Adaptability & Resiliency: Moving to Online Teaching & Learning

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dog at computer and dog sleeping
Hat tip to Natalie Sobierajski (2L)

We’re about to complete two weeks of teaching and learning in our new online environment, and it seems to have gone pretty well. Lots of sharing of pets, and no one has turned themselves into a potato.

The Law School, like the main university, supports the use of Microsoft Teams. While Teams doesn’t (yet) allow us to use fun background images, it also hasn’t been hacked during any class time.

Law School professors have found myriad ways to use Teams: they’ve been able to share their PowerPoints; demonstrate online researching in legal databases; create discussion rooms; and post notes, questions, and other files. Some professors record their classes and then post them, others go “live”; still others combine both methods. Natalie Sobierajski (2L) noted she likes the Teams function that allows the sharing of Powerpoints. “[T]he sharing option has made it easier to take notes than expected.”

We’ve learned how to mute and unmute our mics, use the chat bar, and even create spontaneous polls. Continue reading “Adaptability & Resiliency: Moving to Online Teaching & Learning”

Ireland Reflections 2020–Last Day!

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For our last day on the trip, we headed for Stormont – home to the Northern Ireland Assembly for our morning photo on the steps of Stormont

As Morgan Henson noted, “the Parliament building in Belfast was a truly interesting experience. After going through what some might call a gauntlet of stories about The Troubles all week, we finally arrived at the seat of the Northern Ireland government. After hearing about The Troubles, and the resulting fallout, I was curious to see what the governing body would look like, how it would function. While I will admit there were some interesting aspects, the thing I most enjoyed was sitting in the chamber room and seeing how votes get passed.” 2L Jazmin  Ramirez added she too “found it fascinating to be able to sit in the room where a lot of important decisions are made.”  (To get us mirroring parliamentary debate, our guide had us debate whether or not the hot dog is a sandwich….discuss!)photo of students sitting in parliament chambers

Following the tour and our own lively debate, we grabbed cups of tea and headed to meet with Doug Beattie, an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). A common feeling at this juncture of the trip was beautifully verbalized by Oliva Robinson, “when thinking of the political conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland, the opponents are often characterized as the “Catholics” and the “Protestants.” As I learned the foundations of the conflict in Comparative Conflict Resolution, I found myself, as someone not raised under a religion, wondering how a religious divide could be the catalyst of such tragic events. As our dive into and my understanding of the conflict deepened, it became clear that these opponents are also referred to as the “Republicans” and the “Loyalists,” respectively, amongst many other terms used to describe these groups. These varying terms left me asking what role religious affiliation still has within the conflict in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”

This question was answered by Doug Beattie. Doug was not raised particularly religious and was happy to tell us about his experience as a UUP MLA  without religious affiliation. “While he discussed the divisions in Northern Ireland as religious, he made it a point to bring up that many of the divisions are based along political fault lines; such lines are between the two major parties in the North, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a conservative, unionist, majority Protestant party, and Sinn Fein, a more liberal, nationalist/republican, majority Catholic party.” 3L Dan Kinderman recalled.

For Robinson, “this talk with Doug brought the conflict to its modern-day point, allowing us to see how the conflict has and has not changed since its beginnings. While the (perhaps, overly simplified) premise of whether the Northern Ireland should be united with the Republic of Ireland or stay a part of the United Kingdom remains the same, the terminology based on religious affiliation does not necessarily seem to coincide with its political counterpart the way it once did.”Picture in the main hall with legislator Doug Beattiephoto of students with legislator Doug Beattie

Following many group pictures and some solo shots outside the magnificent building, our afternoon concluded with a visit to Belfast’s perhaps most famous export – The Titanic. During the 20th Century, Belfast was a hub for shipbuilding. “The Titanic was built at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast beginning in 1909. At the time, Harland and Wolff employed 15,000 Irish workers” Michelle Ziegler contextualized. She added, the “Titanic left Belfast on April 2, 1912 on her maiden voyage. Titanic traveled to Southampton, England; Cherbourg, France; and finally Queenstown, Ireland before embarking for her destination, New York on April 11, 1912.”

