UIC Faculty Strike Ends as Sides Agree on Contract

By Laaiba Mahmood • January 23rd, 2023

UIC strike protesters

UIC faculty and supporters march through campus on Jan. 19. (Photo/Lulu Anjanette)

Classes resume Monday as faculty and administration settle on four-year deal after weeklong strike.

After nine months of negotiations and a weeklong campus strike, UIC’s faculty union and administration agreed to terms on a four-year deal late Sunday night. Classes resume Monday as the two sides continue to nail down final details.

The deal, which includes across-the-board raises as well as minimum salaries for tenure-track and non-tenure track faculty. The two sides agreed on $4.5 million in funding for student mental health care earlier in the week.

Sunday night’s agreement came on the heels of what both sides said was strong progress during a bargaining session that went late into Friday night. During that meeting, the administration agreed to an across-the-board raise, and both parties have settled on a first-ever $2,500 increase to all base salaries, prorated for full-time employment.

Other details of the contract, which must be ratified by an upcoming union member vote, are:

  • Increased minimum salaries for the lowest paid faculty: $60,000 NTT and $71,500 TT
  • 20% raise pools over the course of the four-year contract
  • Stronger job protections for non-tenure track faculty
  • Expanded Non-Discrimination & Anti-Harassment policies
  • Increased professional development funds
  • The non-contractual, public commitments on expanding resources for student wellness and establishing psychoeducational testing

Slideshow: Red Line Project photojournalist Lulu Anjanette captured the events at the Jan. 19 faculty rally


Previous Coverage

Entering Sunday’s talks, the union was still asking more from the administration on minimum salaries and raise pools. The union proposed a $60,000 minimum for the non-tenure track and a $75,000 minimum for the tenure track, both a $10,000 increase over the current minimums. Management was proposing $58,140 for non-tenure track and $70,278 for tenure-track.

“We agreed to a four-year contract, but remain 3% apart on merit, compression, and equity raises over the course of the four years,” the union said in an email distributed Friday night. “We also need to negotiate retroactive pay, the order of operations for various types of raises, and a return-to-work agreement before we could suspend the strike.”

Friday was the fourth day of the strike after a 32nd bargaining session Wednesday night failed to end with an agreement. The session proved fruitful as the sides came agreed on the across-the-board raises.

“While we are more hopeful than we have been in a while, there is no guarantee that management will fulfill our hopes for this weekend,” a union membership email said. “We’ve certainly been disappointed before. This means we need all of you working to make sure we are prepared to continue a strong strike on Monday.”

Faculty had been striking over four key issues: Fair minimum salaries and salaries that keep up with inflation; earlier reappointment notice for non-tenure track faculty; Due process for tenure track faculty; mental health resources and learning disability assessments for students. Negotiations with university administration had been ongoing since last spring, and faculty went on strike late last Monday night after a 12-hour negotiating day.

Becky Bonarek, a non-tenure track tutorium in English lecturer and a member of the UICUF bargaining team, said Wednesday’s session was disappointing.

“We really feel the lack of respect and the lack of top-down leadership,” Bonarek said. “Every year in the last four years, there has been a strike for a major union on campus and we’re getting the same treatment again and again and we feel that lack of respect at the bargaining table.”

At noon Thursday, UICUF held a rally in the UIC East Campus Quad. Speakers included members of other major unions on campus including GEO, SEIU Local 73 and the Illinois Nurses Association. Members of the Illinois Legislature and Robert Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, also spoke.

UIC strike protester

Faculty member Virginia Costello pauses to listen to a speech during the UIC strike rally on Jan. 19. Among the things the union negotiated for — better mental health care for students. (Photo/Lulu Anjanette)

Students that attended Thursday’s rally also expressed gratitude toward the faculty for striking to support student needs. Earlier in the week, the UIC administration committed $4.5 million over six years toward student mental-health services after pressure from the union during Monday’s bargaining session.

“I think it’s important that they’re fighting for disability testing,” Junior Chloe Swerdlick said. “I am fortunate enough to have had resources to get testing, but a lot of students here don’t. You have to have testing to get accommodations, so they’re suffering in class because we don’t have those services. Knowing that UIUC has them and we don’t is quite frustrating.”

Students also recognized faculty members’ roles often go beyond just educating students.

“Our faculty are the backbone of this school,” Senior Shruti Bharatia said. “Many students will go to them for support and to talk to them because we don’t have enough mental health services. They’re the backbone not only for students’ education but also for their mental health.”


Twitter iconSocial media coverage: Ongoing coverage of the strike over social channels


Felix Celestino, a junior and Undergraduate Student Government Director of Student Life, showed support for the faculty strike. | Full audio of Celestino

“Students around me have been saying things like, ‘I pay too much money to not be being taught right now,’” Celestino said. “To a certain degree, I agree. We shouldn’t be in this position. The UIC administrators should have been doing more to stop the strike before it started. I challenge those who don’t support the strike to do further research for themselves.”

Faculty are encouraging students to get educated on the strike’s key issues. Additionally, they are asking students to send an email to Chancellor Javier Reyes to voice their support.

“This is a great moment to challenge yourself to find out the facts, find out the information and then pick a side and join us at the picket line or put pressure on us to stop,” said Virginia Costello, a non-tenure track senior lecturer in English. “Of course, I prefer that you join us, but I’m an instructor and I prefer students to think critically rather than follow what everyone else is doing.”

The UICUF bargaining team has written a letter to UIC students. Team members have also provided a document with a detailed guide to their bargaining aims.

Many students’ main source of information about the faculty strike comes from official emails sent by the university.

“Having these ominous emails about tuition increases is a scary thing to read and I think the university is using that to [its] advantage,” said Hanna Ghalyoun, a clinical psychology doctoral student. “I don’t think it’s OK. Unless I’m going out of my way to find my own information, I only see the UIC administration’s point of view.”

The university administration has not been available for comment during the negotiations, but it continues to provide strike updates through email and a website. Late Friday afternoon, the chancellor’s office released a video statement by Reyes asking for both sides to resolve the strike and settle on a fair contract.

“We’re hopeful that something can be settled on Friday,” Bonarek said. “But we’re willing to continue striking.”


Archives: Coverage of the 2019 UIC graduate assistant strike


Editor’s note: The student journalists produced this story while working as paid freelancers, not as part of a class assignment. Mike Reilley, the editor of The Red Line Project, is a member of the UICUF. Read more about our principles and policies.

What They’re Saying: Social Media Coverage of UIC Faculty Strike

By Staff • January 23rd, 2023

UIC faculty and supporters rally in the quad on campus on Thursday. (Photo/Lulu Anjanette)

News of UIC’s faculty strike that ended late Sunday night spread far and wide. Here’s a summary of social media coverage as well as messages from the union, faculty, students and others. This page will be updated frequently through the end of the strike. For full coverage, photos and multimedia, read this story.

Multimedia: Red Line Project photojournalist Lulu Anjanette captured the events at the Jan. 19 faculty rally: Slideshow | Video


Coverage of Final Day of Bargaining


Week 1: Jan. 16-21 Coverage

Data: Chicago Schools Spared in Gun Violence Epidemic

By Justin Valle, Nicholas Williams and Langston Neurohr • December 5th, 2022

While gun violence continues to be a threat in Chicago, the issue in the city’s schools often takes place as isolated incidents between students, and not large-scale school massacres that are seen in instances like Uvalde, Texas, data shows.

Although there are also many reports and incidents of gun violence at schools in Chicago, they typically are smaller incidents and aren’t intended as large school massacres with random targets. Out of the nine school shooting incidents in Chicago since 1990, only two people have died while 16 have been injured, mostly as the result of robberies, gang feuds or stray bullets.

Erin Riordan, a teacher at Senn High School, said, “I feel like stuff on a larger scale is more likely to happen outside of our school than inside. I do think that school for a lot of our students is like a pretty safe place.”

As of  Nov 11, Chicago has already seen 2,755 gun-related crimes in 2022. Only 160 arrests were made as a result of those cases.

From Jan. 1 to July 20, Chicago saw the highest number of mass shootings from any city in the nation. Not including the Highland Park mass shooting, Chicago saw 24 mass shootings in the first half of 2022. Although the number of mass shootings is incredibly high in Chicago, most of them don’t make nationwide news coverage as they are the result of targeted gang feuds and take place in unsafe neighborhoods.


Read more: Brother of Uvalde Victim Struggling to Move on


The Highland Park Fourth of July parade shooting took many by surprise since this shooting happened in a very upscale community just north of the city. 

In late May, Uvalde became the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Eighteen-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, and opened fire into two classrooms. Of the 21 fatal victims, 19 of them were children all under the age of 12. Those 21 families would never be the same.

Julian Salazar, a member of one of the Uvalde families, learned through a phone call that his sister, Layla Salazar, 11 was at the site of a school shooting. The Salazar family waited at the Civic Center in Uvalde for hours for confirmation regarding their daughter. It wasn’t until 10 p.m that the Salazars, along with other families, would learn what they dreaded most. 

That day brought sorrow and pain, but the following weeks would bring anger and a series of what-ifs. 

“I didn’t know how my sister was or if she was crying and probably calling our names or now we wouldn’t see her,” Julian Salazar recalled.

Controversy regarding the engagement of law enforcement and gun control laws stemmed from the shooting. Many questions were targeted toward Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott, a conservative and pro-gun advocate. Despite Abbott’s failure, he successfully won his reelection for governor. Abbott won Uvalde County with 77% of the vote.

Abbott has worked to make it even easier to obtain firearms. For example, last year he passed a constitutional carry act. In Texas, an 18-year-old can walk into an arms dealership and start the process to purchase a firearm. That same individual cannot buy beer.

Studies show Uvalde’s beliefs are based on its rural roots. Many residents are Republicans who are accustomed to living a particular lifestyle. Uvalde is a small town with regular people who simply live the life they aspire for. It’s truly an honest living. No one expected the shooting to happen. But maybe small towns should be cautious going forward.

