Buddig Hall community kitchen at Loyola University New Orleans

The community kitchen in Buddig Hall is used frequently by students and is getting some love this summer!

A basic necessity and major part of cultures around the world, food not only nourishes our bodies, it can feed our souls. In New Orleans, we certainly know this to be true. Sometimes it’s the food itself that inspires us, other times it’s the experience of cooking or in sitting down for a meal with others. A kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home” because it’s where people share their lives.

This summer, Buddig Hall’s beloved 12th floor kitchen, the “heart of our hall”, will receive a face-lift, giving students a livelier and more comfortable place to share the college experience. The improved space will offer students a more beautiful place to cook together, share conversation and culture, and, as corny as it may sound, make memories. Progress has already begun with the addition of larger, more functional tables. So far, comments have been very positive.

What other changes to the space can you expect? First and foremost, the entire room will be freshly painted. Floors will have a sparkling new coat of wax and walls will be jazzed up with art. We’re bringing in some new, repurposing some vintage (it’s what gives Buddig its charm!), and highlighting the best view on campus: downtown NOLA!

View of downtown New Orleans from the 12th floor of Buddig Hall

The 12th floor of Buddig Hall has outstanding views of New Orleans!

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Summer officially begins tomorrow, but progress on Cabra Hall’s refurbishment is already red hot!

As we discussed in a previous post, many refurbishment projects are underway on campus, primarily in Biever Hall and Cabra Hall.

View from Cabra Hall balcony

Even before refurbishments, Cabra Hall boasts perhaps the best view on campus!

At Cabra Hall, located on Loyola’s Broadway Campus, next to the Broadway Activities Center and Visual Arts building, a few major projects are moving forward, to be completed in time for students’ return to campus in August 2011.

The exterior of the building is currently being power-washed, and will look like an entirely new facility when complete. In fact, plans to paint the exterior of the building were cancelled when we saw the amazing  difference that the power-washing has made already on parts of the building.

Room in Cabra Hall awaiting new carpet

Carpet has been removed from all residential suites in Cabra Hall, with new flooring coming shortly!

Colors for doors and window louvers are currently being selected. Exterior doors to residential suites and exterior window louvers are receiving a fresh coat of paint. The color will complement the beautiful burgundy trim that was recently added to neighboring Greenville Hall.

Flooring in all residential suites has been removed at this time, and brand new carpeting will be installed shortly.

Walls within all residential suites are being prepped at this time for re-painting.

New shower stall in Cabra Hall

Up close and personal with a new shower in Cabra Hall.

And finally, new shower stalls are being installed in all bathrooms! The newer style showers will make them easier to clean and maintain, and will offer a more modern, clean look to Cabra Hall bathrooms.

For even more photos, please find us on Facebook, and for the most timely updates and info, please follow @loynoreslife on Twitter.

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The summer season is here, and we’ve been busy at work preparing for the arrival of the Class of 2015. As we grow and get better, we take seriously our commitment to improving all of our residential facilities on campus.

Old carpet being staged in Biever Hall lobby

Out with the old! Carpet ready for removal from Biever Hall, staged briefly in the main lobby

A year ago, all four residence halls saw significant renovations in their main lobbies, including the construction of new front desks in Biever and Buddig Halls, and new flooring, paint, and furniture in all halls.

This summer, the progress continues on an even grander scale. Fall 2011 will see the launch of Loyola’s Free Laundry program, including a total renovation of the laundry room in Biever Hall.

Carpet removed from hallways in Biever Hall

Carpeting and other common area flooring surfaces have been removed, and underlying terrazzo will be re-finished.

Additionally, work has begun in Biever Hall to remove old carpet in all common areas. The underlying terrazzo flooring will be refinished. At the same time, all residential rooms and hallways will receive new paint, including some splashes of color that are sure to liven the building up (not that Loyola’s residence halls needed any livening!)

