NCAA penalizes EC for awarding athletic scholarships, places school on probation

The 2012 EC football team celebrates their CCIW conference championship win by ringing the bell at Langhorst field, their championship win is now forfeited as a result of EC’s financial aid infractions.  Internet photo

The 2012 EC football team celebrates their CCIW conference championship win by ringing the bell at Langhorst field, their championship win is now forfeited as a result of EC’s financial aid infractions.  Internet photo

by Cole Sheeks, Sports Editor

Follow him at @ColeSheeks

After an investigation determined that the school illegally awarded athletic scholarships to 26 different students over a four year period, EC was punished by the NCAA on Oct. 27 and placed on probation.

The college is claiming it was an “unfortunate clerical error,” however, it admitted fault in committing major violations of NCAA legislation when it awarded five institutional scholarships to athletes on 42 different occasions beginning during the 2012-2013 school year.

Three of the scholarships included athletic based criteria while the other two were awarded by the director of financial aid under the impression that they were in fact athletic scholarships.

Upon receiving that aid, all of those players were ineligible to compete at the Division III level, as schools at that level are restricted from awarding scholarships based on athletics.

EC established two initial athletic scholarships in 2013 and 2014. The first scholarship was created for athletes interested in the medical field, while the second scholarship was intended for football players.

A third athletic based scholarship was created for members of the wrestling team.

According to the NCAA report, “institutional personnel knew that athletic criteria could not be considered when awarding financial aid, but established the scholarships and awarded the aid regardless.”

Paul Krohn, the school’s athletic director, declined to comment on the matter and directed any requests to administration.

Julie Hall, assistant athletic director and head volleyball coach, also declined to comment, citing a need to focus on the ongoing volleyball season.

EC President Troy VanAken made it clear that the school had no intent when creating the athletic scholarships, mentioning that the language of the scholarship agreements was written in 1965, “back when the NCAA wasn’t engineered the way it is now.”

“Where we had an administrative let down was [when] we cut and pasted that problematic language into future scholarship agreements,” continued VanAken.

VanAken went on to add that this was not a tactical maneuver by the school, rather, it was simply an, “unfortunate clerical error.”

In 2014, EC received a warning from the NCAA that said the school may have had issues regarding financial aid rules compliance, yet EC took no action and violations continued.

“The [warning] letter came to the president’s office. The president’s office was in transition at that time,” said VanAken. 

The president in 2014 was Dr. S. Alan Ray, who was succeeded by interim president Dr. Larry A. Braskamp before VanAken eventually took over in June of 2016.

“A lot of things were going on at that time and yeah ... had we got on it at that time, we would be talking about something else, but we didn’t.” said VanAken.

The NCAA report goes on to mention that the school awarded roughly $126,216 of impermissible financial aid to 26 players across 10 sports.

According to a campus wide email from VanAken, the 10 sports found in violation of NCAA rules were men’s cross country, men’s track and field, football, men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, wrestling, women’s basketball, women’s golf, women’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, and volleyball.

As a result of these actions, the school will face a number of penalties from the NCAA, including vacated wins and records, two years of probation and a $2,500 fine.

VanAken’s email goes on to mention that, “no coaches or athletic staff were involved in any way,” and that, “none of the 26 students was aware that they had received impermissible aid.”

The NCAA report mentions that the director of financial aid felt “pressure” from an EC development staff to award the scholarships.

“We don’t know exactly what that means, when a term is used like ‘pressure’ said Desiree Chen, senior director of communications and external relations. “What we do know is that it was a period of leadership transition and so obviously the financial aid director did not receive the kind of support that was needed to know that what was happening was wrong.”

“I wasn’t here then,” said VanAken, reiterating Chen’s remarks. “We don’t know what specifically took place.”

The report suggests that the development staff’s intentions were to follow “wishes” of the scholarship donors in order to, “award competitive financial aid packages, which would increase enrollment and help realize ‘real dollars’ for the institution.”

EC administration declined to identify any members of the development staff.

The director of financial aid, who EC administration also declined to identify, failed to report that pressure to her supervisor and the NCAA reports that, “she alone was responsible for making the awards that resulted in the violations.”

VanAken noted that EC has been compliant with NCAA rules for the past two financial aid award periods.

“What we can assure you is that today, both last year and this year, people are doing their jobs according to NCAA guidelines and what we’re wanting to see done here at the institution.”

