Volume 7 Issue 3 magazine Volume 7 Issue 2 STUDENT PERSPECTIVES OF GOVERNMENT
LEADERSHIP AUTHORITY LIBERTY
2 Passion Apr. 2012
Res Publicae As students in America, we are actively involved in a paradox. We have one of the strongest, most active governments in the world, but also possess a strong sense of individuality, two values that have been in clash throughout much of the last decade. This conflict has been apparent in the chaos of american politics; the simultaneous resurgence of domestic programs, libertarianism, individualism, and global militarism. Out of these varied approaches, America has been pushed into new levels of partisanship, citizen frustration, and political deadlock. These principles are apparent in the continuing discussion regarding Iraq and Afghanistan, the constant partisan struggle regarding government health care and regulations, and the last minute budget deal. Out of this confused framework, American citizens have become frustrated over the current path of the nation and have been forced to contemplate the system as is and propose alternate methods of governing. In this issue, students explore the duties of government, issues of clean water and public safety, along with a variety of government related issues. And that leaves the questions for you, our readers... How do you contribute to the ongoing issues in government? How does your individual opinion relate to that of your representatives? How could you better the workings of the government? In 1905, Los Angeles began buying land and water rights in Owen Valley to meet the needs of a growing population. By 1924, a number of people were dissatisfied with the way the city ignored their grievances. To protest this, seven hundred people occupied the Alabama Gates and diverted the water so that it could flow back into the Owens River bed. This protest brought national and international attention, but Los Angeles continued to acquire more land and water rights. Photo courtesy of the Archives and Special Collection Archives, William H. Hannon Library vol. 7 issue 3 Passion 3
Students gather information at the 2011 Invisible Children viewing on campus. Should the United States become involved in Uganda? Should any external organization work to solve the problems there? (page 16).
Jennifer Rodriguez fills her wattle bottle after helping to install a water purification/ filtration system for the Espiritu Santo Island community of El Salvador where nearly the entire population lacks access to clean water. What type of duty does the US have to countries like this? (page 18).
14 Invisible Children: Tackling a Warlord Jaide Garcia
Duties of Government Tauras Vilgalys
10 Environmental Rape Anna Diaz 12 Informants Monique Mansour
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18 Drinking Water Jennifer Rodriguez 20 Head to Head Hilary Scheppers Who won?
Our Staff Editors-in-Chief: Monique Mansour Mukta Mohan Tauras Vilgalys
Design Editors: Sarah Godfrey Yvonne Le Alex Llerena Katrina Sherbina Danielle Zeiter
WATCH READ CLICK LISTEN
In this documentary, a couple of friends plant an acre of corn and follow it through the market, examining the role of government subsidies and taking note of the detrimental effects that corn has on public health, the environment and family farms.
In Defense of Dolphins by Dr. Thomas White
An intriguing mix of science, psychology, and philosophy in which Dr. White argues for the treatment of dolphins as nonhuman persons deserving of the same rights as humans.
This interactive website has a survey that estimates how many slaves you have working for you based on answers about your lifestyle.
“Which Way, L.A.?”
Every Monday through Thursday at 7pm, Moderator Warren Olney leads a lively discussion about a single topic that relates to Los Angeles while making sure to cover every side of the issue. Listen live on KCRW 89.9 or online at www.kcrw.com.
The Long Beach Depot for Creative Reuse
The Depot for Creative Reuse encourages using recycled or used materials and turning them into artwork! The store is filled with all the little pieces you would expect to find in the cumulation of hundreds of junk drawers and craft boxes. Expect to find: corks, bottle caps, keys, yarn, fabric scraps, and so much more.
Find PASSION online! PassionMagazine.tumblr.com www.facebook.com/LMUpassion firstname.lastname@example.org
We’d like to hear your thoughts and any ideas you have for future issues!
OUR MISSION PASSION MAGAZINE publishs articles that put a face to the struggles of the forgotten, in the effort to reveal their dignity as human beings. In cooperation with the Human Rights Coalition, Passion seeks encourage a cycle of inspiration in our community through the sharing of ideas; forming a community where one student’s experience in social justice can inspire another student to seek his own.