In fact, mass school shootings are more likely to happen in small towns and suburbs than large cities. Out of the 19 largest school shootings by victims in America since 1982, 12 of them have taken place in towns with less than 50,000 residents, five happened in towns with under 100,000 residents, and only 2 of them took place in communities with over 100,000 residents.

Nicole Nguyen, associate professor of criminology, law & justice, and educational policy studies, makes note of the much easier access to guns in smaller communities, saying it is “in part about getting access to guns in ways that other people [in cities] might not have access to guns.” 

Nguyen also mentions that gun violence and mass shooting are only the end result of much more structural conditions, “you can take away the guns, but you’d still have this rage – but also what has produced that rage in society, what has told that young person the way you solve social problems is through the enactment of violence.

Nguyen said she believes some of the most notable structural conditions that foster these types of reactions, surround the ideas of “masculinity, whiteness, and white supremacy” in U.S. society.

While cities’ stricter gun laws certainly restrict a student’s ability to access a firearm, the social conditions and ideologies that result in these tragedies can’t be legislated upon. Riordan of Senn believes the diversity of schools in the city helps combat such ideologies.

“I think there’s a lot of different people that go to Senn, and a lot of different beliefs and backgrounds, and I think that’s helpful in accepting of other people,” Riordan says. “So, I feel less threatened, or I feel like there’s less of a threat of like a student being really singled out that way, and feeling hopeless in that manner”

Although Riordan believes that a community like Chicago is more capable of developing accepting individuals, she still worries about the phenomenon of school shootings, but working in CPS has built up her tolerance to deal with such external worries, saying “I feel I kind of compartmentalize it like I do all the weird stuff that happens at CPS, and kind of just go on with my day.”

While mass school shootings may not be a concern for all Chicagoans, the threat of becoming a victim of gun violence is still a very prevalent fear among many residents and commuters of Chicago.

As many students are traveling from suburbs to unfamiliar territory in Chicago there are some worries that go through their head. Anthony Odicho, a senior at the University of DePaul’s Loop campus is one of these students that worries.

“It does scare me to an extent.”, he said. “I often receive emails about public safety near my campus and I fear that anything can happen.”

On Feb. 5, 2020 a man was shot at the UIC-Halsted Blue Line stop at 10:45 a.m. This was a shock to most people since it was so close to the campus.  

During the 2020-2021 school year the US was at an all-time high for school shootings. This is the sad reality of the world we live in today. These mass attacks are becoming more common and people are getting scared and tired of hearing about it. 

 “I feel like school shootings are more prominent in high schools where people don’t have a proper understanding of what they’re actually doing,” said Mansoor Syed, an IIT senior. ”People in college know what they are getting themselves into and there isn’t the same social structure as high school making it less likely for someone to be lead to school shooting”

Some look at these shootings and are very desensitized to murder in these times. In Chicago most people when they hear about shootings just think it’s another day in the city.

“Since it’s not that uncommon to hear about shootings in Chicago, and since I wasn’t actually able to witness it, I just thought like damn that’s crazy to think about.”, he said. “But overall I’m pretty desensitized to the reporting.“


hr>

Interview with Reporter Justin Valle

Brother of Uvalde Shooting Victim Struggling to Move on

By Justin Valle • December 5th, 2022

Uvalde memorial photo

The memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo/Justin Valle)

Editor’s note: Red Line Project reporter and UIC student Justin Valle interviewed his cousin,  Julian Salazar about Julian’s younger sister, Layla, who died in the Uvalde school shooting. This Q&A has outtakes from their conversation. Journalists typically don’t interview family for stories, but the sensitive nature of this piece deemed it appropriate based on our principles and policies.

On May 24, 19 children and two teachers would attend their elementary school for what would be the final time. 

That day, Salvador Ramos, 18, entered Robb Elementary and shot them with an AR-15. Of the 19 children, all ranged in age from 9 to 11 years old. 

One of the children was Layla Salazar, 11. Layla was a sassy yet sweet girl with ambitions of running track, becoming viral on TikTok, and cheering the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl win. 

While her ambitions will not be fulfilled, her legacy lives on, mainly through her family. Julian Salazar, 26, is one of her brothers. It’s important to her family that her name and memory live on, which is his motivation for doing this interview.

Valle: Julian, how have you been doing recently?

Salazar: I’ve been going to work to stay busy. I got a photo of her on my wall up in my room, so I think about her a lot. That doesn’t go away

Valle: Following the shooting many people in the Uvalde community or Uvalde county kinda came together to promote the “Uvalde Strong” campaign. Knowing you were directly affected, did you feel any pressure to follow this type of campaign?

Salazar: No. It wasn’t difficult because everything was so random. Uvalde is quiet and small so basically it was weird. I wasn’t the only one, my mom, my dad, my brother, and of course there was other or everybody else. Plus all of it was for my sister or victims so I had no problems celebrating Uvalde strong

Valle: What was it like seeing LeBron James and other celebrities demand change for gun laws?

Salazar: I thought it was surreal. Uvalde was in the news for the wrong reasons. That wasn’t what Uvalde wanted. Seeing him and [Golden State Warriors Coach] Steve Kerr say stuff meant a lot. For these celebrities to know about what’s happening in a small town is surreal. 

Valle: Most noteworthy of all the celebrities who paid homage or commented on Uvalde was President Biden. Now you actually got to sit down and meet with the President. Can you expand on what that meeting was like?

Salazar: The meeting was pretty cool. It was cool because I never met anyone big. I never met anyone big like him. And I was scared too. And, and, and it’s funny, because he ended up coming to the table. We were all sitting and I spilled my glass of water. I spilled water right in front of the President. I was like, I’m sorry Mr. President. I was nervous. Uh, I don’t know how to act around big people

Valle: Now, now that happened very, very shortly after the incident and you Uvalde right?

Salazar: Yeah, yeah

Valle: What was that summer like? Did you spend the rest of the summer out in Uvalde?

Salazar: I spent the rest of the summer in Elgin [Illinois].

Valle: Now, were you in Elgin when the shooting at the parade in Highland Park occurred? 

Salazar: Yes

Valle: What emotions arose when that event happened?

Salazar: The emotions I felt were like, man what a shame. Like I know exactly how everyone felt. I was watching the news. And basically, I saw people crying and I thought man I know what they are going through. Um, it brought back learning my sister got killed. I mean, I wasn’t angry. But like, I guess. I was like, more like, I can’t believe this happening again.

Valle: Now, something that actually did anger a majority of the country was the leak of a video that contained images and video/audio from inside Robb Elementary. Now, like I said, because this video was leaked, how much of a surprise was it to you? And how did this video affect you and your family?

Salazar: I don’t think the video should have been released on social media plus the public is bad because nobody was thinking about how the families of the kids would feel. As soon as they got out. It brought back that day where we first heard everything that happened. I didn’t know how my sister was or if she was crying and probably calling our names now we wouldn’t see her. And I’ve only seen that video two times. Having to hear all the sounds and hearing the kids cry was horrible.

Valle: Now, I’m sure during this time, you kind of relied on your family.  I know that you actually had a lot of family from Elgin or from the surrounding areas and counties in Texas come to you guys in the middle of June. How did this help? Did it make things easier? Did it make things more difficult? What was it like when you had a lot of family come to you guys near the funeral?

Salazar: Honestly having to see everyone really helped me. Just to know we weren’t the only ones. Just to know, we weren’t the only ones that were going through it alone. I was so happy that everyone came to support. Everything made me feel good.


Interview with Reporter Justin Valle


Read more: Data: Chicago Schools Spared in Gun Violence Surge

CPS Seeing an Increase in Homeless Students Since 2020

By Ola Stepien, Brian Chan and Nadia Khan • December 5th, 2022

Daniel Jin, a bio pre-med student at UIC, remembers what it was like for him as a middle-school student who was struggling with homelessness.

“[Not having a house] definitely took a toll on my academics for a little bit, to the point where [the school] had to call up my family, like my mom literally had to go to meetings like once every two weeks because of how bad I was doing,” he said. “My father is a pastor and it’s not something you get into for the money, but honestly, when they told us, I guess I was a little too young to understand what it was to lose a house and all that or really why it was happening.

“It was a struggle keeping up with my studies, especially when I was living in the car there’s like no tables, no light and my family had this thing where we [kids] weren’t supposed to have phones until like eighth grade or high school so I didn’t have a phone. So when they were sleeping, I would have to try to find some type of light to do some schoolwork.”

According to the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) reported serving nearly 18,000 homeless students during the 2021-22 school year, a 60 percent increase from the 2020-21 school year. The organization notes that this increase stems from the consequences of the pandemic.

During 2020, USAFacts identified that around 1 million kids were homeless in local educational agencies – public and charter schools. However, this number is inaccurate and likely underreported as schools across the entire country struggled to identify homeless students during the pandemic

And because of the underreporting, not all students got the benefits they’re obligated to receive.

Andrew Brake is a professor of social work at Northeastern Illinois University, and a teacher and program coordinator for a youth and leadership program at a CPS high school. 

He said that school becomes crucial for students with difficult situations at home. Brake conducts a survey at the beginning of every school year at the high school to see students’ social and emotional well-being. Through this survey, Brake said, students are more likely to be honest than if educators and staff were to ask students in person about their feelings due to it being confidential. 

However, even if students report that they’re constantly fatigued or have low social and emotional well-being, there aren’t many things educators and staff can do. The most they can do is give the student extra support by offering more office hours and check-ins unless the student verbally seeks help.

“But it’s really tricky because sometimes, you know, they’re stubborn and prideful, and like ‘no, no, I can handle it’ meanwhile, you’re failing all your classes,” he said. “And say you don’t want help, and you answer all these questions and suggest that you need help. But it’s hard to break through that sometimes.”

Brake added that while some students are open to discussing their living situations, not all students are comfortable doing so.

“It’s very stigmatizing,” he said. “People don’t like, brag about that. It’s often very painful, and other people don’t know.”

For Jin, it was often difficult to focus because of the physical toll his living situation took on his body as well. 

