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:

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.


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.”


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.”


All photos by Dominic Gwinn
from Roosevelt Torch


By Dominic Gwinn
Staff Reporter
from Roosevelt Torch

At the beginning of the Fall 2016 academic year, Roosevelt students utilizing the fifth floor of the Gage building found that their classrooms were under video surveillance.

Set unobtrusively in the ceilings of the classroom labs, the cameras were relatively unnoticed for the first few weeks of class with many students and professors simply unaware of their existence as there was never any notification from the Department of Communications or campus security.

Many students simply ignored the cameras and assumed that their installation was simply another layer of security, but when Roosevelt Journalism Professor John Fountain became aware that his classes were under constant surveillance he voiced his concerns within the Department of Communications, and in his weekly opinion column in the Chicago Sun-Times.

“There had been some departmental faculty discussion before the beginning of the semester about safety and security,” Fountain writes. “But I seem to have missed the memo on the decision to install cameras in Mac-equipped classrooms: two where courses are taught and that also serve as student computer labs; and another dedicated solely for student lab use.”

The Gage building’s fifth floor offers students enrolled in communications courses a variety of tools often required to complete assignments in journalism and media studies programs such as DSLR cameras, audio recorders and video cameras.

Labs within Gage’s fifth floor are also equipped with 27-inch Retina Display iMac computers that host photo, audio and video editing software required for students to complete class assignments. It is also home to student run media outfits like the Torch, the student radio and television operations, The Blaze, and RU Fire TV.

IMC Major Katie Hay wonders why no one was told about the cameras if they were indeed only to ensure the technology would be safe. “If it was for technology, why weren’t we told we were being filmed?” Hay said.

“I feel like it’s something more,” states 24-year-old Alexis Hauskin. “It’s not like someone’s going to carry out a whole desktop without someone noticing, you know?”

Currently, access to equipment is restricted to students majoring in degrees under Communications Department. Students seeking to check out equipment must first present a Roosevelt ID, and sign a release form which is logged into a system by a lab aide.

Equipment is rented out on a 24 hour basis. Lab computers are also limited to communications students, and monitored by a student lab aide Monday through Friday.

Paul Acosta, a 28-year-old junior, IMC major and military veteran, felt that the placement of cameras seemed odd. “A big part of security is being informed about security measures,” Acosta said. “The strangest thing to me is that we weren’t informed.”

“I was O.K. with them being in the labs,” admits 23-year-old RU Fire TV station manager Heather Rowlison, a senior Journalism major. “But when I found out that they were in the classroom it made me feel really uncomfortable because they had been running when we have had discussions in our classroom setting that, to me, I felt very secure and private.”

Rowlison’s disagreement with the cameras in the classrooms stems from the revelation of personal details about her life during the course of a class, and her lack of knowledge about the cameras.

“I would definitely say it made me feel very, very uncomfortable. I shared things in class that are part of my personal life, and I just would worry if someone were to hack into — years down the road, you know? Would it affect my chance of running for some sort of office? I don’t know that I will or won’t, but if they dig up some of this private stuff it would be very harmful to me.”

The camera’s footage, according to a source, are housed within the Communication Department’s private server, and any access is restricted to only a select group of trained Roosevelt staff. However, it remains unclear at this time what, if any, information was recorded, viewed or stored within the server.

Illinois state law does allow for video surveillance in public settings like classrooms, however audio recordings are restricted to “one-party” consent. Anyone wishing to record a conversation, according to the state law, must first obtain the permission from any individuals before recording.

The U.S. National Institute of Justice Research Report conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice in 1999 concluded that cameras cannot be used in places where one has “a reasonable expectation of privacy,” and that while surveillance of classrooms is often a contentious topic, “it is probably wise to use cameras in classrooms only when the teacher is given an option and notification that a camera is to be used.”

The report further states that, “Signage can be an important legal component in the use of video cameras in schools.”

In a statement to the Torch, Professor Fountain states, “The presence of surveillance cameras in the classroom isn’t something I could ever support because it potentially inhibits or discourages free and open discourse which ought to occur in the sanctity of a university classroom. The idea of surveillance cameras in the classroom, particularly a journalism classroom, seems to undermine free speech, free expression, a free press and violates the assumption of privacy within the classroom, even at a private university, especially one where we embrace “social justice.”

Fountain questioned if being recorded made some students less likely to participate in classroom discussions on certain subjects.

“I’m sure they were. And as a professor, I found it disconcerting having an electronic eye over my shoulder,” Fountain said.

After pressure from students and faculty, the cameras were removed during the first week of October. A brief statement was sent to students outlining new security protocols for accessing the Gage’s fifth floor. Students are now required to tap their Roosevelt IDs to a small electronic lock when accessing the the floor, similar to how students, faculty and staff already must tap their ID’s when entering the Wabash or Auditorium Building.

In a statement to the Torch regarding the cameras and subsequent security measures, Marian Azzaro, Chair of the Department of Communications at Roosevelt stated, “The Department of Communication installed security cameras when the computer labs were upgraded. The purpose was to protect the university’s investment. When a member of the community voiced concern regarding the security cameras, we discussed and took steps to select an alternative method and that alternative is currently being implemented. If members of the community have thoughts on safety or security, we hope they will speak to Campus Safety or their Department Chair.”

“I wouldn’t mind tapping into to get into the communication labs,” Rowlison said of the newly implemented security measures. “I’m a communication student, I utilize the equipment; I utilize the labs, and I feel that extra security is good because we have a lot of valuable things on this floor.”

“Transparency equals trust,” Hay said. “When you are transparent about that, what you intend to use this information for then we can all feel confident and not have to question why they’re doing this.”