BUSINESS SCHOOL AND LAW SCHOOL RANKED AMONG BEST IN NATION
APRIL 7, 2021 SECOND WEEK VOL. 133, ISSUE 21
Chartwells To Replace Bon Appétit as the University’s New Food Service Provider on College Council Recommendation By NIKHIL JAISWAL Senior Reporter Chartwells Higher Education will replace Bon Appétit Management Company as UChicago’s new food service provider starting July 2021, according to an email Dean Michele Rasmussen and Assistant Vice President for Campus Life Richard Mason sent to students in the College. Chartwells will serve University dining halls, academic cafés, and retail markets. “Chartwells has pledged to partner with UChicago Local and the Office of Business Diversity to procure fresh foods that are produced sustainably, with 30 to 40 percent of ingredients CONTINUED ON PG. 3
House banners above tables in Baker Dining Commons. COURTESY OF GREG ROSS
UCPD Pursues Reaccreditation; Assessor Seeks Public Comments By MATTHEW LEE & AVI WALDMAN
Co-Editor-in-Chief & Senior News Reporter
A UCPD officer shines his flashlight next to a squad car. COURTESY OF JEREMY MANLEY
VIEWPOINTS: UChicago must fund a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department PAGE 11
GREY CITY: The first piece in a three-part series examines how the pandemic strained Chicago’s child welfare system.
Assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) will determine whether to renew the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD)’s CALEA certification in a process that begins on April 12, per a press release by the UCPD. As part of CALEA’s review process, the public is invited to speak to ac-
creditation assessors by calling (773) 834–4755 between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13. Calls will be capped at five minutes, according to the press release. A virtual information forum, to be held by CALEA assessors at 3 p.m. on the same day, will also provide the public with an opportunity to share comments. In its press release, the UCPD asked community members to register ahead of time by emailing Ernest Knight, CONTINUED ON PG. 5
VIEWPOINTS: The University must do more to center Asian-American stories PAGE 12
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THE CHICAGO MAROON — APRIL 7, 2021
“We are committed to using sustainable practices and engaging with and supporting the surrounding neighborhoods.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 1
purchased from minority- and women-owned businesses and enterprises in our surrounding neighborhoods,” the email reads. The vendor was chosen with the help of staff, students, campus partners, and a 10-member selection committee after a months-long process which included vendor site visits, interviews, and reference checks. According to Julia Brestovitskiy, a College Council representative for the Class of 2024 and the dining hall liai-
son, the student advisory board recommended Chartwells “because of the fact that they responded so well to student feedback and their promise to do more scratch cooking in the dining halls.” Rasmussen and Mason also emphasized that there would not be layoffs of current dining employees, who would have the opportunity to discuss with Chartwells their plans to stay in their jobs. Chartwells also committed to paying all staff at the current rates. In a statement sent to The Maroon,
Fedele Bauccio, the CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, said that the company “has been proud to serve the University of Chicago community.” The vendor has served the University community since July 2016, when it took over campus dining from food service provider Aramark. Chartwells and Bon Appétit are both owned by the Compass Group, a multinational food services company based in the United Kingdom. “Chartwells Higher Education is excited to be a part of the University
of Chicago community and create a premier food service program that emphasizes quality, made-to-order food, menu customization, variety, value, student success and forward-thinking innovations. We are committed to using sustainable practices and engaging with and supporting the surrounding neighborhoods and the city of Chicago,” a spokesperson from Chartwells said in an email to The Maroon.
U.S. News Ranks Booth Third-Best M.B.A. in Country; Law School Ranked Fourth By MATTHEW LEE Co-Editor-in-Chief U.S. News & World Report named UChicago’s Booth School of Business the third-best M.B.A. program in the nation and UChicago Law School the fourth-best law school, per the 2022 Best Graduate Schools rankings released on Tuesday, March 30. Booth’s No. 3 ranking is unchanged from last year. The institution no longer
shares the honor, however: The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Booth’s crosstown rival, fell to fourth place this year. UChicago Booth was ranked behind the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) but ahead of perennial heavyweights like Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management. Across the Midway, the Law School’s
No. 4 ranking also remained unchanged from the 2021 rankings, and its spot remained shared with Columbia Law School. The Law School was ranked higher than the New York University School of Law and Penn’s Carey Law School but lower than the law schools at Yale, Stanford, and Harvard. UChicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, meanwhile, was ranked the 17thbest medical school for research in the nation.
The U.S. News & World Report rankings of higher education are widely regarded as the most influential of their kind. Research out of the National Bureau of Economic Research, which analyzed data from 16 selective, private undergraduate institutions, found that a less favorable ranking is associated with increased acceptance rates, lower rates of matriculation among applicants, and increased financial aid offerings for that institution.
SG Elections To Include Referendum on Splitting College and Graduate Councils By RYAN OWYANG & ALEX DALTON Senior News Reporters This April’s Student Government (SG) elections will include a vote on a referendum to split the College Council (CC) and the Graduate Council (GC), reshaping the current SG into separate undergraduate and graduate student governments. If passed, the new SG structure will become effective on June 21, the first day of summer quarter. Elections will
be conducted as usual for the executive slate, community and government liaison, graduate and undergraduate liaisons to the board of trustees, and CC. However, the specific roles and titles of the elected executive slate are likely to be different at the new Undergraduate Student Government (USG), according to CC representative Allen Abbott. The details of that change will be available in the petitions of candidacy to be released on Wednesday, April 7. Currently, both councils are subsid-
iary organizations of the SG Assembly, which would be dissolved and replaced by the new USG once the referendum passes. Engage, the current Executive Slate at SG, would end its term on June 12. Between June 13 and 20, the elected slate will serve the original role under the current SG structure. Beginning June 21, the elected slate, community and government liaison, and undergraduate liaison to the board of trustees will be inaugurated to the new USG. CC will formally confirm the underlying struc-
ture of the USG on Tuesday, April 6. The referendum was warranted by the By-Law Updates to Increase Leadership and Development (BUILD) Act, which was passed unanimously by SG on February 15. The act also created a transition committee, consisting of seven current CC members and chaired by Abbott, to take charge of guiding the reorganization process. The committee has the power to recommend constitutional amendments and reforms of the CONTINUED ON PG. 3
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“A new USG ‘from the ground up’ will provide an opportunity to reshape how the organization functions.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 2
USG units in order to ensure a smooth transition. Abbott expects the committee to exist until the end of the 2021–22 school year so that it can help navigate issues that arise from the transition to the USG. According to GC Executive Vice President Max Freedman (A.B. ’18, J.D. ’21), who has spent time in SG as both an undergraduate and graduate student, the councils represent separate student populations who will be better served by separate councils. “The justification for doing it 20 years ago, when there was not a strong Grad Council or strong College Council, was that we needed something,” Freedman said. Now, he feels the interests of undergraduate and graduate students diverge enough that it no longer makes sense for them to share a single govern-
ment body. “I think that what people look for from Grad Council are small quality of life wins that move the needle into something bigger,” Freedman said, citing the recent collaboration between GC and UChicagoGRAD that resulted in food reimbursements of up to $30 for all graduate students at the University. While graduate members see a working relationship between the council and administrators as critical to continuing improvements, Freedman felt that many undergraduate members approach their role on SG differently. In his view, undergraduates deprioritized that relationship in favor of their legislative agenda. “It seems, from seven years, that the relationship with administrators isn’t of primary importance [to undergraduates]—that passing these resolutions to make important statements is [the]
driving force,” Freedman said. “We need Grad Council to be an advocate for a generalized graduate experience, and that requires it to have a seat at the table.” Separating the councils is also in the interest of undergraduates, according to Freedman. One of the primary duties of the SG is to allocate funds for student activities. Currently, CC and GC must agree on budget allocation, even though almost all of the funds go to undergraduate organizations, according to Freedman. If the BUILD Act is passed, all of the nearly $2 million in annual funds from Levi Hall would be freely distributed by the new USG. “There’s no vote on that. The money is yours—it’s controlled by college students and college students only,” Freedman said. Abbott said that CC achievements in the past year, like its partially successful efforts to secure a pass/fail grading op-
tion for students during the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent expansion of the University’s Maroon Dollars program to several off-campus businesses, show the potential of an effective SG. In his view, building a new USG “from the ground up” will provide an opportunity to reshape how the organization functions and help it provide quality of life improvements for students. “I think what we’ve seen, this year more than others, is that Student Government, especially on the undergraduate level, can do quite a bit,” he said. “What we’re doing is ensuring in this process that we create a Student Government that systematically, year over year, does continue to do a lot and really punch above its weight more so than it has in previous years.” SG elections will take place from April 21 to 23.