Muslim scholar highlights prominent Islamophobia in current political climate

Muslim scholar Hussein Rashid discusses the misconceptions of the Muslim population during the "The Uncanny Muslim: Real and the Imagined in America" lecture on Sunday, Oct. 29. Photo by Cheyenne Roper

Muslim scholar Hussein Rashid discusses the misconceptions of the Muslim population during the "The Uncanny Muslim: Real and the Imagined in America" lecture on Sunday, Oct. 29. Photo by Cheyenne Roper

By Cheyenne Roper, News Reporter

The forces at work behind the demonization and misinterpretation of Muslim people were brought to light during a lecture by Muslim scholar Hussein Rashid on Sunday, Oct. 29. 

“The Uncanny Muslim: Real and the Imagined in America” was this year’s Al-Ghazali lecture that shed light on the way Muslim culture is understood by Rashid, founder of Islamicate, LC3.

 “There are political forces at work that seem to continue to demonize Muslims both abroad and at home. You can try to combat them head-on. From a community perspective, I’m a little bit more hopeful, but in terms of societal pressures I don’t see that going away anytime soon, in fact, I see this building up,” said Rashid.

Rashid touched on three time periods in American history to exemplify what he means: The early part of American history and imagining the nation, American Orientalism, and the Muslims of today.

A notable comparison in American society mentioned is between that of Jabba the Hutt and the Ottoman of Sultan, a Muslim figure.

“We develop this image of the Ottoman of Sultan who tends to be corpulent and smoking a water pipe with the dancing slave girls around him,” Rashid said. “So we are both recognizing a political reality and this imagination of this other who is so un-Christian, he is sexually deviant, has no sense of control, and he sits very lazily.”

Rashid continued with, “we think sometimes that we have grown past these images. But, the reality is that these images continue to persist because Jabba the Hutt is that Ottoman Sultan who sits with his dancing slave girls and smoking his water pipe.”

Rashid discussed this as being representative of how we construct the ways Americans conceive Muslims in the country today and the similarities to how it has been in the past. 

In explaining how he imagines the country’s history, Rashid said, “When we think about what is the American nation I think a lot of people are quite surprised that when we look at our founding fathers, Islam and Muslims play a very big role in the ways we begin to conceive the nation. Many are familiar with the fact that Thomas Jefferson owned a Quran.”

“When the first Muslim was elected to congress, Keith Ellison was sworn in on a Quran, and people were saying, ‘This is un-American, how dare he.’ and then he got sworn in on Jefferson’s Quran. People were like, ‘Okay what do we do? Jefferson had a Quran,” continued Rashid.

People voiced their opinions on their disapproval of a member of Congress using the Quran as a means to swear himself in. However, when these same folks found out about Jefferson’s Quran (and the fact he even had one), they were much more accepting of the idea. 

The President of the Muslim Student Association of Elmhurst, Obaidullah Kholowadia, spoke of how confident and secure he feels to be a Muslim student of Elmhurst College. 

“I think the school is very welcoming of us. I think even [E.C President Troy VanAken] as of recently has been more involved on campus. The school is very welcoming to us, no one has ever given us a hard time.”

Rashid’s recommendation to young people of the future is to “start building relationships, start building communities, start organizing, find that issue, find those people, make some trouble and anytime someone says ‘Well that’s just un-American’ I’m sorry but this country was founded on trouble. It is the definition of the American to cause trouble, keep that tradition alive.”

Prominent rabbi Jack Moline challenges the integrity of religious freedom laws

By Alveena Siddiqi, News Reporter

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the National Interfaith Alliance, argued his stance against the use of religious freedom to restrict the legal rights of same-sex couples during his lecture, “Praying With My Legs,” in Founders Lounge on Tuesday, Oct. 26. 

During the post-lecture question and answer session, Moline responded to an audience question about his stance on a recent Supreme Court case between same-sex couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig and Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake their wedding cake. The case has been treated as a conflict between state and national laws forbidding discrimination against same-sex couples and the Constitution’s protections of religious freedom and freedom of expression. 

“My right to swing my fists in any direction ends where your nose begins,” Moline responded. “The protection of individual faith and freedom extends only to the point where it does not disable the rights of somebody else with equally sincerely held beliefs.” He also revealed that he recently signed two amicus curiae briefs on behalf of Interfaith Alliance in support of the couple. 

Moline, who was this year’s speaker for EC’s annual Abraham Joshua Heschel lecture – part of the college’s religious lecture series — also emphasized the importance of maintaining a government without a specific religious alignment in ensuring the equality of religious minorities. 

