Saturday, December 6, 2008

"COR ET ANIMA" - St. Scholastica Saints in Duluth have it!

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The College of St. Scholastica has seen a dramatic decrease in drinking-related offenses and student appeals in recent months, and the drop is believed to stem partly from three Latin words.

The College of St. Scholastica has seen a dramatic decrease in drinking-related offenses and student appeals in recent months, and the drop is believed to stem partly from three Latin words.

The words “Cor et Anima” for “heart and soul” have become part of the mindset for the college’s students, faculty and staff.

The men’s hockey team at the college wears the phrase on its workout T-shirts. Co-captain Jordan Chong said it’s a reminder to the team, and the philosophy works because of the close-knit quality of the campus.

“We’re recognized as a well-behaved school overall, and we take a lot of pride in living like that,” Chong said.

That philosophy always was visible in the lives of the sisters of the college, but with fewer sisters at St. Scholastica over time, it had become less so.

“We really felt a need to make it more real for the students,” said Betsy Kneepkens, assistant dean of students, of the college’s beliefs.

Alcohol-related violations on campus have gone from 87 in 2006-07 to 43 in 2007-08. Violation appeals for the same period went from 79 to 18, and repeat offenders went from 50 to three. Vandalism is down from nine incidents to one.

The college’s Benedictine values began with its founding in 1912, but a push to make those values — including high expectations for behavior and performance — more visible was made last year by naming them.

Sr. Mary Rochefort is director of mission integration at the college and said the goal is to show its values in action.

Talks with students about expectations and written expressions about what Cor et Anima meant throughout the college helped spread the message.

“You hear a lot more of: ‘That’s not who we are, that’s not Cor et Anima; we expect better of people here,’ ” said Steve Lyons, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

“People are coming and taking responsibility,” Kneepkens said. “You’re not going to get 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to be perfect all the time, but what we desire is to strive toward good.”

One 18-year-old woman went to see Kneepkens recently after being caught drinking in a dorm room and giving a false name. She apologized for lying, on her own accord and for “being a burden” on resident advisers and Kneepkens.

“She said: ‘In doing that I was being unfair and it’s just not right,’ ” Kneepkens said. “That language was Cor et Anima.”

The philosophy allows students to think about who is affected by actions. There are students at St. Scholastica who act disrespectfully and don’t follow the mission, Lyons said. “But even if they don’t … decide to live by it, they understand that’s the culture here and there are many of us who do embrace it. Even that tempers some choices they might make.” Duluth News Tribune



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