The Dan Ryan Shutdown

On July 8, 2018, several thousand protesters converged on the Dan Ryan Expressway on Chicago’s South Side to protest gun violence. The march was organized and led by Father Michael Pfleager of St. Sabina’s Church. I covered this event in for Wonkette, and later created an in-depth photo-essay on social media after seeing national and international news coverage that distorted the the protest.

At the time, several prominent news outlets implied protesters wrested control of the highway from the Illinois State Police and shutdown all north bound lanes of traffic. Using my own personal location data and photos, I show how the Chicago Police Department initially allowed protesters onto the highway. It was the CPD, in cooperation with the Illinois State Police, who blocked the two north-bound traffic lanes. Later, the Illinois State Police closed off all north-bound traffic on the highway after stalling protesters around the 76th st. overpass for about an hour.

You can find my initial story on Wonkette at the following link:
https://www.wonkette.com/dan-ryan-protest

My photo-essay can be found on Twitter:


The following photos are my own, and are posted under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license. If you wish to use these photos, please contact me.

GAGE GALLERY EXHIBIT HIGHLIGHTS HIDDEN URBAN GREENSPACES

By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery welcomed its newest photography exhibit, Rooftop: Second Nature, by Brad Temkin, on Feb. 9. The gallery highlights the rarely seen garden spaces hidden on rooftops throughout the world.

Rooftop’s focus is to show seemingly invisible presence of nature within the urban landscapes. As cities continue to grow in size and presence, architects and planners are increasingly incorporating natural spaces within the developments of cities, though these spaces are often largely invisible. Temkin’s goal with Rooftop is to shine a light on these uncommon gardens.

“When I first started this, when a person would say, ‘green roof’, literally they thought of the color green being painted on,” Temkin said in speaking with the Torch about some of the hardships he faced in completing the project. “There was one picture I made at a Best Buy where I had to climb up this ladder up to the top, and I had to bring my equipment up. I had to go up and down this ladder four times carrying equipment. By the fourth time my arms were burning.”

Through aerial photography and urban exploration, Temkin’s work shows the almost private spaces nestled quietly atop skyscrapers in Switzerland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, including Chicago’s City Hall and Roosevelt itself.

“I really like his way of connecting to your environment,” said Liz Serrata, 26, an elementary art teacher. “You look at these things and you don’t ever think about them. For him, he sees a completely different world and how we affect the environment and vice versa.”

Julia Ponce, a 22 year-old an exchange student from Spain, expressed her admiration for Temkin’s concentration on advocacy, and how the gallery helped show how a city can come together in unexpected ways through something as simple as a small garden in the middle of urban sprawl.

“This is actually saying something about how a city can be sustainable,” said Ponce. “It goes farther than just the beauty of photography.”

As Roosevelt senior Larnel Cox, 33, a marketing major, stated that, as a fan of rooftop green spaces, he was interested to see the exhibit through Temkin’s eyes, and to expose himself to new ideas.

“I know that the university here has rooftop gardens, and I’ve been up to some of the other buildings, like City Hall with them. I was interested to what they looked like,”Cox said. “I’m going to think about trying to incorporate some things if I ever get to a point where I have some rooftop space…maybe incorporate a garden – taking the actual garden that’s in my home and putting some of it on the rooftop.”

The exhibit can be viewed at Roosevelt’s Gage Gallery now through May 6.

ROOSEVELT HOLDS ANNUAL BLOOD DRIVE FOR COMMUNITY SERVICE WEEK

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By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

On Thursday, February 2, Roosevelt held its annual blood drive. Sponsored by the Center for Student Involvement, the blood drive served as a part of Community Service Week, a week long event that encouraged Roosevelt students, faculty and staff to become involved in the greater community.

Despite an initially slow turn out, the event was seen as a success according to Keela Gray, the South Region Collections Supervisor for LifeSource, a Chicago area blood collection agency, who worked in conjunction with Roosevelt to facilitate the blood drive.

“It started off a little slow but it’s starting to pick up now,” said Gray. “It’s great, a lot of students had classes earlier this morning; when classes ended we saw a pick up in the traffic of donor flow.”

Participants ranged from regular donors to “first timers,” according to Gray, and included numerous students and staff.

“I’ve never done it before,” said 18 year-old Isabelle Street, a freshman Biology major after donating for the first time. “Every single time in highschool I’d chicken out. I said, ‘I need to do this.’ I’m trying to do more good than bad this year.”

Despite the willingness of many donors, Gray says that nurses are trained to make sure that patients are not only willing, but healthy enough to donate.

“For our first time donors that are a little bit nervous we talk to them, walk them through the process,” said Gray. “Give them a chance to ask any questions that they may have. We try to soothe their anxiety in any way that we can. So, if it’s telling a joke, making them laugh, whatever it takes to make the donor comfortable.”