“And then I would just get so tired because sleeping in a car for a week,” he said. “Your neck is [messed] up, your back is [messed] up,  it’s like your whole body’s [messed] up. So, like, I just didn’t have that drive for school.” 

Jin attributed the lack of drive to not only the physical factors, but to the stresses of trying to mentally adapt to his situation at a young age.

“There were some days where I was like, ‘I’m for real in the mud right now, like for real’,” he said. “But I wouldn’t cry or nag or whine because I felt like that would affect my parents a little more, so as the first son I kinda wanted to uplift my family the best I could.”

Jin’s optimism did not mean that he did not feel the weight of his situation. In fact, his problems were only compounded when considering the difficulty of navigating adolescent social circles and the pressure that can be felt to fit in with one’s peers. 

“It was kind of tough because every day when I went to school I had to act like everything was good, you know like I was chilling, all that, but in reality like if I wanted to shower I would have to go to the YMCA.

“I just felt, how do I say it, not embarrassed but more so ashamed that I have to live in some of these houses because their children were my friends, like my family friends, so the fact that they knew that I knew I was going through that was kind of a weird vulnerable state for me and I didnt know how to cope with that.”


Read more: Many College Students Can’t Afford Rising Dorm Costs


The UChicago Inclusive Economic Lab released a report in July 2021 based on new evidence conducted through students experiencing homelessness. Brake and the UChicago lab agree on a crucial strategy to aid students’ success while grappling with homelessness: having school as a safe space.

UIC also assists students in need of housing through the office of the Dean of Students. Front desk aid Areli Medina said that help is always available. 

“There will always be somebody in the office that will be able to answer questions,” she said. “Students can reach out via the form that we have online… That form goes immediately into a system that notifies the whole care team regarding the situation.”

Cynthia Rodriguez is the head of housing insecurities at the Dean of Students office at UIC. Rodriguez overlooks all the cases and is the best person to contact.

Medina said UIC is aware of the seriousness of the problem despite the requirement for involvement from many different departments. However, students can anticipate quick support, which may include temporary accommodation for three days, once their case has been reviewed.

“Housing tends to be very responsive about it when they know it’s an emergency,” she said. 

Medina said UIC doesn’t stop there; the university recognizes that students in these circumstances face issues beyond housing instability and want to take into account all potential ramifications.

“Although we do provide housing, we also provide other resources with it, that usually would be like counseling, or if they have any other need like that, it’s not only a one deal thing, it’s like a package,” she said.

Medina said students at UIC ought to be aware of these options and understand that the institution offers assistance, but it is up to the individual student to seek it out.

“There are times people don’t know how to reach out but it is best that you always have someone that is going to speak up for you even if you don’t seek help yourself, ” she said.

Back in 2019, the Chicago Teacher’s Union (CTU) went on its longest strike- one demand was for CPS to receive more staff, such as nurses and social workers. The demands of the CTU focused on aiding students who experienced poverty and housing insecurity, so they could get the attention they deserved from their schools.

Currently, CPS has the Students in Temporary Living Situations (STLS) program that aids students who face housing insecurity with staying on track while providing them support for certain restrictions such as free school meals, school supplies, transportation, and more. Every CPS school has an STLS contact, and every student in STLS can enroll in school immediately.

In addition, CPS created a grant through the city’s Coronavirus Relief Fund: The Chicago Families Forward Fund. The fund is eligible for students in the STLS program- students receive a check for $500 to help them with back-to-school essentials and household expenses.

However, housing insecurity remains an issue in Chicago, one the city, not CPS, must solve.

“This is a civic problem of like work that needs to be done at the city level to provide more affordable housing in Chicago,” Brake said. “If there’s not enough affordable housing, that directly affects our students.”

Homelessness is a multifaceted issue with several factors in place, such as the aftermath of natural disasters, domestic violence, and- in Chicago, a lack of affordable housing.

The Chicago Reader reported that during the summer of 2020, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) did not fill up to 1,250 units, leaving people on the streets. The city has been dealing with issues with providing affordable housing to residents since the pandemic.

Many College Students Can’t Afford Rising Dormitory Costs

By Zoe McClain • December 5th, 2022

As America recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, increased housing costs have made it particularly challenging for college students to pay expenses and be successful in school.

During the pandemic lockdown periods, student housing became less essential and many moved back home to save money. As universities have returned to in-person instruction, institutions are overwhelmed with the number of students now in need of housing.

Campus housing is always one of the indicators of whether or not a student will be able to attend a specific college or university. For most, taking out loans is not the ideal financial solution – today’s interest rates make that clear. 

Grace Smith, a nursing student from Chicago who attended Ball State University, had to transition to community college and work a full-time job in order to make a living. 

“It has affected me a lot. My last year I was in the dorms, but it was really expensive and I had to move off campus without a car,” she said.

Many college students are working minimum wage jobs that don’t pay them enough to afford their education, let alone additional housing costs. Based on an analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics, a student working an average of 24.8 hours per week earning federal minimum wage in 2018 would have to spend approximately 68% of their earnings to cover dorm expenses at a four-year public university, even before tax.

In 1972, that number was 21%.

Some students say that living in an off-campus apartment is more affordable. 

Maddie Frodsham, an out-of-state DePaul University freshman, is already looking for apartments near the school’s Lincoln Park campus after her first term. 

DePaul freshmen are not required to live on campus, but Frodsham said the dorms appealed to her from a social standpoint and as a way to ease the shift into city living. However, she said that was where the benefits ended for her.

“Strictly looking at the quality, it’s not worth it,” she said. “Since I’ve been looking for apartments, it’s way cheaper than the dorms. I do think it’s important for freshmen to live on campus so that they can have that social experience, but I don’t think it’s worth it to stay all four years.”

Transportation is a big factor in deciding where to live. Some students opt to live further away from campus and commute in exchange for cheaper rent, but Frodsham said that’s not a compromise she wants to make.


Read more: CPS Sees Increase in Homeless Students Since 2020


“I would personally rather live closer to campus,” she said. “Public transportation is kind of stressful and it’s not super reliable all the time. That chance of not getting to class on time is not worth it for me.” 

Frodsham is familiar with the process of shopping for homes – her family has moved 16 times since she was born – but said looking as a student in the city is different. 

“I think it’s easier for me since I’ve moved so many times, but I will say it’s difficult when looking for different criteria than for moving a family,” she said. “Also, since I’m completely new to Chicago, I don’t know the neighborhoods well, and it’s hard to find something that’s close to where I go to school.”

For a student who earns minimum wage, the search procedure is made more challenging by strict rental criteria. The very least to attempt to acquire an apartment for individuals without much credit (i.e., most college students), is usually a cosigner. A minimum credit score of 650 and a monthly untaxed income of at least three times the rent are prerequisites for one Chicago real estate firm.

Mashal Jiwani began her first year of pharmacy school at the University of Illinois at Chicago this fall and had similar concerns when making decisions about housing. She currently lives in Single Student Residence in UIC’s West Campus.

“If you get an apartment, sometimes the lease is for the whole year, not just the school year, so [on-campus living] is just easier,” Jiwani said

During the 2021-22 school year, Jiwani lived on East Campus in James Stukel Towers with four other students. 

Jiwani made the move from East Campus to West to be closer to the College of Pharmacy buildings. “It was a pretty simple process,” she said.

Jiwani also said that having included amenities makes on-campus housing more appealing. “You don’t have to worry about electricity or heating or anything, and there’s laundry,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff included.”

Despite these conveniences, Jiwani has still shifted to thinking about an off-campus apartment for next year. Her two-person “efficiency apartment” at SSR is cheaper than her cluster dorm at JST, but she has sacrificed a lot of quality, she said. “The building is not as nice. It’s old and dusty. There are not as many windows… The rooms are kind of depressing.”

When it comes to supporting students with options to pay for campus housing, Jiwani has felt little coming from UIC. Many of the jobs on campus require a student to participate in Federal Work Study, a program based on financial need that she was not awarded. 

UIC is also not legally required to pay student employees the $15.40 City of Chicago minimum wage, instead opting to pay the lesser state of Illinois minimum of $12. Because UIC is part of the University of Illinois system, the institution is considered a state school and can pay employees in accordance with state law. 

Wages for student employees vary, according to the University’s wage plan, but the majority fall under what other Chicago employers offer.

One proposed call to action is for universities to offer more services for students who look for off-campus housing, since dorm costs are increasing at higher rates than salaries can compensate for. In addition to those services, many students argue there needs to be a conversation discussing an increase in pay for student workers. 

In the current financial climate, students are looking across the board for support, but the primary direction is toward their colleges. Frodsham wishes DePaul offered more support for students looking to live off campus. 

“[Students] do get plenty of housing options… but they’re so expensive. I feel like giving resources for students to find housing that is not owned by DePaul, as a bare minimum, would be useful. Rather than just being like, ‘Okay, go to Apartments.com, good luck,’” she said.

Jiwani said that UIC’s reluctance to improve campus housing and provide more support for students stems from the high proportion of commuter students. 

“I can understand why it’s not the biggest priority because a lot of people are commuters, so it’s not that many people who choose [campus housing] as an option,” Jiwani said. But, she said, providing more resources for affording both on- and off-campus housing “would be helpful for students, and make the whole process easier.”

Smith was hit hard by the effects of unaffordable housing. “I had to take off a semester of school so I can work and make a living,” she said. “Now I take classes at community college.” She hopes to see a solution for current and future students, so that others can avoid the kind of experience she had.

Toni Raggs contributed to this story.


Your Thoughts

What do you think colleges should be doing to make housing more accessible to students? Let us know in the comments below.

Chicago Seeing Surge in North Side Liquor License Requests

By June Hall and Eden Tasew • December 5th, 2022

Almost Home Tavern & Grill photo
Almost Home Tavern & Grill puts up signage in preparation for its grand opening. (Photo/June Hall)

Since the late 1800s, Chicago has been known for its lively nightlife. While in the early days of the bar and club scene, businesses were predominantly in the Near South Side neighborhoods, the city has since seen a drastic shift in where establishments choose to open up, data show. 

