UCHICAGO’S ADMIT RATE UP AT 7.3%, YIELD DOWN TO 73.5%
NOVEMBER 18, 2020 EIGHTH WEEK VOL. 133, ISSUE 9
Libraries Expand In-Person Services After Thousands of Student Reservations PAGE 6
Pending Closure of Mercy Hospital Challenges South Side Medical Infrastructure
In-Person Classes Proceed Under Lightfoot’s New Stay-at-Home Order
ARTS: The Trial of the Chicago 7 is Sorkin Sans Idealism for America’s Institutions PAGE 11
VIEWPOINTS: The End of the World Made Me Realize There’s More to the Core Than Eating Your Vegetables
GREY CITY: Maroon Archives Show Similarities Between COVID–19 and 1918 Influenza
NEWS: Jean-Luc Marion Awarded Ratzinger Prize by Pope Francis PAGE 7
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THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
University Reports 68 New Cases of COVID–19 By GIACOMO CETORELLI News Reporter The University has reported a total of 68 cases of COVID–19 this week, according to the most recent UChicago Forward update. 15 of the University-administered tests this week were positive out of 4,371 administered. This week’s total case count is more than double last week’s 32 cases, a figure that includes both on- and off-campus university members, but not medical center personnel. The Contact Tracing Team has identified 53 close contacts, or about 0.78 contacts per positive case, this week, up
from last week’s figure of 0.72 contacts per case. As of November 12, the University has seen 269 cases of the virus affiliated with its campus community since September 18. Students living off campus should not return to campus between Thanksgiving and winter quarter and should not host any nonessential visitors in light of the worsening COVID–19 situation in the city of Chicago, per an email from Provost Ka Yee Lee Friday afternoon. The email comes one day after the city of Chicago implemented a new stay-at-home advisory in reaction to a
spike in COVID–19 cases in the city. In response to the city order, Lee emphasized new travel guidelines and limitations for on-campus work and specified that in-person classes will continue as planned through the end of next week in an email sent to the University community on Friday afternoon. The University is discouraging unnecessary travel over the upcoming holidays and recommends limiting gatherings to immediate family members. In addition, students currently residing off campus are not permitted to visit campus between Thanksgiving break and the beginning of winter
quarter unless given express permission. Students staying on campus over the break will continue to have access to campus and their UChicago Dining plan. Lee said a new “work-from-home approach” w ill remain in ef fect through winter quarter at the earliest, promising further guidance before the beginning of winter quarter. In-person work is limited to tasks that must happen on campus, such as laboratory research. Additionally, nonessential visits to campus are not permitted, effective through at least January.
Mercy Hospital to Close, and the South Side Shudders By NICK TARR Senior News Reporter Mercy Hospital, a landmark of the South Side for over a century, plans to close its doors in the spring of 2021. The move makes the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) one of only a few hospitals left on Chicago’s South Side, leaving activists, labor officials, and residents with major concerns. Mercy announced the news on July 29 in a letter to the Illinois Health Facilities and Service Review Board, citing years of losses in inpatient volumes and high costs of maintenance as key factors in the closure. The closure comes after a yearslong battle by Mercy to find alternatives to their inpatient service model without sacrificing service. Most notable among these efforts was 2019’s “South Side Coalition,” in which Mercy Hospital proposed a merger with three other hospitals—St. Bernard, Advocate Trinity, and South Shore Medical Centers—with the support of the Chicago Department of Healthcare and Family Services. If approved, the Coalition planned to replace the four-member hospita ls w ith t wo brand-new inpatient medical centers and three to six outpatient centers, relying on public and private funding
totaling $1.1 billion. In the last moments of the 2020 spring legislative session, however, Illinois legislators chose not to fund the project. “ We have worked hard over the last several years to put Mercy Hospital on a financially sustainable path while continuing to serve the healthcare needs of our community,” Carol Schneider, Mercy’s CEO, said in a memo to Mercy staff. “But with the state’s elected officials declining to support our South Side Transformation plans in May, we have made the difficult decision to close the hospital sometime in 2021.” State legislators were uncertain about the project. “We should be sure what the results are going to be before spending government money on this level—hundreds of millions of dollars. We should be able to say, ‘This project will do this,’” State Representative Marcus Evans (IL-33) told Crain’s Chicago Business in May. At the same time, the Coalition’s member hospitals warned that legislative disapproval of the planned merger would leave them with no choice but to consider closures. With no path forward, the Coalition disbanded in May 2020. Despite the closure of their inpatient hospital, Mercy plans to implement a new outpatient system, replac-
Mercy Hospital is set to close in the spring of next year. matthew lee ing the hospital’s 319 inpatient beds and 43,000 annual emergency room visits with outpatient preventative and diagnostic care. This development, however, is expected to fall short of the South Side’s needs, according to Dennis Kossuth, a nurse at Provident Hospital and member of National Nurses United (NNU), the nation’s largest nurses’ union “Any kind of closure is going to have an effect on people’s acute care needs,” Kosuth said. “There are thousands of babies that are born at Mercy every year. You don’t deliver a baby in an outpatient center.”