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vol. 7 issue 3 Passion 7
The Duties of Government by Taur as Vilgalys
Both at home and abroad, there is growing discontent with the way governments run and operate. A string of events have led to rapid shifts in democratic countries and revolts in nondemocratic nations. These have culminated in the rapidly evolving Republican Party, strings of protests across the United States, and the Arab Spring which has now extended for over a year. Out of these diverse and broad events, we must reexamine the relationship between government and individual, and what responsibilities and obligations each holds to the other. Fundamental to an understanding is that the people preexist government. As preamble to the US constitution begins, “We the people, in order to establish a more perfect union…do ordain and establish this Constitution”. “We the people.” The two do not coexist in the state of nature, but rather the people create the government. This implies that the government is responsible to the people, and exists to further their existence, not the other way around. Additionally, the government is created for and by people, not corporations. As the government is created for people, we can then conclude that its primary purpose should be to further their interest. However, it must do so while preserving the integrity and differences of each citizen. As such, the people should be protected and supported, but not to the point where they are deprived of the ability to dictate their own life. Any government that demands conformity from an individual or does not allow them the opportunity to make their own choices is inherently unjust. From this, we can conclude the three primary duties of government. First, it must provide for the security of the individual citizens. Second, it must protect the liberty of its citizens. Lastly, it must provide the necessary opportunities and conditions for citizens to survive and thrive. However, in any such system, some principles must operate within a government to allow for the organizational stability and effectiveness. The three most evident of these principles are Occam’s Razor, governmental transparency, and government accountability. Occam’s Razor is the philosophic principle that implies the simplest answer has preferential treatment. Applied to governments, this would favor a reduction in bureaucracy, reducing the amount of legislation, and reducing governmental functions to the minimum required to fulfill its duties. Governmental transparency would call for all information to not merely be presented to the public, but presented in a way that it is intelligible to the normal citizen. An example of this would be the United States tax code, which currently comprises hundreds of years of overlapping laws, thousands of pages, and many volumes. This immense collection of material is added to each year, and is incomprehensible to the average citizen. A transparent approach would be to reduce this pamphlet, and to word it in plain language that would include all needed information. Lastly, government accountability would call for all government action to be directly accountable to the citizens. That is, the people have an active voice in the decision process and have the ability to affect change in all levels of government. Systemically applied, these governing principles could greatly increase governmental stability and support the citizens. It would call for the removal of the plutocracy, abolishing a ruling class (whether de jure or de facto), and the inclusion of all peoples in the democratic process. 8 Passion Apr. 2012
Applied to the Feder al Budget These principles would call for a radical restructuring of the federal budget for the United States. In the US, hardly any of the citizens are aware where there tax dollars go. In a 2009 survey, the majority of registered Republicans believed foreign aid accounted for 25% of federal spending (it is actually less than 4%), protestors called for congress to â€œKeep your government hands off of my medicareâ€? (a government program), and even in the recent run for republican nominations, Michelle Bachmann objected to government hand outs while she and her husband receive farm subsidies. On the other side of the table, many Democrats enlarge the amount of military spending and are unaware of current regulations already in place. Such confusion about what is government and what is not, about how much the government spends, and how individuals are affected could by reduced by applying the three principles. This would reduce the systematic complexity and enable citizens to understand where the money actually goes.