“There is no religious test for leadership. There is no religion that is established or disestablished,” he said. “There is no particular belief that is official to make anyone who holds an ‘unofficial’ belief feel less than or less protected by freedom and law.”

Moline referred to the National Mall in Washington D.C. as a physical representation of the importance of America’s freedom of religion and belief. 

 “You will find no representation of religion on the Mall, and that is because the United States, perhaps the most religiously conscious nation in history, promotes the notion that every citizen, every visitor, brings his or her own faith or philosophy to that wide open space between independence and law, and just as important, every citizen, every visitor carries those beliefs away with them when they leave,” he said. 

“If Congress were to offer to erect, on the Mall, a monument to Interfaith Alliance for its devotion to protecting your faith and your freedom, I would very politely turn them down.”

Tensions in SGA arise over funding conflicts

By Syeda Sameeha, News Reporter

File photo SGA Vice President and President of Hablamos, Maria Anguiano, was accused of attempting to improperly acquire funds for an event taking place on Nov. 1.

File photo

SGA Vice President and President of Hablamos, Maria Anguiano, was accused of attempting to improperly acquire funds for an event taking place on Nov. 1.

Concerns have been raised regarding possible conflicts of interest involving SGA executive board members following a recent attempt to fund an Hablamos event violating SGA’s procedures. 

SGA Vice President and President of Hablamos, Maria Anguiano, intended to ask SGA for $150 at the SGA meeting on Thursday Oct. 26 for Hablamos’ Dia de Los Muertos event which took place on Wednesday, Nov. 1. However, the proposal was postponed due to a lack of time.

Instead on Friday, Oct. 27, SGA Vice President of Finance Emma Kaminski reached out to SGA board members via email asking the board to send in their vote, “since the event will be happening before our next meeting.”

SGA representative Joshua Bucens raised concerns.

“First of all, we had not had time to discuss as a board. Secondly, I did not see how the event benefitted a large enough portion of our campus that warranted committing funds,” explained Bucens in an email interview.  “And thirdly, Maria Anguiano who is the President of Hablamos, also sits on our executive board of SGA and was the one giving the presentation; to me this is a blatant conflict of interest!”

Anguiano responded to Bucens saying that he “believed I was using that  money for something else and that it wasn’t going to benefit the whole student body,” said Anguiano.

In emails provided to the Leader, Bucens cited a part of the SGA bylaws as support for his claims of improper practices.

“I would also say that according to the funding bylaws, the board has not had time for discussion. See article IX section 4 of our funding bylaws,” said Bucens in the email.

Section 4 of Article IX of the SGA Funding Bylaws states, “Student Organizations that are requesting funding from Rollover accounts must complete a Student Government Association Rollover Funding Proposal form, which is distributed by Student Government Association.”

According the funding bylaws document, this form must ask of information that documents the request for funding from a student organization such as “a cost breakdown of the project” and a “timeline of the project.”

While the funding bylaws of SGA lists that all student organizations requesting funding must complete this Rollover Funding Proposal form, Anguiano claims there is no such form.

“There’s not a form or if there is a form, we don’t know what form. The bylaws says follow the guidelines proposal form, but we don’t have one,” admits Anguiano.

Anguiano also continued with discussing that her presentation went over everything Bucens had an issue with as far as the breakdown went.

“My presentation even had why I chose SGA, not Cooperative Funding (Co-Op) because I wanted this event to bring more inclusivity between students and felt SGA had similar values because of its diversity and inclusion position,” she said.

As for Bucens’ claims of a conflict of interest, Anguiano agreed how this could be seen as a conflict of interest for Bucens being a new member of SGA, but admits this was the first time an issue like this was brought up. 

“I know in the past other executive members and board members of SGA held other executive roles outside of SGA and they made proposals here,” said Anguiano.

As of now, the SGA Constitution and bylaws have no direct stated rules against a SGA board member bringing up a proposal on behalf of another student activity that they have an executive position on.

While the Hablamos proposal was approved, in the end, Anguiano decided to redact the proposal. 

“We had majority vote, one no and two abstains. So it was something SGA wanted to do, but with all the conflict going on, I did not want Hablamos to have a bad name and decided not have the event sponsored by SGA,” said Anguiano. “I was willing to pay for it myself because this is an event I wanted for EC students, but thankfully Black Student Union sponsored us and we had a great time at the event.”

File photo SGA representative Josh Bucens was the first to bring the potential conflict of interest in the SGA executive board.

File photo

SGA representative Josh Bucens was the first to bring the potential conflict of interest in the SGA executive board.