A History of Inequity Access to health care has long been an issue for the South Side’s predominantly Black communities. According to Mercy, residents of the North Side neighborhood Streeterville have a life expectancy 30 years longer than the residents of Englewood. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office also found that 60 percent of Chicago’s early COVID deaths came from Black communities, who make up only 30 percent of the population. “Black women are three to four times more likely to die during childCONTINUED ON PG. 3
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birth, and Black babies are twice as likely to die in delivery,” Kosuth said. “Look at any health metric and it’s worse for African American and Latinx people.” Kosuth believes that Mercy’s closure is a symptom of a much greater problem. Working as a nurse at the South Side’s Provident Hospital since 2017, he has seen firsthand the South Side’s declining medical infrastructure, often the result of government and corporate divestment. “Provident used to have a full-service emergency room, a labor and delivery, a MICU [Medically Intensive Care Unit], and over the years they’ve whittled that down to less and less,” he said. “We need to go the opposite direction. We need expansion.” On Thursday, November 5, Kosuth received a layoff notice from Provident, citing budget concerns. The next day, the Cook County Health Commission hosted a community forum where they discussed their plan to replace some of Provident’s inpatient services with a new outpatient center. Panelists at the event included Cook County’s Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle and Chief Medical Officer Claudia Fegan. When Kosuth asked the panelists
why they were cutting inpatient services, they, like Mercy, cited decreased patient volumes. Kosuth has seen otherwise. “[Provident] is cutting nurses and telling us there are no patients, yet the very same day I’m getting phone calls from my manager asking me to come in because we have too many patients,” he said. “It makes no sense.” The UChicago Medica l Center (UCMC), a staple health center on the South Side, shares Kosuth’s concerns about the community ’s inadequate healthcare infrastructure. “The loss or closure of other organizations would add even more strain to the region’s already overburdened health system,” UCMC President Tom Jackiewicz said in a comment to The Maroon. “No single institution has the resources necessary to make sustainable health transformation a reality for our community,” he said. “We are concerned [that] Mercy’s closure will further reduce access to medical services for our community and generally exacerbate the considerable health disparities facing South Side residents,” Jackiewicz said. A Way Forward UCMC has been part of the South Side Health Transformation Project, along with St. Bernard and Advocate
Trinity hospitals, since before Mercy’s announcement. The Project aims to better coordinate infrastructure on the South Side by pooling the community’s existing resources, a goal that has increased in urgency as a result of Mercy’s closure. “We hope by working together, we can find ways to better connect our existing health organizations, increase access to both primary and specialty care, address some of the most challenging social determinants of health, and ultimately ensure a stronger, healthier community,” Jackiew icz said. The Project has conducted surveys to identify areas of improvement in the South Side’s medical infrastructure and is developing a model for a new digital healthcare coordination platform, which aims to better allocate existing medical resources. Their website refers to it as “a phased approach for building, scaling and transforming South Side healthcare.” Kosuth believes that the solution involves more than coordinating existing infrastructure. For him, equitable healthcare must come from policy. “Nationally, we need a single-payer system. It’s the same system that every other country has, where everybody pays in and everybody has healthcare,” he said. “Everybody benefits except
the drug companies.” Kosuth’s beliefs are increasingly shared by Americans. According to a recent poll, 72 percent of voters support a government-run healthcare system. “There’s no question that there’s popular support for this, especially because of the pandemic,” he said. “People have lost their jobs, they can’t pay rent, they can’t buy food, they’re getting cut off from their utilities. If you get sick on top of that, you’re completely screwed.” Activists have often called for investment in public infrastructure like health care. In 2020, the City of Chicago spent $1.8 billion on its police department, three times more than it spent on its Department of Public Health. “The money is there,” Kosuth said. In the immediate future, however, Mercy’s closure is likely to only exacerbate long-standing injustices on the South Side. Kosuth emphasizes healthcare equity. “To correct past injustices to Chicago’s South Side and people of color, we need more resources, not less,” he said. “This idea that we should cut access to primary care by shutting down Mercy, by reducing services at Provident, to me is just a non-starter. You can’t do that.”
In Official Class of 2024 Profile, Acceptance Rate Rises to 7.3 Percent; Yield Rate Falls to 73.5 Percent By LUKIAN KLING News Reporter The acceptance rate for the Class of 2024 was 7.3 percent, according to a newly-released class profile by the College Admissions Office. This year features an increase from last year’s figure of 6.2 percent, and updates an earlier figure cited by Dean of Admissions James Nondorf in an April speech. Other features of the Class of 2024’s admissions profile include a slight decrease in the number of students who
applied—about 34,372 applications were received this year, as opposed to 34,648 last year—and a yield rate of 74 percent, as opposed to 83 percent last year. UChicago’s increase in acceptance rate mirrors a trend observed at peer schools. At Harvard, the Class of 2024 featured a 4.92 percent acceptance rate, a slight increase from 4.5 percent the year prior. Meanwhile, the University of Pennsylvania’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2024 grew from 7.44 percent to 8.07 percent, and Yale from 5.91 percent to 6.54 percent. At Northwestern, the acceptance
rate rose from 8.9 percent to 9 percent for the Class of 2024. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely a large driver in the slight reduction in college selectivity nationwide. The Class of 2024 is similar to its predecessors in both quantitative and qualitative measures. The class features strong representation from the East Coast, Midwest, and California. ACT scores ranged from 20–36, with a middle 50 percent range of 34–35. SAT scores ranged from 1020–1600 with a 1510–1560 middle range. The vast majority (81 percent) of the
Class of 2024 participated in community service in high school. 65 percent of the class were varsity athletes. Additionally, 38 percent participated in student government, and 22 percent performed in their high school theaters. An additional 22 percent wrote for a high school publication. In terms of demographics, the Class of 2024 features more males (53 percent) than females (47 percent). 25 percent of the admitted class is Asian, 10 percent is Black or African American, 15 percent is Hispanic or Latino, and 14 percent is international.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
Hyde Park Restaurants Look to Winter With Concern By HAMZA JILANI News Reporter Local Hyde Park businesses have faced substantial financial threats during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor J. B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order that lasted from March 21 until May 30 as well as the University’s transition to remote learning for the spring quarter caused a turbulent spring and summer for many local Hyde Park restaurants. Several restaurants turned to crowdfunding, furloughing employees, and cutting operating hours to keep their businesses afloat as sales declined due to government restrictions on dining and the loss of customers as students left Hyde Park. To mitigate the effects of the pandemic on small businesses, the $2 trillion CARES Act provided $349 billion in loans to small businesses, including restaurants. Furthermore, in late September, the University community, a large portion of many Hyde Park businesses’ customer bases, moved back to campus for the autumn quarter. On June 26, the state of Illinois allowed bars and restaurants to reopen as it transitioned into phase four of its Restore Illinois plan, only to announce on Monday that Chicago restaurants and bars would no longer be permitted to provide indoor dining. The new restrictions also prohibit outdoor dining after 11 p.m., indoor congregation while exiting or waiting for a table, and in-person dining without a reservation. Pritzker cited a COVID-19 test positivity rate that has nearly doubled since the beginning of October as a reason for the new restrictions. Local restaurants cited restrictions on capacity and indoor seating, the insufficiency of CARES funding, and public concern about the safety of dining in at restaurants as significant challenges they are tackling this autumn as they look toward the winter
with uncertainty. Medici on 57th Medici on 57th, an established Hyde Park restaurant and bakery founded in 1962, has seen its sales recover to about 60 percent of what it would have been in a normal year, according to General Manager Pablo Manriquez. Although this is a clear improvement since March when Medici was making about 10 percent of their usual sales, the business’s sales have stayed relatively constant since August, despite the return of students to Hyde Park. Medici on 57th’s restaurant began offering in-person dining again at the beginning of August, but not without facing financial and logistical challenges. “We had to hire extra help to cover [roles] that, in normal times, you wouldn’t have to cover,” Manriquez said. For instance, Medici needed to post a staff member at the front door of the restaurant to explain health and safety regulations to restaurant-goers. Although Medici has not used any loans from CARES funding, they are making use of payroll credit to keep employees on their payroll. As COVID-19 regulations reduced restaurant capacity and caused restaurants to rely heavily on takeout and delivery instead of dine-in orders for sale, Medici was prepared. In addition to having a pre-built infrastructure for logistics and delivery, Medici already had established its reputation in the Hyde Park community as a takeout bakery. However, Manriquez worries that colder weather will complicate Medici’s takeout business. Capacity restrictions often require customers to stand outside in order to order from the bakery. “People have to wait in line [outside] and we cannot take everyone in right away,” he said. In order to sustain bakery sales and ensure that customers do not have to wait in the cold, Medici is currently
organizing a system that will allow customers to place orders and pay for items ahead of time so that they may quickly pick up their orders at the entrance of the restaurant. Manriquez also worried that the recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections could put a damper on business. “As the pandemic is getting worse, you see less traffic coming in. People are afraid to go to restaurants,” he said. Manriquez explained that Medici is bracing for a quieter presence in the community during the next few months.