As Kelsey McCarthy noted, “for many of us, when we think of the Titanic, we think of the movies that have taken over Hollywood. Walking through the Titanic museum, I found myself thinking more critically about the ship itself, the events that led to its sinking, and most importantly, about the people that were on the ship.” For McCarthy “one of the most striking parts of the museum was the exhibit where the Titanic’s distress calls to the Carpathia, becoming more and more frantic, were laid out on the walls.”photo of students outside the Titanic Museum

(Since I had been to the museum several times before and my RA Morgan was more interested in escape rooms–we had fun at Escape Room Belfast which gave us both a fun break.  And, btw, we did escape under an hour!)Photo of Prof Andrea Scheneider and RA Morgan

Rally ’round the flag? It depends on the flag

Posted on Categories Lubar Center, Marquette Law School PollLeave a comment» on Rally ’round the flag? It depends on the flag

Nationally, Donald Trump’s approval rating has improved by a few points since mid-March. This could be due to a so-called “Rally ’round the flag effect,” in which, traditionally, a wartime president receives an upswell of support during times of national crisis. The archetypal example is George W. Bush after 9/11. His approval rating rose nearly 40 points, basically overnight.

Trump’s approval rating improved not at all in the latest Marquette Law Poll. In late February we found 48% of registered voters approved of his job and 48% disapproved. This month, we find 48% approve and 49% disapprove–not even close to a meaningful change. Given the dramatic results found elsewhere in the poll this could seem surprising. Are Wisconsinites so polarized that nothing can change their minds about politicians?

Not necessarily. The graph below shows the share of respondents who approved of Donald Trump’s job as President and Tony Evers’ job as governor in late February compared to the end of March.

  • Independents handed Evers and Trump identical boosts. Each politician grew 9 points more popular.
  • Democrats gave Evers a 10-point boost. Their dismal approval rating for Trump remained unchanged.
  • Republicans have the most interesting trend. They increased their support of Evers by 19 points, from 20% approving to 39%. Their approval of Trump actually declined from 95% to 88%. (This is right around the edge of the margin of error). Possibly explanations include statistical noise, dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic, or a natural reversion from Trump’s peak intra-party support during the impeachment trial.

It seems Wisconsin voters are rallying around the flag; just in this case, it’s the Wisconsin flag.

An Anything But Normal Election

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In the press release for today’s Marquette University Law School Poll, you’ll find the following sentence: “Given the uncertainty created by historically high levels of absentee voting and the unknown levels of election day turnout, these results should be viewed with more than the usual caution.”

Poll Director Charles Franklin is referring specifically to the polling numbers in the Democratic presidential primary. But his note of caution seems wise as we careen toward next Tuesday’s election.

Put another way, we don’t know what we don’t know about this spring election.

After reporting, writing, and talking about Wisconsin politics for 40 years, I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong. Continue reading “An Anything But Normal Election”

Coronavirus pandemic breaks through Wisconsin’s partisan divide

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Pollsters and political observers of all stripes in the Trump era have grown used to the strong role party identification plays in shaping Americans’ perceptions of reality. To give one example, in October 2016 just 14% of Wisconsin Republicans said the economy had gotten better over the previous year. Just a few months later, after Donald Trump’s inauguration, 59% said it had. The proposed border wall with Mexico, the Mueller Report, Ukraine, impeachment–all have had the same bifurcated public response.

The current coronavirus pandemic is different. Majorities of all Wisconsin’s partisan groups are following the outbreak closely, are very concerned about the epidemic, and support the steps taken by state and local leaders thus far. There is a gap between Democrats and Republicans, but compared to the issues mentioned above, the gap is small.

The discussion below combines data from the Marquette Law School Poll conducted March 24-29 along with open-ended responses from 200 online panelists selected to match Wisconsin’s demographic makeup. These responses were collected over the same time period as the telephone poll. You can view all of the results from both surveys at

Concern about the virus’ spread

Ninety-nine percent of Republicans, 97% of Independents, and 100% of Democrats are following the coronavirus outbreak at least “somewhat closely.”