Bucens claimed his reasoning behind the whole event was to prevent SGA looking like a corrupt organization. 

“The problem I had was that this procedure violated our bylaws and to an outsider would appear corrupt. Even though there was no nefarious intent,” explained Bucens. “As I said in another email ‘The amount to be allocated is not what’s important - neither is the size of our fund, the way it is being spent and the lack of adherence to procedure and structure is what is important. It is our job to question everything and to evaluate the validity of proposals that come through our organization.’”

“I was most worried about the lack of care that seemed to be present regarding the rules that govern our own organization,” said Bucens.

Anguiano also agreed SGA needs to do a better job of following guidelines.

“This Hablamos proposal was something we had talked about before. I thought people would be okay with it and I didn’t think anything wrong of it. I was asking for $150 out of an account that has more than enough, but it is not about the money, it’s about following the guidelines, something SGA has to work on, because it has not been in doing that in the past SGA,” said Anguiano.

“I think this was a learning experience for us. After this incident, I just decided that if I’m going to make proposal for Hablamos or any other organization I am part of, I’m just going to bring another student to present it, not myself,” said Anguiano.

For many on the SGA board, this incident is an example of the growing tension between members.

“It is clear to see that tension has been building in the group over the semester,” wrote Kaminski in the email to SGA board members after the Hablamos proposal was redacted. 

One example of tension may be because a talk of impeachment going around between SGA members.

SGA Representative Laura Rusk said, “A few weeks ago, Bucens had contacted all SGA representatives about impeachment regarding executive board members.” According to Rusk, this contact was made prior to the Hablamos proposal controversy.

Anguiano also confirmed that a student had contacted board members about impeachment.

“I am aware of this. There’s a representative who is not happy with what SGA is doing, but I don’t know necessarily why. We are a little confused as to why, but if there are reasons we will go through the whole impeachment process,” said Anguiano.

When the Leader asked for confirmation regarding an impeachment process, the reasons for it, and whether this was an active effort, Bucens declined to comment on the matter. 

Both Anguiano and Kaminski stressed better communication and involvement in the board to move them forward.

“We are doing feedback forms, so we want to the SGA reps to tell us what we are doing wrong and what they would like for us to do. I think as executive board members we are trying our best to get everyone involved. A lot of representatives feel like they are not doing something and they are not representing. If they want to do something, they should do it,” said Anguiano.

In the email to the SGA board, Kaminski said, “In order to try and resolve anything, a conversation needs to happen. We are all here for one reason, to help be the voice of the students.”

Adjuncts and allies clash with President’s office during march for unionization

Photo by Abby Robb  President, Troy VanAken, confronts students and non-tenure faculty advocating for an adjunct faculty union outside of his office on Tuesday Oct. 31.

Photo by Abby Robb

 President, Troy VanAken, confronts students and non-tenure faculty advocating for an adjunct faculty union outside of his office on Tuesday Oct. 31.

By Victoria Martin, News Editor

Those working to organize the EC adjunct faculty were met with a volatile response on Oct. 31 from EC President Troy VanAken after going to his office to ask for a restatement of the administration’s neutrality.

That day, fourteen students, adjunct faculty, and Arise Chicago members gathered on the Mall patio outside the Frick Center to march and spread awareness to the campus on the issues the union is trying to fix for adjuncts.

The group held signs reading “Trick-or-treat for job stability” and “Static pay is scary” while chanting, “Organizing is our right, EC faculty unite” and “Blue Jays for fair pay.”

After a march around EC campus and speeches to motivate those involved, a sixth of the original group went to introduce themselves and have a moment with VanAken to ask for a reinstatement of neutrality.

Once at the office, EC senior and student member of Arise Chicago, Sam Davis, knocked on VanAken’s office door.

When VanAken opened his door, Davis started introducing himself to which VanAken interrupted, said he was in the middle of a call and would wrap it up, and sent everyone to wait in the sitting area in the office. 

Executive Assistant to the President, Molly Niespo, was the first to talk to the group awaiting VanAken. 

Niespo felt that the union group circumvented her authority by going straight to VanAken and not first stopping in to talk to her.

“There is a procedure to follow when wanting to meet with the president,” Niespo said. “He normally has an open door policy, so when his door is open anyone can come in and sit down with him, but his door is closed.”

Photo by Abby Robb Costumed protesters gather in front of Hammerschmidt Chapel on Oct. 31 to advocate for a non-tenure faculty union.

Photo by Abby Robb

Costumed protesters gather in front of Hammerschmidt Chapel on Oct. 31 to advocate for a non-tenure faculty union.