on indoor dining by turning their primary focus toward takeout and delivery orders. Prior to the pandemic, takeout orders were not “something [they] would advertise, but [they] would accommodate requests.” However, they have since expanded and publicized the service. Although The Promontory did not offer delivery service before the pandemic, they are currently launching a delivery service to expand sales as dining outside becomes more difficult in the winter.
The Promontory The Promontory, a local restaurant and bar, has faced unique challenges as an established music and event venue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Venue Manager Jake Austen explained that even before students returned to campus, The Promontory’s restaurant was “always at capacity, just with community members, because the capacity was so small.” Currently, The Promontory’s kitchen is home to El Oso, a new Mexican culinary residency by critically acclaimed Chicago chef Jonathan Zaragoza. During a normal year, The Promontory would host large events, celebrations, and live music. “We would normally be booking at least 10 events a week.... we had three to four concerts a week, DJ nights, children’s events, community events, [and] many of them were at capacity,” Austen said, explaining that many of their events used to have 300–500 attendees. Prior to the ban on indoor dining, The Promontory hosted smaller private events as well as socially distanced activities. These included painting events and specialized DJ sets that small groups of friends attended together. “It doesn’t feel like what we’re supposed to be doing and it doesn’t really make enough money to sustain itself,” he said. “But it’s making more money than nothing.” The restaurant has responded to the ban
Piccolo Mondo “The University coming back is definitely good news for any business in Hyde Park,” said Oriel Zas, general manager of Piccolo Mondo, an Italian restaurant on 56th Street. University students and affiliates usually comprise a large portion of both the staff and customer base of Piccolo Mondo. Despite the renewed presence of these valuable groups, catering—a significant source of income for the restaurant—has not returned. “Catering is finished because the University isn’t having large communal parties,” said Zas. He explained that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Piccolo Mondo depended on catering large university events as a key source of their revenue. “We did maybe over 200 events a year with the University for catering, so that was definitely a large part of our business that we won’t be able to recuperate.” Zas went on to discuss how public opinion about dining-in may affect business for Piccolo Mondo in the future. Throughout the summer, the restaurant had an open patio for outdoor seating. However, he expressed his concerns about hosting patrons at the restaurant in the winter, since the outdoor patio will no longer be a feasible seating option in the colder months.
College to Offer New Inquiry and Research in the Humanities Major
By LUKIAN KLING News Reporter
The College now offers a new major, Inquiry and Research in the Human-
ities (IRHUM), which promises students an opportunity to pursue rigorous research in a self-designed course of study.
Christopher Wild, Master of the Humanities Collegiate Division, described the major as “an interdisciplinary program that allows students
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of a student-designed program of humanistic study, one English course on academic and professional writing, two research seminars, and three more IRHUM-specific courses, totaling 12 required courses for the major. In addition to these classes, students must complete an Applied Mentored Research Experience wherein they become “apprentices” to faculty members either as research assistants or researchers for museums and other College partners. Students will receive a stipend for this requirement because it does not fulfill any course credits. IRHUM is a revamped version of a previously offered major, Interdisciplinary Studies of the Humanities, which dissolved after its long-tenured leader stepped down from her position
last year. Wild and Nichole Fazio, executive director of the College Center for Research and Fellowships, revived the major and recruited Benjamin Morgan, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of English, to lead the program. “When we looked more closely at the [Interdisciplinary Studies] major itself, it became clear that with this change in faculty leadership, it was time also to redesign the major, given that it was quite unstructured and didn’t really provide students with the support to successfully pursue research projects and in particular the capstone project,” Wild said. Fazio further explained how the program differs from most humanities and social science majors currently be-
ing offered. “Research is functionally being integrated with the curriculum, so it’s not something that’s separate, or on top of, or in addition to, or something students have to find extra time to undertake, but actually get to do as part of a formal major in a slightly different and maybe more robust way than has traditionally been the case with the B.A. thesis,” she said. Morgan thinks that students can complete the capstone project in myriad ways. “Some students may opt to write a fairly traditional research paper, but I can also say that I’ve seen a lot of exciting other kinds of projects that students have done—for example creating digital maps of translations of poetry in a fairly involved way—and so I can imagine there could be digital
projects in conjunction with the resources the library has,” Morgan said. He added that the major will be very flexible for students, who will receive faculty advising to help them develop their plans and projects. “[This] can mean that the projects are really different and unique, but they’re [all] grounded in research practices that are equally grounded in the discipline and in the method of humanistic research,” Fazio said. The program’s first deadline was November 16, and a second round of applications will be made available in mid-February and close on February 22.
Pope Francis Awards Professor Jean-Luc Marion of the Divinity School the Ratzinger Prize By LUKIAN KLING News Reporter This October, Divinity School Professor Jean-Luc Marion was awarded the Ratzinger Prize by Pope Francis for his contributions to the fields of theology, phenomenology (the study of consciousness and direct experience), and the history of philosophy. The prize is given out annually by the Pope in conjunction with a five-person committee of other clergymen to recognize scholars for scientific research in the field of theology. “This award comes as both unexpected and, after further consideration, not surprising,” Marion said. “Unexpected, because it was never my intention to play the role of a ‘Catholic intellectual.’ I have only done my best to be a good philosopher in Paris (and I was called to Chicago as such), although the issue of God, and by consequence of theology, always remained a part of my philosophical work, both as a historian of early modern philosophy and as a
phenomenologist.” “But not entirely surprising, for many reasons,” Marion continued. “The Ratzinger Prize was awarded to laypeople (private citizens who are not Church clergy) as often as to ordained ministers; some of my friends like Charles Taylor (Canadian philosopher and professor emeritus at McGill University) and Remi Brague (French philosophy historian and professor emeritus at the Sorbonne) received it in the past. I consider this award as clear evidence that free research is welcome in today’s Catholic Church, even if your work doesn’t directly pertain to mainstream schools of thought.” David Nirenberg, Dean of the Divinity School, explained why Marion was the perfect scholar to win this award. “[Marion] has done more than any other thinker in our generation to explore the kinship between philosophy and theology, especially between phenomenology and Catholic thought,” he said. “Without ever submitting the one to the other, he has vastly enriched both.”