How closely are you following the news about coronavirus?
Party ID Very closely Somewhat closely Not very closely Not following at all n
Republican 74 25 1 0 236
Independent 70 27 2 1 316
Democrat 87 13 0 0 255

Democrats are the most likely to be “very concerned” about an epidemic in the United States, but Republicans and Independents aren’t dismissing the risk either. Ninety percent of Republicans are at least “somewhat concerned,” compared with 92% of Independents and 99% of Democrats.

How concerned are you about a coronavirus epidemic here in the United States?
Party ID Very concerned Somewhat concerned Not very concerned Not concerned at all Don’t know n
Republican 56 34 8 3 0 236
Independent 61 31 6 2 1 316
Democrat 87 12 1 0 0 255

Democrats are also the most worried about personally experiencing COVID-19. But again, Independents and Republicans still express high levels of concern; 64% of each group are at least “somewhat concerned.”

Taking into consideration both your risk of contracting it and the seriousness of the illness, how worried are you personally about experiencing coronavirus?
Party ID Very worried Somewhat worried Not very worried Not worried at all Don’t know n
Republican 28 36 20 17 0 236
Independent 22 42 24 11 0 316
Democrat 44 42 10 4 0 255

Nearly every month, the Marquette Poll asks about 200 Wisconsinites to answer some free response questions online. Often we ask, “what do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” Usually, responses vary widely but not this time. More than 2/3rds of respondents volunteered something about the current pandemic, including equal shares of Democrats and Republicans.

Here are a few of their responses

an under-30 woman from Waukesha County, Independent

Most important problem: “Right now I think the important problem that this country is facing is the Corona virus.”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “Well all of the part time workers in my family has been laid of temporarily so there’s no income from some of our family members.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Honestly I can’t even say what they should do”

a woman in her 40s from Milwaukee County, Democrat

Most important problem: “Coronavirus and the confusion of how to handle it”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “My daughter and I have been in the house since [redacted] because I am a teacher and she is a student where schools have been closed. We have done what we needed to do to live. We only shop for necessities once a week. I watch the updates on CNN everyday. I am concerned about returning to work and sending my daughter back to school in weeks since the doctors (experts) don’t share the same mindset as the one currently overseeing the US.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “The state and local government should continue to pay attention to data and make decisions based on data and not notions from the federal government”

a woman in her 60s from Ozaukee County, leans Republican

Most important problem: “The effects of the Covid-19 on people and the economy.”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “We are self isolating and making minimal trips to stores.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Delay the spring primary in WI. Can’t limit gatherings to 10 people and then have a primary where hundreds of people will come plus exposure to the poll workers. WI governor has been a leader in sheltering in place. But, can’t have it both ways with sheltering in place AND a primary election.”

a man in his 60s from Waukesha County, Independent

Most important problem: “A lack of civility = a lack of God individually and as a society”

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “Only not being able to meet together with other family members and with other believers.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Not restrict the financial ability of the population and certainly NOT engage in election tampering (i.e. messing around with date of voting in person)!!!”

Many people’s lives have already changed

Many people in Wisconsin have already begun paying a steep economic cost for the state’s social isolation measures. We find that 9% of respondents have already lost a job or been laid off. A quarter have at least one family member who has lost a job. Work reductions are even more common. A fifth (21%) of respondents are working fewer hours due to the coronavirus outbreak. Twenty-six percent are being required to work from home.

Only 21% of Wisconsinites say none of these things have happened to them or their family. There is no difference in support for the state’s mandatory social distancing measures between people whose families have been affected this way and those who have thus far escaped unscathed. Even among those who have personally lost their jobs or had hours reduced, 82% say the state’s actions have been an appropriate response.

