Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The St. Bonaventure University History Project by Jacqueline Gertner

For Dr. Payne’s Public History course this semester, students are working together to create what we call the “St. Bonaventure University History Project.” This project will cover the history of the last ten years of St. Bonaventure University, as inspired by Edward Eckert’s book The Good Journey: 150 Years of History at St. Bonaventure University. Each student in the course is assigned one year or part of one year of St. Bonaventure University’s history to research, from 1999 to today, using the school’s newspaper, the BonaVenture, as a basis for research and analysis.
          For my part of the project, I am researching the most significant events and changes that happened at the university during the spring semester of 2003. Especially apparent during that semester was the sense of community associated with significant events that affected the University and its students.
          Students, for example, showed determination and support for the gay/straight alliance group, Spectrum, as its members attempted to receive a charter from the University. Students and faculty were abuzz in full support of Spectrum, seeing it as a way to build stronger communication and understanding that would be representative of the Franciscan values, which are essential at the University. At this time, students were also aware of the U.S. involvement in Iraq and the growing threat of a potential war in Iraq. Faculty, students, and members of the Olean community joined together and marched in New York City and Washington, demonstrating their sentiments against U.S. involvement in a war.
Then in March, when news broke out to students and faculty about authority figures allowing an ineligible basketball player to play, the University was tested in its ability to overcome disappointment and shame and work to regain the trust of the community. The University looked forward, seeking a new interim president and vice president who would promote Franciscan values, while the students supported the basketball players in their decision not to finish the season. The University showed its resilience to look positively to the future, with members of the community supporting one another and keeping the faith that St. Bonaventure University would overcome.

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