Marion shared that he recently released another book on theology titled D’ailleurs, la Révélation, or Giveness and Revelation, adding to his list of notable works like God Without Being and In the Self’s Place: The Approach of Saint Augustine. Marion is also known for studying under Jacques Derrida and contributing to the field of phenomenology with books such as Being Given: Toward a Phenomenology of Givenness and Prolegomena to Charity. “The real basis [for my work in theology] seems to me, today, to be the recently published D’ailleurs, la Révélation, which achieves a long and enduring attempt to reconnect reason and Revelation,” Marion said. Marion feels The University of Chicago and Hyde Park have been especially welcoming to his approach on these subjects. “The University of Chicago, in the Department of Philosophy, the Committee on Social Thought, and now in the Divinity School, has accepted this combination; I must add that it has done so to a greater degree than any of the
other institutions where I have taught, including the Sorbonne,” Marion said. “It is why I feel deeply grateful to Hyde Park, where most of my later books were taught and written.” “Among academic institutions, the Divinity School at the University of Chicago is a unique intellectual space in that it welcomes philosophers and theologians alike and is devoted both to critical and to constructive approaches,” Nirenberg added. “That makes it an ideal community to accommodate Professor Marion, who more than any scholar I know, exemplifies that combination in his own person.” “A great university can be identified, among other criteria, by its fair recognition that theology has a strong right to claim being as rational as any other science, and making room for it,” Marion concluded. The Ratzinger Prize is usually awarded at a ceremony in November. Marion shares this year’s award with Tracey Rowland from the University of Notre Dame Australia.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
University Libraries Adapt Protocols and In-Person Services for Autumn Quarter By MICHAEL MCCLURE News Reporter After more than six months of being closed to the public, UChicago’s on-campus libraries reopened for in-person appointments on September 29, with a host of procedures informed by the COVID–19 pandemic. In an email to The Maroon, Library Director and University Librarian Brenda Johnson explained the new policies governing each of the libraries on campus. “The libraries are operating successfully as we work to provide services that students and faculty have indicated are most important to them in Autumn Quarter’s hybrid learning environment,” Johnson said. The library staff’s primary focus has been on adapting study spaces and print resources to the norms of the pandemic. The seat reservation service, found in three buildings—Regenstein Library,
Mansueto Library, and Crerar Library—is chief among the new procedures. Students must book seats for quiet, individual study at least 12 hours in advance, with slots reserved in half-hour increments for up to three consecutive hours. Those with reservations in Regenstein and the adjacent Mansueto have access to the University’s multifunction device printers. In accordance with the UChicago Health Pact, social distancing and mask-wearing must be observed at all times in library buildings. Patrons are also asked to clean their seats at the start and end of each study reservation. More communal spaces like group study rooms and the Ex Libris Café in Regenstein remain closed this quarter. Nevertheless, the in-person slots have been a hot commodity. During the first three weeks of autumn quarter, over 1,200 students made more than 4,300 study reservations. In response to the high demand,
additional seats were added before the start of fifth week to Mansueto and Regenstein, doubling the capacity of the latter. Johnson stated in her email that afternoons from 1–5 p.m. were generally the busiest times for study seats, with the 2–3 p.m. hour proving the most popular. There are additional restrictions for accessing specialized library services, like the recently renamed Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center (SCRC). To consult materials in the SCRC reading room, which is open for two hours on Thursdays and Fridays, appointments must be scheduled at least five days ahead of time. Not all the libraries are open to everyone, however. To de-densify the buildings, only UChicago law students can enter the D’Angelo Law Library and only Social Service Administration (SSA) students can enter the SSA Library. Eckhart Library remains closed at this time.
Regenstein, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has become the fulcrum of library activity. Since physical access to bookstacks is prohibited, the new Paging & Pickup option allows patrons to collect materials from any University library in the outer lobby of Regenstein. For those who prefer an entirely online experience, Scan & Deliver provides digital copies of print resources from the library collections. This altered and digitized setup has not changed the libraries’ ultimate goal: serving the University population. The Ask a Librarian feature is available via email and text, and other offerings include workshops, virtual events, and one-on-one consultations with subject librarians through email, phone, and Zoom. “I strongly encourage students to get to know librarians by using these services,” Johnson wrote in her email to The Maroon. “We are here to help you.”
Harris Professor James Robinson Speaks on Global Economic Inequality, the Legacy of Colonialism By ROSHINI BALAN News Reporter Harris School of Public Policy professor and leading political economist James Robinson spoke with the UChicago International Development Society about how social institutions affect patterns of global income inequality and the lingering power of the colonial legacy over modern economics. During the discussion, Robinson spoke about his experience with developmental economics and how it has shaped his views on the developing world. Robinson is an economist, political scientist, and co-author of Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. The UChicago International Development Society is a recently founded club that discusses topics centered around global and national development through various disciplinary lenses, including economics and public policy. In their virtual
Q&A on October 16, Robinson discussed his research on the relationship between poverty and social institutions and how poverty emerges out of political conflict. He recalled that his involvement in political science began in 1979, an exciting political moment just before the start of the Reagan administration and the election of Margaret Thatcher. Yet, as he pursued political science, he realized that “political science seemed to be all about economics.” This prompted him to pursue the two disciplines jointly. When asked about why it was important he studied both fields, he added, “Developmental economics wasn’t asking questions about why the world was the way it was.” Robinson received his Bachelor of Science degree (S.B.) from the London School of Economics and Political Science, his Master of Arts (A.M.) from the University of Warwick, and continued to pursue his interest in political science in parallel to
his economics Ph.D. from Yale University, in search of answers to the big, comparative questions which interested him. In his career, however, he created the intersection between economics and political science that he lacked in graduate school. “My whole career is kind of merging those two things and trying to apply the technical stuff…to all the other stuff that’s more interesting,” Robinson said. To give the audience a better sense of Robinson’s work, the moderator asked his opinion on the relationship between poverty, institutions, and political conflict. Robinson claimed there are three things that people lack which cause poverty: investment, education, and human capital. “People are poor because they don’t have access, because they don’t have opportunities…. that’s where institutions come in.” He explained that institutions differ widely across societies, causing global disparities in welfare. According to Robinson,
politics is at the root of poor institutional design. “What causes poverty? Institutions that exclude people and don’t create incentives and opportunities for them. Why is the world organized that way? Politics.” Yet, Robinson acknowledged one global pattern found in the colonial legacy. Robinson explained how many of colonialism’s institutions remain part of many nations’ fabric to this day. Robinson argued that even “developed economics is an extension of colonialism. We come in with our policies and our programs…. we don’t ask the Africans what they want or need.” Furthermore, Robinson was skeptical of international organizations that try to aid countries’ economic institutions. “I’ve always been overwhelmed at the irrelevance of the World Bank and all these international institutions. Countries that have been successful have done it because they did it themselves,” he said.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