Here is what some Wisconsin voters had to say.

an under-30 woman from Racine County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “We are without jobs and our whole life seems like it has been cancelled.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “quarantine”

a man in his 30s from Waushara County, Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “We are isolated with our family, working from home with limited contact to the outside world. Where we are fortunate to have jobs, it’s been difficult at times without outside contact.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “I think they should keep people quarantined, but take steps to ensure they have adequate healthcare and that their economic needs are being met.”

a woman in her 50s from Shawano County, leans Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “I was working 3 jobs.. and now I am unemployed. My nephew who lives here just got laid off”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Provide assistance for mortgages, utilities and quicker unemployment”

a woman in her 40s from Washington County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “yes we are all at home and some lost jobs”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “not sure”

a woman in her 30s from Winnebago County, Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “The isolation is causing emotional turmoil and we are suffering money-wise.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “I’m not sure.”

a man in his 30s from Kenosha County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “Yes we are forced to work from home and to stay home all week.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “I totally agree with their decision for them to mandate everyone staying home.”

a man in his 70s from Milwaukee County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “we feel locked up and fell like we are living in a communist country”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “ask people to be cautious but not demand stay at home or shut downs”

Support for government measures is strong

More than 8-in-10 Republicans and Independents as well as 95% of Democrats support the state’s mandatory social distancing measures. Thirteen percent of Republicans, 15% of Independents, and 2% of Democrats call these decisions an “overreaction.” Essentially the same numbers of each group agree that “the state or federal government should have the authority to limit public gatherings and store hours for public health emergencies.”

Do you think the decision to close schools and businesses, and to restrict the size of public gatherings is an appropriate response to the coronavirus outbreak or is it an overreaction that will do more harm than good?
Party ID Appropriate response Overreaction Don’t know Refused n
Republican 83 13 3 1 236
Independent 82 15 3 0 316
Democrat 95 2 2 0 255

Tony Evers’ approval rating now stands at 65%, up from 51% a month ago. The improvement has come from all partisan groups with the biggest increase coming from Republicans (+19).

Here are a few characteristic responses:

an under-30 woman from Winnebago County, leans Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “I am constantly stressed. I am pregnant, and work in healthcare. Both my husband and I are going to work everyday. We are both afraid of what the future holds for us and our child.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “Keep up with the social isolation. For one month keep everyone on the ‘safer at home’ plan. I work in healthcare, I think this will work to flatten the curve and keep our supplies up as much as we can.”

a man in his 60s from Brown County, Democrat

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “I am currently working from home and under quarantine and my family is stressed out and bored.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “They should let the health experts who know what they are doing handle it and let the president do his job.”

a woman in her 30s from Milwaukee County, Republican

How has the coronavirus outbreak affected you and your family? “totally affected. I was diagnosed with a [health condition] in late November and have been out of work due to being diagnosed with [cancer] back in [redacted] and was finally getting better and was to start back to work [redacted] and due to the outbreak and my current [health condition] was advised by my doctor that I would not be able to go back to work on that date. so just when I thought I was going to get my life back coronavirus took that opportunity away from me.”

What should the state and local government do to deal with the coronavirus outbreak? “exactly what they are doing! keep people home and safe. the less opportunity there is for it to spread the sooner it will pass and we can all get back to our normal day to day.”

Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites have filed initial unemployment claims in the last several weeks. Our data suggests that almost 10% of Wisconsin registered voters had lost a job when we interviewed them, and even more are missing income from reduced working hours. Despite this, 44% of registered voters still expect the economy to get better next year; 34% expect it to get worse. Fifty-nine percent still say their families’ are “living comfortably,” compared with 30% “just getting by” and 10% “struggling to make ends meet.” If much of the country’s economy remains closed as expected over the next month or more, these numbers will surely worsen. As our open-ended interviews show, the pandemic is already harming Wisconsinites in profound ways. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, Wisconsin enters the crisis with more agreement about the threat and more unity about the sacrifices needed to combat it than any other period in recent memory.

Ireland Reflections 2020–Back to Belfast

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A speaker at the Irish Language Center in BelfastAfter some longer days of travel, the group took a welcomed short trip to Cultúrlann – the Irish Language Center – in Belfast. For 3L Margaret Spring, this “was one of the most rewarding experiences of our trip.” She recalled the visit “reminded me that no matter how much a culture tries to be erased, it will not and cannot happen.”

