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Oakton Community College

Des Plaines Campus 1600 East Golf Road Des Plaines, IL 60016

Ray Hartstein Campus 7701 North Lincoln Ave. Skokie, IL 60077

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This publication is funded in part by the student activity fee paid at the time of registration. Editorials in the OCCurrence express the opinion of the editorial board, and/or the author, but do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the advisor, faculty, staff or administration of Oakton Community College We reserve the right to edit all submitted material for content and to fit available space. Content © 2014 The OCCurrence. All rights reserved.

October 26th, 2015

Leaders Converge for the 2015 By Jorell Espinosa Justice Summit Community leaders from all over District 535 met at the Skokie campus on Oct. 11 to discuss community-building initiatives led by Open Communities. Open Communities is a north suburban housing, advocacy, economic, and social justice service organization. Among those present at the summit were Oakton President Joianne Smith, Chief Diversity Officer Michael Anthony, State Representative Robyn Gabel, and a handful of Oakton student volunteers. One intriguing question was how to engage more with individuals within the community. An example would be low voter turnout and how to get people more involved. The general consensus was that education and continued engagement early in life could have an impact. “People have to wake up. Staying awake to the possible problems that can happen,” said Anthony. “We get rocked to sleep, we get complacent.” According to Jes Scheinpflug, director of communications for Open Communities, there are many ways for students to stay engaged and fight complacency. There are social media and advocacy avenues, but the organization is also looking for fair housing testers. The testers pose as home renters and buyers to gather evidence to pursue discrimination claims. Potential testers are required to go through a training session, but the work pays a small stipend and covers some travel costs. There are also student groups at Oakton that are actively engaged in improving the community. Mushtag Jajju was one student at the summit who aspires to take his experiences from student life and apply them to the community at large. “Involvement leads to more understanding and practicing,” said Anthony. “I think student

organizations give you an outlet to connect with people who identify like you.” Some of the themes covered at the summit were the concept of creating a more welcoming community, affordable housing, inclusivity and equality, and creating an ecologically sustainable community. “When I came in 2013, it was interesting to think about how you’re welcomed into a community and how you’re invited into a community,” said Anthony during the opening remarks. “Being invited in is a very different thing.” The approach is woven throughout the culture of the college. Something as small as naming a location can make a difference. For example, the Enrollment Center’s Main Desk has a different connotation than the Enrollment Center’s Front Desk. Stepping away from the “front lines” mentality may be a small change, but it adds to the collective educational environment. Another example would be how the college approaches enrollment for undocumented students. While such students are welcomed at Oakton, Anthony explained, undocumented students are not able to apply online, unlike most other students. The summit touched upon interactions with our elected officials and other community leaders. “Our elected officials are not super people. They can’t do everything for us,” said Marin Hadden, project manager for the Participatory Budgeting Project. In essence, participatory budgeting is a democratic practice where community members decide how to spend public monies. How people participate in that process varies, but Rep. Gabel recommended not to go alone; it is better to talk to officials with various groups backing you.

“Defamation:” Court Drama Makes Audience the Jury By Kevin Gau “Defamation,” a play written by Todd Logan and directed by Richard Shavzin, has been performed on more than 160 stages across the country since 2010. As defined by the Oxford Dictionary, defamation is “the action of damaging the good reputation of someone.” Performances, brought to Oakton as part of a mid-west tour by Canamac Productions, happen each spring and fall semester. This semester, “Defamation” was performed on Sept. 29 at the Skokie campus and on Oct. 1 at the Des Plaines campus. The six cast members – Judge Adrian Barnes (played by Malcolm Rothman), Ms. Allen (Kimm Beavers), Regina Wade (Stacie Doublin), Mr. Golden (Richard E. Shavzin), Mr. Lawton (Jonathan Nichols), and Lorraine Jordan (Gina Taliaferro) entered the room and directed their attention toward the audience. At that moment, the audience became the jury as they listened to a court case involving defamation. Regina Wade was suing Mr. Golden for defamation. She was trying to prove, as the program

explained, that “a false statement that was made about Wade to a third party, and she was financially damaged as a direct result of a false statement.” The plot involved Golden accusing Wade of stealing his watch, a family heirloom. The courtroom drama has been seen by thousands of people over the past five years. One reverend who saw it, Gessell Berry of Sherman United Methodist Church in Evanston, said later, “The only way we’re going to close the gap among races, classes, and religion is through civil discourse. “Defamation” provides the first step, ” according to the production’s website. Just like in real court cases like at the Skokie Courthouse, the defendants and plaintiffs go head to head to prove their points. After watching the deliberations, the audience then decides the verdict. This program was funded by the Office of Access, Equity & Diversity. To find out more about the play and its 2015 National Tour, see

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