Maroon Archives Tell the Story of the 1918 Spanish Flu, A Picture Not Dissimilar From Today’s Coronavirus Pandemic By KATE MABUS Grey City Reporter Through the past year, the COVID–19 pandemic has drastically reshaped the average American’s way of life and upended the traditional college experience for UChicago students. However unprecedented these times may feel, the city of Chicago reckoned with a similar pandemic almost exactly 100 years ago. The influenza virus strain commonly referred to as the “Spanish flu” reached the United States in 1918, a year after the nation entered World War I. Researchers have no consensus on the origins of the virus. However, it did spread domestically from soldiers returning to the U.S., who brought the virus to military bases, including Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL), about 40 miles north of downtown Chicago. In September 1918, when the first sailors at NSGL contracted the flu, the station proactively implemented a number of preventative measures. NSGL enacted quarantine controls, though not one strict enough to prevent a wedding ceremony . A number of sanitary measures were also implemented; “50,000 men will be given daily nose and throat sprays. Sneeze screens have been placed in sleeping quarters and other places where the men assemble,” the Chicago Tribune reported on September 15. Ultimately, the station’s commandant, W. A. Moffett, was confident that a day off duty and exposure to fresh air would prevent the disease. However, days later, students from Northwestern’s Student Army Training Corps contracted the virus. As the death toll rose at NSGL and sickness spread through the North Side, Chicago Health Commissioner John Dill Robertson prepared for the nearly inevitable spread through the city by issuing isolation orders for anyone experiencing symptoms. As a respiratory disease, the H1N1 virus
of 1918 had a similar mechanism of transmission to COVID–19. Consequently, medical professionals like Robertson advised Chicagoans to reduce crowding, and isolate themselves if they were experiencing symptoms. “No matter what particular kind of germ causes the epidemic, it is now believed that influenza is always spread from person to person, the germs being carried with the air along with the very small droplets of mucus expelled by coughing or sneezing, forceful talking, and the like,” Robertson wrote in a health report that was published by various city papers. “If there is cough and sputum or running of the eyes and nose, care should be taken that all such discharges are collected on bits of gauze or rag or paper napkins and burned.” Regardless of this early understanding, Chicago found itself vastly unprepared for the first wave of the influenza epidemic. By September 1918, Cook County Hospital had a shortage of hospital beds with Chicago residents who had contracted the flu and the city was bracing itself for the full scale of the epidemic. By October 9, UChicago had already accumulated 26 flu cases on campus. The Flu at UChicago When The Maroon broke the news of campus closing in March of 2020, students were preparing for finals. In 1918, students were preparing for war. The Maroon’s reporting from 1918 reveals an impatient attitude among a student body already burdened by the war. One article from October 23, reporting on a football practice, treated the virus like a temporary nuisance among much greater stressors. “Several of the men are expecting to be in the next lot of men sent for officers’ camps, and they are not showing very much interest in the game. The ‘flu’ restrictions are also setting to kill interest,”
The Maroon reported (“Military Work and ‘Flu’ Kill All Pep in Maroon Practice,” 10/23/1918). In an isolated part of Chicago, University students were sheltered from the extent of the virus until late into the pandemic, which would come to infect a third of the U.S. population. And with European enemies on Americans’ minds, little did they expect that this invisible threat would take more lives than the war itself. According to the same issue of The Maroon, cases at UChicago initially started off much lower compared to other areas of the city. But when numbers rose dramatically at the start of the influenza pandemic, changing the forecasts of severity within days, students and news coverage caught onto the pandemic’s significance. Through October, The Maroon’s headlines changed tone from “No Occasion for Alarm About Influenza Epidemic ” (10/9/1918) to “’Ware Influenza!” (10/22/1918). At the beginning of the epidemic, students were dissatisfied with the University’s lack of transparency. Lacking the power of email or a UChicago Forward dashboard, students in 1918 were left in the dark. “Although it seems impossible to get any official statement from University authorities on the campus influenza situation, all evidence points to the fact that the number of fairly serious cases has increased in the last few days to quite a degree,” The Maroon wrote. Once the University gathered itself and settled in to face the epidemic, an emergency office sprung up to meet community needs and care for individuals with the virus. “Women members of the faculty and wives of professors have been rendering aid to neighborhood families. An emergency office has been established in the rooms of the Woman’s War Aid in Lexington Hall,” The Maroon wrote (“University Remarkably Free From Influenza,” 10/23/1918).
A temporary hospital was established at 5826 Ingleside Avenue, The Maroon reported (“‘So Called Flu’ Is on Decline at University Say Experts in Charge,” 1/23/1920). The University also converted its settlement house, a product of Jane Addams’s urban reform movement, into a staging ground for the epidemic. The settlement house also provided emergency hospital space and served about 3,000 meals a day from their kitchen, the exact number UChicago Dining offered to South Side community members this March. Without any medical or pharmaceutical interventions, people in 1918 relied on sanitary measures to prevent the flu, many of the same ones used today. “Lectures have been given, bulletins posted, ‘flu’ masks distributed and all that. However, to have any kind of success students must watch carefully. Sneezing and coughing send out germs; poorly ventilated rooms increase and re-distribute germs,” The Maroon reported in October. As the main avenue for prevention, limiting of social gathering was stressed as a social responsibility, using much of the same rhetoric seen today. With messaging striking similar to editorials published in The Maroon this year, an October 1918 bulletin to the University penned by a Dr. Reed reads, “Any person who sneezes or coughs without putting a handkerchief completely over the nose or mouth is a menace to the health of others.” Social Distancing Social distancing guidelines, or “limitations to gatherings” as they were referred to in 1918, were implemented early on as one of the only proven ways to prevent the spread. However, closures were slow and inconsistent across gathering spots, and convenience often took precedence over safety. Occupation with the war caused civilCONTINUED ON PG. 8
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
“Wouldn’t it be funny if they postponed Settlement Night on account of the flu?” CONTINUED FROM PG. 7
ians to ignore many of the warning signs and safety guidelines of the pandemic. Robertson hesitated to implement gathering restrictions early and moved slowly when he did, not wanting to disrupt war efforts or bring further burden to Americans already consumed with the war. Finally, in mid-October, the Illinois Influenza Advisory Commission passed binding resolutions banning public gatherings including social events and dances, banquets and dinners, lectures, funerals, and athletic events. However, churches, streetcars, and even restaurants and theaters were allowed to remain open as long as they maintained adequate ventilation. At the very beginning of the 1918 pandemic, Robertson allowed a Liberty Loan parade to continue despite the risk of infection, whereas in 2020 the city cancelled the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade at the onset of COVID–19. Like 2020, 1918 was also an election year for the midterms. However, by Election Day 1918, cases were declining in Chicago and the public’s inclination to social distance was lower, leading to little effect on voting.
