty, two suggestions came up in the discussions.

First, students recommended having special days to reinvigorate the student body’s interest in the café, such as Taco Tuesdays, where Latino cuisine such as plataño, fish tacos and carnitas burritos are served for certain meals, or Spaghetti Night Fridays, where students can enjoy freshly-prepared garlic bread, pasta and caesar salads for evening meals.

Many also suggested inviting local restaurants, such as Mr. Pickle’s Sandwich Shop and Curry Up Now, to sell their products on campus on select days and give back to both the retail and academic communities. For those who want to contribute to the cafeteria’s development, Susan Mamlok has provided a suggestion box for the student body and faculty to recommend dishes and ideas to further advance the high quality of the food and services offered by Bon Appétit.

The NDNU Dining Hall eagerly awaits the dinner rush in Belmont, California on Monday, Oct. 5th, 2015. (AP Photo/James Hargrave)

The NDNU Dining Hall eagerly awaits the dinner rush in Belmont, California on Monday, Oct. 5th, 2015. (AP Photo/James Hargrave)