Study Led by UChicago Professor Makes New Discovery Regarding Immune Cells By BASIL EGLI Senior News Reporter According to a study published by Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering professors Nicholas Chevrier and Surya Pandey—along with Pritzker software engineer Adam Gruenbaum, Max Delbrück Center scientists Tamara Kanashova and Philipp Mertins, and Harvard physicist Philippe Cluzel—human immune cells have an identifiable system by which they react to foreign invaders in the body, depending on the structure of the invading organism. The November 2020 study, titled “Pairwise Stimulations of Pathogen-Sensing Pathways Predict Immune Responses to Multi-adjuvant Combinations,” includes among its results “a general property for the combinatorial sensing of microbial signals.” In other words, the study explored the process by which immune cells react to dis-
ease-causing agents in the body. The study also identified immune cell therapy as a potential treatment for melanoma via testing on mice. To further understand this scientific development, The Maroon spoke with Pandey, an author of the paper and a staff scientist in the Chevrier lab. One of the human immune system’s primary purposes is to protect us from pathogens, which are microorganisms that can cause disease. The ways by which our immune system can best combat pathogens are still not completely understood. Pandey noted that the complexity of immune responses to pathogens made research on the subject difficult. “Our immune cells have different kinds of receptors to sense one kind of molecular entity in one specific way, and that’s how they mount the immune response,” Pandey said. “But when a pathogen comes, it is a composite of all
these different things and it activates different kinds of signaling receptor pathways.” Because pathogens trigger complex, multi-step responses in immune cells, it has been difficult for past scientists to patch together the entire process by which immune cells respond to different pathogens. Pandey also explained that, prior to their paper, there had been a lack of research concerning immune cell responses involving signaling pathways, a term that refers to methods by which the immune system initiates a response after sensing a pathogen. “All signaling receptor pathways have been studied one pathway at a time,” Pandey said. “People knocked out one molecule of a pathway and then studied what happens. There have been no systematic studies for what happens when all these signaling pathways get activated.” Knowing this, the researchers decid-
ed to take dendritic cells with antigens bound to them and expose them to different combinations of ligands—substances bound to molecules in organisms for specific purposes—in single, pairs, and triplets in order to see how these pathways would react. This study would help the team understand the effects of different combinations of these molecules on the immune system. Researchers found that in testing single, pairs of, and triplets of ligands, the effects of the triplets could be predicated based on the single and pairwise results, therefore meaning that triplets did not result in a significantly different response compared to single and pair combinations of ligands. The finding indicates that the immune response of the human body, while complex, is not as complicated as once thought. The second part of the experiments involved applying this newfound knowlCONTINUED ON PG. 4
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edge directly to cancer research. “We took advantage of melanoma tumor models in mice, and we made our dendritic cell vaccines,” Pandey said. They injected dendritic cell vaccines of 200
different ligand combinations into mice that had already been injected with B16 melanoma cells. Out of the initial 200, four combinations proved capable of significantly reducing tumors with a single dose.
In conclusion, the team found that pairwise stimulations were the key factor in determining which ligands were able to most effectively stir immune cells into action. They determined that utilizing multiple signaling pathways
to trigger specific immune responses at once is possible. In essence, immune responses are now easier to track depending on the pathogen, and that makes it easier for scientists to develop drugs to counter those pathogens.
Not Child’s Play: Student Parents on the Demands of the Pandemic By SOLANA ADEDOKUN Senior News Reporter Joe Maurer, a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the University who completed his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology earlier this year, has a two-year-old child. Juggling his parental and academic responsibilities was already a challenge before the pandemic hit, but COVID-19 only added to his feeling of being overwhelmed. “We couldn’t afford full-time child care, so we paid for 20 hours a week, which was what we could afford. Even before the pandemic started, I pretty much had four hours a day to do all my work, and that was it. When the pandemic started, we couldn’t have any child care, so that was pretty tough timewise,” Maurer said. After Maurer’s wife shifted to remote work, they would take turns watching their child for an hour while the other one caught up on work. Student parents have a different set of needs from many of their peers: they require financial support to meet both their needs and their young children’s needs, and they balance school along with their parenting obligations. The University gives parents $2,000 a year for child care, which only covers a few months, so the government’s stimulus checks have been a huge boon to the students’ families. Though the University and the government have given monetary assistance to student parents, there has also been an increase in student parents
seeking out mental health resources during the pandemic, according to Caroline Short, director of programming at Generation Hope, a nonprofit aimed at helping student parents. Generation Hope helps student parents earn their degrees and prepares their children for kindergarten, providing support such as career services and mental health resources. According to Short, the nonprofit fulfills student parents’ needs that might not have been met otherwise. “The most common challenges that our scholars tend to face are child care, mental health, domestic violence, and housing insecurity, and I would say that all four of those have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Mental health has been challenged for many people during this really difficult time, and our scholars are no different. We’ve actually had a 30 percent uptick in requests for meetings with our mental health coordinator during this time,” Short said. Since the start of the pandemic, Generation Hope has given out over $60,000 in additional emergency aid to student parents from its already existing emergency fund. Short mentioned that the organization has increased its push to advocate for students on college campuses by making a top 10 suggested actions list that universities should take to better support student parents, including having asynchronous classes to allow student parents greater flexibility and giving out as much emergency funding to student parents as possible. According to Short, about 15 percent
of the 110 student parents associated with Generation Hope have contracted COVID-19 during the pandemic, as have a number of their children. Short emphasized that student parents who are people of color or low income have faced a disproportionate risk of financial instability or COVID infection. A quarter of student parents who use the organization’s services lost their jobs in the first few months of the pandemic. Student parents at the University have felt the same struggles. A Ph.D. student with one child, who spoke to The Maroon anonymously, said that though they have fared well during the pandemic with managing their responsibilities as a student and parent, they wish the University had provided them with University-sponsored child care. “We still have to work full time, we have to teach our classes, we have to prepare classes…but if there were some supported, sponsored, and discounted University child care, that’d be extremely helpful,” the Ph.D. student said. Similarly, Maurer wishes that there was University-run child care available to student parents, but he also mentioned that the U.S. government could have been more helpful if it had a comprehensive child welfare system like many other countries do. “A lot of other developed countries have child allowances. If you have a child who’s younger than school age, the government understands that it’s a substantial financial burden to either pay for child care or to forgo your own
earnings to take care of that child. I think we’re the only advanced industrial economy without mandatory parental leave,” Maurer said. UChicago’s Graduate Student Union (GSU) has also been trying to help student parents on campus get increased accommodations from the University. The University has given an additional child-care stipend to graduate student parents, but with child-care centers being closed during the pandemic, GSU believes this is not enough and has called for the University to be more flexible with graduate students’ program requirements due to the pandemic. Laura Colaneri, GSU’s press contact, argued in an email to The Maroon that every worker has the right to have a family and that a lack of monetary and social support hinders that from happening. She said that the pandemic has created a child-care crisis, which has affected how much work graduate student parents can do. “Parenthood is an organizing issue for GSU during the pandemic because parents should be a valued part of the academic workforce, and they have a right to support that would allow them to care for their families. If the University values the labor and situations of graduate student parents, [it] should be providing extensions and flexibility on program requirements to accommodate for this crisis, which has particularly affected women and [which] will likely impact their completion of their programs and later career trajectories,” Colaneri CONTINUED ON PG. 5
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wrote. Short urged people to understand that not all college students are the traditional college age so that they will be more aware of the challenges that stu-
dent parents face. “When folks think about college students, they don’t always think about student parents. And in reality, [more than] one in five undergraduates [nationwide] is actually parenting a child under the
age of 18. This is not this sort of tiny, niche population, it’s actually a pretty significant chunk of undergraduate students, and when we serve student parents, they’re often at the intersection of so many marginalized identities. When
we invest in these young parents, we invest in their children and their children’s futures, so it’s a really wise and important investment,” Short said.