In addition to these projects, Cabra Hall, an upperclass residence hall located next to the College of Law, is receiving major updates. Photos and updates on this project are coming soon!

Carpet ready to be removed from the elevator lobby

Elevator lobbies are being updated in addition to hallways

We will keep the Loyola community posted via this blog throughout the summer, so please check back in weekly. I also invite you Follow us on Twitter and to Like us on Facebook, where even more updates, photos, and commentary will be posted frequently!

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment below.

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Everyone has the ability to choose their attitude, about everything!

This is one of the most profound things I’ve ever been told. I didn’t believe it at first, partly because I didn’t recognize the difference between attitudes and emotions. Emotions are raw and immediate; they are developed in a very deep part of the brain that has a very strong connection to the entire body, most recognizably through the flight or fight response. Everyone knows the feeling of pumping adrenaline making your heart race, and the feeling of cortisol making your vision as keen as a hawk’s. Rushing blood to your muscles is a good thing if you’re running away from a fire or something is trying to eat you, but it’s not so great when your biggest worry is getting cut off in traffic.

The part of the brain that allows for conscious control is not nearly as direct or strong as that driving emotions, so making decisions when you’re emotional isn’t easy. The neural pathways take longer to get to the motor center, and that control has to be developed. Understanding this is a good start to choosing your attitudes. I’m not saying that getting mad or acting on that anger is wrong, but making the conscious choice to act is very different than flying off the handle.

Most everyone would say that they want to live a happier life, but if you ask them how, they probably don’t have many ideas about making that a reality. If you want to spend more time happy, start by spending less time angry. It almost seems too simple, doesn’t it? Choosing your attitude is then the first step to spending less time angry. Simply put, the less time you spend angry the more time you’ll have to be happy.

Just earlier today (when I wrote this), a pickup ran a stop sign and came inches from side-swiping me and my friend on my motorcycle. I’ve never been in a motorcycle accident and it was my friend’s first time riding, so I was understandably infuriated. Before I could process what was happening, I grabbed the clutch, squeezed the front brake, and slammed on the rear brake. The engine raced, the back tire came to a screeching halt, and my friend’s helmet hit the back of mine. The truck luckily came to a stop as well, and the driver and I exchanged looks. I wanted to take off my helmet, scream a barrage of obscenities, and smash my helmet through his window. As immediately gratifying as that might have been, I knew it would only cause me more grief in the long run, so I instead chose to let my disapproving look linger, and went on my way.

Learning to choose your attitude isn’t automatic; it takes time, it takes practice during smaller events, and it’s not always easy or fun. I’ve been practicing for the better part of a decade, and I admittedly don’t always get it right. The next time you spill a drink or drop food on the floor, take a breath, pick it up, and laugh at your silly self. In fact, while you’re down there pick up a little bit of someone else’s mess too. The next time you and a friend get in a fight, realize that you might have set the tone when you came into the room vocal chords blazing; apologize and ask to start again.

Remember that thoughts become things, so choosing positive ones makes a world of difference. In turn, you’ll get to decide what kind of life you lead.

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about what qualities make you successful. Working in higher education with a Masters in Higher Ed. and Student Personnel Services, you might expect me to say a degree is number one! Well yes, I would say that having a college degree is vital to having a fruitful career and to your development as a person. I would also say a Jesuit education will set you apart from the average Jill or Joe when it comes to the opportunity for holistic growth. However, I will also argue that a person can have multiple degrees, accolades, honors and recognitions and still not have what it takes to be successful.

I know this sounds crazy, but there is a lot more that goes into intelligence and success than what a piece of paper will claim you are an expert in. I recently read an article by David Brooks, titled “The New Humanism” in the New York Times. He discusses the ideology that we as humans have overly simplified human nature. We have dismissed the idea that emotions are reliable and decided that only “reason” can be trusted. Think about it, it’s easy to talk about the material or tangible things in your life, but difficult, sometimes painfully so, to breach the topic our emotions. When you were raised, it’s highly likely that your parents focused on and rewarded you for your grades, your performance in athletics or awards you received, and that’s great! Those very accomplishments helped your admission into Loyola. However, I believe that there has been a great lesson lost in our culture of high achievement. Building relationships, keeping those relationships, and confronting difficult issues are core components of growing up. I use the term “growing up” loosely. I am suggesting that all of us, young and not so young are still growing up, especially in the area of emotional expertise.

