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Male close to earning SMC degree

Liz Harter | Monday, March 17, 2008

Building attendant Lou Morales has been taking advantage of a Saint Mary’s College policy that allows all College employees to take one class per semester for the past five semesters. Now, he claims that he is the first male student enrolled at Saint Mary’s.

“I’ve taken everything for credit,” Morales said. “Basically, I’m working toward a degree.”

Morales cited the fact that he was listed as a student and not a staff member in the Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross College telephone directory.

“If you look under staff [in the directory] you won’t find my name, but if you look under students you will find me,” he said.

However, Lorraine Kitchner, the College Registrar, said that Morales is not able to earn a degree from the College due to Saint Mary’s policy of not allowing men to graduate, but he can earn grades and credits that may be transferable to another institution.

Kitchner said Morales is no different than any of the other men who take transferable credits at Saint Mary’s (such as Notre Dame men who take education courses), and she is not aware of any special arrangements for him that will allow him to receive a degree from the College.

“Technically, I don’t know if I can graduate,” Morales said, citing the same policy as Kitchner, “but I’m enrolled, I have a grade point average and everything.”

Morales said that he just wants to be treated like any other student. He actively participates in many extracurricular activities and recently attended an open mike poetry reading for students. One of his poems is being published in the student literary magazine “Chimes.”

In two years, Morales said that he is going to have to start looking at schools to transfer his credits to if he cannot graduate from Saint Mary’s.

“I would love to say maybe Saint Mary’s will let me graduate,” he said. “You can always make the argument that it’s not a co-ed college just because you let a man graduate. We give honorary degrees to men all the time. I myself would just as soon not have any fuss made.

“[I could] Get up there the day of commencement, wipe off the chairs with everyone else in building services, put on my cap and gown and go get my diploma, then take off my cap and gown and start folding chairs and putting them away just like I normally do.”

Morales said that, even if his degree won’t say “Saint Mary’s,” he still wants to graduate.

“If worse comes to worse I’ll probably end up graduating from Holy Cross College, but I will still consider that I graduated from Saint Mary’s,” Morales said. “Everyone will have known that I took all the classes at Saint Mary’s. I don’t think they’ve ever had a situation like me. I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity that is offered me.”

Morales normally works 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. but comes in at 5 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays because he has to make up for the hour and a half that he is in class those days. As long as he makes up the time that he spends off the job, building services is very accommodating to his course schedule he said.

He is an English literature major and is currently enrolled in Rosalind Clark’s Arthurian Literature class.

In the 1970s Morales took courses at Indiana University South Bend and estimates that he is a second semester junior in terms of credits when he adds the 15 he has received from the College to those he took previously.

He thinks that it will take him about four more years taking one course a semester to meet the requirements of his major in English Literature, but is working on taking the general education requirements as well.

“I took calculus, history, political science, philosophy and sociology at IUSB,” Morales said. “That leaves another semester of religious studies and two semesters of a language for my [general education courses]. Then I can work exclusively on taking courses in the major.”

He said he has problems getting into some of the general education courses because many of the first year students try to get as many as possible done in their freshman year so they fill up quickly.

Morales has to receive advanced permission from professors to be able to register for their course because they have the right to refuse to allow Morales to take a class, though he has not encountered a professor who has done so yet.

“Almost all of the professors I have talked to are pleased to have me in the class,” he said. “So far all the students are pretty happy to have me there too.”

Morales said he offers a different perspective and contribute to classes in ways no other student can. He said he read Marx in his religious studies class and, instead of Marxism and communism being just theories, he offered his view of what growing up with Russia as a Communist power was like, something not even his professor, who was younger than him, could do.

“I contribute pretty well in class,” he said. “I’ve read a lot, which helps, especially in English literature. It’s my major, I should do well in it, that’s just how I feel.”

Morales said he likes the small class numbers at the College, which is part of the reason that he loves being a student in them.

“I went to IUSB; there you’re a number,” he said. “This is so different. I know the professors, some of them are my friends.”

The students who are also enrolled in Morales’ Arthurian Literature class appreciate what Morales adds to the class.

“I think it’s awesome having a male in an all-female school,” freshman Julie Hagopian said. “I love having him here.”

Morales said he enjoys working with the students at the College in the classroom and outside of it. He worked on a group project for his religious studies course and came in after work to meet with his group and prepare a presentation with his group.

“I purposely made sure that someone else was in charge of the group,” he said. “One thing I like to make sure of, this is a women’s college, and women should be leading the discussion. While I participate, I make sure that women are doing the leading in classes and in groups.”