Organizer and Communications & Development Director at Arise Chicago Shelly Ruzicka said that all they wanted to do was, “drop off some candy in the spirit of [Halloween] and introduce themselves to the president,” and that, “we meant no disrespect to anyone’s position.”

After, Niespo made it clear to the union that, while she could not speak for VanAken, she would be happy to set up appointments with anyone who wanted to sit down and talk to him.

As she was getting down one of the student’s information, VanAken came out of his office.

“You can’t just bang on doors barge into people’s offices. Its rude and aggressive,” Vanaken said as he approached the group. 

As Ruzicka tried to explain why they were there, as she had before to Niespo, VanAken kept interrupting with reasons why he felt the group was aggressive. 

“Coming in here with megaphones,” he said in reference to the march outside, “and banging on people’s doors is aggressive. And this is aggressive unionizing.”

“Molly,” VanAken continued, gesturing to Niespo, “came into my office telling me she felt threatened and unsafe.”

The Rev. CJ Hawking, executive director at Arise Chicago, made it clear that, that was not their intention and they did not want anyone to feel unsafe. 

“All we wanted to do was to get a statement of neutrality and have a conversation,” Hawking said.

To which VanAken responded that the administration had already given a statement to the college saying that the administration would stay neutral and work with faculty no matter the decision. 

EC adjunct faculty member and union organizer Matilda Stubbs mentioned that the adjuncts are still not feeling the neutrality as an email was sent to the adjuncts at EC stating that if people are approached by a union member and feel threatened they can call the police.

VanAken denied the email sent by April Edwards’ existence and Stubbs offered to send it to him.

In the email provided to the Leader, Edwards encouraged any adjunct faculty member approached by a union representative should call the either the police or campus security.

“I am aware that some of you are being approached by union organizers on- and off-campus. This contact is unwelcome at times, and some of these individuals may be aggressive or persistent.” Edwards wrote. “I urge you to contact campus security at any time, day or evening. If you feel threatened off-campus, please call 911 to alert the appropriate community authorities.”

With that, Ruzika offered VanAken and Niespo a pumpkin bucket with candy and the union group left the office.

Ryan Thoreson places LGBT movement as a beacon for other global human right campaigns

Ryan Thoreson addresses the shift and prominence of the LGBT movement on a global scale in his lecture “Transitional LGBT Activism: Working for Sexual Rights Worldwide” in the Frick Center on Wednesday, Oct. 11.  Photo courtesy of Lauren Altiery

Ryan Thoreson addresses the shift and prominence of the LGBT movement on a global scale in his lecture “Transitional LGBT Activism: Working for Sexual Rights Worldwide” in the Frick Center on Wednesday, Oct. 11.  Photo courtesy of Lauren Altiery

By Lauren Vana, Staff Writer

In a culturally divided world, advances in the LGBT movement “gives some reason for optimism,” Yale Law School Robert L. Bernstein International Human Rights Fellow at Human Rights Watch Ryan Thoreson said at his lecture “Transnational LGBT Activism: Working for Sexual Rights Worldwide” on Wednesday, Oct. 11. 

“Despite significant advances in rights and recognition, LGBT lives are still considered expendable in very different parts of the world,” Thoreson said discussing the rise of populist authoritarianism mentioning countries like Russia, Indonesia, and Azerbaijan.

Thoreson went on to talk about the lessons we can learn from LGBT activism, arguing that human rights workers could learn a lot from LGBT activism.

“It’s a movement that has dealt with popular dislike in a lot of countries, or hostile leaders in a lot of countries,” he said, “and has still managed to win rights, to persuade the public, and to make gains, both at the domestic level and internationally that seemed unthinkable ten or twenty years ago.”

The interest in international LGBT activism began when Thoreson was in college and became an activist during a time when same-sex marriage bans were passing in the United States, yet South Africa legally allowed same-sex marriage relatively quickly.

“I became interested in why same-sex marriage happened so easily in South Africa and not in the U.S.,” he said during an interview prior to his lecture.

Thoreson’s research now focuses on how people use human rights language to argue against LGBT rights and activism.  

“I hope my academic work helps activists think a little more critically about the claims they’re making,” he said during the interview.

Though his research and lecture focus on transnational organizations, Thoreson agrees with the importance of local activism.

“It’s really grassroots movements that are changing hearts and minds around the world,” he said.