Nim Nannan accounted “Culturlann is a great representation of the Irish’s determination to preserve and promote their language and culture. When a people are colonized, one of the first things the colonizers do is restrict the colonized sense of culture and identity to prevent the promulgation of both in future generations as to quickly assimilate them into their own. The founders of Culturlann formed the community center in direct opposition of this agenda by the British government.” She added, “the founders started both Irish language schools and a community center without government support and both continued to flourish as future generations took up the cause.”

After having the opportunity to explore the center and speak with current Culturlann director – and product of the Irish language school – Ciarán Mac Giolla Bhéin, the group piled into one of the classrooms to meet with first with two former IRA combatants who were now involved in both local politics and peacebuilding. Continue reading “Ireland Reflections 2020–Back to Belfast”

Ireland Reflections 2020 — Border Tours & Fermanagh

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A quick two-hour bus ride out of Belfast led us to the office of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (“SEFF”) for our first stop of our Fermanagh day. There we were greeted with warm biscuits, cups of tea and the Director of SEFF, Kenny Donaldson, and his fellow staff members.SEFF was formed in 1998 to help support innocent victims and survivors of the Troubles in South East Fermanagh. Bridget Smith noted, “The messaging of SEFF was clear:  ‘Terrorism knows no borders.’”  As Brighton Tropha said, “Kenny Donaldson informed the group about all of the services that SEFF offers to victims and survivors of the Troubles, including counseling, complementary therapies, as well as community outreach and advocacy provided by the Advocacy for Innocent Victims project.” She added, “The most moving part of Mr. Donaldson’s presentation was when he turned the group’s attention to all of the quilts lining the walls of the room. The quilts each represented a different memorial message, but each were made up of dozens of hand embroidered patches – representing innocent terror victims or terror attacks resulting in the loss of innocent lives – bringing together victims under a banner of innocence.”  The quilts (shown above and below) were quite amazing.

It was during our time with Kenny that we also had the opportunity to hear from other individuals who are members of SEFF, and one that stuck out for most of the group and in particular 2L Michael Becker, was a man named Ernie. Becker recalls, “Ernie told us about his experiences during The Troubles and centered it around one specific story that changed his life forever. As a result of a bomb attack on the school bus that Ernie used to drive children in his neighborhood to school every day, Ernie’s son took his own life. Ernie told us about how he had taught his son how to drive the bus once he was old enough, how his son would help him out driving the bus and with the kids, and how that morning his son started up the bus and did the daily check. Ernie’s son blamed himself for what happened that day, for not seeing the bomb under the bus, for not being able to save the children from an unthinkable harm.” Michael reflected, “What Ernie shared with us that day showed me that the death toll of The Troubles has not stopped counting, and without groups like SEFF who provide a platform for people to discuss the tragedies they have endured, that number will continue to rise with no end in sight.”Ernie with student Bridget Smith

The hardest part of the day was after lunch when we hopped back on the bus for a “tour” of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.  The roads meandered back and forth between the two as we crossed the border multiple times within the hour (showing us also how impossible Brexit with a hard border could be).  Our guide for this part of the tour told us the history of every attack that happened in this area throughout the Troubles and the combination of the description of the horrible attacks, the matter-of-fact tone of the explanation (here is where the farmer x was attacked; here is where this bombing took place; here is where this body was dumped etc), and the motion of the stop-and-start bus made for a pretty unpleasant, if important, experience.  Below is a picture of one of the memorials to terror victims at a church in the area.

Ireland Reflections 2020–Derry Girls (and Boys) Part 2

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Happy Monday to all–this continues the Ireland blog posts which I’ll have for the rest of this week! The visit to Derry was so filled with content that I divided this into two posts.  The morning (as outlined in the last post) was a walking tour of the neighborhoods and visiting the museum.  After a brief lunch break, we grabbed some tea and biscuits and piled into the basement of a local community center to speak with a series of incredible people.