The Near North Side and Loop neighborhoods especially have seen a surge in bars and restaurants looking to obtain liquor licenses in the last century. 

The Near North Side has 172 establishments with consumption on-premises licenses, whereas the Loop has 127. With 1,212 businesses in total, these neighborhoods combined make up a quarter of all consumption on premises licenses in Chicago. 

In 2022, the Near South Side has 28 businesses with this type of license, making up less than 1% of all consumption on-premises licenses. This data show that areas known for their nightlife are now far more condensed in the North Side and in the growing West Side/West Loop areas than on the South Side. 

Besides the West Loop, one of the growing areas for licenses in the past few years has been Wrigleyville, with several new establishments opening during and after the remodeling of Wrigley Field. The neighborhood currently has 69 businesses with consumption on-premises licenses, and new establishments have continued to open their doors. 

Partners Matt McGinnis and John VonPerbandt are working to open their first bar, Almost Home Tavern & Grill in the coming weeks in Wrigleyville. 

Located at 3801 North Clark St., Almost Home Tavern & Grill will be a neighborhood sports bar offering a full food menu and a friendly atmosphere. McGinnis and VonPerbandt have worked in the industry together for years, helping other businesses succeed before deciding to start their own venture. They unpack how having connections with other businesses in Wrigleyville helped them in the process.

“I think everything about this business is the people,” VonPerbandt said. “We know everything there is to know pretty much about running a place. But searching for the space, to negotiating leases, to signing the lease, to even finding the lawyer that did all of the licenses for us, it all comes from previous connections. So it’s all from people, and they really went out of their way for us. I’ll never forget it. It’s amazing.” 

While opening a bar in an area with much competition can present challenges for new businesses, McGinnis and VonPerbandt have been able to use their connections to nearby establishments to their advantage as they work through the intricacies of starting a new venture. After passing their inspection this past week, the owners now move on to getting employees on payroll and carrying out tastings for their liquor program before their grand opening in the coming months. 

Many factors can go into the number of viable bars and restaurants in any neighborhood. Dr. Keisha Farmer-Smith, who teaches in the urban planning and policy department at the University of Illinois Chicago, has spent a large portion of her career looking into community sustainability and how this is impacted by the history of the environment. This also relates to where bars are located in Chicago. 

“We have to look at the history of the community,” Farmer-Smith said. “We have to look at the history of crime and stability in the community. And it’s important to study the intersectionality of the community; so what does the racial and socio-economic breakdown look like? 

“Has the neighborhood historically been full of certain types of communities? Like for example, is the community historically a working-class community or a community that has a lot of factories nearby?”

The Pilsen neighborhood, located in the Lower West Side, has historically been home to a predominantly low-income Mexican population. However, Pilsen is changing in the 21st century, as more middle-class and non-Latino populations move in. 

This has led to gentrification in the area, and property values have simultaneously increased. With this, bars and restaurants have evolved as well. Many of the new establishments in the area feature gourmet food and craft beer. 

While establishments look to open in Pilsen, they are still few and far between compared to the Near North Side and Loop neighborhoods. Located at 2119 South Halsted St., Pleasant House Pub is one of the 20 establishments in the Lower West Side that has a consumption on-premises license. Opening in 2011, the pub offers a British-inspired menu, draft beers, and a variety of cocktails.

“There are pretty few of us here in this neighborhood but I would say it is a less concentrated area. We have few public schools and a lot of houses,” Pleasant House Pub owner Art Jackson said. “I think it helps [our business] a bunch because that would mean people around here wouldn’t have to go further when they just want to grab a glass of beer. They would have a bar right here in their own neighborhood.” 

While few bars and restaurants reside in certain neighborhoods, there are still many liquor stores available for residents to purchase alcohol. This distinction relates back to Farmer-Smith’s emphasis on the importance of looking to the history of these communities for an explanation. 

“If you look at and compare not where bars and pubs are located on the South and West Sides, but if you compare it to where liquor stores are located, so many of the communities that I just named, like Garfield Park, for example, on the far-South Side, Roseland, a community that I live near on the mid-South Side, or Inglewood, these are all communities that don't have many bars and pubs,” Farmer-Smith said.

“They don't have many sit-down restaurants. They don't have much nightlife at all. And part of the reason is that historically, the media has portrayed these areas as having high crime. And it's been very difficult to get certain types of amenities in these communities. However, they have plenty of liquor stores.”

In recent years, initiatives such as Invest South/West have worked to provide funding for community development in neighborhoods on the South and West sides of the city. This initiative aims to look at what types of economic development residents want to see in their communities in hopes of fostering equity in previously underserved areas. While this spans much farther than the scope of bars and restaurants, it provides an opportunity for potential businesses looking to develop in these areas. 

West Loop Kidnappings Have Residents Frightened

By Delaney Disario and Hannah Nicholson • December 5th, 2022

kidnapping location photo 1

203 S. Sangamon St.: There were two separate kidnapping attempts on the corner of South Sangamon and West Adams streets in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.  (Photo/Delaney Disario)

When asked about how safe she feels walking in the West Loop, professional dog walker Anna Regnerus said she still fears going outside, no matter what time of day it is. 

“I walk down Sangamon Street daily,” Regnerus said. “My entire job revolves around walking outside in the West Loop.”

Chicago’s West Loop has been a popular neighborhood for young professionals and families. With proximity to Restaurant Row, the area attracts crowds during weekends and evenings. But in the past few years, West Loop residents say they’ve become more concerned about safety in the supposedly-secure neighborhood. A recent rash of attempted kidnappings has led to community meetings, self-defense classes, and calls to action.

According to the Chicago Police Department data, there has been a 40% increase in overall crime complaints in the city from January 2021 to November 2022. In 2022 there were 54,848 crime complaints compared to 39,215 in 2021. 

The kidnapping attempts in the West Loop started in August, and only one of the three ended with a suspect in custody. There is little public information about the victims or alleged perpetrators of the other two attempts. 

A community-organized safety meeting was held at Mary Bartelme Park in October, when residents shared their concerns with city officials, including Ald. Bryan Sigcho-Lopez (25th ward) and Ald.Walter Burnett Jr. (27th ward).

Monroe kidnapping photo

901 W. Monroe St.: This West Loop dog park was where a community safety meeting was held in early October about the safety of residents in the area. (Photo/Hannah Nicholson)

Charleigh Hicks, a West Loop resident and a student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said she’s concerned about the recent crimes in the community. 

“I think that the community needs to come together and start realizing that this is an issue and quit brushing it under the rug,” Hicks said.  “The officials in the community, the aldermen, they don’t take it nearly as seriously as they should, and it’s showing.”

Many locals who attended an October safety meeting in the West Loop said they were unhappy with the aldermen and police department for their lack of action, as well as their lack of patrolling in the neighborhood. 

Burnett received several comments from residents throughout the meeting, with people even yelling out at him from the middle of the crowd. 

“Stop blaming other people and say what you’ve been doing,” one resident told Burnett.  “You’re protecting yourself and your political career, this should be about protecting this community.”

The three kidnapping attempts happened between Aug. 21 and Sept. 25. Besides the three West Loop incidents, there were two more attempted kidnappings in the nearby South Loop. 

On Aug. 21, there were reports of a possible kidnapping attempt at 14 S. Sangamon St. around 11:30 p.m. Neighbors in the area claimed they heard a woman screaming and had seen someone possibly being pushed into a car.

On Aug. 24 around 7:30 a.m., a dog walker near Mary Bartelme Park stopped what was identified as an attempted kidnapping. The dog walker claimed he saw a man approach a woman and try to lure her into his car before the dog walker intervened and sprayed bear spray into the vehicle before the suspect drove away. 

The third kidnapping attempt in the West Loop happened on Sept. 25 around 8:45 a.m., when a woman was forced into a maroon minivan outside 225 S. Sangamon St. 

A rideshare driver and their passenger witnessed it and stopped the attacker before he drove away, saving the victim. A neighbor also caught this on video, posting to the True West Loop Facebook group.

Recently, local gyms like POW! Gym Chicago and Krav Maga Force began offering self-defense courses for women in the West Loop area. These free and packaged classes started showing up shortly after the attempted kidnappings in the area. Hicks attended two different self-defense classes after the uptick in crime. 

“Unfortunately, it takes an issue like this to interest people in going to these classes,” Hicks said. “But I think the gyms did a really nice job at putting them together and just giving some tips that I definitely wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

Moshe Tamssot, the administrator and creator of the True West Loop Facebook group, said that he isn’t shocked that crimes keep occurring in the West Loop, referencing the fact that police officers and the district commander weren’t even present at the community safety meeting that they said they’d be attending. 

“When I saw that the police commander didn’t show up, they couldn’t have done a better job of highlighting the problem,” Tamssot said. “The police aren’t showing up.”

Tamssot has been running the True West Loop Facebook group since 2016 to give the residents in the area a voice. He believed that the people needed a place to share opinions, and he began to share polls about issues in the community.

Recently, Tamssot shared a poll asking members if residents felt any safer after the Oct. 1 safety meeting, and 97% of those who responded said that they did not feel any safer afterward. 

The call to action for the safety meeting started in the True West Loop group, and members of the group were the ones to plan the meeting itself. It occurred after the Sept. 25 attempted kidnappings, where two other women were also attacked by the same suspect in the nearby South Loop.

After this happened, the Chicago Police Department issued a community alert warning residents of the 12th District about the crime that had occurred. The suspect was eventually caught in a South Loop train station after attacking two other women. 

Attempted kidnappings and crime, in general, are not new to Chicago, but they are new to the West Loop, residents say. On the other hand, Tamssot says that crime has been on the rise for a while but is now being noticed since becoming a rather wealthy neighborhood.

According to an analysis of Google search data over the past 90 days, the search terms “West Loop kidnapping” and “Chicago kidnapping” both have spikes in searches surrounding incidents of kidnappings or attempted kidnappings.

