Archive | June, 2012

University Choir Goes Virtual

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Jasmyne Brennecke

When you hear the word ‘choir’, you may think of several different ideas: images of a large group of people singing in unison, long robes, or maybe even a church or balcony. But did the idea of computers and web videos ever come to mind? Probably not, but it has become quite common since 2010 thanks to the classical composer and conductor Eric Whitacre.
Whitacre begins by choosing a piece of his music and records himself conducting the piece. He then uploads his video onto YouTube where singers can watch sing along with their part: soprano, alto, tenor or bass.
The singers submit their own recordings of themselves to Whitacre who works with Scott Haines to compile the hundreds of accepted videos to put together Eric Whit acre’s Virtual Choir.
This year Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3 will be performing his own piece “Water Night.” Eric Whitacre will be compiling his third virtual choir, titled Virtual Choir 3 Water Night, and it will be posted on YouTube in the spring. Marquette University Chorus is partaking in this unique opportunity.
The University Chorus director, Mark Konewko, has chosen this activity as an assignment for all his singers this spring semester. Mark Konewko first heard about Eric Whitacre five years ago when one of his students did a presentation about him in his music appreciation class. His choir has sung many of Whitacre’s pieces
This year marks the first time Mr. Konewko has included Whitacre’s third virtual choir on his syllabus. “This is the first year I’ve had actual homework for my choir. At first I think they were more like, ‘Ugh, homework.’”
The people editing this virtual choir have agreed to send Mr. Konewko the names of his students who have submitted their videos so they can get the credit. “Getting to work with
Eric Whitacre, I’ve seen that he’s very sincere, genuine and a gentleman overall,” Konewko stated.
For some of Konewko’s singers, this was the very first time they had ever recorded themselves like this.
Jake Daggett, a freshman, said of the experience: “We were able to view [the conducting video] during rehearsals and practice. It was easy enough to do. When you did your recording later, it was hard to control your breathing. You sounded weird. You could hear the obvious spots where you took a breath. But when your video gets put with all the others, the other videos help mask over the spot people took for breaths and pauses.”
The only requirement was that the participating singers must wear a black shirt and be the only person in the room. The singers could record themselves as many takes as they needed before submission.
“We are so connected with the composer of the piece and to be part of something greater is my favorite part of this experience,” Daggett explained. “Who knows? My name might be recognized or maybe some of my friends’. I would definitely do it again.”
As for Mr. Konewko, the possibility of doing something like this with Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir again is still up for debate. “I don’t know that yet. I’d like to get more feedback from the students about their experience first to see if I will keep it on the syllabus for
next year.”
Whitacre’s Virtual Choir has grown significantly since 2010. His first virtual choir had numerous singers from twelve different countries while his second virtual choir was made up of over two thousand singers from fifty-eight different countries.
This year’s virtual choir will not only be uploaded onto YouTube like the previous ones, but Virtual Choir 3.0 is being developed to become an audio-video art installation in many cities across the world.
Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 3.0 is expected to be posted sometime in the spring. The deadline for submissions has been extended due to website and internet complications, but the normal time for release is around April or May. The announcement of its release will be posted on Eric Whitacre’s blog at

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Obamacare, Birth Control and a Loss of Freedom

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Sam Kinney

Every president’s goal when in office is to do something “big” so that they will be remembered in the history books. President Obama’s “big” thing is his health care bill, which passed March 2010. The debate over the bill was one of the most intense ever in Congress and everyday Americans flooded the town halls of their congressmen to make their opinion heard. One part of “Obamacare” includes that private institutions must provide contraceptives to their employees. This is by far one of the most controversial parts of the already controversial bill. Frankly it is a terrible bill and violates the constitution by forcing employers to pay for contraceptives in insurance plans.

Where in the Constitution does it say that businesses and institutions must pay for birth control? It doesn’t. The Obama health care referendum is a violation of the Constitution and therefore our rights as Americans.

Health care should be provided by businesses, not the government. There are countless health insurance companies for a reason, to create competition. The United States got to where it is today with the idea of competition, it lowers prices and limits monopolies.

One thing President Obama fails to understand is that his health care bill will sky rocket our national debt even further than it already is. In the eight years that he was in office, President George W. Bush raised the federal debt a little over $4 trillion. In less than four years in office, Obama has raised the deficit over $6 trillion.

With the health care bill signed into law, some experts say it will increase the federal deficit beyond repair so it must be stopped. In just the last few weeks, the CBO reassessed the cost of the bill. Originally it was thought that the bill would cost $900 billion in the first ten years. Now it is believed that from now to 2022, Obamacare will cost $1.76 trillion.

