The Student Government Association partnered with the Center for Student Involvement for a letter writing campaign in support of greater funding of Illinois’ Monetary Award Program (MAP) on Monday, January 30.

Dominic Gwinn
By Staff Writer
from Roosevelt Torch

Students, faculty and staff were encouraged to address their legislators to stress their personal need for access to affordable higher education institutions that are made possible through programs like MAP. The state funded grant to public and private colleges has seen as a point of contention between educators and lawmakers due to legislative gridlock in the state capitol.

“I think it’s a really great way to show that this is personal,” said Roosevelt SGA President Nathan Stoll. “When you see a handwritten letter that someone took a moment of their life to put into reality, and then send out, it’s impactful.”

MAP grants often affect the neediest students the most as much of the grant will cover books and tuition, however, the first-come, first-serve nature of the program has a tendency to leave students without a higher education.

Abril De La Paz, a 26 year-old biochemistry major, participated in the previous years campaign, and was encouraged to do so again.

“Some of my classmates really need the funding, said De La Paz. “They’re hurting really bad right now. Some of them can’t get their books, and a few people can’t even go to school. I’m really lucky to have it, so I’m going to write again.”

The campaign comes as lawmakers in Springfield continue to debate over a mountain of unpaid bills totalling around $11 billion. The majority of state services have continued to function, though largely by through a tangled web of laws, court orders, and spending agreements with varying interest rates. Illinois currently operates on the framework of its last completed budget from 2014, but without the tax increase instituted in 2011.

“I see that students are struggling everyday,” said Assistant Director of CSI Chris Littrell. “We have students come in saying, ‘I can’t afford to pay tuition,’ or, ‘I can’t buy books,’ and it’s difficult to know that there’s money that has been promised to them at one point, that has existed. It’s just not being given to the universities.”

On February 8, SGA and the Office of Government Relations will with students to Springfield to rally ahead of Governor Rauner’s State of the State address where they will be joined by students from multiple universities in calling for greater access to funding for colleges and universities. Students interested should contact SGA, or CSI.


By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter

Roosevelt’s Student Government Association held a meeting on Thursday, November 30 to discuss outreach initiatives for the forthcoming Spring 2017 semester. Students proposed several ideas aimed at increasing participation in SGA, and SGA’s presence throughout the university.

Suggestions included changing SGA meeting times to better accommodate students, recruitment initiatives, as well as the possibility of a liaison to work directly with student organizations on Roosevelt’s Chicago campus.

“As an organization, those of us on SGA are working towards bringing more student voices and perspectives into our assembly meetings,” said Brandon Glynn, SGA Chairman of Campus Life. “Reaching out and inviting other student organizations to have representation will allow for us to better advocate for the student body and in turn build up SGA’s presence as a resource for the university.”

Several organizations have expressed their own concerns over a lack of student participation in organizations this semester. Though Roosevelt historically has not had a student population comparable in size to other universities throughout Chicagoland, student registration has been down at universities throughout city this past year, including Roosevelt.

“For now our numbers are few,” said SGA President Nathan Stoll. “But we’re currently composed of a small group of highly dedicated students who care about advocating for student interests and fighting for what the students want.”

Student groups like the Black Student Union and Association of Latin American Students, or fraternities like Alpha Phi Omega and Alpha Gamma Delta, all represent unique student interests, says Stoll, and student government serves to aid students by helping them get their voices heard.

“SGA is for the students,” said Stoll. “We are always looking for students who want to make a difference on campus or advocate for their own rights. We are changing things up a bit from the past, and our tomorrow holds the hope of finding new methods to best serve the purpose we’ve had since our beginning.”



Danial Aziaz Khan talks about Pakistan elections. Photo by Dominic Gwinn.

By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

On Thursday, November 3, Students from Roosevelt’s International Student Association, in conjunction with the International Studies Program, held a series of lectures discussing the differences in elections throughout the world. Moderated by Roosevelt professor of political science and international studies Phillip Hultquist, the student-led panel detailed election methodologies in Pakistan, India, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as some of the problems faced by citizens of those countries in their own unique electoral processes.

With the intent of bridging cultural divides, students talked about the structures of their governments, the differences in voting procedures, as well as some of the challenges faced in conducting elections.

“The student presenters did a great job of showing how elections work in their countries,” said Hultquist. “They highlighted some troubling aspects for democratic norms, such as undue influence from the military, corruption, and political dynasties…You know it’s a good event when you have to cut off discussion to stay on time or when people stick around after the presentations are over to keep talking about the issues.”

Bernice Kasongo, an 18, year-old Biochemistry student from the Democratic Republic of Congo, spoke earnestly her country, and found insight in how other others, despite their cultures differences, deal with local elections, political corruption and the disillusionment with the political process.

“It was good to hear about the elections from people that have no interest in lying about it,” said Kasango. “They told us the truth about how elections actually go even if the process was unfair sometimes due to corruption.”

Kasango explained that in many countries democracy is hard to achieve due to dictators or disaffected citizens who feel that they have no say in their countries. “I feel that it was important for students to know how elections go outside of the U.S because they can realize that it is important to vote,” Kasango said. “Statistics show that people of the age of 18-35 are the ones that vote less. So, we wanted to show them how important it is to vote because some people do not even have that opportunity.”

Samawi “Sam” Al Helli, a 29 year-old student from Iraq working towards his Masters in computer science, spoke about Iraqi elections and urged students about the importance of voting.

“…The whole point of the event is sharing with [students] how elections work overseas and comparing it to how it works here in America, and how important it’s even if it was one single vote. It can make a difference. No vote goes in vain even if the candidate you voted for didn’t win.”