The search data shows that the spikes for “West Loop kidnapping” surrounded the instances of attempted kidnappings in the area, or when certain news stories were published about them. 

Residents in the one square mile neighborhood of the West Loop say they are still not feeling safe, whether they’re at Mary Bartelme dog park or simply walking down the streets.

“I’m tired of being scared to go outside,” Regnerus said. “Yet nobody is doing anything to protect us.”

Chicago Burglaries up 18% Since 2021, Largest Increase in 5 Years

By Manny Meraz and Ricardo Brum • December 5th, 2022

Ukranian village icon

The Ukrainian Village neighborhood where Norena was a victim of being robbed and being burglarized (Photo/Manny Meraz)

Gio Norena has lived in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood for over 20 years, from his childhood to his early adulthood. Ukrainian Village has been a good neighborhood for the last 10 years, so any crime of any kind is usually considered a rare occasion. 

“I got pistol-whipped to the back of the head, and had no thought of fighting back to protect any of my valuables or belongings… all I was thinking about was coming out of this situation safe to go back to my child who had just been born and be able to continue to be a father to him, that was what was in my mind,” Norena said.

Norena got many belongings in his house stolen and even had his car stolen, which was found weeks later crashed and abandoned, but he was able to go back to his family safely. 

His experience served as a lesson to the entire neighborhood: No area is too safe, and valuables aren’t worth fighting for.

Norena has said that since the pandemic, there has been a spike of crimes with people he knows in the neighborhood with burglaries and random robberies. “It seems that this type of stuff happens every day in Chicago,” he said. 

Norena grew up in the neighborhood, went to elementary school and high school in the area, and has become familiar with everything that goes around the neighborhood he has always called home. 

He grew up in a safe place in Chicago, but with recent spikes in crime, the Ukrainian Village, West Town and Wicker Park areas have been a target for burglaries and other crimes.

The area surrounding the Ukrainian Village, including Lincoln Park, Bucktown, Lakeview and the Near North Side, has seen 820 reported burglaries in from Jan. 1 to Nov. 13. Overall crime has been up 66% in the district since last year.

The figure is higher than the one seen in Austin, South Austin and West Garfield Park, 448, and surpasses the 576 burglaries reported in the South Chicago region, which include Bronzeville, Fuller Park, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Greater Grand Crossing.

According to the Chicago Police Department, burglaries have been up 18% this year when compared to the same period of time in 2021. The overall number of reported incidents stands at 6,563 cases, to last year’s figure of 5,554.

According to the Chicago Police Department, overall theft has increased by 87 percent in the last two years and burglaries have been up 18 percent in the last year alone. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, any kind of crimes relating to theft have been at all times high with it continuing to rise year after year.

These crimes affect civilians as well as businesses. In March, a single burglary crew was allegedly responsible for 200 smash-and-grab thefts in the city, targeting bodegas, liquor stores, and high-end clothing retailers.

Their tactics involved smashing stores’ glass windows and doors with bricks, then proceeding to steal valuables from inside. In one of the incidents, the perpetrators caused over $150,000 in damages to the Burberry store on the Magnificent Mile.

Twelve percent of crimes reported in Chicago actually resulted in arrests by the Chicago Police Department, according to a statistical analysis done by the Chicago Sun-Times. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Police Department has been understaffed since COVID-19 and many offenders are actually staying behind bars after arrests. 

Officials say crimes related to theft are one of the harder crimes to convict offenders of simply because of the lack of evidence that surrounds these typical cases and the fact that many of these crimes have to be caught in the act for them to be considered good arrests. 

When asked about conviction rates of suspects in crimes, former Chicago Police Officer Juan Sanchez said, “Yes, most of the time suspects go free, and a lot of that is because of the lack of evidence that happens where victims go into shock and forget the description.” 

Sanchez also talked about the police department catching suspects in theft-related cases and the department not being able to build a case because of lack of evidence showing that the accused did it in the act, if the police was not able to catch clear photos of face description of potential suspects in these crimes.

“A lot of time suspects are back on the street in no time and there is no longer a case,” Sanchez said.

Another reason why theft has been on the rise has been because of new tactics used by the City where they have an active goal of reducing the population of Cook County jail and using electronic monitoring systems as a replacement for actually holding individuals in custody. 

According to a case study by the Civic Consulting Alliance, the city has built this plan to reduce the population of Cook County Jail because of the money it costs to house an inmate costing Illinois taxpayers over $300 million a year to house inmates in the Cook County system.

Sanchez also said that the city and state have the goal to reduce the population of Cook County Jail because of the overpopulation and budgeting plans that are in place. 

“Electronic monitoring systems have been an alternative to housing inmates, so more and more suspects are back out on the street,” Sanchez said.

Rahim Kurwa, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, attributes partial responsibility to the city’s rising crime on its budgeting practices.

“There are a number of studies that have come out that look at different areas of social safety net spending, like the expansion of health care services, the expansion of parks and mental health services and so on, that those kinds of social services, when they are expanded, crimes tend to go down,” Kurwa said. “When those types of services are disinvested from, crimes tend to go up.” 

When questioned about potential solutions to fight burglary and crime statistics in the city, the professor criticizes social safety net spending cuts, a consequence of the fiscal crisis observed in the last decade.

In 2015, Illinois had $130 billion in unfunded pension obligations, causing various groups to sue the state for payment, leading to court decisions determining the state’s spending instead of legislators.

Between the years of 2002 to 2015, the state of Illinois did not meet a balanced budget a single time, prompting it to be labeled the state with the worst credit rating in the nation by Moody’s in 2010. The state’s fiscal irresponsibility has led to services like schools, hospitals, and criminal justice having its funds held up.

These issues with financing have only strained the city’s capacity to adequately respond to increasing crime, undermining its ability to allocate proper resources to crime-ridden regions.

“There is a lot of evidence that the solutions to these questions lie outside of the police,” Kurwa said.


BURGLARY PREVENTION TIPS FROM THE CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT

  • Lock all doors and windows
  • Stop all deliveries when going out of town
  • Play radio or television when away from home
  • Maintain good relationships with neighbors and seek their assistance when leaving your home absent for longer periods of time
  • Inscribe your Driver’s License number on valuables to assist the police in retrieving them. Engraving tools are available at your local Neighborhood Relations Unit
  • Call and cooperate with the police
  • Maintain Key Control. Change all locks when moving into a previously occupied unit
  • Be aware of suspicious persons in your neighborhood, writing their description down if possible
  • Add slide bolts to doors as an additional security measure
  • Keep valuables (jewelry, money, etc.) concealed in separate, uncommon locations

RESOURCES

ADACoordinator@Chicagopolice.org

Phone: (312) 745-5841 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

Civic Consoling Alliance 

Rise in CTA Crime is Impacting College Commuters

By Nicholas Williams and Steven Perez • December 5th, 2022

UIC CTA Blue Line Station photo

UIC-Halsted Blue Line Station. (Photo/Steven Perez)

With 80% of UIC students being commuters, CTA trains and buses are usually full of students. And UIC student Joseph Chirayath, 21, is one of them.

Chirayath has been riding the Blue Line and buses since 2019, and he has seen his fair share of crime. 

“People abusing drugs or peddling,” he said. “ I’ve seen people get slapped. But nothing too crazy.”

Assault and or battery is a common crime on the CTA, according to an analysis of Chicago Police Department data on the City of Chicago Data Portal. In 2022, the data show 980 counts of battery from Jan. 1 to Nov. 11. 

Fights on train platforms are common in the city.  Fighting is a big problem on the CTA because it can lead to bigger issues, including the use of deadly weapons, experts say. 

Drugs also have been an issue. 

According to the City of Chicago Data Portal, from Jan. 1 to Nov. 7,  67 people were found with narcotics at the CTA. The same time frame but in 2021 there were 40 people found with narcotics. 

In 2019, there were 161 people found with narcotics. These narcotics include cocaine, heroin, PCP, cannabis over 30 grams, and more. All suspects were arrested except one person from 2022, and one from 2019.

Commander Joe Bird of the Chicago Police Department’s Public Transportation Section said that crime has decreased in the past few years. The CPD has added more officers as well as safety staff downtown in the central business district. Bird assured the public that there is an increased police presence all across the city, during this season.

“Overall crime for the last five year average remains down in the 20%. So we’re seeing a reduction in crime,” he said.

“We have officers assigned all over the city on public transportation, and the district’s also patrol the public transportation system.” 

But Joe Schwieterman, a professor and transportation expert at the DePaul School of Public Service, said that to say there is a decrease in crime leaves out context. 

“Crime has come down a tad,” he said. “But that’s from unacceptably high levels during the pandemic. So it’s small consolation to hear that crime is down. Another reason for concern is that the number of riders has dropped so sharply. So your chance of being involved in a crime on public transit are way up compared to just a few years ago. And riders are painfully aware of that.”

Robberies and theft blow drugs out of the water. According to the City of Chicago Data Portal, there have been 1,309 robberies or thefts in 2022 as of Nov 11. This is down 52.5 % from the 2,493 thefts and robberies in the same time frame in 2019. Arrests are also down 48.9 % from 133 in 2019 to 65 in 2022.

According to the data, 208 of the 1,309 robberies and thefts involved a weapon, including guns, knives or other cutting instruments. Only 17 people have been arrested in those 208 incidents. In 2019, 107 of out 2,493 robberies or thefts involved a weapon. But only six people were arrested. 

In a November press conference, Bird and Kevin Ryan, vice president of CTA security, addressed transit safety, especially during the holiday season. Bird discussed safety tips that the public should follow to be safer while riding the CTA.

“Keep your bags while you’re shopping secured to yourself,” Bird said. “Also, if you see a police officer, [or] a security guard, just engage with them. Second off, something, and as I mentioned earlier, if something doesn’t seem right, you know, please report it, please report it to the police.”

Bird stressed commuters being aware of their surroundings while on the CTA. He also encouraged community members to engage with officers and vice versa. His main goal is to create an atmosphere where the public feel safe while riding the CTA, especially during the holiday season. 