While federal and state governments manage the pandemic today, in 1918 this control was in the hands of local municipalities. “The pandemic wasn’t a political football the way it is today. President [Woodrow] Wilson never publicly addressed it, and the federal government was not expected to play a significant role in individuals’ healthcare matters,” a 2020 Time magazine article said. Schools also remained open. Unlike today, when classes can be conducted online, in-person schooling was the only way for students to receive a consistent education. However, unlike the risks many schools have had to grapple with when reopening this fall, in the 20th century public schools were broadly used as a way to monitor children’s health and so were already equipped with thorough systems of medical inspection. At UChicago, in timeless fashion, students were more worried about falling behind on schoolwork than potentially contracting the flu. One issue of The Maroon reported, “Under the present regime it is difficult to miss classes and keep up with the work, but any student feeling at all un-
well should stay away from gatherings of any sort.” Although social distancing measures were not as strict as they are today, students were just as eager and even more insistent to return to normal activities. Athletics and dances were two areas where student reporters continually expressed their desire to resume and were outspoken in their attempts to convince others. “There is hope that the Purdue game will be played next Saturday, as there are indications that the Chicago health department is considering lifting the ban on public gatherings,” The Maroon wrote in an article from October 25 (“Continued Rain Sends Football Men Indoors for Blackboard Drill”). “The likelihood of contracting the ‘flu’ at a game is not so great as in the cases of indoor meetings.” Oftentimes, The Maroon’s coverage reflected that campus attitudes treated social distancing more as a momentary disturbance or even a nuisance to normal social life than a necessary measure. In one issue of The Maroon, the “Society Notes” (10/9/1918) section reported casually, “Autumn rushing is having a lapse while Phyllis
Students in sewing class at the University of Chicago settlement school, May 17, 1918, several months before the flu arrived. Univeristy of chicago photographic archive
and her young sister are quarantined with the ‘flu.’” Frustration can be seen in various Maroon columns and opinion pieces. After all, there was no Zoom or social media to keep in touch in 1918; socializing came to a halt and students were eager to circumvent restrictions. One such column called The Campus Whistle (1/23/1920) reads, “The famous class of 1920 is next to give a party…. Wouldn’t it be funny if they postponed Settlement night on account of the flu? The answer is no.” Reopening Students longed for liberation from the gathering restrictions and met any loosening of social distancing guidelines with great excitement. In November 1918, a period when cases were down, one student went so far as to write a poem (11/1/1918) on their joy: “The flu has flown,/ Now isn’t that nice./ Again we can go/ To the Edelweiss.” The decline of the virus coincided with the end of the war and young soldiers returning to their schooling, a period that The Maroon titled in one January 1919 article as the “reconstruction of campus traditions” (“Begin Reconstruction of Campus Traditions,” 1/16/1919). Students quickly resumed their social lives. The aforementioned article reported, a bit facetiously, that social groups on campus “are getting back into their ante-bellum tea-dancing habits.” Apparently, two laudable doctors who managed the pandemic were repurposed “to work the stretcher for any tea hounds who may succumb after stepping it all afternoon and night.” However, anxiety still remained among some; the coverage noted that the Reynolds Club president was still deciding whether or not to host a receiving line for fear of transmission. For roughly a year after the pandemic proper, flu cases continued to pop up in surges. Today, experts warn that Chicago is in the midst of a second wave of coronavirus as cases surge across the country. As with the influenza pandemic, we are likely in for a two-year-long haul of the coronavirus. In the meantime, we can all look forward to the day when we can return to the Edelweiss.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
VIEWPOINTS The Core Should Be More Than a Chore It’s time to change our mentality toward the Core Curriculum. By EMMA WEBBER Just a year ago, when Corona was a beer and I could say “life of the mind” unironically, I spent my lazy afternoons preparing for my first year of college by poring over course descriptions, excitedly revisiting those Core classes I gushed over in my “Why UChicago?” essay. My expectation, formed by shiny brochures and overenthusiastic tour guides was that the Core (alongside $1 milkshakes and Scav) formed the foundation of the UChicago experience. With
three quarters of classes behind me, I now know that is not the case. The vision I had been sold faltered as I watched those around me race to fill Core requirements through their major or “easy” classes. Conversations with classmates shifted from being about the content of readings to complaints over their length and irrelevance. Only recently, as my first year wrapped up during a pandemic, did I realize that the Core really did shape my understanding of what was going on around me by forcing me to step outside of my comfort
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zone: my major. Now, I realize the Core is a formative element of the UChicago experience that is too often dismissed. While as students we must challenge ourselves to engage seriously with the Core in order to appreciate its applicability, UChicago must also do its part by maintaining a diverse curriculum that reflects current affairs. Together, we can shed the narrative that the Core is a chore and instead realize its importance. As an incoming first-year, I took Power, Identity, and Resistance, a Sosc sequence notorious for manufacturing “That Kids,” eager to have my worldview turned upside down. Instead I found myself submerged under hundreds of pages of dense reading. Even when I did understand material, it felt somewhat arbitrary to someone with little background in political theory. It was only when the world did quite literally turn upside down that I began to realize the significance of what I had been taught. With society unhinged by the threat of coronavirus whilst systemic prejudices are finally being addressed, it is time for all of us to voice what we think our world should look like. It is a time where, because there is so much instability, it feels as though change is truly possible. And having read a year’s worth of authors who argued over what change ought to look like, I feel informed enough to push for my own version of change in whatever way possible. Although in the fall and winter, I’d succumbed to the mentality that the Core is a chore, I ultimately found that the Core
classes I took first year have shaped the way I take in new knowledge. And this is true not only of discussion-based classes like Power, but also of Core Biology, which I initially took as part of my quest to “get the Core out of the way.” A basic understanding of viruses and how they are transmitted is all one needs to identify the misinformation which has been spreading at a pace to rival COVID–19 itself. It may sound dramatic, but being able to spot fake news can literally be a matter of life and death during a pandemic. Through the Core, I have learned to read, view, and think about current events critically, drawing comparisons from across the curriculum rather than taking popular media at face value. I would not have obtained such breadth in knowledge had I tried to align my classes with my current interests or strengths. Sure, without Core requirements I would be a lot deeper into my Econ major. But the hours I would have spent drawing indifference curves in Saieh would have bred just that: indifference. The Core is unique in providing students with exposure to so many modes of thinking and so many different topics, from cell biology to political theory. This allows us to form new perspectives, and to feel engaged with a broad range of issues. Not only this, but it places people with varied interests in direct discussion, allowing them to learn from one another. Many paths would never have crossed and many interests and friendships would never have formed had we been pigeonholed into our major classes.