“This lack of transparency and apparent disdain for public input render the accreditation process meaningless.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 1
UCPD commander of professional standards, at email@example.com. UCPD’s press release stated that the assessment process will involve “examining all aspects of the UCPD’s policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services.” The UCPD is the only university police department in the state of Illinois to be certified by CALEA, per the press release. All 459 of CALEA’s law enforcement standards must be met in order to receive the CALEA Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation designation, while only 181 are required for CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation. The University of Chicago is currently accredited under the Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation. CALEA requires agencies to meet a
variety of standards, ranging from regulations about the oath of office to policies about field conduct, such as “vascular neck restrictions” (4.1.6) or “mental health issues” (41.2.7). To achieve CALEA accreditation, a university police department must first perform a “self-assessment” to ensure that its policies meet CALEA standards. An independent CALEA compliance service member confirms this through a “site-based assessment,” and the agency’s Board of Commissioners issues the final credentialing. Thereafter, reaccreditation with CALEA occurs via a four-year cycle. During the lifespan of the credential, CALEA performs a web-based annual assessment of the department each year to ensure compliance. In the fourth year, a site-based assessment must be
conducted before reaccreditation is granted. The UCPD was first accredited in 2014 and achieved reaccreditation in July 2017. The UCPD first achieved CALEA certification when it expanded its operations to become a full-service police department, enabling its officers to perform duties like detaining people after arrest without involving the Chicago Police Department. CALEA, which bills itself as “the gold standard in public safety,” is a nonprofit organization founded in 1979 by four major law enforcement associations, which appoint its leadership, primarily made up of current and former members of law enforcement. UCPD’s assessment will be conducted by members of the police departments at the University of Maryland and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
In the past, student activists have raised concerns about the UCPD at CALEA’s open forums. At the 2014 forum, members of the Coalition for Equitable Policing, a student group, criticized the UCPD for perceived standards violations, including incidents of racial profiling and unprofessionalism. In a statement issued in 2017, members of Students Working Against Prisons said, “We are also troubled that CALEA’s standards are not available on its website and that the public input process has been poorly publicized. This lack of transparency and apparent disdain for public input render the accreditation process meaningless.” Knight did not respond to The Maroon’s call for comment by the time of publication.
Following Spring Break, University Reports 52 New COVID Cases By LAURA GERSONY News Editor The University reported 52 new cases of COVID–19 this week, up from 35 cases the previous week, according to a UChicago Forward update sent to the campus community on April 2. The update follows UChicago’s week-long spring break during which University officials urged community members not to travel outside the Chicago area. There are 51 close contacts associated with the new cases. Seven students
are in on-campus isolation housing, and 41 students are isolating off-campus. Sixteen of the 4,445 tests performed through UChicago’s off-campus surveillance testing program came back positive, bringing this week’s positivity rate to 0.39 percent in that population. This week also marks the launch of UChicago’s dedicated vaccine clinic for University personnel. The University announced that, as of Friday morning, it had issued vaccine scheduling appointments to approximately 16,000 of an estimated 20,000 people who are eligible
to receive a vaccine during Phase 1c. Per City guidelines, Chicagoans aged 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions and all non-vaccinated essential workers are eligible for vaccination in Phase 1c. UChicago is also vaccinating all students who will receive a W-2 form from the University for paid Spring Quarter duties under Phase 1c. However, the email noted that “the pace of sending the remaining invitations is uncertain” due to factors including vaccine supply and the number of eligible people who choose to be vaccinated
through UChicago’s vaccine clinic. UChicago is sending vaccine scheduling invitations in batches. According to the email, “the need to administer second doses in the coming weeks may mean limited availability for first dose appointments.” The update notes that only people who receive their first dose from the vaccine clinic are eligible to receive their second dose there, recommending that people who received their first dose elsewhere use the City of Chicago’s vaccine finder to secure their second dose.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — APRIL 7, 2021
The Illinois Child Welfare System: Under Stress, Confronting COVID-19 The pandemic has only exacerbated the existing systemic issues faced by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the children and families it serves. By CLAIRE POTTER Grey City Reporter
Note: All children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy. Quotes have been edited for clarity. The children who come into contact with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems are among the most vulnerable in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) have long been under pressure to reform, but they are facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE MAROON spoke and corresponded with 20 activists, caseworkers, parents, and government officials about how the pandemic is affecting some of the city’s most at-risk children and how the two agencies are responding to the crisis. This is the first of three installments. While watching TV one Sunday morning, Sandra Minter saw an advertisement encouraging Chicagoans to enroll as foster parents. She decided to call. For her, the decision was not sudden. “I’ve had it in my spirit for about 20 years,” she explained. She didn’t have the time when she was a CTA bus driver, but now she is retired. Within months, she was a licensed foster mother working with Ada S. McKinley Community Services, a private fostering agency. She welcomed her new daughter, Julia, into her home in August 2020. Minter described how Julia was when she first arrived: “Afraid, quiet, slept a lot, cried a lot. Unsure. She was in
a foreign place. No trust.” Now, after a few months, Julia is neither timid nor quiet having settled in to Minter’s stable, loving home. She spends time with her aunt and siblings regularly and plays with Minter’s grandchildren. “She’s very cheerful. Dancing, she dances a lot. She’s very talkative. She likes to help with anything you need done. She always wants to know if she can help,” Minter said. “And she’s a beautiful kid. That’s the only thing I can say—she’s a beautiful kid.” But many children in Julia’s position have not had the same luck. Many children in state custody linger for weeks and months in emergency shelters and psychiatric wards because there are not enough foster families to take them in. The deficit long predates COVID-19, but the pressure that the pandemic has placed on foster caregivers, natural parents, and DCFS has exacerbated the problem. Only a year out from the onset of the pandemic, the extent to which COVID-19 has impacted foster children is empirically unclear. However, conversations with advocates, researchers, and employees of DCFS have revealed that the pandemic has put pressure on families and exacerbated systematic issues in the Illinois child welfare system. “A Pressure-Cooking Situation”: Reporting Disrupted While Families Are Under Stress In April 2020, the DCFS child abuse hotline received just 47 percent of the number of calls it received in April 2019.
Confined to their homes, children were not seeing the teachers, police officers, and medical professionals who typically bring any concerns they have about well-being to DCFS’s attention. Last March was also the first time national abuse hotlines received a majority of calls from minors reporting on their own behalf. Julia Strehlow works for the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), a national nonprofit that supports children who have been sexually abused. The foster system in Chicago is a hybrid public-private system which depends on nonprofits like CAC. Every report of sexual abuse that the Chicago Police Department makes or that is called in through the DCFS hotline goes through her office. In the first few months of the pandemic, Strehlow saw a sharp decline in the number of reports coming through CAC—a worrying trend. “There’s still definitely a concern that child abuse and sexual abuse are underreported right now because children are not around people that typically might be a reporter of that kind of abuse,” she said. “Child sexual abuse thrives in isolation and secrecy. Eighty percent of cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated with no witness of any kind. No eyewitness, no camera, no nothing. So the sheer number of people that are living in a confined space—the sheer number of children that might be isolated with an abuser—really just makes the risk go up.” On average, the children whom CAC helps are only eight years old. They struggle to put what has happened to them into
words. Before the pandemic, teachers and doctors who interact with children may have noticed new behaviors that led them to check in with children, but these subtle, nonverbal changes are hard to detect over Zoom. CAC is trying to mitigate this problem by raising awareness among parents and teachers and advising them that communicating openly with children is key to reducing this risk. Strehlow explained that many of the cases she has worked on during the pandemic have reached her office through alternative pathways. Instead of teachers calling in with their concerns, families themselves are going into police departments and asking for help. Those reports are less likely to be dismissed as groundless. By September, the number of calls had rebounded, but it was still 18 percent below the 2019 volume. Only a subset of the callers on the child abuse hotline report sexual abuse. The hotline serves as a way to intervene in all forms of suspected child maltreatment, including neglect or physical abuse. In 2018, more than 60 percent of calls nationwide reported neglect, which is consistently the leading form of maltreatment. Neglect does not necessarily mean that a child is being left alone; “environmental neglect” can include mismanaged waste and garbage in the household, exposed wires, rodent infestations, structural hazards, and other characteristics. Often, the category of environmental neglect overlaps with the effects of poverty, and some low-income parents struggle to find homes that meet CONTINUED ON PG. 8
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DCFS’s standards. In response to the precipitous drop in calls to its child abuse hotline, DCFS restructured its reporting system. Last October, it launched a new, streamlined online interface optimized for smartphone users. “The earlier suspected abuse or neglect is reported, the earlier we can connect the family to services and supports they need to keep their children safely at home,” Marc Smith, the acting director of DCFS, said in an October press release. Despite disrupted reporting pathways, the number of youth in DCFS’s custody has actually increased significantly during the pandemic. DCFS reported having 18,549 youth in care at the end of 2019. As of this March, there were more than 21,000. Every child who becomes a ward of the state of Illinois has a right to their own legal representation, which his office provides. Charles Golbert, the Cook County public guardian, represents youth involved with the child welfare system in court and advocates for systemic reforms at DCFS. He is concerned that the pandemic has created a “pressure-cooking situation.” “Kids are isolated at home, families are isolated at home, under circumstances that literature correlates with higher incidence of abuse and neglect, such as stressors about money, stressors about finances, stressors about jobs, worries about health,” Golbert said. Echoing Strehlow, Golbert attributed the initial decline in reports to the fact that children were not being seen by as many mandated reporters. Meanwhile, he said, “cases that are actually coming to court, which are the serious cases, are
actually going up.” These community-wide stressors are often beyond DCFS’s control. “If nobody’s reporting child abuse to DCFS until the kid’s in the hospital with something very serious, there’s not very much that DCFS can do,” he said. The most serious cases end with a child dead. This January, the Illinois Office of the Attorney General published its annual report on cases of child deaths in families that had previous DCFS involvement. The report touted the 17 percent decrease in deaths in 2020 as a victory, bringing the total back to the state average. But Golbert sees these statistics as anything but a reason to celebrate. “As Illinoisans, we can never, ever accept an ‘average’ year of 100-plus child death cases,” he said. In the first two weeks of 2021, he observed a large increase in child deaths. Six children—most of them infants—died while they were home with their families. At least two of the children had prior involvement with DCFS. Citing confidentiality concerns, the agency refused to give him more information about the cases. According to the Office of the Public Guardian, it is too soon to tell whether the spike indicates a larger trend related to child maltreatment during the pandemic. A Shortage of Placements: Stalled Progress on a Systemic Issue As the Cook County public guardian, Golbert is the DCFS watchdog and is often the first to criticize the department. But having observed DCFS navigate the chaos of the pandemic, he said it has risen to the occasion. From his perspective, it kept foster and natural parents informed while coordinating a difficult transition
“All the problems that DCFS was trying to address, all the systemic problems, all that’s been on hold for a year and getting worse.”