“You shouldn’t wear both of your headphones in while riding the train so you can always hear your surroundings,” Chirayath said. “Also I would say if you are sitting close to the doors on the train don’t take your phone out at all. If you feel threatened or scared just switch cars or get off the train.”

CPD’s increase in patrols and police presence is one of the many solutions to the fear of using the CTA. Schwieterman said that many riders do not have a fear of being a victim of crime but are uneasy around the unacceptable behavior that is allowed on the trains.

This fear has even created an alternative transportation system for DePaul students. There is now a  campus bus service to carry people at night between the Loop and the Linkin Park campus. Schwieterman said that is a statement because the El is right where the bus leaves.

“I kind of criticized that at first but I get it,” he said. “If there are enough people at eight o'clock at night. especially females traveling alone, you know getting on the El is something they want to avoid.”

Officials are searching for ways to make the CTA safer for college students and the general public. Bird has already implemented one solution with an increased police presence on the El. He has also asked the public to implement another solution by following the Public Transportation and Safety and Protective Measures.

Schwieterman also said that there should be an alternative to dialing 911 if there is a problem on the train. 

“What a lot of us have been calling for is something different than calling 911,” he said. “ Like if you have the CTA app, the venture app, and you feel uncomfortable on a train, and don't necessarily want to call 911. That seems way overkill.”

Schwieterman also said that a lot of people do not want to get involved in altercations on the train and call the police immediately. With the implementation of a reporting app, there would be more anonymity to the people reporting. He also stated that if a reporting app is implemented it will increase the amount of crime data that the CTA can use to chart problem areas.

“There's a spirit of lawlessness, particularly on trains that create a great sense of unease,” Schwieterman said. 

Your Thoughts

What solutions can you come up with to combat this unease that is felt on the CTA? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Chicago Bears’ Potential Move: Should They Stay or Should They Go?

By Luke Straube and Cyrus Moniri • December 5th, 2022

bears stadium plan photoRendering of the Bears’ potential stadium and entertainment district in Arlington Heights. (Photo/Chicago Bears)

When the Chicago Bears announced their plans to purchase 326 acres of property in Arlington Heights and abandon Soldier Field, Bears fan Joe Reyna was surprised. 

“It was kind of shocking, because, you know, they’ve been playing there for like a century,” said Reyna, a UIC student, “and there’s a lot of history with that field.”

Reyna eventually came to terms with the move, saying “They’ve been having a lot of problems with trying to renovate the place … so I know that in a practical sense, the Bears to Arlington Heights is kind of practical.”

He finds himself in the minority of Chicago residents, however, as only 19% of them support the move, compared to 44% who oppose and 37% who are unsure, according to a survey conducted by the Chicago Sun-Times/WBEZ.

Given how strongly some people feel about the issue, it is important to note that whether or not the deal actually goes through is still very much up in the air. The purchase of the property is expected to close sometime in the first half of 2023, which leaves plenty of time for either party to back out. The Bears are currently doing a multi-year feasibility study on the potential move.

The City of Chicago, in an attempt to persuade the Bears to stay, recently unveiled three renovation plans for Soldier Field, two of which could be implemented if the Bears stay, and one which is meant for if the Bears leave. The estimated costs of these renovations would range from $900 million to $2.2 billion, depending on which of the three renovation plans the city went with. 

Ryan Bhandari, an economics instructor at the University of Illinois Chicago, argued that getting the city to spend some money on renovations may have been the Bears’ plan all along.

Bhandari said, “Unlike a lot of teams, they don’t own their own stadium. Soldier Field is owned by the Parks Department of Chicago, I believe, and they have to lease it from the city. So they don’t have complete autonomy over their stadium.”

The Bears, as Bhandari points out, can’t simply choose to renovate Soldier Field, they have to convince the owners of the field to do so, and one of the ways to do that is to threaten city relocation.

“The NFL has 32 teams,” Bhandari said, “and there are thousands of cities and towns across the country. So there’s a big imbalance when it comes to trying to be one of the lucky few cities or towns … and specifically, the Bears can potentially successfully leverage this new site in Arlington Heights to extract a series of concessions from Chicago.”

That may not be the only reason the Bears made an offer to buy land in Arlington Heights, but given that they currently play in the smallest stadium in the NFL despite being in the 3rd largest city, and they can’t change that without provoking action from the city of Chicago, its almost certainly a factor.

Additionally, the village of Arlington Heights is in a tough position, given that the Bears, who plan to spend $5 billion building the new stadium, are expecting to receive some amount of public money to help pay for it.

Polling has indicated that 68% of Arlington Heights residents oppose the use of public funding to pay for any amount of the construction costs, so the mayor of the village will have to weigh the political ramifications of an extremely unpopular move.

The fears of Arlington Heights residents likely aren’t unfounded, as several economists, such as Allen Sanderson of the University of Chicago, have warned that the tax breaks and incentives the village would have to offer the Bears would put a major strain on their finances and just wouldn’t be worth it.


Timeline: History of the Bears’ potential move


Many suburban residents, such as Neil David, a former student of Harper College, are hopeful that the move will still go through, though.

“I think it’s a really great idea, and a really great opportunity for the Chicago Bears,” David said. “This is a really great opportunity for them because they get to have some new fans in the Arlington Heights area.”

Soldier Field is notorious for being hard to access, and is difficult for residents outside of Chicago to get to. Moving to Arlington Heights would certainly make it easier for fans in the suburbs to go to games, hence why 51% of suburban residents support the move.

They may have some reasons to be hopeful, despite everything that has been said up to this point.

Bhandari said, “There isn’t a lot of space around Soldier Field because it is located in the sort of the city center in Chicago, there isn’t a lot of space to develop your own entertainment venues, restaurants, bars, movie theaters that are owned by the stadium.”

So, even if they aren’t offered concessions from Chicago, there are advantages to making the move that the city simply can’t provide.

And if the Bear’s projections are accurate, this entertainment district that will be built in the area surrounding their new stadium in Arlington Heights will generate an additional $16 million in tax revenue per year for the village, and create thousands of jobs.

Those are just projections, of course, and the village of Arlington Heights will likely conduct their own feasibility study to determine whether the benefits are truly worth it. They are certainly encouraging numbers for anyone who wants the move to happen, though.

Soldier Field redesign image

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other city officials unveiled a plan to keep the bears by covering Soldier Field. (Photo/City of Chicago)

It also certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for an NFL team to play in a suburb. Bhandari compared the Bears’ move to when the Patriots left Boston for the suburb of Foxborough, and why that move was massively beneficial.

“If you go to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, they have a whole complex filled with all those things, bars, restaurants, movie theaters. You can make an entire day of going there. And they can capture that revenue from that extra entertainment.”

Your thoughts
Do you think the move is likely to happen? Or do you think the Bears will stay in Soldier Field now that Chicago has agreed to renovate it? And what would you prefer that they do?

Share what you think in the comments.

High School Students Working Polls During Midterms to Fill Need

By Megan Bolling • December 4th, 2022

Jamyirah Scott photo

Jamyirah Scott was one of hundreds of Illinois high school students who volunteered to work at the polls on election day. (Photo courtesy MIKVA)

Instead of sleeping in and enjoying the day off of school on Nov. 8 like most of her Lindblom Math and Science Academy classmates, Jamyirah Scott was up bright and early to work the polls on Election Day as a student election judge. 

Thanks to the designation of Election Day as a legal school holiday by Illinois State Senate Bill 825 (SB 825), students at public schools and universities across the state had the day off as many of their schools serving as polling places. Some students, like Scott, served as election judges, despite most of them not yet being old enough to vote. 

In Cook County, high school juniors and seniors are eligible to serve as student election judges, provided they have at least a 3.0 GPA. Additionally, college students within the jurisdiction are eligible to be election judges without being a registered voter in Cook County, a requirement for all other non-student poll workers

Working the polls is by no means a small commitment. Prior to election day, election judges and polling place technicians must complete their respective in-person and online training courses in order to be eligible to receive full compensation. Then a day or two before election day they must set up their polling place and ensure all the equipment is working properly. 

On Election Day, poll workers arrive at their polling places at 5 a.m. to have the polls ready to open at 6 a.m. After the polls close at 7  p.m., poll workers must transmit the results to the clerk’s office and pack up all the equipment; a process that normally takes an additional hour, hour and a half to complete. 

For additional compensation, an election judge can accompany the polling place technician to the receiving station to drop off the required paperwork and materials. The base pay for election judges in Cook County is $200; polling place technicians earning $365. 

Scott, who worked both the June 28 primary election and the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election, reported being the only teen working at her assigned precinct.

 “I was the only student judge there, there was nobody else that was my age,” Scott said. “They were all old heads. That’s what I call them.” 

Data show the majority of US poll workers are older, many retired. The biennial Election Administration and Voting Survey (EAVS), administered by the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reported that of the 36 states that record and report poll worker ages to the EAC that a majority of poll workers in 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections were over the age of 41. 

In 2016 and 2018, the 61-70 age group made up the biggest percentage of poll workers, with 32% and 31% respectively. However, the EAVS saw a shift in 2020 with the distribution shifting slightly younger. One reason: during the pandemic older, more at-risk election judges stepped back and younger election judges stepped up to take their place. 

Additionally, recruitment was reported as being slightly easier, with 52% percent of jurisdictions nationally reporting that it was very difficult or somewhat difficult to staff polling places, compared to 64% in 2016. 

However, poll worker recruitment is still a challenge for many individual jurisdictions. According to Frank Herrera, the Director of Communications for the Cook County Clerk’s Office, which oversees the administration of elections in Suburban Cook County (Chicago elections are overseen by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners), there was a 40% decrease in the number of election judges over the last eight years. 

Ideally, the Cook County Clerk's office tries to recruit 7,150 poll workers for an election, to staff each of the 1,430 precincts in their jurisdiction with four judges and one polling technician.  

For the June primary, Herrera reported that they had roughly 5,000 poll workers, including 300 student election judges.