The unique multidisciplinary education the Core offers us is worthless if we do not apply it to contemporary issues. It should not have taken the events of 2020 for me to start doing so. Yes, students must change the way they think about the Core and actively seek Core courses outside of their comfort zones, but the University itself also has a role to play. Though new Sosc and Hum sequences have been added in the past few years to reflect shifting student demand, the College should commit to continually updating the Core to highlight its relevance to the real world. Placing readings in relation to current world events would not only deepen students’ understanding of content, but it would widen the context under which we could apply it later on. Untangling the pages of dense theory written in the 17th century generally does not do wonders for student engagement—it is when what we read is made relatable that it becomes interesting to us, and it is then that we become motivated to push our reading further. The solution could be as easy as including more authors of different races and backgrounds: namely, less old white men. The way we reflect, the way we act, is shaped both consciously and subconsciously by the material we have read, which is why it is of the utmost importance that we get the chance to encounter a wide range of backgrounds and opinions in our classes. Life is multi-faceted: Our readings should present as many sides to it as possible. CONTINUED ON PG. 10
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“The College should commit to continually updating the Core to highlight its relevance to the real world.” CONTINUED FROM PG. 9
Outside of class, it is our responsibility as students to remember that we chose UChicago in part because of the academic rigor the Core provides. We should rekindle that first-year excitement over being able to take such a broad range of classes
and stop viewing each class as a checkbox for our major. Take the plunge. Take that class you’re interested in but know nothing about, because this is how you will maximize what you learn. 2020 has been a year of change, good and bad. Change begins on an individual level, and this pro-
cess can only begin when you shift what you are reading and thinking by stepping outside of your comfort zone. At the end of my first quarter of Power, my professor asked the class whether what we had learned had shaped the conversations we were having with others and the
way we understood current events. I didn’t have much of an answer at the time, but two quarters later, I do. It only took the end of the world for me to realize it. Emma Weber is a second-year in the College.
UChicago May be Mostly Virtual, but It’s Still UChicago Virtual UChicago offers new paths to success, but it’s complicated. By SOHAM MALL As we near the culmination of yet another quarter of online learning, it’s clear that the UChicago experience has been redefined. Campus life is near-nonexistent, and those of us who are lucky enough to be in Hyde Park sense that campus buildings, green spaces, and architecture are dimmer—and the winter isn’t even here yet. There are two truths that are still immutable. First, “midterm” has a very loose definition; in reality, every week that isn’t finals week is a midterm week. If someone tells you they are “done with midterms,” they are lying. Throw the book at them. Second, unrelenting academic pressure pushes us to search for survival tactics. I’ve noticed that an online setting has drawn us to certain in-class and study habits that have seen mixed levels of success. My Viewpoints colleague, Emma Weber, recently wrote about how Zoom has promoted passivity and isolation. Though online learning has aggravated some familiar academic vices, the shortcomings it has revealed can open up new paths to success at UChicago. A prime example of sore spots we need to be vigilant about is Zoom faux pas. Weber correctly diagnoses that Zoom removes fear of judgment, but it also leads to lapses of judgment. We’ve all experienced this at some point this quarter: A student joins the Zoom call and leaves their mic unmuted, while the class listens to some gratuitous audio that resembles, at best, some badly-produced slice of life podcast. At worst, we hear your personal conversations and other dubious sounds.
Very few lecturers have the wherewithal to mute you themselves. Yes, it is disruptive, but more importantly, it can be distressing to unwittingly have your personal life aired out in front of 60 other people. When there is no tangible line between the classroom and home, it is much easier to let something slip. As a rule, disable your audio and video by default and turn it on as needed. If someone’s mic is on and they are clearly unaware of it, it only takes a few seconds to privately message them, “Hey, your mic is unmuted.” If I walked into class, stepped up to the podium, and started reading out my bank account details without knowing it, I’d hope someone would stop me. Weber points out that disengagement is the path of least resistance that isolates us from the community. While this is true, I don’t think it can be overcome with the goal of reconnecting with classmates and professors. Students might not want to be seen at all, given the choice. Unless there is significant take-up among students for sharing video, which I’ve only experienced when certain professors regularly ask the class to turn on their video, there is little external incentive to do so. I’ve found it to be more effective as a way to keep myself accountable rather than as a way to connect with peers. If I know others can see me, I need to be present and presentable. Another habit that online class has facilitated is nonattendance. When lectures are recorded, there seems to be little to gain from attending them live. While recorded lectures are beneficial for students in different time zones, those who
want to sleep in, have other conflicts, or want to revise at their own convenience, skipped lectures can pile up very quickly. Certainly, some may be able to get away with watching all the lectures right before finals, but that does not seem sustainable. Even first-years know by now that the quarter system does not stop for anyone. It is difficult to recover after falling behind in a term that only lasts nine weeks. For this reason, I encourage you to create a schedule for watching lectures asynchronously if you know you won’t be attending live. Even if you prefer life at 1.5x speed, having a lecture schedule prevents unnecessary all-nighters at the end of the quarter. Recordings have saved us from the horrors of more than a few 8 a.m. classes, but we cannot be complacent. Participation has followed a similar dynamic to attendance, albeit with some distinctions. As the quarter progresses, it seems that fewer people volunteer to speak in class. This is not something endemic to Zoom; participation drops off a cliff around fifth week even during in-person classes. Discussion is often dominated by a few vocal students quickest to raise their virtual hands. While there is usually not as much recourse for others, online and asynchronous learning have induced lecturers to offer alternative ways to participate, whether through discussion posts or short essay responses to class content. Students who have not yet done so should take full advantage of these policies. Check the syllabus to make sure you’re not being penalized for not attending class. Participation is usually graded subjectively, while these
measures level the playing field for participation grades. I hope they will persist even when UChicago returns to in-person instruction. While Weber’s goal of encouraging students to “opt-in” to participate is commendable, I worry that inertia keeps most of us far from doing so. There is a very low return to opting in, as unmuting and turning on my own video may not make me feel more connected as much as seeing others’ videos and hearing their voices may do. Even when our personal contribution benefits others, we are lazy and can free ride off other people’s participation. Prolonged silences after lecturers ask questions are a college phenomenon, not an online one. At the risk of sounding too cynical, it is easier to opt-in when we accept the link between our engagement in class and our academic performance rather than the benefits of prosocial behavior. While students across the board have adapted their class and study habits to Zoom needs, underlying these changes are the same heavy academic loads. We’ve responded in manners that are UChicago-esque for the most part, finding creative ways to adapt and persevere in the continual onslaught of work. We can’t let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of security by online learning. The UChicago roadmap remains unchanged at a fundamental level, but we are discovering new side streets and alternative routes that we cannot ignore going forward. Soham Mall is a fourth-year in the College.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
