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SMC Students Use Dooley Grant to Promote Awareness

| Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Katharine Terry Dooley Endowment Fund, established in 2000 to support projects of peace and justice initiated by Saint Mary’s students, awarded junior Brianna O’Brien and senior Jessica Richmond grants this year for taking action against social injustice.

Working toward a degree in social work, O’Brien said she hopes to one day go into policy or politics. She will use the grant to address ethical consumption in a project titled “Food for Thought: A Sustainable Approach to Consumption,” she said.

Raising awareness of ethical consumerism can foster a natural inclination toward sustainability, O’Brien said.

“Know what you are contributing to when you buy something … by buying those out-of-season strawberries, you are contributing to the emission of fossil fuels and use of non-renewable resources,” she said. “The only way these unethical and unsustainable practices can continue is if we keep demanding their products.”

Educational events throughout the school year as well as the creation of ethical consumption fact fliers will raise awareness about the issue, O’Brien said. She said she intends to bring in local community leaders such as Chicory Café, the Purple Porch Co-op and the Humane Society to highlight examples of ethical consumption.

“At Saint Mary’s College and the University of Notre Dame, there is definitely a lack of ethical consumerism,” she said. “Students walk around with clothing items, accessories and foods that directly contradict the way in which our schools’ mission statements call for us to act as responsible, ethical students.”

O’Brien said delving into the issue of ethical consumerism opened her eyes to the difficulty of meshing sustainable changes with modern day culture that values Nike shoes over the quality of another human’s life. However, O’Brien said she believes in the saying “knowledge is power” and hopes to use knowledge to influence other students.

“I understand that it can be hard to incorporate sustainable, ethical changes into our lives, but this is the world we have to live in,” she said. “There is nowhere else for us to go, and things are going to continue worsening unless we make major changes. … It is as simple as going to the thrift store instead of the mall when in need of a pair of pants.”

Senior Jessica Richmond said she plans to use the Dooley Grant to initiate conversation on the objectification of women through a poster campaign and screening of the documentary “Miss Representation” followed by a discussion panel, she said.

“The need for women to be respected and valued as a whole is immense,” she said. “By showing this documentary, I see a conversation being started that will spill over into the community. … Hopefully, if nothing else, it will make people aware of the things they condone and possible ways to change that.”

By sharing the film with college and local area high school students, Richmond said she hopes to work with the students to address the seeds of female objectification at a young age. Her work with young children at the Early Childhood Developmental Center instilled in her a desire to positively influence the lives of young girls, she said.

After watching the documentary as a college sophomore, Richmond said she was inspired to share the message with classmates, friends and family. Through the Dooley Grant, she said she now has the opportunity to achieve this goal.

“Women are 51 percent of the population and yet they are facing great adversity on a daily basis,” she said. “This documentary shows the forces which feed this national epidemic of objectification of women.”

Richmond said she intends to hold a discussion panel following the documentary to enable viewers to connect the film with issues on and around campus. Such a discussion will also lead to a proactive action conversation, she said.

“This project is all about awareness and the ability to be aware of the things we mindlessly condone on a daily basis,” she said. “We are doing the first injustice by staying quiet about issues like this one. We, as an all women’s college, need to be having these sorts of conversations about what society is doing to women.”

Through their projects, both Richmond and O’Brien have the opportunity to explore their social justice interests and share these interests with the surrounding community, philosophy professor Adrienne Lyles-Chockley said. By examining the root causes of these social problems and applying this knowledge to create their own responses, Chockley said the two students are excellent examples of the goal behind the Dooley Grant.

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About Kathryn Marshall

Kathryn Marshall, Saint Mary's College '17, is a Biology and Humanistic Studies double major. Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kmarshallSMC

Contact Kathryn