By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

With Roosevelt University facing severe financial stress, the current administration held several meetings with Roosevelt’s Student Government Association. Incoming Provost Lois Becker and President Ali Malekzadeh answered questions from students on Nov. 2 and Nov. 9, respectively, in order to ease the concern of students, accept comments and suggestions and inform students about some of the potential policies being considered.

Students questioned Provost Becker and President Ali about changes in Roosevelt policies, such as its commitment to social justice, tuition increase, and the sale or lease of large assets like the Gage building and University Center.

“We’re going to be here for another 70 to 100 years,” President Malekzadeh said, assuring students. “There will be up and downs. We had enrollment challenges last year, mainly because of MAP, so fewer students showed up. We have to cut our costs.”

President Malekzadeh then explained why Roosevelt is in the financial position that it is currently.

“When they built this building they didn’t do any fundraising for it,” said President Malekzadeh. “Therefore debt on this building is very high, that puts pressure on our budget. You saw tuition go up, like, three percent on average. That was the reason for it. What I’m trying to do is cut our costs as much as possible without hurting your education in the classroom.”

President Malekzadeh explained that to low student enrollment had left Roosevelt with an abundance of space, allowing for a consolidation of university resources. In order to stem the possible tide.

“What we’re trying to do is use the facilities that we have as much as possible. Gage costs us significant millions of dollars every year to operate. We’re not using it as much as we should, or we have extra capacity in this building. We should be using that.”

Students also questioned Provost Becker and President Malekzadeh about initiatives to not only retain current students, but also attract new students as well. Other concerns addressed at the meeting ranged widely from plans for Schaumberg, mentoring programs, repairs to the Auditorium building, attracting new students and transfer students, as well as the types of marketing being done to attract students and businesses to invest in the university.

“There is a Faculty Leadership Team that is currently identifying the learning outcomes for a new general education program,” Provost Becker stated in an email to the Torch about some of the initiatives being undertaken by fine-tune programs. “I want to support the reforming of general education and make sure that the Roosevelt undergraduate education prepares students for careers and graduate school. Roosevelt has a strong tradition of experiential education. I want to expand that work and make sure that students can use these opportunities to best take advantage of the job market and continuing education.”

In a statement to the Torch, SGA President Nathan Stoll stated that he was glad to see the both the Provost and the President listen to the concerns of the students, and that the SGA was working toward hearing more student concerns.

“We have these meetings with people like Provost Becker and President Ali in an effort to provide an outlet for students to speak directly with the people who make the policies of our university,” said Stoll. “We’re looking now to start bringing in some of the Vice Presidents in for open floor forums where students can share their experience, ideas, and grievances with the people charged to serve our students and our school…we’re hoping more students come to our open meetings every Wednesday to speak up about the problems they face.”

Fountain: In my rainbow class, a palpable air of mourning

The following post originally appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times under the byline of John W. Fountain on 11/11/2016. John Fountain was Dominic’s professor at Roosevelt University in 2016, and is a regular columnist for the Sun-Times.

On the morning after, I wore black. Black turtleneck. My professorial black suede jacket. Black slacks. Wine shoes for a spray of color — a ray of hope.

I was in mourning. Not for the loss we will all suffer for having now elected a sexist bigot to be leader of the Free World. Mourning for those who ultimately will live to regret it as this country is whisked into a whirlwind of born-again hate and the campaign promises turn up empty. For “we” gon’ be all right.

But inside my classrooms at Roosevelt University this week, the air was palpably somber. A journalism class that resembles a rainbow — Latina, white, black, a student from Ukraine, straight, gay — we are America.

Usually optimistic, some students were reduced to tears — angry, fearful, dismayed — over the democratic elections that yielded President-elect Donald J. Trump.

While not in my lesson plan, circumstance demanded we discuss the matter at hand. Some could. Some could not.

Tears flowed.

“I couldn’t help but notice today was not a good day for you. …Intended to speak with you after class, but you left before I could,” I later wrote to one student. “Hope all is well.”

“I’m OK,” my student Dominic Gwinn wrote back days later. “I was reeling from the results of the election and what that means for me as a journalist, as a student, and as a young white male who has worked so tirelessly to abolish the kind of thinking that is unfortunately so pervasive. Injustices were seemingly validated. I’ve always known that they still existed. But their prevalence in modern society made me physically ill.

“I stayed up all night co-hosting an election party for my internship, and I was the last soul trying to maintain hope and optimism until everyone left in tears. When I finally got home, I turned on some music and I wept alone like a child. …I tried to breathe, but my lungs knew only deep heavy sobs.

“Is this what people wanted? Did they not remember the wars, the economic catastrophe, the racial and sexual bigotry, state-sanctioned torture, domestic spying, environmental destruction of just 10 years ago?

“Are they ignorant? Or do they just not care? Do they just not know how much work was done in the town they — with disdain and loathing — call ‘the Swamp?’

“They deride the lot of residents who sacrifice their own votes to live in a city where their job is to help people all over the world.

“And the people who work tirelessly in windowless rooms to make sure tomorrow is, at the very least, not as bad as yesterday, are simply nothing more than cogs in a machine that needed to be dismantled?

“There’s no plan to fix anything or rebuild, just the false promise that everything will be better after it’s all destroyed.

“It was like being stabbed. The fresh wound pours warm blood, soaking everything it touches. With trembling hands, and jaw agape, cool air rushed toward the hole in my chest, and the pain began to sink in…

“Eight years ago, I stood out on the Mall one cold, blustery day, to see a man tell us all: That we’d won the fight, but our battle had just begun. There would be losses, and there would be setbacks. But we couldn’t stop now. Not yet…

“I’m a journalist, and there’s a story to tell.”

I told Dominic and other students that in the words of Kendrick Lamar: “We gon’ be all right.” That I am encouraged simply because of who they are: Our best hope.

Not just a ray but a rainbow.