Staff & Alum: Brian Houze
Title: Coordinator, Student Activities & Greek Affairs
Alum: Master's in Higher Education
Started LUC: January 2011 as a graduate student, January 2013 as a staff member
Alma Mater: University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
I come from grandparents that worked to provide the best possible quality of life for their children, and parents who have done the same. I come from music, a close-knit family, and a life of navigating my introversion. I come from Illinois, both the state and the University. I come from life-changing experiences abroad. I come from a Master’s program that opened my eyes to the invisible systems of our world. I come from the countless people who have given of their time, energy, insight, and kindness to help me become the person I am today.
I can lend students a helping hand by de-mystifying the University’s processes and procedures. I work most closely with the Recognized Student Organizations on campus, and their operations depend on coordination with several different components of the campus community: Facilities Management, Campus Reservations, Student Complexes, Risk Management, Accounting, the list goes on. Hosting events with all of those moving parts is a large endeavor, and my hope is that I can help students make their imaginative and passionate ideas a reality, while always operating within the University’s Community Standards, Student Organization Handbook, and adhering to the Student Promise.
Student Activities & Greek Affairs strives to facilitate or assist in the facilitation of involvement opportunities that will enrich the experience of students at Loyola. This is meant to be a broad goal, as we serve a broad spectrum of students; each student that interacts in some way with our office has their own story and their own goals. Day-to-day, SAGA works to achieve our goals by striving to maintain structured communities for the social sororities & fraternities, as well as the recognized student organizations. These communities provide students with both involvement and leadership opportunities; thousands of hours are dedicated by students each year to keep these organizations in operation, and practical skills are developed along the way.
What most makes me smile about Loyola are the professional staff members in the Division of Student Development. It takes a certain kind of commitment and ethic of care to do the kind of work that is expected of us, and it feels very special to be a part of that community of folks. My job is full of surprises and challenges, and it is often my colleagues that best compliment the day-to-day obstacles of working to support students. Those are the people that drive me to bring my best self to campus each day.
I hope to be someone with whom students are comfortable sharing their experiences. I often learn more from students than they do from me! In a time when so much of our communication is done electronically, the connections made with students through face to face dialogue and conversation are often the most enlightening of my day. It is my hope that students also appreciate these interactions, and that in some small way I am able to assist them in their growth and adaptation as a human being.
At this point in my life, the term “social justice” represents an invisible line drawn between individuals that choose to acknowledge, and hopefully examine, privilege and oppression, and those that do not. Unfortunately, the term “social justice” is often utilized as a placeholder when an individual really means “something with good intentions”. This definition is problematic because it often puts the user at the center of the discussion, rather than the person, identity, group, or cause that is framed as the “recipient” of social justice. I live at a cognitive crossroads, consistently examining whether my language or actions are helpful or harmful, and to whom?
Jesuit education, particularly here at Loyola, has helped me understand the invisible structures that dominate our social, economic, and political realities; structures that I was not aware of prior to understanding the Ignatian Pedagogical approach to learning. The process (context, experience, reflection, action, and evaluation) help ground my thoughts, assumptions, and conclusions about the world around me, particularly when it comes to the experiences of others. In a sense, Jesuit education has taught me how to live a life of contemplative reflection. It is an ongoing process that will never be complete, but brings me comfort along the way.
One of my favorite spots on campus is Lewis Library at Water Tower Campus. Though I have little reason to visit there currently, I have fond memories of the cognitive gymnastics that I had gone through in that library during graduate school. If you are lucky enough to get a seat near a window, there is often a larger than life view of the city of Chicago to keep you company during those long study and writing sessions. There is a certain academic comradery that I feel in that space that will last with me for decades to come.
I am able to claim that I came to work one day and left with a Master’s degree! I finished my M.Ed. program in December of 2012, and was hired to my current position in January of 2013. Since commencement ceremonies only happen once a year, I did not actually walk across the stage until May 2013. The ceremony was on a Thursday in Gentile Arena, which is connected to the Damen Student Center, where my office is located. I came to work in the morning, put on the graduation gown about 30 minutes before the afternoon ceremony, and walked across the stage that afternoon. It was a very productive day, to say the least.
Do your best to take advantage of the learning opportunities afforded to you as a college student, particularly in a city like Chicago. Your willingness to try new things, meet people that are different from you, and learn about other cultures will set the tone for how you live the rest of your life. That may sound extreme, but I promise you that you will leave Loyola a more enriched person if you are open to stepping into the unknown while you are here. More importantly, you will have learned how to continue living with that curiosity beyond your time with LUC.