 “Luckily, with the help of students and our veterans, we bolstered our ranks to over 6,000 judges for the gubernatorial election,” Herrera said. “Recruiting over 2,000 in the month leading up to Election Day.” 

The Cook County Clerk's office has been actively working to recruit a new class of election judges, as the average age of election judges, according to Herrera, is late 60s to early 70s. 

To recruit this new class of judges, the Cook County Clerk’s Elections Staff, according to Herrera, has visited high schools and community colleges and used targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram geared toward voters under 30. They also sent flyers to community college administrators and college newspapers and radio outlets. 

Additionally, they are working on developing partnerships with local community colleges to allow students to earn credit for working the polls to further incentivize students. 

Organizations like the Mikva Challenge, based in Chicago, have also been instrumental in recruiting students to serve as election judges. The organization focuses on getting youth involved in the issues that affect them and elevating their voices to create a more inclusive democracy by working with schools to incorporate their Action Civics curricula into their classrooms. Part of that includes working with teachers to encourage their students to become election judges, allowing them to get involved with elections before many of them are eligible to vote.

“Our student judge program is part of (our teacher-facing work) because the way we recruit students mostly is by working with teachers at high schools,” said Leah Brown Schneck, the Elections in Action Manager at the Mikva Challenge. “So we have Rockstar teachers throughout the city that recruit their students to serve as election judges, and help us get all the paperwork in and make sure that students are prepared for what the long day is going to look like.” 

Scott is not only a part of Mikva’s student election judge program but is also on Mikva’s Safety and Justice Council. She recalled learning about the opportunity to be an election judge from her softball coach and seeing Mikva Challenge flyers around school. Her mom even forwarded her an email she got and encouraged her to apply. 

As an alum of the Mikva Challenge, Brown Schneck also served as a student election judge several times in addition to being involved with other Mikva programming. 

“Our students really fill critical gaps in staffing in terms of being able to utilize the electronic poll book and election voting technology and being able to serve as translator judges especially here in Chicago, where we have so many voters who are not English speakers,” said Brown Schneck, “And it gives students such an amazing firsthand look at how democracy works.”

According to Brown Schneck, 98% of the Mikva students in the student election judge program intend to vote when eligible, 96% intend to serve again as an election judge and 94% intend to convince their friends and family of the importance of voting. 

Additionally, research by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University’s Tisch College of Civic Life supports the assertion that student election judge programs encourage students to vote in the future. In their study of the student election judge program in Minneapolis throughout 2020 and 2021, CIRCLE found that youth voter turnout was highest in precincts with more student election judges, and that of students surveyed 97% said it improved their understanding of the voting process, and 67% felt they were making things better for their communities. 

Scott, a junior, speaks with passion in her voice about issues like abortion and cash bonds, and how she wants to be heard. The wall behind her features abortion rights posters among her pictures of family and friends. When asked about her plan for the future, Scott said she is thinking about potentially going into campaign management, marketing, pediatric medicine, or business. 

“When I first started being an Election Judge, I just wanted the money,” Scott said. “And then once I really like realized I'm learning something, (it’s) not just about wanting to have money. It's about also how I want to be a citizen of the United States and how my voice can be impactful.”

Toni Raggs also contributed to this story

Election graphic

Pritzker Defeats Bailey for Another Term as Governor

By Aristidas Tankus • November 9th, 2022

pritzker photo

JB Pritzker hit Republicans hard on abortion during his victory speech: “Anyone who thinks that they can come into this state and try to force some right-wing MAGA war on a woman’s body, you will never get an inch of Illinois.” (Photo/Aristidas Tankus)

The Illinois governor race on Tuesday night ended almost before it began. Nine minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m., The Associated Press called the race for Democratic incumbent JB Pritzker, while the votes were still being counted.

On an early night, the billionaire Pritzker held easily defeated farmer and Republican candidate Darren Bailey, 56, of Louisville, Illinois, for another term at the governor’s office. Pritzker earned 55.3% of the vote, while Bailey had 41.6% of the vote. Libertarian candidate and diesel technician Scott Mitchell Schluter, 35, of Marion, finished the race with only 3.1% of the vote.

At Marriott Marquis Chicago, the crowd of Pritzker’s supporters cheered as the governor went to the podium to deliver his victory speech.

“Thank you for placing your trust in me to carry out this mission for four more years,” Pritzker said. “I won’t let you down.”

In his victory speech, Pritzker wanted his supporters to work with him optimistically and not stave off on Democratic views on jobs, health care, and women’s rights. Furthermore, he received the biggest cheer from the crowd of supporters when talking about abortion.

“Let me be even clearer,” Pritzker said. “Anyone who thinks that they can come into this state and try to force some right-wing MAGA war on a woman’s body, you will never get an inch of Illinois.”

Pritzker’s First Victory in 2018 Midterms

In November 2018, Pritzker, defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner in the midterm, making him a one-term governor. Juliana Stratton, 53 at the time, became Pritzker’s running mate the same year. She previously defeated then-Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti in the polls. Four years later, Stratton defeated Bailey’s running mate, former radio talk show host, Stephanie Trussell, 49, of Lisle, Ill. 

Big Lead in the Polls

Leading up to election day, Pritzker held a commanding double-digit lead in several polls. As of Oct. 17, 2022, Pritzker held a significant lead in the polls over Bailey by 22%. The week before, Pritzker had a 15% lead in the polls. Bailey’s campaign contradicted the poll results by stating the race was much closer. Bailey’s campaign would be accurate in their claim because of a more recent poll, in which Pritzker only held a single digit lead over Bailey. However, Pritzker’s single-digit lead widened to double digits on Nov. 8.

Pritzker is an advocate for the controversial SAFE-T Act, which makes reforms to the criminal justice system. He is also an advocate for abortion rights and eliminating parental notification for minors to protect teenagers.

On June 28, Pritzker won the Democratic primary with 92.8% of the vote against former U.S. Army officer Beverly Miles, 55, also of Chicago, who finished with 7.2%.

In the Republican primary, Bailey won with 57.2% of the vote against venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan (15.8%), Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, 52, (15.4%), former State Sen. Paul Schimpf, 51, of Waterloo, Ill. (4.4%), and lawyer Max Solomon, 51 (0.9%).

Pritzker’s Successes as Governor

During his previous four years as Illinois governor, Pritzker had many successes.

Pritzker won bipartisan passage for Rebuild Illinois, an investment to upgrade roads, bridges, rail, data transition, and education in the state. As a solution to years of fiscal mismanagement in Illinois, he proposed and passed an annual balanced budget, eliminated the multi-billion dollar backlog, reduced pension liabilities, and achieved six credit upgrades from rating agencies.

In addition, Pritzker made sure the state government sided with working families to create jobs, raise the minimum wage, protect reproductive rights, make college and community college education affordable, and advance equal pay for women.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pritzker prioritized health and safety measures by supporting families and businesses during the recession. 

On Sep. 14, 2021, he proposed and signed a comprehensive clean energy bill to phase out fossil fuels, leading Illinois to become national leader in a battle against climate change.

Finally, on April 18, 2022, he signed a $1.8 billion tax relief plan that suspended a gas tax increase and state tax on groceries. The tax relief plan went into effect on July 1, 2022, a few days after Pritzker won the Democratic primary.

Pritzker’s Failures as Governor

Apart from his successes, Pritzker also experienced some failures during his previous four years in Springfield.

Pritzker shut down wide swaths of Illinois’ economy during the pandemic, drawing heat from small-business owners, particularly downstate. As a result, the Illinois Department of Employment Security could not handle a vast amount of unemployment claims. It took Pritzker’s administration several months to stabilize the issue, and lawmakers were critical of the response based on the amount of phone calls and emails received from constituents. In addition, the Illinois Department of Employment Security, apart from the legitimate claims, was also full of fraudulent claims and had to pay nearly $2 billion to people who did not qualify for unemployment benefits.

A state-run veterans’ home in LaSalle, Ill. saw 36 residents dead from COVID-19 in the fall of 2020. Thus, Pritzker fired the home’s director; however, an audit claimed that the Illinois Department of Public Health failed to identify and respond to the seriousness of the outbreak. One month after the outbreak, Linda Chapa LaVia, his Department of Veterans Affairs director, resigned.

Social service agencies like the Department of Children and Family Services have also struggled under Pritzker. Director of the Department of Children and Family Services Marc Smith has been held in court 12 times for the agency’s failure to properly place children in its care. Plus, employees at a Department of Human Services home in southern Illinois have been charged with crimes several times.

Finally, in 2020, Pritzker’s plans to stabilize Illinois’ shaky finances by ditching the income tax and replacing it with a graduated rate structure were rejected by Republicans and wealthy residents.

 

 

Election Night Comes to a Bitter End for Bailey and His Supporters

By Lulu Anjanette • November 9th, 2022

Darren Bailey Photo

Darren Bailey concedes the race to JB Pritzker. (Photo/Lulu Anjanette)

SPRINGFIELD — Darren Bailey supporters from all over Illinois gathered at Crowne Plaza Springfield Convention Center for his election party early Tuesday night, anxiously anticipating for the gubernatorial election results to come.

At 7 p.m., only minutes before the opening of the event, The Associated Press called the race for Democratic incumbent JB Pritzker. The mood of Bailey supporters turned sour as they expect the worst outcome for the rest of the night, yet they still had a glimmer of hope as they waited for their candidate to appear. And they waited … and waited

Leading up to the final count of the votes, supporters were still hopeful that the full count would see Bailey victorious. But as the night went on, their hopes started to dissappear as Pritzker widened his lead. With 79% of the votes counted, Pritzker had 55 percent to Bailey’s 42.2 percent.

After three hours of waiting, Bailey finally made his appearance at his election night party at 10:02 p.m. and conceded the race to Pritzker. 

“I just spoke to Governor Pritzker and congratulated him on his win tonight,” Bailey said. “The challenges are many, but I’m going to do what I always have done, what Americans always have done. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and go back to work.”


