Carlow University wades into the issue of gun violence
School to conduct research, offer scholarships to victims
January 17, 2017 11:16 PM
“Gun violence is a social justice issue as it disproportionately affects young people, lower-income people, people of color, and women,” said Jessica Ruffin, director of Carlow University's Social Justice Institutes.
The Social Justice Institutes and their staff will “serve as an incubator for faculty research and community engagement,” Carlow President Suzanne Mellon said in a statement.
By Bill Schackner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Carlow University and the Sisters of Mercy who founded it nine decades ago have never shied away from social justice causes, be it a push for safe drinking water or Voting Rights Act protests in the South.
On Tuesday, the university announced it was wading into another such issue, gun violence.
Carlow plans to make the cause its inaugural “Educating for Justice” issue. As such, it will be the focus for the next three years of a set of campus institutes that was announced at a campus event Tuesday night.
The Social Justice Institutes are the new umbrella for scholarly and community outreach long associated with the Sisters of Mercy and Carlow. The institutes are intended to help the campus work with government, foundations, community groups and others to secure positive change in the neighborhoods surrounding campus, in the city of Pittsburgh and in the region, officials said.
Included within the institutes are two existing structures: the Grace Ann Geibel Institute for Justice and Social Responsibility, named for the late Carlow president, and the Women of Spirit Institute.
The institutes and their staff will “serve as an incubator for faculty research and community engagement,” Carlow president Suzanne Mellon said.
“Gun violence is a social justice issue as it disproportionately affects young people, lower-income people, people of color, and women,” said Jessica Ruffin, director of the institutes.
She said the institutes will examine several issues related to gun violence, including access to guns, and other contributing factors, such as lack of education, poverty and mental health.
A two-minute video created for Tuesday night’s event is expected to be incorporated into television ads promoting the initiative. In the black-and-white video, members of the campus personally touched by gun violence hold up cards with such labels as “My Cousin,” “My student,” or “My colleague,’ and some of them relayed personal stories.
Carlow senior Cheyenne Holyfield says in the video that her whole world changed in 2009 when someone shot and killed her brother. “Gun violence affects us all. I’m not alone,” she said. “I just want it to end.”
“Too many people we know and love have already died,” an announcer says. “In 2017, our university decided it was time to do something about it.”
As part of the initiative, Carlow is using donor funds to create need-based scholarships for students who have been victims of gun violence, saying one way to break the cycle of violence is to help those already affected by it to better themselves.
The Anne DeNardo McGowan Educating for Justice Scholarship is named for the Class of 1960 nursing graduate whose $25,000 gift has created the scholarship’s initial endowment, officials said.
School leaders said they hope to raise additional funds so larger awards can be made. The initial award will be just over $1,100, said Carlow spokesman Drew Wilson.
The Class of 1966 and Mary Elizabeth Canterna, a 1967 graduate, also have given endowments toward the institutes.
Ms. Ruffin said the American Medical Association declared that gun violence is a public health crisis and called for more research on the subject.
Bill Schackner: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
email@example.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.