Thisness is more Bonaventure than students think

By Emily Steves, Staff Writer, @SeeEmilyPlay

A search of thisness into Google may reveal what the word means, but it can’t communicate the word’s unique connection to St. Bonaventure University.

The first result in a Google search of thisness is a Wikipedia page mentioning a man named Duns Scotus. Here lies a direct correlation to the required CLAR-207, Catholic and Franciscan Heritage Clare course.

“If you took Cath-Fran, there’s an important Franciscan theologian and scholar called John Duns Scotus,” said Chris Brown, coordinator for residential education and housing. “The term talks about the ways each individual person is unique and gifted, and, in the Franciscan tradition, that’s a gift from God.”

According to Brown, thisness is derived from the Latin word haecceitas. Scotus referred to someone’s thisness as qualities that make the person who he or she is. St. Bonaventure adopted this idea and ran with it -– but with a somewhat different approach.

Each student is an individual who contributes to the university as a whole. Nichole Gonzalez, executive director of residential living and chief judicial officer, and junior Joe Fagan, designed the puzzle pieces to fit the theme.

“It also talks about how we are all unique and gifted but in relation to one another,” Brown said. “Thisness started because there was a student who was concerned about a lot of the recent suicides that have come from bullying.”

Jacob Witter’s concern with the nation’s bullying problem snowballed into the puzzle pieces seen around campus. When the Bona junior approached Fr. Francis Di Spignio, O.F.M. with his concern, Fr. Francis decided to do something about it.

“There was a group of people called together by Fr. Francis from the University Ministries,” Brown said. “(The group consisted of) faculty, staff, students, the student government association and administrators from all over the campus to start talking about what we could do on campus to proactively address the issue of bullying.

“Even if it’s not a major problem now on campus, what we know is it’s a major problem in junior high schools and high schools, and those are the students coming to Bonaventure,” he continued.

There are nationwide anti-bullying organizations, but Brown said, using thisness makes this campaign very Bonaventure.