Obviously the Catholic Church does not approve of contraceptives. Being a Catholic institution, I thought that Marquette University wouldn’t have an insurance plan that offered contraceptives to its employees, but it turns out that contraceptives are covered. Brian Dorrington, Senior Director of University Communication at Marquette, said that Marquette offers contraceptives to its employees but it requires a co-pay in addition to their normal health benefits.

This surprised me because generally speaking, Catholics do not approve of any form of birth control, but Dorrington pointed out that Marquette realizes that not all of its employees are Catholic, so accommodations have been made to satisfy those people—one of them being birth control.

Although Marquette already offers contraceptives to its employees, it is not right of the Obama administration to force institutions to do so. Marquette is a business and it should be able to do what it wants with its money and employees. If they want to offer birth control to their employees, so-be-it, but it should not be forced. It is a violation of our rights as free citizens to be dictated to by the government.

Just because Marquette offers contraceptive benefits to its employees does not mean that all schools or businesses must do so. The Obama Administration is forcing businesses to spend money that don’t want to or can afford.

The Constitution doesn’t authorize the government to take people’s money and redistribute it to pay for universal health insurance or contraceptives. President Obama and Congress are in direct violation of the law of the land, the Constitution, by the passage and implementation of Obamacare. Marquette, or any other business or institution, should pay for its employee’s health insurance on its own terms, not the government’s. This law needs to be repealed now or we will have set the precedent that an individual’s God-given liberty lies in the hands of the government.  And with that precedent set, it only begs the question: what’s next?

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Employment-at-will Must Stay Law

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Sam Kinney

An employee of a company does something on the job that management does not approve of. He cannot be fired because the government says so. He takes his job for granted while thousands of unemployed Americans would love to have it. Seems kind of wrong doesn’t it? The United States is the only nation with an Employment-at-will law. It states that employees can be fired “for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all.” With it, employees and unions cannot take advantage of their employers. If a company feels the need to let an employee go, they should be allowed to.

Several weeks ago, Ron Mulvaney held a small press conference for journalism students in Johnston Hall. His goal is to end employment-at-will, a law that – in his mind – allows discrimination to workers and the unemployed alike. It doesn’t. That law allows businesses to do what they need to so they can make a profit. Why did countless American businesses leave for China? They had to compete with the rest of the world. By moving, their expenses went down and profits up. There was no discrimination against the American worker, we are just too expensive.

Mulvaney, 1960 graduate of Marquette’s School of Journalism, said he was honored to speak to students at his alma mater. He has held many journalistic jobs and is very experienced in his field. In spite of experience, he is currently a part-time employee at a local Boston Store. He claims that he is a victim of employment-at-will.

“This is a toxic law, it’s poison, it kills, it murders,” Mulvaney said.

However, employment-at-will is necessary. Without it, businesses are limited to more government regulation and therefore a further loss of freedom. If businesses are not allowed to give employees the pink slip then employees can do as they please. Businesses then lose money and cannot make all of their necessary payments and then ultimately go out of business.

Say a law is passed making it so businesses cannot fire employees – that is almost what Mulvaney is pushing for. Then lazy employees do not have to work at all but still get paid. It would lead to no one working and the end of American power as we know it. Obviously Mulvaney’s views are not that extreme but he never made it clear as to how far he would like this law to be repealed.

Repealing employment-at-will would lead to a loss of individual liberty and it would do nothing but further hurt our economy and lead Americans to be unmotivated to work. Not wanting to work but still get a pay check, sounds a lot like a socialist agenda. Socialism will only push the United States backwards.

“Mulvaney is very passionate about what he believes in, he has yet to give up,” said Eva Sotomayor, a freshman in the College of Communication. He wants to end employment-at-will because he says that it leaves six million people chronically unemployed every year.

He may be correct that this law leads some to be chronically unemployed but not everyone that is unemployed has to be. Yes the economy has not been great the last few years but it is not that bad that people cannot find work anywhere. Fast-food establishments are always hiring, yes they are not the best of jobs but it is work and their employees still make money. Instead of staying unemployed and blaming others for it, why don’t people do something about it?

Mulvaney pushed the AARP to help him in fighting this law. For a time they did show him support but eventually it faded. This was because the AARP focuses on social security and Medicaid, not so much on worker’s rights. Also, the AARP did not want to lose support from businesses. If Mulvaney’s movement to end employment-at-will becomes successful, then businesses would lose a lot of money and power over their employees.