ARTS Aaron Sorkin’s Newest Film on Trial By ALISON GILL Arts Contributor The real-life trial of the Chicago Seven was made for the movies—or, more accurately, it was made for an Aaron Sorkin movie. The infamous 1969 trial of seven defendants charged by the federal government with conspiracy, arising from the countercultural protests in Chicago at the 1968 Democratic National Convention (DNC), represented a blockbuster political courtroom drama that featured its fair share of stakes, moralizing, and absurdity. So, naturally, Sorkin stepped in to translate it to the screen, serving as both director and writer. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is quintessential Sorkin: snappy dialogue, timely political anxieties, near-complete erasure of female characters, and a healthy dose of moral liberalism. This is proven ground for the screenwriter, so who am I to complain when it devolves into a rehash of his previous talking points? After all, this is a writer responsible for some of the best television and most iconic screenplays in the past three decades, ranging from The Social Network to The West Wing. Yet the film also offers a slight departure from Sorkin’s typical misty-eyed institutional idealism. There is no question about the outcome of the trial: That the bad guys will win this courtroom battle. Whether this disillusionment is a reflection of the realities of the trial—which preceded the election of Richard Nixon in dealing a death knell to the counterculture movement, or of our current loss of faith in national politics—is impossible to tell. The bad guys in this case are the United States government, led by prosecuting attorney Richard Schultz (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The good guys are our defendants, the targets of a political trial meant to restore the “law and order” that Nixon promised: Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), Rennie Davis (Alex Sharp), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), David Dellinger (John Carroll Lynch), Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Lee Weiner (Noah Robbins), and John Froines (Danny Flaherty). The defense is led by William Kunstler
There is no question about the outcome of the trial: That the bad guys will win this courtroom battle. courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times (Mark Rylance) and Leonard Weinglass (Ben Shenkman). These defendants are being charged with conspiracy to incite violence after the protests at the DNC turned to rioting. Of course, in an echo of modern politics, the violence began at the hands of overzealous police, removing badges and wielding tear gas. However, the undeniable villain of the movie is Judge Julius Hoffman (Frank Langella), who weaponizes his gavel to achieve the trial outcome that he desperately wants. Hoffman’s lack of judicial impartiality is well-documented and Sorkin depicts the celebrated japes, horrific actions, and prevailing sense of disbelief that occurred in that infamous 1969 trial. Abbie Hoffman and Rubin arriving in black robes to deride the judge? Julius Hoffman’s decision to exclude the testimony of the previous attorney general? A bizarre sequence in which Hoffman repeatedly mispronounces Dellinger’s name? All included to varying degrees of effect. Undoubtedly, the most famous and horrific scene concerns Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the co-founder of the Black Panther movement and the original eighth defendant in the trial. The charges against Seale are ridiculously contrived— he was in Chicago for only four hours and absent during the turn to violence—and he has no lawyer to defend him. All of this irks Julius Hoffman and frustrates his political agenda, so he has Seale bound and gagged
in the open courtroom. And there he sits, tied to his chair and rendered speechless, for all to see. It is difficult to imagine that this happened, but it did; and this image of blatantly monstrous racial humiliation is the lasting image of the trial, more so than the anti-war movement at its center. While it is true that Seale’s trial was severed from the other defendants shortly after this incident, it is a shame that Sorkin chooses to end Seale’s story here, leveraging his suffering but abandoning it before penetrating any deeper. The real-life trial offered plenty of moments that stretch the bounds of reality and theatrics, so it is disappointing when Sorkin deviates from the documented history. The most glaring is the depiction of Schultz as a man conflicted by the ethics of prosecuting defendants he feels are innocent—a choice that contradicts legal documents showing him to be a bulldog in the trial. It is an unnecessary complication that purports a misplaced nostalgia the last several years have shown to be both outdated and untrue. Where Sorkin truly succeeds is in depicting the fractures that ultimately spelled the demise of the counterculture movement. He reveals that the defendants are not just at odds with the government, but also with themselves. Tom Hayden believes that revolution lies in the vote and in the mastery of electoral politics; Abbie Hoffman favors cultural revolution. This
discourse is still ongoing, and, while Sorkin has a personal penchant for political change, he is astute to grant that Abbie Hoffman’s views have merit. Ultimately, it is difficult to overlook the near-excellence that the movie could have achieved in the hands of a more skillful director. Sorkin as a screenwriter is in a class of his own, but his directing chops are somewhat lacking. He is perfectly competent but never transcendent. His script— smart, incisive, occasionally daring—is often at odds with a directorial style that prefers musical swells and on-the-nose symbolism. Sorkin wants us to feel a certain way, and instead of letting us just feel that way, he instructs us to. His directing is helped by standout performances, although Eddie Redmayne is uninspired as Tom Hayden and the accent work across the ensemble is somewhat lacking. Expect Mark Rylance and Frank Langella to garner Oscar nominations for their diametrically-opposed but similarly impassioned portrayals. Jeremy Strong is enjoyable as the perpetually-stoned Jerry Rubin, and John Carroll Lynch is strong as the upstanding pacifist caught in the crosshairs. But the true revelation is Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman. He combines a biting intelligence with a depth of humanity and fervor that grounds a character who could have otherwise bordered on caricature. Discourse pulses through The Trial of the Chicago 7. It propels the movie during lagging moments but also makes it an exhausting watch. When the former attorney general tells the court that the “president is not a client of the attorney general,” the topicality of it nags at the current viewer. For a moment, it may inspire a flare of liberal righteousness but, more often, it strikes the viewer as a labored attempt to make clear the contemporaneous parallels. Ultimately, the hippies lost, the revolutionaries turned corporate, and the change that was promised was never quite delivered. Even Sorkin is beholden to this truth. The Trial of the Chicago 7 is streaming on Netrflix.
THE CHICAGO MAROON — NOVEMBER 18, 2020
SPORTS Autumn Activities in Hyde Park
Women’s Lacrosse practicing during their Fall Ball season. courtesy of alison sheehy
Lake day at the Point. courtesy of alie goldblatt
Third-year Alie Goldblatt running along Lake Michigan. courtesy of alie goldblatt
Maroons taking a final swim in Lake Michigan during November. courtesy of alison sheehy