Dorothy Day Social Justice Floor: Connecting Philosophy to Experience
The Dorothy Day Social Justice Living Learning Community has enjoyed another year of investigating social justice issues at play across Milwaukee. The program utilizes Service Learning during both semesters to pair firsthand experience with the ideas and values students learn about in their Philosophy classes – which they take as a group.
The Dorothy Day Social Justice Living Learning Community floor is comprised of Marquette sophomores interested in pursuing social justice as a centerpiece of their curriculum. Each student is admitted through an application process and is assigned a room on a common floor with other members of the program.
Austin Beeber has spent the year doing service learning at Repairers of the Breach, a nonprofit organization on Milwaukee’s lower north side providing daytime shelter and other resources for people struggling with homelessness and near-homelessness. Beeber cited his floor’s diversity as a key piece of what has made the program special. “It’s cool to see alternative programs and opinions,” said Beeber. “It was big in helping everyone to get to know each other.”
This year marks the first time “Dorothy Dayers” have continued Service Learning at the same site for both semesters. “It’s really good because you build better relationships with the staff there,” said Jeremy Wallenfang, who has been teaching adults English communication skills at the International Learning Center. The organization aims to provide English language and communication skills to Southeast Asian and African adult refugees who have had little or no prior education in their native countries. “It was good for both me and them to work with the students year-round,” said Wallenfang.
Resident Assistant Maddie Chouanard observed a lot of collaborative learning happening outside the program’s required activities, too. Dorothy Day members volunteered together for Make a Difference Day, serving at a variety of organizations across the area. Several members also participated in a student-organized Seder Meal, and formed a team for Marquette’s Hunger Clean-Up. The group’s willingness to go beyond expectations reflects a real passion for making a difference in their communities.
The group also took the opportunity to go on overnight retreats together, including a two-day “poverty simulation” facilitated by the staff at City on a Hill. The experience forced students out into the streets for a day, challenging them to find their own food and their own places to stay warm without any money. The experience gave them a taste of what it might really be like to live without a home in downtown Milwaukee.
While students are attracted to the program for varying reasons, it seems that the sense of community is really what makes the group special. Jenny Garbarz, an incoming Dorothy Day member who will be joining in the fall, likes having the opportunity to work alongside the same people in so many different settings. “Doing it with people you’re close with enhances the experience,” said Garbarz.
The Service Learning Program continues to be a cornerstone to the Dorothy Day experience, providing students with site placements that allow them to see discipleship firsthand, through the many dedicated and hardworking individuals they interact with throughout the year.
To learn more about the Dorothy Day Social Justice Living Learning Community and how to apply to become a part of the community for the upcoming year, refer to the Department of Residence Life’s website: http://www.marquette.edu/orl/res/specialty/dorothyday.shtml