Tuesday, October 8 marked the Jubilee Symposium, a day of events at La Salle University based around the theme, “Engaging an Uncomfortable World: Lasallian Universities as Communities of Transformation” as part of the Lasallian Jubilee Year.
The event was La Salle’s on-campus celebration of the tercentenary year of the death of St. John Baptist de La Salle, which has manifested across schools and universities across the globe throughout the year. These celebrations have honored St. La Salle’s impact and mission, along with raising awareness of the impact and vastness of the Lasallian network, which teaches more than 1 million students across 80 countries worldwide.
The day kicked off with a workshop followed by a lecture from Dr. David E. Kirkland, J.D., Executive Director of The NYU Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and The Transformation of Schools. His keynote lecture, “The Danger of a Single Story: What We Can Do to Serve All Students” encouraged both educators and Lasallians to uncover the stories in all of their students, especially the ones who are more difficult to reach. “It’s not enough to just open the doors,” Kirkland said, telling his experience in helping transform the lives of students who have been otherwise marginalized.
The audience was moved by Dr. Kirkland’s powerful speech which included stories of his challenging childhood and how he has dedicated his life to using his experience to reach students—and help other educators reach students—today. One La Salle student in the audience, junior marketing major Priya Kavuru, remarked, “Dr. Kirkland moved me when discussing the disparities that occur in a classroom and the education system as a whole. Especially with regard to culturally diverse students, the inequality transcends beyond school and perpetuates into the lives of those students. Educators have a duty that extends far beyond the classroom but into the communities and individual lives of each student. Kirkland’s powerful speech and anecdotes exposed the broken system and the damage it is causing on the education of America’s youth.”
A labyrinth was staged in the The La Salle Chapel in which visitors had the opportunity to walk through for reflection, together and by association, in the company of other Lasallians.
Later in the day, The Peace Poets, a group of spoken word hip hop artists from New York City, made a visit to campus. A workshop in the University’s Compass Club brought students out to meet the group, learn some tips, and write and speak aloud spoken word poetry of their own. The visit wrapped up with a live presentation in Dan Rodden Theatre.
“In the spirit of Saint La Salle, each aspect of the Jubilee day summons us—students, staff, faculty, administrators—to bear witness to a different narrative in the world today: to go beyond cultural, ethnic and religious borders, and to embrace our common humanity,” said Brother Ernest Miller, FSC, D. Min., serves as Vice President for Mission.“Collectively, Professor David Kirkland and The Peace Poets urge us to continue building hopeful and thriving environments for learning and social transformation.”