Brooks writes that “emotion is not opposed to reason”. We use our emotions to place significance to ideas that are the foundation for reason. Your unconscious mind is always working, whether we realize it or not (obviously, right?). To discount that our emotions are real and vital to our existence and the power we have to make decision is irresponsible. Brooks provides a few definitions that I think reconcile this point:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations

Equipoise: ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own min and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Personally I find this idea fascinating! In no way am I suggesting we sack reason; it keeps us on track and reframes situations when our emotions go awry. This leads to what I am trying to say; emotional intelligence is completely underrated!  Just as we train our intellect we have to train our emotions and recognize their validity. This training is harder than any test you will take. It starts and ends with you and if you can be in tune with your emotions and know how to use them to your advantage AND for the advantage of others I believe you will reach greater heights than you could have imagined.

Click here for “The New Humanism” article (free subscription required to view)

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Feeling lost about the next step in your life? Nervous for an approaching date? Not sure what to wear out tomorrow night?

Holy Name Church

Sunset over Holy Name Church

Don’t worry. Just be yourself!

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve received that advice in my life… But c’mon, let’s be honest. What does that even mean? Nobody really knows, including the person who advised you so thoughtfully. One 2010 study even found that being true to yourself often means… drumroll please… NOT acting like yourself!

Authenticity is not a noun. Ok- technically it is a noun, but go with me here. Authenticity is an ideal; it is something to which we strive. It is a philosophy by which we try to live at Loyola, being a University founded in the Jesuit tradition. Authenticity is an operating system for the mind, helping us navigate the complex world in which we exist.

And authenticity is not a checklist. The folks at wikiHow and eHow seem to have boiled things down to convenient Top Ten-style lists. But it is not very authentic, or rational, to think that we all will follow the same, generic, cliché steps to achieve authenticity.

Reflection

The Jesuits figured this out years ago. The way to know yourself- to reconcile your values and behaviors; to find focus in your life plan- is through reflection, or discernment.

In Residential Life and at Loyola, we beat a pretty consistent drum about the power of reflection. Through reflection and with time, we discern the path that we are meant to choose.

Students in Prayer Before Campus Announcement

Loyola community takes a moment to give thanks

Don’t over-complicate this. Reflection can take mere minutes from your day. You may prefer to reflect by writing in your journal, reading a spiritual text, while listening to your favorite music, or while running on a treadmill at the gym. You can make time for reflection first thing in the morning over coffee, at bedtime, over lunch in the dining hall, between classes as you enjoy the sunshine from a bench, or in that moment after you’ve climbed in your car but before you’ve pulled out of the parking space.

In those moments, consider your day; the decisions you made; the moments that made you smile and those that didn’t; or questions left unanswered.

Just Be

There is no intended outcome here. You cannot fail at this. You only have to make the time to consider some piece of your day that moved you. Sit with it and be honest with yourself. Many of your questions will answer themselves. These are the questions that become you, and when the answers develop themselves, the need to try to “be you” drifts away.

Learn more about Ignatian Prayer from the Jesuits of the New Orleans Province and about the Lunchtime Examen from IgnatianSpirituality.com.

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Living with roommates is a new experience for the majority of college students, and even those who have experience sharing a bedroom/bathroom likely don’t know their roommates before arriving on campus in August.  Conversations about cleanliness, sleep habits, room temperature, and guests can be challenging, and that’s when using “I-But-And” statements can help.

“I understand that you like to stay up late with your friends, but the TV keeps me awake, and I’d like to talk about appropriate times for the room to be available for sleeping.”