to remote services. Still, the combination of disrupted reporting pathways and increased stress on families has put pressure on the system. But the pandemic has also exacerbated DCFS’s chronic shortage of safe homes for children in state care. “When COVID-19 started a year ago,” he explained, “DCFS was not exactly running on eight supercharged, fully souped cylinders.… So all the problems that DCFS was trying to address, all the systemic problems, all that’s been on hold for a year and getting worse.” DCFS does not have the capacity to safely house all of the children in its care. Over the last eight years, DCFS has eliminated more than 500 placements in residential centers, which are more commonly called group homes. DCFS shut down many residential homes following a damning 2014 Chicago Tribune investigation that revealed youth were routinely abused, raped, and drawn into prostitution at some of the largest state-funded residential homes. Many of those eliminated placements were classified as “specialized,” which means that they are reserved for some of the most vulnerable children who need the highest level of support. Many foster parents are not able to care for children with serious behavioral or medical issues or a history of extreme trauma. However, Golbert explained that when DCFS cut its residential capacity, it did not increase its specialized foster home capacity, creating a deficit that continues to this day. DCFS is still struggling to build up the capacity to safely house young people who need heightened levels of care. There are simply not enough beds. Golbert explained that the state has depended on out-of-state placements, a last resort that isolates youth from their parents and siblings. Children are routinely spending weeks and months at emergency shelters designed to house them for 24 hours. Others are languishing in juvenile detention centers and psychiatric wards. Last November, DCFS announced that an $866,000 investment would be used to add 31 new beds for foster youth in the state. “In recent years Illinois has lost more than 500 residential beds which served some of our most vulnerable youth, and
rebuilding that capacity is imperative as the need for high-quality care for our children and young adults in care continues to grow,” Smith said in a DCFS press release. The Maroon contacted DCFS to ask for more details, but without success. “It’s wonderful they created 30 beds,” said Golbert. “But it’s really putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound.” During the pandemic, Golbert has seen that more youth are being held in psychiatric wards long after there was any medical reason to keep them there. Before the pandemic, this was already a serious issue: Between July 2019 and June 2020, over 300 children were kept in psychiatric wards long after a doctor decided that they were ready to be discharged. On average, they spent nearly two extra months in psychiatric wards, even though emergency hospitalization for a psychiatric patient normally lasts only two weeks. Foster care youth have been staying in psychiatric wards even longer than before the pandemic because there are fewer safe homes in which to place them. Golbert said that they spend so little time outside that they need vitamin D supplements. They cannot attend classes or spend time with their friends. “There’s not a whole lot that says to a kid, ‘You don’t matter,’ [more] than being forced to be locked up in a psych hospital for months and months for no reason whatsoever other than that your guardian has nowhere to put you,” he said. “It’s just outrageous, and it’s a kid’s life,” Golbert said. “You can’t steal months from a kid’s life. They’re supposed to be learning in school, socializing.” Normally foster children have regular visits with their natural parents and siblings. However, psychiatric wards are congregate care settings with medical staff coming and going, and acutely vulnerable to infections. During the pandemic, children in psychiatric wards have been prohibited from seeing their families. Golbert said it was a “minor miracle” that the foster youth in these facilities have not contracted the virus. The Maroon contacted DCFS to get more precise information on how the pandemic has affected foster children in psychiatric wards, but no one agreed to speak. CONTINUED ON PG. 9
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“No progress has been [made] for the last year,” became Golbert’s refrain as he detailed DCFS’s inability to give many of its vulnerable wards a safe, stable home. The big gest problem, he sa id , was the agency’s shortage of beds. “If [it] were to address that, that would solve the issue of kids being in box-like hospitals. That would solve the problem of kids languishing in what are supposed to be emergency shelters for weeks and months. That would solve the DCFS’s gross overreliance on out-of-state placements—just addressing [its] shortage of residential placements and group homes would address all of these other problems,” he said. When we spoke in January, Golbert and his office were in the process of suing DCFS on behalf of the children trapped in psychiatric wards. Golbert and the other plaintiffs filed their first complaint against the agency in December 2018, but DCFS repeatedly asked for continuances that postponed any trial. “There will be years and years of procedural rigamarole, but eventually we’ll be able to address the merits of the case and hopefully get some change [through this] litigation,” Golbert said. In March, the court denied DCFS’s motion to dismiss a federal class-action suit that Golbert’s office filed on behalf of the young people. A statement from Golbert’s office read, “The court’s ruling brings us a substantial step closer to achieving justice for these children.” Residential facilities have the benefit of stable shelter, but they can be difficult for youth and are often mismanaged. During the pandemic, isolation has made
it more difficult to work through behavioral issues. Kelly Veronda is a DCFS caseworker based in the Quad Cities. One of the teenagers she works with lived in a residential center while he was on probation. “He went months and months without being able to have any in-person contact because where his facility is located was considered a hotspot for COV ID,”
she said. “So he had worked through the majority of his treatment but then was never able to apply any of it in a home setting, and now that some of the modifications [to place him with a family] recently have been made, he’s really struggling in the home setting.” Creating more openings in group homes may seem like the most straightforward solution to DCFS’s housing shortage. However, research indicates that children placed with families have better experiences and outcomes than children placed in group homes. In 2018, the Family First Prevention Services Act was enacted into federal law. It reflected the latest research around child welfare and used federal funding requirements to pressure states to shift their child welfare systems from group home placements to family placements. This transition may in part explain the shortage in placements for youth in state care. “Any time you implement a broad, sweeping change like that, there are going to be unintended consequences, I think, particularly as it relates to the implementation,” said Dana Weiner, a senior policy fellow at Chapin Hall, a University of Chicago research center that informs caseworkers, community members, and agency directors on issues related to children and families. We i n e r said that a
better solution would be to recruit more foster parents for adolescents and children with special needs. “Traditionally, the more services kids need…the more likely they are to be in residential center care,” she said. “But you can wrap all kinds of services around kids if you have sufficient capacity in the community and you have foster parents who are prepared to parent kids who have intensive needs.” Looking for Family Placements DCFS is under pressure to find more licensed foster parents at a time when many are hesitant to take more children into their homes. Veronda explained that many foster parents are older and are concerned about infection. With so many schools and daycares closed, others feel that their work schedules prevent them from taking in children. “In my area,” Veronda said, “the private agencies are turning down a very high number of cases. So of course DCFS doesn’t get to turn down that many cases.” The pandemic has also stalled many of DCFS’s efforts to recruit new foster parents. “Typically our research and recruitment unit would do a lot of outreach—community events or churches, things like that. And, of course, that’s come to a halt because of the pandemic,” Deborah Lopez, a spokesperson for DCFS, explained in an interview with The Maroon. Moreover, the risk of infection and the economic fall-out of the pandemic make welcoming a foster child a more difficult decision than it would be in other years. Private agencies have faced the same dilemma. Ada S. McKinley, which works with DCFS, saw a 33 percent increase in the number of children directed to it. Ada S. McKinley has tried to find new parents by appealing directly to the people of Chicago through an advertising campaign. That was how it had reached Minter, Julia’s foster mother. Most recently, it organized a campaign during the holiday season. Nichole Robinson-Anyaso, Ada S. McKinley’s vice president of child welfare services, explained that these campaigns have incredibly CONTINUED ON PG. 10
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high stakes: The more people sign up as foster parents, the fewer children remain trapped in Ada S. McKinley’s emergency shelter on the South Side. “They are the unseen victims of COVID-19 who’ve faced the trauma of being removed from their homes in the midst of the pandemic,” Jamal Malone, the CEO of Ada S. McKinley, said in a press release. “We have been able to spend really, really long days and nights finding places for children, so we have not had to have children sleep in our offices,” Robinson-Anyaso explained. She added that this was not the case across the state but would not elaborate on her statement. Despite criticism, DCFS has used its offices as a last resort for housing a child for decades. In 2019, a judge ordered that DCFS never leave a child to sleep in its offices for more than one night. Within two weeks, the agency had violated the stipulation. The campaign was a success. Ada S. McKinley received 50 inquiries. Within weeks, it conducted three well-attended virtual orientations and started training six new foster parents. An Opportunity for Reform Children often become involved with the child welfare system because they are hungry, homeless, or left home alone. Abuse and poverty are often lumped into one category, and poverty can force parents to make difficult decisions. When child care is not affordable and income is indispensable, neglect becomes more likely. Weiner explained that economic recessions, such as the one induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, are known to make child maltreatment more prevalent. “Unemployment and poverty are such big predictors of fluctuation rates—not at the individual level but at the community level—in the rate of child maltreatment,” she explained. There is no reason why the COVID-19 recession would be any different. Instead of helping families meet their basic needs, however, DCFS intervention is often punitive. “We’re punishing families for being poor,” she said.
