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Unsupported claims vs. U. of C. students

Updated: July 15, 2013 7:48PM



Mary Mitchell’s June 13 Chicago Sun-Times column, “U. of C. frat’s racist prank not funny,” failed to include a response from the University of Chicago, which we provided before her deadline. The column and its headline are misleading, especially in the unsupported claim that University of Chicago students carried out this extremely offensive act, and the false implication that the university did not respond.

The United States Postal Inspection Service contacted the university on May 31 about a delivery of offensive packages to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The University of Chicago Police Department cooperated fully with the federal investigation; the Chicago Police Department and the University’s Office of Campus and Student Life also were notified.

I sought a meeting with members of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity; the students indicated that they did not know who had sent the packages, and we had no evidence pointing to individuals who might be responsible. As of our last contact this week with the USPIS, they said they have no suspects and have determined the matter to be noncriminal in nature. If we receive additional information on potential suspects, the University will continue to cooperate with federal authorities and we will begin disciplinary processes if students were responsible.

The University of Chicago considers this a grave and deplorable incident that offends our community’s core values. Our institution has responded on many levels, including full cooperation with federal authorities in their investigation. We will continue to engage our students in education on diversity issues more broadly, and on why incidents such as this one are unacceptable.

As part of our ongoing commitment to values of respect and free expression, this spring we launched a new, campuswide diversity awareness campaign called “RISE — Reflect. Intervene. Speak. Engage.” We will put a focus on how our students’ privileges in life give them an added responsibility to approach others with respect and decency. As part of RISE, we will hold campus events throughout the year to explore issues related to diversity and respect. We will also continue to hold conversations with fraternity members about this specific incident when students return in the fall. Fraternities and sororities are not registered student organizations at the University of Chicago, but we engage with their students, who have the same rights and responsibilities as other members of our community.

Eleanor Daugherty,

Assistant Vice President for Student Life

and Associate Dean of the College,

University of Chicago

Redistricting to define a child’s education

Barbara Byrd-Bennett “promised each child whose school disappeared, they would be saved a place in a higher performing school” [“CPS not offering same benefits to all kids in areas with closed schools,” June 6, 2013]. Ipads, libraries, art and music programs have been promised. While Byrd-Bennet stated displaced children have a saved place in a higher performing school, this is not the case. Because of redistricting, some children will be forced to attend other neighborhood schools, some of which are on probation.

Redistricting causes complications too. For example, because some of these schools are on probation, if the school is forced to close, these students will be displaced again in the future. Byrd-Bennett promised great investments for all displaced students. This is a lie. There will be zero great investments for our students if they cannot attend a qualified receiving school because their home address sits just outside of the newly mapped district. Children are our future. Preschoolers living east of Pulaski Road will not be able to attend Hughes Elementary — a receiving school; rather, they will have to attend Herzl, which holds a probationary status. This is evidence that CPS administration simply does not care about our students during their very important formative years.

The current CPS administration is playing an unfair chess match where students and their families are the pawns. Lying is unacceptable, and lying to a student regarding their education is downright appalling. Redistricting leaves many students in harm’s way and without a chance for success. CPS administration must wake up and implement an all-inclusive, positivestrategy for all students regardless of the location of their home. Equal education needs to be prioritized.

Kevin P. Vega, Portage Park

Watch that meter!

It seems to me that cab fares are pretty high. While New York has a higher pull fee, they don’t charge for extra people in the cab. While traveling recently, I found the cost of a cab was frequently the same price as the subway and more enjoyable. Sometimes lowering prices ends up making more money in the long run. I think people would be more likely to use cabs, especially downtown or to the airport.

Susan Wagner, Wilmette

Bruce Rauner: An Illinois Mitt Romney

No one should be surprised that Bruce Rauner set foot in the Illinois Governor’s race last week by trampling all over the state’s working families. As a billionaire venture capitalist in the same line of business as Mitt Romney, the Ivy League-educated Rauner will never be confused for a man of the people — unless the people in question are corporate moguls. Despite his efforts to portray himself as a regular guy who can fire a rifle, Rauner indicated that, as Governor, he would take target practice on average working families.   

He took a special pot shot at our union, which represents low-wage health care and child care workers throughout Illinois. It was a glaring illustration of how little Rauner understands the plight of the state’s working class. Our members earn low wages, and they don’t belong to the state pension systems that Rauner decries. They provide vital health care to hospital patients, nursing home residents, people with disabilities, and help educate low-income children. 

These are the people who have been short-changed by Illinois’ chronic budget morass, and yet Rauner claims they have too much power in Springfield. While there is no doubt that the union has been instrumental in improving our members’ wages, working conditions and the quality of care for tens of thousands of people with disabilities, these workers cannot equal the power of Rauner’s billions. He may not relate to the lives of average workers, but he definitely qualifies as a piece of work.  

Keith Kelleher, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana



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