Image and data from the war resistors league (www.warresisters.org)
vol. 7 issue 3 Passion 9
Environmental R ape
ted t i n e U nmen h t By ver o G es t a t S
With coal generating 51% of electricity in the U.S., the billion-dollar coal and utility corporations are among the largest and most politically influential groups in the country. With little regard to environmental or safety concerns, the government continues to support policies and decisions that favour corporate profits and campaign donations. While these actions preserve the dominance of the electricity generation sector, the governments in coal counties and the coal corporations are robbing communities of public health, environmental protection, and affordable, sustainable energy sources. During Spring Break 2012, LMU’s Center for Service and Action and the Alternative Breaks Program sent my group of 11 students and a staff member to Spencer, West Virginia. We learned about the Appalachia policy of raping mountains—mountaintop removal. But, “what is ‘mountain top removal?’” Prior to the AB trip, this was a common question asked by my group members as well as myself, and by the end of our trip we had come away with a greater awareness about the cultural and environmental issue. Mountaintop removal (MTR), considered “environmental rape” by Appalachian locals, is a relatively new type of coal mining that began in the Appalachia region during the 1970s. It is a supplement to conventional strip mining. Today, only 5-10% of all extracted coal comes from the practice of MTR. This translates into generating less than 4% of our country’s electricity. Within the mountaintop removal process there are 6 stages:
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1. Clearing – Prior to the actual mining, coal companies remove all topsoil and vegetation on the land. Common techniques include burning the trees or illegally dumping them into valley fills. 2. Blasting – Because much of the coal is stored deep within mountains (underneath their surface), millions of pounds of explosives are used to remove 500-800 feet deep of earth. 3. Digging – Huge machinery removes the coal and debris obtained from the explosion. Because of this machinery, MTR has displaced the work of thousands of miners. 4. Dumping Waste – Coal companies bury the waste from mining operations, also known as “overburden”, into nearby valleys, burying streams. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 1,000 miles of Appalachian streams were permitted to be buried as of 2001. 5. Processing – Coal is washed and treated before being loaded onto trains. The excess water left over from the processing is called coal sludge. This sludge amasses in open areas to expose the surrounding environment and people to toxic chemicals like mercury, lead, copper and chromium. 6. Reclamation – On paper, coal companies go through the reclamation process of stabilization and re-vegetation of the land for reuse and sustainability. However, in practice, state agencies do not enforce reclamation policies strictly, so most mountains are left barren with a drastic decrease in foliage as compared to prior MTR. While the government and coal corporations argue that MTR generates huge revenues and much needed jobs, this “highly-valued” technique threatens communities and the lives of individuals. Mountain top removal subjugates the local people to blasts that take down mountains. These blasts crack the foundations of homes, pollute water sources with acid, and erode the environmental process. MTR threatens homes to potential flooding. To add to these social and ecological problems, a huge financial disparity still exists amongst the Appalachian community. Despite great wealth being extracted from these coal counties, the exploitation of the community occurs, as Appalachia remains classified as lowincome, and the poorest region in the country. From my Alternative Break trip to West Virginia, I discovered “coal is king” within the Appalachian region. The coal industry, with all its money, has a loud political voice. Government speaks in favor for coal, drowning out the concerns of the Appalachian people. So, what can we do here across the nation in Los Angeles? Several ways to get involved include (1) being informed about where our electricity comes from and how it is made, (2) spreading awareness about the destruction of MTR, and (3) encouraging LMU to make our endowment fund transparent, which can ensure our school’s investments are clean and socially just.
by Anna Diaz
Sources: http://cig.burningthefuture.org/coal/index.html http://ilovemountains.org/resources http://plunderingappalachia.org/theissue.htm vol. 7 issue 3 Passion 11
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in El Salvador
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afe drinking water is something we don’t have to think twice about when turning on the faucet, or buying an overpriced water bottle. We usually don’t think
“this water could have contaminants that can kill me.”
However, this is not the reality for many people in our world. Approximately one in eight people lack access to safe water supplies. Every 20 seconds a child dies from a water borne illness in nations around the world. In 2010, the United Nations decided on eight “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs), ranging from ending poverty and hunger to ensuring environmental sustainability. Goal seven of the MDGs is to “halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.” The U.N. realizes that providing access to clean drinking water is a goal that can be easily achieved. LMU Ignacio Companion and engineering students became more aware of this issue in a rural community of Espiritu Santo Island,
El Salvador. We also saw the unique potential for us to make a lasting change for the families plagued by contaminated water and realized how achievable this U.N. goal truly is. From testing done by our student, we learned that most of the contaminants in the water are from human or animal feces. Initially, LMU students provided one table top filters for 13 women (and their families) in the local cooperative. Stool tests and our research showed that 100 percent of the island’s people were infected with parasites like E.Coli. Of the 13 families who received filters, 11 were parasite free six months later. They were parasite free because their families had access to and used a 60-dollar filter. We were amazed by the success rate of our simple efforts. So we again provided more filters to an additional 15 families. We also worked to improve the water quality at the Island’s only primary school. Over the past year, we installed a new water pump, piping, and an ultraviolet purification and filtration unit for the school. This unit has the potential to provide clean drinking
water to over 300 people a day including all the school children and many community members. The United States is the largest contributor to the UN budget. The US alone provides around 22% of this budget according to “Eye on the UN” (eyeontheun.org). Reports show that the UN is close to meeting their seventh goal. The reality is that although people may have access to “sustainable safe drinking water,” it is more important to make sure people have uncontaminated drinking water in their homes. Our work in El Salvador is far from over. Our clean water campaign has just begun on the island, and beautiful relationships with the Salvadorans and nonprofits, who are also trying to make a difference like we are, continue to develop. If we, as college students, with very limited resources are able to see and make such a positive change in one small community, imagine what more our government can and should be able to accomplish as one of the largest funders of the United Nations.