Research shows that children from poor and Black families are overrepresented in the DCFS system. In Cook County, 70 percent of the youth in care are Black, even though only 23.8 percent of the general population is Black. These statistics accord with the long history of racial inequality in the child welfare system. Historian Laura Briggs has documented how white politicians mobilized racist stereotypes about “welfare mothers” to pass punitive laws that targeted Black women’s families. In the 1960s and 1970s, the child welfare system removed children from their homes to punish Black mothers for having children out of wedlock and for struggling to pro-
For Weiner, the pandemic-related recession is a more pressing concern than the disruption in reporting mechanisms. “I’m less concerned [about] the decrease in teacher reports,” Weiner said. “And more concerned about the economic stressors. I think one of the things that has opened the door is pursuing a different way of thinking about how we leverage teachers’ engagement with families.” Weiner and her colleagues at Chapin Hall conducted a study on the pandemic’s impact on the child welfare system. Education personnel make approximately 20 percent of the calls to the child abuse hotline, but only 11 percent of their calls
“What we’ve learned especially acutely this year is that child welfare has become the de facto safety net, meaning the safety net is broken or insufficient.” vide for their families because of poverty. DCFS has incorporated “cultural competence” into its training modules for social workers. Weiner explained that practices are in place to include community members to liaise between families and protective services. “DCFS has undertaken for many years, decades probably even, to build awareness of systemic bias in decision-making,” she said. Still, Weiner explained that changing the culture of DCFS has been more difficult than instituting policies to train employees to be aware of bias. Black families continue to come into contact with protective services at a disproportionate rate, and the pandemic has not offered any reprieve on the issue.
later result in child maltreatment cases after DCFS looks into their concerns. Reports routinely dip every summer, when children are out of school. In the fall, cases do not spike above the average, which reveals that teachers are not making up for what they missed over the summer. Weiner explained that the decline in hotline calls may actually be sparing families unnecessary investigations. A DCFS investigation often involves calling family members, doctors, and teachers to ask about how a parent treats their child. The investigator will also likely visit the home to make sure that it is safe. These measures are often necessary to determine whether a hotline call’s allegations are in fact serious. In the majority of cases, though, the allegations are unsubstan-
tiated. When teachers are worried about the welfare of their students, calling the DCFS hotline is one of the only ways they can intervene. “What we should be doing,” said Warner, “is giving teachers multiple pathways to get families services and supports.” “Teachers’ eyes on families and connection with kids is something we should definitely use to understand what family needs are,” Weiner said. “If we only give teachers the option of calling the hotline which initiates an investigation, that’s kind of missing the boat.” Weiner emphasized that the pandemic has shown that DCFS should focus on “strategies that provide concrete support to families, like money, child care, food, housing assistance.” She argued that the pandemic’s impact on families has challenged the child welfare system to shift away from surveillance and towards preventative intervention that helps families meet their basic needs. She and her colleagues are advocating for DCFS and its partner agencies to focus on broad services rather than surveillance and targeted intervention. Her recommendations accord with ongoing efforts to reform child welfare services nationwide. In 2018, the Family First Act restructured federal funding to favor preventative services and early intervention. Funds that had been earmarked for foster care can now be spent on services ranging from substance abuse treatment for parents to subsidies for grandparents who are taking care of their grandchildren. Weiner and her colleagues have called for a broader, inter-agency response. DCFS has become the triage point for a safety net that cannot meet families’ basic needs. Although DCFS is the first to deal with much of the harm that the pandemic has inflicted on families, it cannot solve these problems alone. “People call the DCFS hotline for things that are secondary to poverty,” Weiner said. “What we’ve learned especially acutely in this year is that child welfare has become the de facto safety net, meaning the [actual] safety net is broken or insufficient.”
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VIEWPOINTS No Longer an Afterthought As we finally begin to have more conversations about anti-Asian violence and Asian-American history, UChicago must re-examine its lack of Asian-American studies. By RACHEL ONG What does it mean to be Asian American at UChicago? More often than not, it means that you haven’t spent much time thinking about this question. Being Asian in America often means straddling cultural boundaries, measuring yourself against the model minority standard, and having generalizations of your character be written and rewritten through
narratives perpetuated by Ivy League discrimination lawsuits or headlines about high standardized test scores. It means either being tethered to or distancing yourself from stereotypes like the STEM whiz kid or the instrument-playing prodigy; it means either being complicit in silence toward racial discrimination or fighting to overturn the clichés of passivity and complacency that loom over you. There is no singular, correct answer to this question:
Being Asian American at UChicago is as complex as the elusive Asian identity in America. However, it’s become increasingly apparent that the Asian-American experience extends beyond just a demographic metric. Hate crimes against A sian A mericans, specifically East Asians, have increased significantly since the beginning of the pandemic. Xenophobic sentiments have been amplified by former President Trump’s references to COVID-19 as “the China virus,” and the surge in attacks has shaken the Asian-American community; the shooting of six Asian women in massage parlors throughout Atlanta in mid-
March have sparked national outcries against anti-Asian hate. This recent wave of violence is indicative of a larger problem: Despite having an extensive history of discrimination and resistance, we Asian Americans still do not feel like there is a space carved out for us. We are suspended between feeling welcome (thanks to carefully crafted performative efforts at diversity!) and the profoundly isolating sense of being othered. The message is clear: You are merely a transplant, a dangling appendage of a larger American project. Now, Asian Americans are emerging in America’s complicated political landscape after years of
erasure and silence. But have discussions surrounding this gone beyond social media activism? The highstress academic nature of our school enables a culture where contemplating identity is secondary; we anchor ourselves in academic achievements while disregarding their dangerous effects on how we perceive our value. In my own social circles, the topic of being Asian American at UChicago rarely came up—instead, my conversations were often centered around academics, work, or college culture. Growing up, I had the luxury of not worrying about my racial identity. It merely linCONTINUED ON PG. 11
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gered on the periphery; I was so swept up by the narratives fed to me that I internalized the idea that Asian-American history was meant to stay in the margins. It took a handful of headlines and eye-catching infographics to make me realize how little I knew about this history and how UChicago must do more to make its Asian-American students feel educated about their identities. W hile there are spaces for Asian Americans at our school—namely, a handful of student-led registered student organizations—there isn’t the sense of an Asian-American community at UChicago. This is because we hail from a broad range of backgrounds and grow
up with diverse values and experiences; the “community” is not monolithic in itself. This absence of a community lies in the lack of resources and courses to learn about this critical part of our backgrounds if we choose to do so. The University’s curriculum is designed to encourage students to abandon conventional ways of thinking. We plunge ourselves into an entirely new intellectual environment at a faster pace, debate texts across a variety of disciplines, and build a deeper appreciation for understanding complex concepts. However, there are few opportunities at UChicago to learn about the broad range of experiences and identities for ethnic groups—an issue upon
which Julia Spande expands in her recent column. Other peer institutions, such as Northwestern University, have entire programs dedicated to Asian-American studies. Of the spare courses on Asian studies currently offered by the critical race and ethnic studies major at UChicago, only two specifically focus on the Asian-American perspective, which is simply not enough. There need to be more opportunities to learn about topics such as Asian and Black relations in the U.S., Asian-American literature, the mixed-race experience, and deconstructing the normalization of “Asian” being associated with East Asians. Having this context will allow us to find a sense of equilibrium—to gain
a broader perspective that escapes victimhood narratives without neglecting our colorful and nuanced history. Now, more than ever, we cannot resign ourselves to reductive notions of identity. UChicago teaches us how to command a room, how to network, and how to challenge our mindsets, but it fails to live up to the “diversity” touted by its brochures. Creating a diverse and inclusive environment at our institution isn’t just a social initiative but an educational one as well. We must expand the number of opportunities to learn about Asian-American history; UChicago cannot just rely on a core curriculum centered on outdated perspectives of white men as a baseline for
structuring its students’ viewpoints. It is important not only to institutionalize the memory of our historical movements but also to learn how our identities have evolved and become tangled in the American social fabric. The education we seek should not be reminiscent of the abbreviated histories in our textbooks, ones that treat the experiences of people of color as an afterthought—we can only find our footing if others become more cognizant of the lack of spaces for us to learn and grow; UChicago must do the same. Rachel Ong is a first-year in the College.