Bailey spoke to his supporters in Springfield, thanking them and saying he will never stop fighting for Illinois.

“I may not be going to Springfield as your next governor, but I will never stop fighting for you,” Bailey said. “My priorities will continue to be the things that unite us: protecting our freedoms, bringing jobs to our state, and safety to our streets. Republicans need to be the loyal opposition in Springfield. Loyal to our state, loyal to our country, loyal to our constitution, but in opposition to the radical policies of the Democrats.”

He encouraged his supporters to work together to find solutions for all the people of Illinois.

“Illinois, we can be better,” Bailey said. “Illinois must be better, our leaders must be better.”

Bailey also said Republicans may have lost this race at a statewide level, but warned Pritzker he needs to do better. 

“JB Pritzker, you need to be better. You need to be better for Illinois,” Bailey said. “You need to be better for our children and you need to be better for our grandchildren.”

Bailey ended the night with a mini meet-and-greet session, personally thanking everyone for their support and for attending his party.


Photos

Bailey meets with supporters after a long night in Springfield.

Darren Bailey Photo Darren Bailey Photo Darren Bailey Photo


Interview with Reporter Lulu Anjanette

Duckworth Reelected to U.S. Senate in Big Win Over Salvi

By AJ Castaneda • November 9th, 2022

Tammy Duckworth photo

Tammy Duckworth celebrates on stage with her family. (Photo/AJ Castaneda)

U.S Senator Tammy Duckworth won her reelection for U.S Senate of Illinois on Tuesday night, easily beating Republican nominee Kathy Salvi.

By late Tuesday night, Duckworth had won with 2,140,319 votes, 56.2% of the vote to Salvi’s 42.1%.

Duckworth held her election night event at the Adler Planetarium and told the gathered crowd, “I will never stop fighting to better this state that we all love.”

“I know there are still some folks seeking to sow seeds of division among us, and I know that we’re a union that, yes at times, has been anything but united,” she said. “But the miracle of America is that when it looks like those worst instincts are set to prevail, we come together and we resist those instincts. We refuse to give to that darkness. Black, White, Asian, Latino, Gay, Straight, Transgender, you name it, we march. We speak out. We remember that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. That we are the change that we seek, as a certain other Illinoisan who used to hold my Senate seat once said.

“We believe that the impossible can happen to any of us. That if you work hard, this nation will give you the opportunity to do anything you want. That even if you grew up hungry and nearly homeless like I did, you can rise, rise, rise.”

Her lavish election night event was well-attended and included free food, parking, drinks, gifts, and art around the Adler Planetarium that was being sold by the artist Emilio Reyes.

Emotional Giannoulias Wins Secretary of State Race Convincingly

By Brielle Conwell • November 9th, 2022

Alexi Giannoulias photo

Alexi Giannoulias delivers a speech to his supporters upon winning the election for Illinois Secretary of State.

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias took the stage Tuesday night to claim his title of Secretary of State after a convincing win over Republican nominee Dan Brady.

As of 9:30 pm, the race had still not been officially called, but Brady conceded to Giannoulias with 46 percent of the votes counted. Giannoulias held 58 percent of the vote, followed by Brady (40 percent) and Libertarian Jon Stewart (2 percent).

“It is such a breathtaking feeling to share this moment with all of you,” Giannoulias said as stepped to the podium, reflecting upon his campaign experience throughout the pandemic.

“It is an absolute privilege and honor”, Giannoulias continued, choking up. “To be the first person in 24 years to be able to say ‘thank you’ to the people of Illinois.”

The race for Illinois’ new Secretary of State has been highly anticipated as Jesse White is retiring after serving six full terms, a total of 24 years in the office.

There was a wide variety of experiences among the candidates for position. Giannoulias, former state treasurer and banker, faced Brady, a funeral home director and former coroner, and Stewart, who used to be a professional wrestler.

Giannoulias, who formerly served as Illinois’s youngest-ever treasurer in 2007, has been out of office ever since ending that term. Giannoulias ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, but lost the race due to the failure of his family’s Broadway Bank. Authorities say the bank approved loans for alleged organized crime links before the bank’s failure in the middle of Giannoulias’s campaign for Senate. As a loan officer for the bank, Giannoulias was never formally accused of wrongdoing.

Throughout the campaign for Secretary of State, Brady has used the history of Giannoulias’s family’s business as ammunition against his campaign. Brady stated that given his track record, Giannoulias could not be trusted with the divisions of security within the secretary of state’s office.

Giannoulias labeled Brady’s claims as “typical politics” and a baseless attack as a result of Brady’s lower digits in the polls. Giannoulias responded to the accusations by criticizing Brady’s support of former President Donald Trump. He compared Trump’s past baseless election fraud claims to Republican Brady.

“What they’re doing to the very foundation of democracy is dangerous,” Giannoulias said.

Giannoulias’s election party took place at the Sheraton Grand Ballroom in downtown Chicago. Supporters mingled and enjoyed the open bar for nearly three hours after voting closed while awaiting the announcement. The lull of conversation among the crowd quickly turned into cheers of excitement as it was announced that Brady had conceded.

The room filled with loud hip-hop music and lights flashed as the cheers continued and enthusiastic Giannoulias took the podium with his wife and three young daughters beside him.

Giannoulias presented an emotional and heartfelt speech, individually thanking numerous people including staff, supporters, and especially his family. He refrained from making any negative remarks toward Brady or his supporters.

Giannoulias dedicated his campaign to his late father, Alexis.

“If you never met Mr. G you missed out, because he was the greatest…I miss him every day,” Giannoulias said. “Tonight, dad, this campaign is for you and I love you so much.”

Giannoulias also took time within his speech to thank his wife, who was standing beside him holding their youngest daughter. He praised her for her support throughout his campaign and for her grace and dignity over the course of the past two years.

“There are plenty of people across the country giving speeches tonight thanking their wives,” Giannoulias said. “Nobody got a wife like I do.”

He finished his speech by addressing his three young daughters.

“Lastly, to my three girls, who are the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me”, Giannoulias said. “I hope that one day you have just an [understanding] of how much I love you and how everything that mommy and daddy do is for you.”

Giannoulias was emotional throughout his speech and he put great emphasis on his family and his daughters as the motivation behind his campaign. The crowd was enthusiastic and the room vibrated with cheers and applause throughout the 15-minute speech.

“To the people of Illinois, to my friends and family, to all of you that are here, I hope we ran a campaign that you can be very proud of,” Giannoulias said. “More importantly, I promise you, we will run a Secretary of State’s office that you will be very, very proud of.”

Midterm Election Night Updates: Pritzker, Duckworth Lock Up Races Early

By Red Line Project Staff • November 8th, 2022

Updated coverage from the Illinois midterm elections, from the polls opening through the candidate parties and speeches. It was a quick night as incumbent Gov. JB Pritzker and incumbent US Senator Tammy Duckworth locked up their races less than an hour after the polls close.

 

Election Night Coverage

 

Illinois Governor: Pritzker Reelected

 

Illinois Governor: Bailey Concedes

 

 


US Senate: Duckworth Wins Big

 


Secretary of State: Giannoulias Wins by Double-Digits

 


 

Election Day Coverage

 

Election Preview: Bailey Leading in Search Popularity, Not Polls

By Zoe McClain • November 7th, 2022

Pritzker vs. Bailey

According to an analysis of Google search data, Bailey has led in search in Illinois for the majority of October. In spite of this, Bailey is lagging behind in the polls, with a recent WGN poll putting Pritzker at 9 points ahead (50%-41%).

What Do Voters Care About?

Education and crime have remained Illinois voters’ top concerns in the month leading up to Election Day, as supported by another analysis of Google search data. Inflation and abortion are steadily represented in search data as well, aside from the former’s peak on Oct. 13th — likely due to the U.S. Consumer Price Index report released that day.

Google Trends image

Map: Find Affordable Rental Housing Developments in Chicago

By Mariah Martinez • November 7th, 2022

The city of Chicago’s rent and housing prices has changed throughout the years. When the global pandemic hit, many citizens were out of a job and could no longer afford to live in their own homes.

Since the global pandemic, many states are recovering and have tried adjusting to the new norm. Prices have gone up in food and housing. According to Rent.com, the average price of renting an apartment is between $1,357 to $2,322 in Chicago.

Now that prices have skyrocketed, landlords have adjusted their rent prices and have them effective immediately. Based on the area a person lives in, the prices for housing and rent will vary.

Chicago citizens and other states are struggling to afford housing and rent. Chicago has a free website where people can search for renters and more. The website provides information based on what fits the person’s budget.

Many other organizations will help people find affordable housing. The Resurrection Project is a non-profit organization located in Pilsen. They assist community members in the southwest side of Chicago.

The Chicago data portal provides information from 2013 to 2022. It shows property types and names. So the person can determine what fits their needs. They also provided community area names, addresses, and property managers.

The purpose of affordable rental housing is to help community members get back on their feet. When looking for a new community to live there are several things to look for. People are looking for easy access to transportation, improving their finances, and affordable housing.

Analyzing Race Populations in the Five Largest American Cities

By Steven Perez • October 26th, 2022

The United States is a “melting pot” of cultures and this blend of cultures makes it a very diverse country. This is evident in the analysis of the demographics of the five largest cities in America. The three largest ethnicities in the country are White, Hispanic, and Black, and in three of the five cities, Hispanic is the dominant ethnicity percentage-wise. This is a very interesting observation that provides evidence that the United States is becoming very diverse.

This shift in population demographics is a healthy sign for the country. More diversity means an ever-growing expansion of thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that can blend together to enrichen our culture.

Chicago and New York City are the most diverse cities out of the five largest cities in America. Both of these cities have an almost equal representation of the three major ethnicities in the United States: White, Black and Hispanic.

However, the largest cities located in the Southwest, such as Los Angeles, Houston, and Phoenix are predominately Hispanic and White. Hispanic is the largest ethnicity by percentage in each of these cities. In Los Angeles, almost 50% of the population is Hispanic.

race populations icon