First, we met Raymond McCartney, a recently retired Sinn Fein MLA (member of the N. Ireland Legislative Assembly), former IRA prisoner and an ex-hunger striker.  He told us the reason he decided to join the IRA was a culmination of his personal experiences while growing up in Derry/Londonderry.  He noted that it was from those experiences that joining the IRA seemed either inevitable or just the next logical step.   Jordan Daigle accounted, “many IRA members grew-up feeling oppressed or as though they were constantly at risk of abuse. To them, the best way to protect their families was to join an organization whose sole purpose was to expel their oppressors. We very rarely hear is the individual stories of members; what were their experiences growing up or what drew them to the fight. Raymond was the first former IRA member were heard from, but his story was one that was repeated much too often.”group photo of students with Raymond McCartneyMcCartney was a three-time imprisoned IRA hunger-striker, who “effortlessly framed the conflict for me” writes 3L Michaela Bear. “I was so captivated by Raymond McCartney it was not until after he was finished speaking that it dawned on me that he was released from his third prison sentence for killing a civilian and a Royal Union Constabulary officer only because of the Good Friday Agreement” she added.

We were then joined by an unlikely pairing – Lee Lavis and Fiona Gallegher. Lee is a former infantry man in the British army, who spent almost two and a half years stationed in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. Fiona is from a Derry Catholic family who suffered the loss of her brother – an IRA soldier – during that same time. Kaitlyn Gould reflected, “both individuals were victims of the system of which they were placed in, a system where the lives of civilians, working class citizens, soldiers, and so-called “terrorists” were expendable.” It was years after the Troubles that Fiona and Lee became friends through a forum that connected ex-soldiers with civilians. (For those of us who have worked with other restorative justice groups, and want to learn more, here’s the BBC story about them and the Veterans for Peace group)

photo of speakers in a discussion group“Having the opportunity to hear both Lee and Fiona open up to us and hear their experiences of the Troubles was not like anything you could read from a textbook” remarked Brook Oswald. She added “it was incredibly impactful listening to Fiona detail the fear, anger and loathing she felt for the British Army, yet empathize with Lee’s experiences as a loyal British soldier stationed in Ireland during the Troubles.”

Oswald concluded by saying, “you always hear that there are two sides to every story, but you never imagine putting yourselves in each person’s shoes and really understanding what got them to where they are today, which is exactly what the story of Fiona and Lee made me do. If two people such as Lee and Fiona, who viewed each other as the enemy for so long, can put aside the past and use it to move forward, it makes much of the conflict we face today seem so small.”

Ireland Reflections 2020–Derry Girls (and Boys) Part 1

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On Tuesday morning of our trip (after a full day in Belfast), we hopped on the bus and headed to Derry… or Londonderry, depending with whom you are talking. (And for a very funny take on the situation in Derry during the Troubles,  see Derry Girls.) From the name(s) themselves, it was clear that this was going to be a very divided experience, as Katie Tompson noted “what I was not entirely ready for was the intense emotions and remaining political turmoil that poured out of the city.”

She recalled, “walking down the street, we noticed that some curbs were painted red white and blue, which seemed… aggressive almost. However, as we crossed into the Bogside, it became very clear why part of the community needed to display their unionist pride.image of mural, reads "LONDONDERRY; WEST BANK LOYALISTS STILL UNDER SIEGE NO SURRENDER"

(Note the painted curbs above and also that “west bank” refers the west bank of the river in Derry.)

After touring the old part of the city and enjoying the view, we walked down into the newer part of the photo of students

As we walked down the hill, the seemingly hurricane-force winds that destroyed our hair as well as a number of umbrellas, it seemed almost fitting considering the intensity of what was to come.  Maggie Crawford noted, “at first, I was just excited to be in Derry so that I could imagine what it was like to be in an episode of Derry Girls, and that’s really what it felt like as we approached the iconic “You Are Now Entering Free Derry” sign.

image of sign, it reads, "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING FREE DERRY" followed by the graffit "STOP EXTRADITION OF IRISH REPUBLICANS"


Aside from the “You are now entering Free Derry” sign that immediately struck you, there were many huge murals depicting the civil rights movement that took place, as well as the violence that came from these movements.”