By: Jennifer Rodriquez
Sources: 1 http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/monitoring/jmp_report_7_10_lores.pdf and http://water. org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/ 2 http://www.endpoverty2015.org/en/ goals 3 http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ global.shtml 4 http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ pdf/MDG%20Report%202010%20 En%20r15%20-low%20res%20 20100615%20-.pdf#page=60 5 http://www.eyeontheun.org/facts.
vol. 7 issue 3 Passion 15
Taking Down a War Lord
Invisible Children Stays Focused
LMU students meet with Jolie Ochott, the head of Invisible Childrenâ€™s relations in Uganda.
There is a man who will go to the ends of the earth and commit any crime in order to keep the thing most important to him: his power. What started as a movement to liberate and fight for his countrymen turned into a mass slaughter of those same people and many moreâ€”for 27 long years. After losing the support of his followers, he resorted to kidnapping children and forcing them to fight as soldiers in his rebel army. Children from the ages of 4-14 were taken from their homes, tortured, brainwashed, and handed a gun. The boys were forced to commit brutal crimes while the girls served as sex slaves for the officers. If the children did not do as instructed then they were killed or had to watch a friend or sibling be killed in front of them. This is still going on today and the man responsible for it is named Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lordâ€™s Resistance Army (LRA), and he must be stopped. 16 Passion Apr. 2012
When I first learned about the war that the three Invisible Children co-founders (Jason Russell, Laren Poole, and Bobby Bailey) stumbled across in Northern Uganda, my life changed drastically. I was a naive sophomore in high school who knew there were problems in the world, but had no idea that such extreme violence still existed today. My immediate response to the organizations first film “The Rough Cut,” was that something needed to be done. I made a promise that day that I would do anything and everything I could to help put an end to the war and provide help for the children. At the time I didn’t quite see the power in Invisible Children’s tactics of raising awareness, but over the last seven years I have volunteered at their events, lobbied in Washington D.C., hosted screenings, and gotten to know a good amount of their interns. Through my personal experiences I have grown to understand and fervently support the movement they have started. The organization reaches people by making videos, traveling across the country to show their videos, hosting events that promote awareness, and offering multiple ways to help financially. They have built schools, rehabilitation programs, radio towers, and social enterprises in Northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central African Republic. In Washington D.C., they lobbied government officials to get the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act passed through Congress. For the past ten years they have been strengthening the “aid through awareness” approach, and it has finally started to reach its peak. Their latest video, KONY 2012, was released March 5th with the hopes that it would receive 500,000 views. When it went viral, nobody was prepared for the eruption caused by the Internet and social media users. The past films built a steady base of followers to which this recent film was addressed. If you have seen “The Rough Cut,” “Displace Me,” “The Rescue,” “Breaking the Silence,” or any of their shorter documentaries, then you would know that KONY 2012 was relatively mild and brief in comparison with the others. Unfortunately, the majority of the 108 million viewers that watched the film had not seen the ones prior and were not aware of the past efforts initiated by the organization. Protestors I’m not troubled that Invisible Children has received criticism over the past weeks, because whether the attention they receive is negative or positive, it’s attention nonetheless. It only confirms that they’re accomplishing their goal of spreading awareness, because now Kony and his child soldiers are on the minds of a larger percent of the public.
