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Arrupe Novemberfest Inspires Campus-wide Commitment to Social Justice

by Katie Gortz on 11/24/2021

SLU-Madrid celebrated its Jesuit identity last week with the first-ever Arrupe Novemberfest. This weeklong program of events and activities was designed to celebrate people for others and address issues of social justice. Featured events included faculty talks, a film screening and discussion, a student-led roundtable, an art and photography slideshow, and a concert. 

Musicians Wafir Gibril and Sara Habasha performed African and Middle Eastern music as part of Arrupe Novemberfest.

Musicians Wafir Gibril and Sara Habasha performed African and Middle Eastern music as part of Arrupe Novemberfest. Photo by Anna Witthoeft.

The program was developed in memory of Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J., on the occasion of his birthday, Nov. 14, 1907. Arrupe is the Jesuit priest who coined the phrase "men and women for others," which has become a central theme in Jesuit education. The programs also coincide with the anniversary of the assassination of Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Joaquín López y López, S.J., Amando López, S.J., their housekeeper Elba Ramos, and her 15-year-old daughter Celina Ramos, who were murdered on Nov. 16, 1989, at the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, for their implication in the fight for social justice.

"The excitement and energy that has gone into this initiative speaks to the commitment of our community of students, faculty and staff to social justice issues. It's clear to me that Arrupe Novemberfest will grow into a SLU-Madrid tradition over the years ahead," said Madrid Campus Director and Academic Dean, Paul Vita, Ph.D. 

The program of events kicked off with a social justice walking tour of Madrid, organized and led by SLU-Madrid graduate student Hunter Baldridge and professors Hamish Binns (Modern Languages) and Simona Rentea, Ph.D. (Political Science). Baldridge, Binns and Rentea mapped out a route for the tour which included visits to the Monumento a las Víctimas del 11-M, Reina Sofia, Plaza Nelson Mandela, El Abrazo Monument, and the monument in Cibeles to the victims of COVID-19. 

Students examine the Monument to the Victims of 11-M in Atocha Station.
Students examine the Monument to the Victims of 11-M in Atocha Station. Photo by Hunter Baldridge. 

Baldridge, who is pursuing an M.A. in Political Science and Public Affairs at SLU-Madrid, took a leading role in determining the final route and giving the speeches at each location. 

"Overall, we all learned about the impact of crisis on the mass mobilization of citizens and the power of the populace to come together in the name of solidarity," he said. "Everyone got to learn about and see a lot of places they had never heard of. All with a social justice lens!"

Professor Hamish Binns, who organized this year's event, commented, "The program provided excellent opportunity for students, faculty and staff to ask hard questions, and look beyond facile answers; to be critical of our opinions but strive to be flexible and creative; to search for the keys to being ethical leaders; and to seek ways to improve the lives of the dispossessed or underprivileged. At SLU-Madrid, we believe that Jesuit education is the means by which we can make the world a better place and we hope that initiatives like Arrupe Novemberfest help us grow as men and women for others and envision a better future."