A poignant moment for many on the trip was the visit to the Free Derry Museum. The Free Derry Museum documents the events that unfolded on “Bloody Sunday.” Tompson noted “we had talked about Bloody Sunday a little bit, but going through the museum, only yards from where the violence actually occurred, really hit me in a way I hadn’t expected. It had happened so recently in history, and so close to where we were, in a museum run by a man that was there. It was so real and current all of a sudden. Especially after realizing that the official truth, that the 13 killed were, in fact, victims, and not perpetrators in any way, was only established 10 years ago on June 15, 2010. Crawford recalled, “At one point in the museum there was a placard that told the tale of a young toddler who was the victim of a British Army officer who took his envoy vehicle and smashed the toddler in its stroller into a building.”

image of mural, depicts an injured protestor being carried by others

For many, the most impactful part of the experience, came when listening to a young man named Ross, whose grandfather was one of the victims of Bloody Sunday, and who had multiple other family members die during the Troubles. He detailed to the group the ways in which the time affected his family. “It was astonishing to see how intensely it affected Ross and listening to how angry he was about the wrong that had been done to his family and his community, even though he hadn’t even been alive when everything happened. It was in that interaction that I really started to understand how much the Troubles still permeates through communities, because they pass it on to the next generations.” Katie added.

A Few COVID-19 Resources

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man doing deep breathingEarlier this week, Marquette University announced that remote learning will be extended until May 10. As of yesterday morning, and for the next 30 days, Wisconsin residents are subject to the State’s Safer at Home order.

I posted just over a week ago about some of the ways our faculty and students were coping with the ever-changing global pandemic; in the week since, the world has changed even more. And it’s going to be ever-changing for the weeks to come.

There are so many ways that this virus has affected us—or yet will affect us—that it’s difficult for me to try to list them. Instead, I’ll just pass along three specific resources I’ve come across. Continue reading “A Few COVID-19 Resources”


Posted on Categories Marquette Law School, PublicLeave a comment» on IRELAND REFLECTIONS 2020–BELFAST AND THE PEACE WALLS

We were greeted for our first morning in Belfast by both our tour guide and some traditional Irish weather. Our quite rainy walking tour took us through many locations deeply connected to the time of the Troubles. It was during this walking tour that we were quickly confronted with the very real and lasting impact of the Troubles – the Peace Walls.

The Peace Walls were built between the Catholic and Protestant communities in Belfast as a temporary effort to minimize the conflict beginning with The Troubles in 1969. Rae-Anna Sollestre noted that “as we drove around Belfast, the stark contrast between the Peace Walls and the surrounding communities left an impression on me. The walls started out short and grew with time. The walls separated the two communities, closed off the streets connecting them. They were and still are a physical manifestation of the conflict that remains quite high in some places. Multiple generations have grown up with these high walls dividing communities, and it’s normal for them.”

Sollestre made a connection to the walls personally. Continue reading “IRELAND REFLECTIONS 2020–BELFAST AND THE PEACE WALLS”

COVID-19 and Water

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Without doubt, times are tough. The seemingly inexorable spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us desperate for good news. And make no mistake, there is some out there. First, it’s heartening to see the An image of the coronavirusincreased appreciation for those in the public health sector, and also for the unsung heroes of the war against COVID-19: grocery store personnel, garbage collectors, truckers, janitors, pharmacy clerks, postal workers, package deliverers, and others who we now realize are truly essential to a functioning modern society. Let me add one more group of people to that list: utility workers who keep our power on, our access to the internet active, and our clean water flowing. For example, to ensure a reliable water supply, some water treatment professionals are “sheltering in place” at a water treatment facility for the next three weeks. Others, right here in Wisconsin, are working twelve hour shifts in complete isolation to ensure that critical machinery remains operational.

That leads me to my second bit of good news: according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), our water supply is not threatened by COVID-19. Like most viruses, it is “particularly susceptible to disinfection,” a standard process at wastewater treatment plants. It seems appropriate to be grateful for this, given that Sunday was World Water Day. Imagine how terrible this crisis would become if we could not trust our drinking water. Continue reading “COVID-19 and Water”