His main struggle is that there is little support to end this law. Few people even recognize it as an issue, he said. He implored the journalism students to investigate, and to be interactive. There is a reason he has little support in fighting this law, because he is simply wrong! Anyone with half a brain can tell you businesses need certain freedoms to survive, being able to fire unnecessary employees is one of those freedoms.

A student asked Mulvaney why the upper class has not noticed the problems with employment-at-will. He responded by saying that people that have jobs don’t notice those that don’t, because they are too concerned with their own lives. He is correct but the more fortunate also understand that there are jobs out there right now, many of the unemployed are not looking hard enough. One can only “feel bad” for others for so long. It gets to a point that where the individual must help himself and not rely on others to do it for them.

Now there are some that are trying to find work but are unsuccessful which is a shame. But many free ride off hard working taxpayers – again socialism, the rich helping the poor. How can the United States maintain our power over the world when we live in an entitlement society? It is not possible.

Mulvaney’s efforts are admirable in stopping employment-at-will but he is misinformed. Businesses need economic freedom in order to grow and compete. One of those freedoms includes the right to release unnecessary employees. This country was founded on the ideas of economic liberty and it seems that every year, we are slowly losing those freedoms. Employment-at-will must stay law.

Sam Kinney

[email protected]

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Business Abroad: El Salvador

Posted on 01 June 2012 by Matt Faucett

On January 8 Dr. Noreen Lephardt, Dr. Heather Kohls and eight Marquette students embarked on an atypical Christmas vacation.
They did not spend their vacation in a four-star hotel or a water park enjoying the remaining days before Marquette began its spring
semester. Instead the group spent a week in El Salvador helping two small businesses grow and develop into profitable organizations. The Center for Global and Economic Studies in Marquette’s College of Business sponsors and runs the student program Applied Global Business Learning (AGBL).
The AGBL enables students and professors – organized into “brigades” – to travel to developing countries in order to help small businesses. In the words of Adjunct Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Noreen Lephardt, “AGBL brigades are an opportunity for students to apply their knowledge for the betterment of small companies in a developing economy, and I believe it is a transformation experience for them”.
The Marquette brigade, which consisted of a variety of majors including Spanish and Accounting and a MBA student, helped develop two Salvadorian businesses by applying the principles they learned in the classroom. The first small business the group traveled to was a purse factory.
This factory was not the colossal, smoke-stacked building with thousands of employees that Americans are accustomed to seeing. Only a few women ran this factory. They produced all their purses on three sewing machines. The building had a simple, paneled roof and walls on a concrete slab.
The students, aided by their professors, provided valuable business information and advice to the women. The group also provided the small business with a “SWOT” analysis, a method used to analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a
developing business.
The group did not have the opportunity to stay in hotels with all the amenities. Instead, the students and professors stayed with the
families they worked with. The families lived in huts with dirt floors and sheets serving as the walls of the house.
Most of the brigade’s food was provided by the families, who graciously shared what they had with Marquette’s students and faculty. The group often discussed and reflected on their hosts’ hospitalities. These discussions had a deep impact on both the students and professors involved.
On the second half of the AGBL trip, the group visited a chicken farm.The business owned 560 chickens, which is not a lot compared to the thousands of chickens in factory farms in the United States.
The developing business had large issues with developing an effective way to distribute wages. None of the employees were being paid.
Marquette’s AGBL brigade helped the business develop an effective pay system and pricing strategy for the company in order to enable its future success.
While the brigade was often busy working with the developing the business, the group also had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture and history of El Salvador.
The Spanish majors could utilize their skills in a realistic setting, as they translated for the group on many occasions. The group visited the death site of Bishop Oscar Romero and reflected in the Jesuit values of faith and
service, which was a key theme of the trip.
Professor Lephardt says the trip “is an excellent example of the transformational Ignatian educational experience that is a distinguishing characteristic of a Marquette University education”.
Not only were the businesses that the group helped better off, but the brigade also learned valuable lessons that will serve them well in their future endeavors.
The group learned how to communicate effectively despite cultural and lingual barriers. They also learned how to fix problems that come from starting a small business and get
the most out of limited resources. One of the most important skills the students gained was the ability to communicate freely with their
In the words of Dr. Lephardt, “For me, participating in the El Salvador business brigade was an exceptional experience because it established a different partnership of learning between students and faculty”.
Thus far, brigades have gone to India, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. This spring a group of students will go to Cost Rica.
Students interested in AGBL should visit

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