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What troubles me is the focus and content of the criticism. A man who has been committing atrocities under the world’s radar for 27 years is finally in the spotlight and hopefully one step closer to being brought to justice—and some people are upset because the film didn’t clarify that he is out of Northern Uganda. Arguments arose left and right about the child soldier statistics, the financial dealings of the organization, the location of the LRA, the importance of the situation compared to other current crisis’ and so on. While people were busy coming up with reasons why they shouldn’t help, villages were still being attacked and children were still being forced to kill or be killed. What difference does it make whether the LRA is killing people in Northern Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo, Southern Sudan, or Central African Republic? They are currently split up and wreaking havoc in the last three areas and we are busy laughing at co-founder Jason Russell for trying to make a difference and being shot down. It isn’t our job to do something about this as Americans; it’s our job to do something about this terrible situation as humans. Joseph Kony stopped being a national problem and became a humanitarian threat the second he spread his raids further than Northern Uganda. When he abducted his first child decades ago, he put every central African child at risk, because even when the lucky ones escape, their communities and families cannot trust them. They have a stigma on them that spreads to all children whether they have been soldiers or not. Our government sent 100 American advisors last year to teach the Ugandan military how to use advanced tracking techniques to find the LRA and capture Kony. The fact that this decision was in response to the will of the people shows that they’re paying attention and we really do have a voice. Our generation is one of change and action and it’s amazing that we can use things like the Internet and social media to advocate our causes. Kony has gotten away with too much for too long. It’s time we use every power we have to stop him and help bring an end to this war. For more information on how you can help log onto www.invisiblechildren.com or contact me at email@example.com.
by Jaide Garcia
18 Passion Apr. 2012
Even though they are committed to their academic and many on campus pursuits, LMU students have shown an amazing ability to reach out and help causes around the world. The last several pages outline studentsâ€™ teaming up with Invisible Children in their cause for basic freedoms on behalf of children with no voice in their future. Photos below are of students who travled to El Salvador to help people obtain clean drinking water. What will you do?
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Obama Shreds the Constituion
HEAD TO Who’s to blame for the prevalence of rights taking bills and laws that have almost passed congress recently? Both contributors have presented arguments for who is to blame for the National Defense Authorization Act and Antiprotest Trespass Bill, whether it is the fault
America was founded on simple principles that every American knows. Whether you were raised on the streets or in a cave, Americans are raised with their rights ingrained in them—freedom of speech, assembly, press, equality, voting, etc. Yet, it is with Obama, his administration and our Congress that we see those ideals obliterated. Obama has signed two pieces of legislation within this academic year that are extremely problematic for American civil liberties. The National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] in December and the H.R. 347 “Anti-Protest Bill” this March have shown the degree to which the government will go in order to silence its people. Obama’s signing of the NDAA 2012 codifies the military to have the right to detain US citizens indefinitely without charge or trial. He also signed the “Anti-protest Trespass Bill” H.R. 347 (also known as the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act) into law which makes it a crime to protest in areas protected by the secret service, even if you don’t know that the secret service is there. After signing the NDAA in December, Obama released a statement claiming that he objected to most of it. Yet, his actions of signing it anyway clearly promote his view that the military should have the power to exhibit indefinite detention against American citizens without trial, which is a bold violation of our constitution. Anyone can recognize the conflict between this and our sixth amendment right. Now with the “Anti-protest Trespass Bill” this March our freedoms are attacked once again. For the first time in American history it is now a crime to peacefully protest in areas in close proximity to high ranking elected officials who are receiving secret service protection. Engaging in “disruptive or disorderly” conduct will be criminalized, and can be considered a felony—as it is now a federal law. Many say this is an attack against the Occupy Movement, naming it the “anti-Occupy bill.” Over the course of our American History we have seen the Federal Government expand. When the people first called upon the Federal Government to intervene it was to protect us from poverty, injustice, racism etc. Now the Federal Government has taken our trust and used it to restrict our freedom. The Federal Government has expanded too much that even the people cannot be protected. The government understands that the protests that broke out against social inequality in 2011 will re-emerge in more powerful ways in 2012. The strict measures and crashing economy will make living conditions for the working class more impossible as the world continues in the same trajectory. The government denying our right to protest on their ground is their way of protesting against the working class. We have grown up knowing that we have the right to speak our mind and assemble—this is our favorite amendment. It is our first amendment. By acts like these, the government is taking away our right to get their attention. What type of democracy dismisses the voice of its people? More information available at American Civil Liberties Union www.aclu.org or rt.com.
