What’s in store for Marywood’s first ever Advocacy Day


Photo credit: Briana Ryan

Sydney Toy, Community Editor

Marywood will celebrate its first Advocacy Day on Wednesday, Nov. 6 with different events planned for the entire day.

Advocacy Day serves as a counterpart to the Research Day event that took place last March, which acted as a way for students and faculty to promote the research they have conducted or are currently conducting. Advocacy Day will have a similar feel in that students and faculty will present work they have done but will instead focus on their advocacy.

One of the leading faculty members behind Advocacy Day, Associate Professor of English Dr. Erin Sadlack, said she believes the event is a way to celebrate all of the work that students and faculty have done when it comes to advocating on behalf of others while also highlighting the university’s mission.

“[Advocacy Day] grew out of an idea we started a little while ago, that even goes back to when Sister Mary was inaugurated and she talked about the purposes of a university. One of those was to create knowledge but another is to engage the community and fulfill our mission by speaking for the underserved to advocate on behalf of those who need our assistance,” said Sadlack.

To Sadlack and others involved, it was important to try and emphasize the purpose of a university in terms of advocacy because of the way society tends to look at college as nonessential.

“Overall, a university has a special place as a part of society. Responsible universities are thinking ‘why are we here’ and ‘what do we do’ and as [universities] answer those questions, we find it’s right there in our mission,” said Sadlack. “Our Catholic Identity is to serve the underserved and I think that’s what makes Marywood special. We have a genuine mission and a sincere commitment to it.”

Sadlack said she views the event as day to learn and to celebrate the work students, faculty and the university have done as a whole.

“People who participate should expect to learn more about what their fellow faculty, staff and students are accomplishing during the year and in terms of advocacy,” said Sadlack. “This is not for just one issue either. People should always find the issues they care about most and where to put their energies.”

To Assistant Director of Campus Ministry and Advocacy Day committee member Sister John Michelle Southwick IHM, Advocacy Day is a way to show college students who may be overwhelmed by all of the bad in the world or have little time to advocate ways in which they can help.

“There are so many things wrong in this world that it can become overwhelming and people just want to throw their hands up and say ‘I don’t know what to do’ and our inclination is to do nothing,” said Southwick. “There are so many ways we can advocate for people in need that doesn’t take a lot of time or money if we just become aware of what those ways are.”

One of the events Southwick is most excited for are the three simulations she has put together on refugees, climate change and poverty. Southwick said she believes in learning from experience and with these simulations, students will experience what it is like to live as a refugee, live with the effects of climate change or live as someone living at or below the poverty line.

“I always think it’s one thing to sit in a classroom and hear about stuff, but it’s another to experience it,” said Southwick. I think it gives students and faculty an experience of what it’s actually like and it’s a better way of learning.”

Southwick said she hopes that students will show up and do something on Advocacy Day and that it impacts them in some way, encouraging an “ah-ha moment.”

“I hope students take part in something. I want them to get something out of it,” said Southwick.

Aside from the simulations, there will be an advocacy fair where students will present the advocacy work they have done, as well as a keynote speaker session with Marywood alumni and current Immigration Rights Attorney Luis Canales.

Faculty will be participating by presenting the service work they have done and with a Big Ideas Panel where students can ask any question about advocacy and the panel will address it. There will also be an arts exhibit and a poetry reading where students can show and express their artistic ways of advocacy and social justice.

For more information about Advocacy Day and the activities taking place, visit the “campus” section of the Marywood App.

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