A group of 44 sophomores at Marquette University are setting out a new path, one that incorporates a broader consideration of social justice into a life of learning.
The students have taken up residence in the Dorothy Day Social Justice Living/Learning Community on two floors of the David A. Straz Jr. Tower residence hall. Two years in the making, the living/learning community will focus on justice issues in their course work, volunteer opportunities during the school year, Scripture study and prayer, explained Jim McMahon, the university’s assistant vice president and dean of residence life.
The planning group settled on naming the community for Day because of her commitment to justice and serving poor and homeless people for nearly five decades. Marquette also is the archival home of Day’s letters, diaries and notes from her experiences at the Catholic Worker house in New York.
Under the program, the students will share course work in philosophy and theology. In addition, they will spend two to three hours a week at service projects covering issues such as the environment, education, poverty, literacy and fair trade.
Living near each other also presents an advantage, allowing students to explore justice issues in small groups or one-on-one conversations at just about any time of day or night, McMahon said. Resident advisers will be able to faciliate discussions as needs warrant.
“Students who are involved in living and learning together do better academically and are more engaged. Critical thinking skills tend to be greater,” McMahon said about the university’s hopes for the program.