The Critical Need for a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Department In order to understand the University’s past and present racist practices, it is imperative to create and fund a critical race and ethnic studies department that interacts with community members and practices Black studies. By NOAH TESFAYE In 1968, students at San Francisco State University formed the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), which included campus organizations such as the Black Student Union. In one of the longest student strikes in US history, students and community members were able to secure a College of Ethnic Studies that offered four departments, full-time faculty positions, and more equitable admissions policies for racial minorities. It was a coalition of students, their
families who worked within the University as staff, and community members that led to the single most crucial advance in ethnic studies within academia. Over 50 years later, after many ethnic studies programs have been established in universities across the country, UChicago still does not have a formal department for the study of race. Even though the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC) was founded in 1996, the University has yet to create a formal department with tenured positions and
a substantial budget to fund this essential facet of a liberal arts education. Following the founding of the #EthnicStudiesNow campaign from UChicago United in 2018 and the creation of the faculty-led #MoreThanDiversity campaign this past summer, the call for a department that carefully and methodically interrogates the relationships we have with the social construct of race is stronger than ever. In order to understand and contextualize the University’s racist practices past and present, it is more imperative than ever that
a critical race department is both created and substantially funded. If the University is serious about beginning to offer significant reparative measures for its racist history beyond just removing plaques, then the creation of a department that would provide an intellectual and community hub for Black studies is an integral step to take. Unlike many of our peer institutions, we do not have African American Studies or Africana Studies or even a department focused on the study of race. Harvard
has African and African American Studies. Northwestern has African American Studies. Stanford’s program (like ours) is currently in the process of being proposed. According to the #MoreThanDiversity call to action statement, the University was unable to hire renowned radical scholar Barbara Ransby because of this absence. The lack of a full department at the University inhibits our ability to bring influential race scholars to this institution. As professor Adom Getachew noted in an inCONTINUED ON PG. 12
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terview with The Maroon, faculty members are forced to make time to teach and work on a volunteer basis with the CSRPC, as there is no capacity to have a half-line between critical race studies and another department. Without a critical race and ethnic studies (CRES) department, faculty members cannot adequately support students who are pursuing a CRES major, nor do they even have the opportunity to further their own involvement in race studies—so undergraduate and graduate students are left underserved. The University is also in a particularly unique position in terms of its own geography and history with Black people. As I wrote in a recent column, this institution’s deep anti-Black practices go from its founding in 1856 to its exploitative gentrification practices today. Just as the CSRPC has already made strides in improving accessibility to community members, having a full department with the funding it deserves would allow resources to be divested from campus and directly utilized by
South Side residents. Thanks to its urban renewal efforts and antagonistic attitudes towards investments in affordable housing, the University’s position in the community has historically been one of gatekeeping resources; that being said, with a CRES department, there is the capacity to not only get community members involved but to give them an actual stake in this department. A fully functioning CRES department and an independent CSRPC that allow residents to pursue whatever learning or organizing efforts they are interested in could be a far more meaningful step towards racial equity than anything the Office of Civic Engagement has ever accomplished. Up until this point, I’ve been vague about funding—in large part because we don’t know much. We don’t know what is currently being proposed by the University in terms of a departmental budget, and the administration refused to meet the #MoreThanDiversity campaign’s demand to fund a new academic unit for the College on the study of race. What is wor-
risome is not just that the founding of a department may not be certain but also that the department could be created without the necessary resources to thoroughly facilitate critical race studies. What also remains unclear is whether or not this department will seek to partake in the tradition of Black studies. By Black studies, I do not mean the study of Black people but specifically the study of the radical and revolutionary struggle that Africans throughout the diaspora have waged for their liberation. It is not enough to have a critical race studies department in name but not in praxis. As professor Joshua Myers of Howard University remarked in a recent #MoreThanDiversity discussion, there is a distinction between Black content studies and Black studies. It’s the obligation of faculty, once granted a substantive budget, to not dwell under liberal notions of diversity, equity, and inclusion and merely study Black people, but to practice scholarship in the tradition of radical Blackness. As for the inevitable critiques of the University taking a politi-
cal stance in the creation of such a department, it is important to note Max Servetar’s dive into the Kalven Report along with the University’s financial stakes in Israel’s occupation of Palestine and previously in South Africa’s apartheid. There are also the very violent and detrimental consequences of the Chicago Boys’ policies supporting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The University has had no issue taking political positions under the guise of “neutrality,” so to claim that the creation of a department for the study of race would be too political is inconsistent and hypocritical given the University’s political stances and stakes in the past. Unlike the TWLF, UChicago is neither attended by community members nor made up of employees that have the same union or organized labor support to make as radical demands as those at SF State in 1968. Fortunately, the provost has provided funding to put together a proposal for a critical race studies department, which will be completed by the end of this school year. The faculty commit-
tee developing this proposal conducted focus groups with students and faculty, collected surveys last quarter, and facilitated public and private discussions with faculty at other institutions. The goal is to have the department approved by the fall of 2021. I’m hopeful. I should note that I am a CRES and political science major. I want a department because I believe it would be a significant first step for community members, students, and staff to learn about and practice critical race studies on the South Side. What could a world look like where community members finally had a stake in and access to a department here? If this department proposal is approved, and even if it is not, we must continue to support student and faculty organizing to ensure that this department becomes the critical race studies program that is necessary at UChicago. Noah Tesfaye is a second-year in the College.
Sustaining Sustainability: Why the University Must Expand Its Environmental Efforts As the threat of climate change looms on the horizon, the University must expand the scope and size of the Office of Sustainability. By NISCHAL SINHA The U.S. formally returned to the Paris Agreement in February—yet effects of climate change are ever-present and escalating: Texas has frozen over, and Chi-
cago itself recently experienced an historic cold snap. If it’s not already too late to make wiser choices concerning our environment, we must take drastic action, especially at the institutional level. This brings us to
UChicago’s own effort to do its part through the Office of Sustainability (OS). For universities in particular, on-campus sustainability offices like the OS play a crucial role in supporting environmen-
tal responsibility on campus; they enforce accountability for both large and small-scale actions, keeping track of emissions numbers and pushing more innovative approaches to create a college experience that is as
eco-friendly as possible. Institutions often employ many people designated to these tasks. Northwestern’s sustainNU program, for example, lists three separate contacts as members of their CONTINUED ON PG. 13
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sustainability team; Princeton has seven professional and nine student members on their site; and Yale has eight. In contrast, UChicago’s site, beneath a brief page describing its role as “collaborat[ing] with campus and community partners to enhance a culture of sustainability,” lists just one point of contact for the entire program. Comparing program sizes like this may be reductive, but here it points us to the
right conclusion: UChicago ought to put greater investment into its sustainability efforts. While writing this piece, I reached out to the University for comment on the size and role of the OS. The response I received was that the office pursues a “campus-wide approach” to sustainability. Citing units like UChicago Dining, Operations and Maintenance, and Engineering and Utilities, University administration contends that
when you look beyond the core jurisdiction of the OS, its green efforts do demonstrate a strong commitment to the environment: see Campus and Student Life’s Green Fund, the Energy Star partnership with Facilities Services, and the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation’s Environmental Frontiers initiative. These are loosely centralized under the coordination of the OS, but they otherwise function independently within their
respective departments. While this approach allows for a diverse slate of green initiatives across campus, it doesn’t uniquely do so: A more thorough, built-out OS could support a wider range of initiatives while also providing more of the direct sustainability road mapping that shows a coordinated University effort to combat climate change. The relative weakness of our institutionally supported sustainability office leaves a significant hole in green efforts on campus, and student groups are the only parties that can fill this gap. Undergraduates living on campus are likely familiar with the Sustainability Czar program, which builds eco-friendly behaviors into the house system on campus. Programs like these are spearheaded by Student Government’s Committee on Campus Sustainability (CCS)—it is students, not the administration, who are taking the initiative to combat climate change. CCS founded the Sustainability Czar program in 2017, and it has expanded to reach 21 houses and some 1,500 students as of the 2018–19 academic year. This is good progress in promoting sustainability, certainly. But CCS can only do so much—as a student committee, it is limited in scope and reach. This is the role that the University as an institution needs to step into. Discussions with CCS members have revealed months-postponed meetings with the OS, all ending with a near-total lack of responsiveness in the form of ghosted emails. Assuming that the University is not actively avoiding communication with its students, the problem seems to be a matter of capacity. The inability to coordinate with its corresponding student group is a telling sign that the Universi-
ty OS is too small to fulfill the full breadth of its responsibilities. There certainly is the potential for success in this relationship: As discussed, UChicago as a whole has taken a number of meaningful steps to promote sustainability. Even the OS itself, as it stands, has run promising initiatives in campus sustainability. For example, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Plan from 2018 outlines changes to policy that could offer meaningful reductions to the University’s net emissions. Initiatives like this have the potential for high success at a structural level, and indeed structural improvements are a crucial, direct way to create a sustainable campus environment in the long term. But student engagement should not be counted out, either—given the impact of climate change on all parties, promoting sustainability ought to be a coordinated effort between students and the University, and ultimately the OS needs the bandwidth to ensure that this coordination happens. All signs, then, point to the need for a more centralized, more organized effort to tackle green efforts on campus. The University must expand the OS by providing increased planning and support for structural action that combats climate change and making sure that the office is aligned with individual interests through collaboration with student groups. The OS, in its very name, is the nucleus of UChicago’s commitment to the environment and our collective future. In building out the Office, the University would be doing a service to itself and its students. Nischal Sinha is a first-year in the College.