Beginning the statement with “I know” or “I understand” tells the other person that you take ownership of the problem, and will be received very differently than something like “YOU wake me up”.  The second part of the statement confronts the issue, “the TV keeps me awake”; again there is no blame placed on the other party.  “And I’d like to work on a solution” closes the statement and brings the other person in to the conversation.

Nobody wants to start a fight, but talking about your expectations is very different.  If you think your roommate will turn this into a fight, imagine if they said that to you; would you think they hate you, or want to fight?  Chances are you wouldn’t, and neither would most other people– so give it a try.  “I-But-And” statements are a great tool, but remember that RAs are always available for help as well.

Having these conversations can be difficult, but they are an essential part of growing up and being an adult, and that’s one of the reasons you chose to attend an institution of higher education like Loyola.  Talking about your expectations won’t cause a fight, but not talking about them almost always will.  The happiest roommates aren’t the ones who always agree, they’re the ones who talk about it when they don’t.

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As you may by now know, the Office of Residential Life recently dove head-on into Facebook, launching our official Facebook Page earlier in the spring semester. Conduct a quick, unscientific Google search and you will find sources variously reporting that between 75-99% of today’s college students are using the popular social network; many of those students use it as their only source for online social networking.
We are excited about this development and many others. Here are a few of the things we have been working on lately:
  • Facebook: It should be no surprise that Res Life jumped on the Facebook bandwagon. Better late than never, right? Our Page has quickly become a primary hub for communication between students, parents, and staff, and a great spot for members of the Loyola community to access resources and information, as well as pics, videos, upcoming events, and approaching deadlines. When something is happening in housing at Loyola, Facebook often will be where you hear it first.
  • Twitter: We’re not stopping at Facebook! Res Life is also tweeting! We invite you to follow us (@loynoreslife) for timely updates, contests, and daily motivation!
  • Livin’ Loyno Blog: You’ve found our new blog. We will post short updates- a little bit business and a little bit fun- and we invite you to check back often! You’ll find great stuff posted from Res Life professional staff, student leaders, and residents.
  • Updated Web Presence: We recently rolled out a 360-degree, panoramicCabra Hall at Loyola University New Orleans virtual tour of Cabra Hall. We want to enhance your online experience, and to that end we plan to roll out similar tours of Biever, Buddig, and Carrollton Halls very soon. I invite you to view the Cabra Hall panoramic views online.
  • Residential Wireless Access: Finally, I am excited to announce recent and ongoing improvements to wireless internet access throughout the residence halls at Loyola. Upgrades to Biever Hall were recently completed, where we doubled the number of access points in the building, and relocated existing access points to maximize signal strength. These access points are offering the fastest wireless speeds currently available. Upgrades are ongoing, with Buddig Hall receiving the next round of upgrades this spring. Any student experiencing issues with their wireless connection are encouraged to contact the Information Technology Help Desk at (504) 865-2255 to request assistance.

We are excited about these recent improvements. More than anything, these tools all help us in working toward better communication with the people we care most about: Loyola students and families. I invite you to connect with us. But don’t stop there. Interact! Shoot us a question, comment, or idea. We love feedback and always strive to get better.

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As any current RA will tell you, there are four rules when it comes to working for Residential Life at Loyola:

1. No complaining
2. No complaining, especially about free stuff
3. Be on time
4. Be positive

You won’t find these rules in our mission or vision statements, and you won’t find them listed in the front the Residential

Reader. And yet these four basic guidelines say a lot about Res Life, our values, and what it means to be a student leader.

But these rules aren’t just about student leaders, either. These rules form a foundation for success in life by encouraging personal reflection; reverence for the mystery of our world; and respect for others in a time when our busyness often leads us to take the things and people around us for granted.