By Hilary scheppers
20 Passion Apr. 2012
TO HEAD of President Obama, or just part of a blame game being played to spin legislation that both sides agreed upon and that passed by an overwhelming majority in both the house and senate?
In the modern political climate, there is only conflict. The idea of cooperation and moderation has disappeared from political dialogue except in campaign season. Any idea of crossing party lines and a bipartisan coalition has been destroyed by radical fringes that refuse to cooperate and refuse to compromise. This forges a political landscape in which every action by a party is cast negatively. Blame is placed on almost everybody involved, but how much of that outrage is justified? In addition, are there are parties being blamed who probably shouldn’t be. To examine these questions, we’ll look at first the National Defense Authorization Act and then H.R. 347, the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. Both of these bills have been accused of depriving the American people of constitutional rights, such as the right to protest and the freedom from unjust imprisonment without cause. Additionally, many parties, and the White House, have been blamed in connection with these bills. Existing in US law, statutes do not allow the willful disruption or disturbance of public areas that have been closed off by the secret service, provided the individual knew it was illegal. Effectively, this means the areas surrounding the president, vice-president, presidential candidates, and foreign dignitaries are protected. In the 2011 act, the word ‘willingly’ was dropped from the bill. “H.R. 347 removed the word “willfully,” so that demonstrators need to only “knowingly” violate the law.”1 Now, many protestors equated this with a massive decrease in civil rights and freedom of protest. However, no such violation exists. Almost everything accounted for in the bill already exists; no civil freedoms are being changed. Additionally, it makes sense that protests should not be allowed on the White House lawn, or surrounding the president’s plane. However, in no way does this legislation expand to affect the Occupy Movement, or other common protests as many individuals fear. Additionally, these events have been misunderstood as the actions of the Obama administration. To begin, in an official policy statement, the White House threatened to veto the bill because it threatened first amendment freedoms. However, through various amendments, the process for military custody and detainment has been made much more stringent, reducing the fears regarding constitutionality.2 These laws have each been severely distorted by the media and activists, reducing the reliability of the complaints. Furthermore, blame has been placed improperly. A large percentage of the anger over these bills has been directed at the Obama administration. However, each bill passed in the house and senate by an overwhelming majority (over 90%). In such a case, there is little an administration, even one that publicly opposes the bill, can do to stop its passing.
Anonymous Author 1: http://www.lasisblog.com/2012/03/29/a-willful-misunderstanding-of-the-anti-protest-law/ 2: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/29/us/politics/obama-issues-waivers-on-military-trials-for-foreign-qaeda-suspects.html?_r=1
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Beneath Sacred Heart Chapel
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THANK YOU... to this year’s staff of
Center for the Study of Los Angeles What’s Going on Near Home?
and CONGRATULATIONS to the graduating seniors for your dedication and commitment to promoting social justice at LMU ! ~Human Rights Coalition
Undergraduate research is the driving force for the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles (CSLA). Here our students gain hands-on experience conducting and analyzing exit polls, surveys, and demographic studies. The Center’s expertise in leadership studies, voting patterns, and diversity research puts us at the forefront of understanding the complex, dynamic city of Los Angeles.
Join us for LMU
Kairos Kairos, is a peer-led retreat that offers students the opportunity to get away from the challenges and demands of campus-life and spend time with others. This retreat includes a variety of activities to promote and build community, to foster trust and openness and to encourage prayer and reflection. The Kairos retreat is based on the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and welcomes students of any religious tradition as well as those with no particular religious tradition. Kairos Dates (Fall 2012 - Spring 2013) Nov. 16 - 18 Feb. 15 - 17 Mar. 22 - 24 For more information in attending or leading Kairos, please contact Christine Nangle at Cnangle@lmu.edu