THE CHICAGO MAROON —APRIL 7, 2021
Archival Enlightenment Students in all fields of study should take advantage of the University’s archives to access history in the flesh and gain a new outlook on life. By MAYA ORDONEZ This past Friday, I went on my first visit to the Special Collections Research Center on the first floor of the Reg. I was there to see a box of photographs and two dresses from the Marjorie Whitney Prass Collection. Marjorie Prass was a student at the University of Chicago in the late 1930s, and the dress I viewed was worn in a performance during her undergraduate studies. Although the purpose of my visit was to do research for my Women of the Avant-Garde class, what I gained from the experience has the potential to impact all of my future classes and my overall experience in the College. The minute we enrolled at the University of Chicago, we were granted access to an immense amount of resources. I have come to realize that many of my peers have not taken advantage of what is right in front of them. Students in all fields of study should spend more time engaging with UChicago’s physical and digitized archive, particularly with the parts that pertain to the University itself. While observing an object from the past, you begin to look at it through the lens of the systems through which it was created. When I viewed Prass’s dress in the flesh, I was able to see each and every stitch that was used to bring the entire dress together. This allowed me to recognize its humanity, something that no photograph will ever be able to accomplish. The majority of our coursework is angled from a contemporary lens; thus, occasionally orienting ourselves in the time of creation gives that time period more meaning. We
have become so accustomed to thinking about UChicago as it is in the present that we overlook the history welded into the gates at the entrance of the quad or chiseled into the spires of Saieh Hall. Recognizing and accessing this history through the easily accessible photographic archive will make us more attuned to and grateful for our present moment. When we view the archive, there is no way to be wrong, which can serve as a reminder that our individual viewpoints matter—something that becomes especially important to recognize at a school with the rigor of UChicago. In the archive, the perspective of the novice researcher becomes just as—if not more—significant than the interpretation of someone who visits it every day. There is no systematized way to engage with the archive, no major for archival studies or certificate to prove one’s skills. The archive can help ground all other aspects of study, serving as encouragement after doing poorly on a midterm or alleviating writer’s block for an upcoming paper. It has shown me that when we get caught up in the present impact of things, it sometimes takes one step back (in time) to move two steps forward. Our education has quickly become intangible, causing many simple tasks like performing labs or even attending lectures to lose meaning and feel as if they were a chore. By holding or observing a piece of the past, these tasks can be made much more intimate and gratifying. For example, my first lab report in physics this quarter was to use an online simulation to replicate the Millikan oil drop CONTINUED ON PG. 15
MAYA ORDONE: PART OF THE MARJORIE WHITNEY PRASS COLLECTIONS IN THE HANNA HOLBORN GRAY
SPECIAL COLLECTIONS RESEARCH CENTER OF THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — APRIL 7, 2021
Our education has quickly become intangible, causing many simple tasks like performing labs or even attending lectures to lose meaning and feel as if they were a chore. CONTINUED FROM PG. 14
experiment and measure the charge of an electron. At first, I found myself overwhelmed, confused, and even disillusioned. Then I realized that using UChicago’s photographic archive to view photographs of the building
where the experiment originally took place—the Ryerson Physical Laboratory—grounded me much more than I thought a photograph could be capable of. The experiment had almost seemed impossible; by situating myself in the location of the experiment in
the same decade the experiment was done, I was able to share its history and make it my present. Besides the revelations that the archive provides, visiting it is fun! It’s satisfying to touch the velvet folds of a dress worn for a stage production in the 1940s
(Box 23 of the Marjorie Whitney Prass Collection) or see how fat an Oreo Big Stuf is (Box 679 of the R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive). The Special Collections Research Center is like an easily accessible museum, tailored to your own preferences, that
replaces the do not touch signs with please touch signs (while still following the precautions and guidelines, of course). Maya Ordonez is a second-year in the College.
It’s Not That Deep The Shady Dealer and THE MAROON should learn to take themselves less seriously. By ANDREW FARRY People (the editors of this section and, well, yeah really only them) are always telling me, “Andrew, Viewpoints articles can’t just be rambling. You need a thesis. Oh, and stop trying to write them using predictive text generators.” This time, I’m listening. No AI here, just good old-fashioned plagiarism, and not only do I have a thesis, I’ve got two: 1. The Shady Dealer is not funny, but I am. 2. The editors of The Maroon should chill out. At the end of February, right before The Maroon was due to publish their COVID-19 special issue, The Chicago Shady Dealer obtained this issue and published a series of articles on their website that took, shall we say, heavy inspiration from The Maroon’s upcoming issue. Let’s clarify all that a little: The Maroon is what you are reading now, The Chicago Shady Dealer is the University’s version of The Onion, COVID-19 is a virus, and “obtained” means that someone who writes for The Shady Dealer also happens to be a member of The Maroon
and just sent a ton of Word docs over. In most cases, The Shady Dealer took the title of an article due to be published in The Maroon and then changed the text. For example, The Maroon published “$100 Million and a Million Tests: How the NFL Played Through a Pandemic?”, while the Dealer published “$100 Million and a Million Tests: How The NFL Played Throughout a Pandemic.” I appreciate that Shady got rid of that weird question mark, but you might notice that the article itself is totally blank. How convenient that I picked this article to illustrate my point that Shady isn’t funny! Credit where credit is due, the idea has potential—but you need to execute it well. Unfortunately, when you plagiarize, all it tends to do is reveal that the only idea you have is that you have no ideas and should probably use someone else’s. I stole that from a website that had some weird ads, so take it with a grain of salt (hey, dweebs who graduated in 2005 who comment on these articles, that was a joke—take your fingers off the keyboard). So, Shady’s idea to take some Maroon arti-
cles really just showed that they should have put a little more effort into writing their own. You’ve got the “author argues with editor” schtick that was tired in the ‘80s, the “old people are boring” gag lifted from some ‘50s sitcom, and so on. Honestly, there is no need for me to dunk on these guys anymore. You get the point: Shady needs some fresh blood. Now that I’ve got thesis one out of the way, let’s resume the story. In response to The Chicago Shady Dealer, The Maroon’s editors published the following piece: “Shady Dealer Plagiarizes COVID-19 Issue; Maroon Dismisses Two Staffers for Leaking Internal Documents.” Go read it right now, it’s short. In it, various members of The Chicago Shady Dealer are given the chance to prove me wrong about their comedic chops by giving often hilarious quotes in response to The Maroon’s questions. While reading it, you were probably wondering whether the article was a joke, satire playing along with The Shady Dealer. Referring to people who work on The Maroon as “staffers,” the reference to “in-
ternal documents,” the weird asides to explain what the Panama Papers and RSOs are, and the earnestness in reporting the joking quotes of The Shady Dealer’s staff. Perhaps the funniest part of the article is the accompanying picture: a shot of a staircase in Ida Noyes with the caption “Ida Noyes Hall houses the Office of Career Advancement.” The thing is, it’s not a joke. Using my unemployable close-reading skills (read as: making tenuous connections), I get the sense that the writers of this article are trying to appear as even-handed and journalistic as possible. As if, in response to a perceived attack on something they put a lot of time into, they are seeking both to get back at The Shady Dealer (“Maroon leadership has notified the Center for Leadership and Involvement about the incident”), and to maintain what they see as the standards of The Maroon. I’m sure that the editors of The Maroon spent many hours refining the issue on COVID-19 and that, to them, The Shady Dealer’s actions felt like a mockery that disregarded that effort and the time that went into the issue. But every-