No complaining
Rule number one; simply put, complaining never accomplished anything. Being a leader is about getting things done, aggressively pursuing ambitious goals, and building trust. Complaining does just the opposite. It inhibits productivity and undermines trust by putting the worst part of us on display- the part of us that would rather, well, complain about problems than fix them.

No complaining, especially about free stuff
Working with Residential Life has its advantages, like free stuff. Meals, t-shirts, conferences, trainings, not to mention room and board! In life, we often are on the receiving end of SWAG (Stuff We All Get). There are few things more unbecoming an individual than failing to appreciate the goodwill of others.

Sometimes that t-shirt isn’t going to complement your hair color, and sometimes you get turkey sandwiches even though you’d have preferred PB&J. And there are few things in life as beautiful as looking beyond what you have been given and appreciating the intent of the giver. Remember: Somebody somewhere would give their life for a turkey sandwich.

Be on time
“When you’re five minutes early, you’re on time. When you’re on time, you’re late. When you’re late, don’t bother.”

Being on time- whether it be to a training, class, or appointment- isn’t about the knowledge that you are missing. It’s about the knowledge that you are preventing everyone else from learning while they wait for you. Nobody is so important to an organization that their lack of commitment is more valuable than everyone else’s productivity.

Be positive
Work is hard. Life is hard. If they were easy, we’d all be on permanent vacation. But no situation is too much to handle when we take a moment to humble ourselves, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that we chose this path. When you own your experience, both the good parts and the bad, life is just better.

Anger and hostility often are just projections of our disappointment in ourselves, in our own choices or shortcomings. You didn’t choose to be put on this earth, but you have made every choice since. Live it and love it.

Leadership isn’t rocket science. But it does take work. Most of that work is internal, built around a willingness to learn and a commitment to taking time to reflect on our successes and failures. Start here; memorize the Four Rules of Res Life and use them- results will follow!

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Who knew that I’d be able to say anything meaningful with 140 characters? That’s all you get on Twitter. Many times I’ll see a quote or want to do a shout out and post it to Twitter and -14 blinks back at me. I have used too many words, filling empty space.

I have to stop and think: how do I get to the heart of the matter? This absolutely gives me pause —how do you get to the heart of the matter, quicker, and in up tempo? What I love about Twitter is it is teaching me to be succinct in announcing to the world what is important in that 140 character moment.

I joined Twitter on March 9, 2008. I stopped using Twitter shortly after because I didn’t find it useful. I had nothing to say to the world at large about my every thought and movement. It felt a bit like micro-blogging and well, I am just not that interesting or frankly, interested. And yet, I know our students are keenly connected to social media and so connecting with students on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare became interesting and important. So my tweeting journey renewed with commitment.

Soon I learned that I was among a very small group of Chief Student Affairs Officers who “tweeted” with their students. Teri Bump, Vice President for University Relations & Student Development with American College Communities sent me a direct message (dcissypetty) and let me know that there were less than 15 in the country currently using this social media. She invited me to be on a panel at the NASPA conference in March, 2011. Kenn Elmore, @deanelmore tweets from Boston College and has a quite a robust following! It’s fun to follow Student Affairs colleagues and see how they are making a difference with their students.

I loved building the connection with my “tweeties” as I fondly call my students on Twitter. It is and has always been about relationships. So I tweet and shout out about @Loyola_NOLA and @studentaffairs and have every day interaction with Vogue_Vein, an extraordinary RA…Jaibee, an involved student whose smile is contagious…Whit-or Miss, who I miss being at @Loyola_NOLA but she’s thriving at Xavier…and lexi-melt, who writes late in the night about studying…and erlswirl, who is on my @studentaffairs team and doing amazing AD work.

You see they laugh with me (and likely at me) about “tweeting.” But I love knowing them and sharing with them in all the ways that they communicate—whether it’s in person in the dining hall, or tweeting to meet for coffee at CC’s, or seeing them at a university function. It’s all about the 140 shout out in real time on Twitter or a real time hello hug in the Danna Center. So join me…@cissypetty and coffee’s on me!

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