Twenty year-old Carl Cannon, a Junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, has been donating blood for several years since graduating high school. Cannon, who donating a double count of whole blood, explained how his first experience convinced him to become a regular donor.

“They said I was O+,” said Cannon, squeezing a small red ball while a large machine hummed next to him. “I’m not going to be able to donate for a month or two, but it helps get to people faster, so I figured why not?”
Other students, like Alex Hanley, a Senior majoring in Psychology, and Madleen Naser, a 20 year-old Criminal Justice major, stressed the importance of donating, and offered some advice for prospective donors.

“I think it’s fun to think about how many people the blood impacts,” said Hanley as she relaxed at the small cantina eating some snacks after her donation. “Literally just breathing through it and relaxing when it happens makes it a lot more bearable.”

“I think everyone should,” said Naser. “Everyone who’s eligible to give blood should because you can save lives. You feel dizzy, but great after.”

SGA HOLDS FIRST MEETING OF SPRING SEMESTER

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Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

The Roosevelt Student Government Association held their first meeting of the Spring 2017 semester. Topics discussed ranged from updating the Roosevelt student handbook, continuing an outreach initiative to attract additional students to the SGA, and garnering attention and support for a rally at the Illinois state capitol in Springfield in support of higher education funding through MAP grants.

“We’re going through a lot of changes, administrative as well as financial, so it’s important that the student body is on the same level,” said SGA Vice President, James Davis. “SGA needs to be the hub for that, where students can come together and talk about these changing issues in a common space.”

For the coming year, the SGA would like to focus on policies specific to expanding Roosevelt’s ongoing mission of social justice, says Davis, and the annual release of Roosevelt’s student handbook is a key tool in instituting that mission among students.
“As we start doing more productive changes I think more people will start noticing us and will hop on board,” said SGA President Nathan Stoll about the organization’s efforts to attract more students for involvement in student government.

“I thought it was very interesting to see the various student bodies express their concerns with what goes on in the school,” said Charles Harris, a recent transfer student and political science major who attended the SGA meeting. “I thought that it was very interesting to see that the student government body would have this much of an impact in such a big school to affect the stability of the students as a whole. I thought that was pretty cool.”

Other topics discussed were a planned meeting with the administration to discuss certain aspects of the food service available in the cafeteria so that the administration is aware of students’ concerns, and the planning of additional events throughout the semester.

The SGA also urged that students come forward and voice concerns through active participation in student government.

“If they don’t feel comfortable coming to us in a public meeting, that’s totally acceptable,” said Stoll. “The best way to make your voice heard is to come to the meetings, let us know that you want to bring something and we’ll set aside some time for you to speak your peace.”

Students with questions, comments and suggestions for the SGA can leave a message in a suggestion box at the Center for Student Involvement in WB 317, or attend SGA meetings, now held in the Spertus Lounge, AUD 244.

ROOSEVELT GIFTED $25 MILLION BY LONG TIME DONORS

Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

Roosevelt was recently gifted $25 million dollars from the estate of the late Rosaline Cohn, and her daughter, the late Marcia Cohn. This marks the largest donation in the school’s 72 year history.

“This magnificent gift will be used to support student scholarships in accordance with Mrs. Rosaline Cohn wishes,” President Malekzadeh said in a statement. “Mrs. Cohn believe in the transformative nature of higher education. She was a long-time friend and supporter of Roosevelt University and for several decades has helped Roosevelt students through the Jacob and Rosaline Cohn Scholarship fund.”

Long time donors of Roosevelt, Mrs. Cohn’s late husband, Jacob, was one of the school’s first contributors, giving $200 to the school in 1945 shortly after opening. An immigrant who began a successful coffee business in Chicago, Mr. Cohn was an annual donor to Roosevelt.

“The purpose is it’s dedicated completely to scholarship funds,” said Dan Jones, vice president of institutional advancement and chief development officer in an interview with the Torch. “It will become part of the Cohn family scholarship fund.”

About $1.2 million will be available for student scholarships as the university will spend approximately five percent each year, according to Jones.

Patricia Harris, chair of Roosevelt’s Board of Trustees, said that the gift will “increase the strength of Roosevelt’s endowment and perpetuate the University’s mission of enabling deserving and talented students to achieve a first rate education. We are overwhelmed with the size and generosity of this gift and are extremely grateful to Mrs. Cohn for her thoughtfulness and devotion to Roosevelt University.”

The donation comes at a time when many students are struggling to obtain the necessary funding to continue their higher education goals due to a decrease in the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program grants, as well as Roosevelt’s continued austerity measures.

SGA AND CSI LEAD CAMPAIGN FOR SCHOOL FUNDING

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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.

SGA DISCUSSES OUTREACH INITIATIVES

sga-4
By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from

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.”