one needs perspective, and one of the most valuable features of satire is that it deflates egos and recasts the world. The Maroon is a student paper. No one’s career is at stake here. The Maroon’s “staffers” are college kids freely using their spare time. There are too many things in the world that are worth getting worked up about, and there’s no reason at all to make yourself feel worse by getting angry about someone playing a poor joke. The whole situation is ridiculous, but it reveals how easy it is to lose perspective, to think that your lazy joke articles are funnier than they are, to think that someone playing a mean-spirited and ethically dubious prank is a heinous breach of moral decency. If there is a lesson to take away from all of this, it’s that somethings aren’t worth getting angry about. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in yourself and lose perspective (or, worse, your sense of humor); everyone needs a bit of deflating now and then, even The Maroon and The Shady Dealer. Andrew Farry is a third-year in the College.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — APRIL 7, 2021
ARTS Politics and Pleasantries: A Smart Museum Discussion of Erika Rothenberg’s Satirical Greeting Cards By NATALIE MANLEY Arts Reporter On February 25, 2021, the Smart Museum of Art launched a new web series called “Close Looking” with an accompanying conversation on the work of American artist, activist, and former UChicago student Erika Rothenberg. Rothenberg was kicked out of the College for participating in a student protest. Her series is meant to replicate indepth discussions with museumgoers and museum staff that have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by the Smart Museum’s Academic Engagement Graduate Intern Gary Kafer, the event highlighted the museum’s collection of Rothenberg’s satirical greeting cards. These cards have been featured in the Museum of Modern Art; they examine Rothenberg’s use of humor to express messages about taste, care, and politics. The collection of greeting cards is part of the museum’s larger exhibition Take Care, which features more than 50 works of art across
media from Smart’s own collection. The exhibition seeks to unpack matters of care from the personal to the collective and aims to answer the question of how we care for ourselves and others. The online conversation highlighted how Rothenberg explores this idea of care in her greeting cards, especially what it means to “care” about people who are suffering. Through the use of satirical and sarcastic language paired with ironic images, Rothenberg forces her audience to consider the lack of empathy in the American political landscape. While her cards contain familiar greeting card language including “sorry,” “condolences,” and “with sympathy,” they are far from the average greeting card. Some apologize for “the unusually high rate of cancer in your neighborhood” and others for the fact that the “C.I.A. assassinated your president.” The cards satirically address political issues, such as the Cold War, the rise of consumerism, climate change, and racism, by expressing false care for those
Rothenberg: Gouache and Ink on Paper (1991). COURTESY OF SMART MUSEUM OF ART
Rothenberg’s work is often deeply satirical and biting. COURTESY OF SMART MUSEUM OF ART who were burdened by these issues. “Greeting cards as we use them are often used and often given and received as signs of care,” Kafer said. “But in Rothenberg’s hands, greeting cards are a medium of critique.” For Rothenberg, that critique is primarily of American exceptionalism. “Rothenberg aims to expose the values and assumptions of American exceptionalism in didactic and humorous ways,” Kafer explained. He added that, when referring to American exceptionalism, he means the notion that America’s values, politics, and history uniquely destine the country to play a positive role on the world stage. The conversation also focused on the relevance of Rothenberg’s work today. Are her critiques of racism, war, and anti-communism applicable 30 years later? Kafer thinks so. He said that the subjects of the cards are especially relevant in today’s climate, one plagued by inaction and a “thoughts and prayers” mentality. “Sending a greeting card is a way of
calling attention to an issue but also absolving oneself from having to take part in it because you’re kind of saying, ‘You have my sympathy and that’s about it,’” Kafer said. “It’s kind of equivalent to a lot of the conversation we have today when people say ‘thoughts and prayers’ after a natural disaster or mass shooting.” Rothenberg’s work was, and still is, a call to action, a cry for the American public and government to actually “take care” of others beyond offering half-hearted condolences and false promises. Thirty years since she began creating them, her greeting cards continue to remind us that there is still a long way to go in terms of this care, both for our country and for other countries around the world. For more programs and exhibitions from the Smart Museum, visit smartmuseum. uchicago.edu.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — ARPIL 7, 2021
SPORTS Tennis Competes Against North Central By THOMAS GORDON Sports Editor
While most students were basking in sunlight on the quad this weekend, the UChicago tennis teams were thrilled to return to competition for the first time since early March 2020. For some background on the two teams, their last competition was the ITA Indoor Nationals, in which the women’s team finished in fifth place and the men’s team finished in third place. Both are successful programs full of confidence that were extremely excited to compete again. Their competition this past weekend was North Central College. The North Central College men’s team came into this weekend on a two-match-day win streak and the women’s team was on a three-match-day win streak. Both teams were evidently in good form. However, neither was a match for the Maroons. The University of Chicago women’s tennis team steamrolled North Central College with wins of 9–0 and 9–0 on Saturday, with the closest set in any match being a 7–5 set win in first-year Ivvy Hicks’s first college match. The most crushing victory occurred in the second doubles match where first-year Cara O’Flaherty and third-year Annika Pandey won with a score of 8–0. Likewise, the University of Chicago men’s tennis team had two wins with scores of 9–0 and 8–1, and the sole loss occurred in the sixth singles match in the second set of matches. In the first set of matches, first-year Derek Hsieh had an amazing start to his collegiate career with an immaculate win of 6–0, 6–0. After this dominant start to the season, the UChicago tennis teams face Chicago State this upcoming week, with the men’s team playing on Monday, April 5, and the women’s team playing on Thursday, April 8. Both Chicago State teams have had a difficult start to the season and will be hoping to turn their season around at the Stagg Courts. However, the Maroons will want the local bragging rights and an opportunity to continue their perfect start to the season.
Fourth-year Alejandro Rodriguez returns the ball.
Second-year Claudia Ng rallies at practice.
COURTESY OF UCHICAGO ATHLETICS.
COURTESY OF UCHICAGO ATHLETICS.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — APRIL 7, 2021
Track and Field Teams Place Third in North Central College First Chance Meet By ALI SHEEHY Sports Editor
The UChicago men’s and women’s track and field teams were back in action this past Friday as both competed in the North Central College First Chance Meet. With a score of 142 points, the men’s side came in third out of the four teams that participated, while the women’s side posted a similar finish, placing third as well with 142.5 points. Several Maroons had standout performances on the day. On the women’s side, Sarika Temme-Bapat came in first place in the 1500-meter with a time of 4:44.73.
Additionally, three other UChicago women’s athletes recorded multiple top-three finishes at the meet. Isabel Maletich came in first for the long jump at 5.57m. Later in the day, the third-year would place second in the triple jump at 11.72m. Second-year Isabel Layne placed second in both the 100-meter and 200-meter with times of 12.68 seconds and 26.52 seconds, respectively. And finally, second-year Opeoluwa Olusi posted two second-place finishes in the discus (33.59m) as well as the hammer throw (42.77m). On the men’s side, Jose Hernandez placed first in the hammer throw. The third-year’s farthest recorded throw on
Fifth-year Alexander Scott lines up to throw shotupt.
COURTESY OF UCHICAGO ATHLETICS.
the day was a distance of 52.36m. Also of note, Ethan Harper (800-meter, 1:55.36), Jack Barbour (3200-meter steeplechase, 9:42.89), Brandon Shin (pole vault, 4.10m), Ted Falkenhayn (triple jump, 13.36m), Christopher Dann (discus, 39.52m), and Jack Poplawski ( javelin, 39.67m) all posted second-place finishes in their respective events. However, the highlight of the day had to have been the amazing performance of fifth-year Alexander Scott in the shot put. In 2020, even with the shortened track and field season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott managed to set a new school record in the indoor shot put
(17.68m), and he went right back to breaking records this season in 2021, this time for the outdoor shot put. With a heave of 16.96m, Scott was able to capture the top-place finish by more than four meters more than the athlete in second place and break the school record for the outdoor shot put, previously held by Neal Cawi at 16.45m since 1992. Scott and the rest of the UChicago men’s and women’s track and field teams hope to continue their stretch of impressive performances on Friday, April 9, at the Benedictine Invitational in Lisle, Illinois. Best of luck to both teams as they continue their season!
The Chicago Maroon's April 7, 2021 issue.