World in Review

Harvey Weinstein scandal prompts #metoo trend

Internet photo

Internet photo

By Syeda Sameeha, Staff Writer

On Oct. 5, The New York Times published an investigation revealing dozens of sexual harassment claims against the film producer and businessman Harvey Weinstein, dating all the way back to 1990. What followed was many more women such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie coming forward with accusations of harassment against Weinstein, an audio tape published by the New Yorker magazine online of Weinstein admitting to groping, Weinstein being fired from his company, Weinstein Company, and his removal from  the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

While the Weinstein case is ongoing, it has sparked national conversations on sexual harassment and how we combat it. In the wake of this scandal, Actress Alyssa Milano tweeted out “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” In a post Milano wrote, “If all women who have been sexually assaulted or harassed  wrote ‘me too’ in their statuses, we might give people a sense of the  magnitude of the problem.” #MeToo quickly became a trending topic on social media, with over 25, 000 responses.

According to Huffington Post, the #MeToo movement  was first started by Tarana Burke, an activist in 2007 when she told Ebony magazine about her movement to reach sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities such as people of color. 

In an interview with CBS News, Burke said, “‘Me Too’ started, not as a hashtag, but as a campaign from an organization that I founded: Just Be Inc. Empowerment through empathy was the thing that I felt helped me, was that other survivors who empathize with my situation help me to feel like I wasn’t alone and gave me entry to my healing journey.”

The ‘MeToo’ movement was criticized by some, saying if women of color had come out with such accusations, there wouldn’t have been the same outrage.

Burke agreed that it was true. “People of color are usually the last to be supported in these types of situations because of racism, because of oppression, because the way the system works in this country.” In the CBS interview, Burke pointed to Lupita Nyong, the latest actress to come out against Weinstein with harassment claims as,  “evidence that this happens across the board,” and that, “these people who are predators, prey on everybody.”

Mike Ditka postpones lecture at EC amid controversy over racial comments

Graphic by Domenica Divietro

Graphic by Domenica Divietro

By Victoria Martin, and  Alveena Siddiqi, News Editor and News Writer

NFL Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, who was invited to speak at EC on leadership and success, postponed his lecture after making a racial comment during a national pregame interview.

With a possibility of protests after Ditka said that, “There has been no oppression in the last hundred years,” on Oct. 9, the college sent out an email on Oct. 12 stating the lecture had been postponed because the atmosphere was not conducive to the free exchange of ideas that EC holds highly.

Administration wanted to make it clear in emails to the Leader that it was strictly Ditka and his management who made the decision to postpone and not solely the college. 

“We certainly did not rescind any offer to speak,” EC President Troy VanAken wrote in an email interview. 

Interim Director of Communications and Public Affairs Desiree Chen confirmed, “Mike Ditka and [EC] decided mutually on Oct. 12 to postpone the lecture.”

Students, however, were under the impression EC decided to postpone the lecture or even had canceled the lecture all together.

One student took to Facebook, sparking a debate on the EC student page, writing it was ridiculous to not allow Ditka to give the lecture.

“Our school and its students need to grow up and understand that people are going to have different views and different beliefs from themselves,” wrote EC senior Costaki Danegelis. “The world isn’t going to be as nice and welcoming as [EC].”

EC senior Jen Anthony responded, “So you think the college should invite people to speak who say that nearly 40 percent of our student body doesn’t experience discrimination? Essentially saying their experience of life is false? That’s rich.”

Meanwhile, students questioned if Ditka’s comment should take away from the topic of his lecture.

“He was coming to give a lecture about leadership, and I feel [his] comment has nothing to do with what he was talking about,” said EC junior Taylor Neidhardt.

Nick Caruso, EC senior, thought the image Ditka created for himself was enough to cancel the lecture because it would have become the focus even if it was not the intended topic. 

“I know there’s debate because his presentation is not about that topic, but it’s still an image you create. When you have a speaker here, you’re drawing them in based on their image, and what they talk about comes second,” Caruso said. “There is no doubt in my mind that if he came here that would be on a lot of people’s minds and that would take away from the presentation and why he was here in the first place and it would be a waste of his time and of our time.”

EC sophomore Jacqueline Miranda thought this could be a learning point for both Ditka and EC.

“If the speech would have taken place, students have the right to ask questions regarding Ditka’s public comments,” Miranda said. “Even if Ditka would have been made uncomfortable, those were his comments and if he was truly apologetic answering uncomfortable questions would not be a problem.” 

Miranda continued, “Postponing the speech doesn’t make the problem go away, it just deflects the issue.”

VanAken writes letter to Congress regarding DACA

By Victoria Martin, News Editor

EC President Troy VanAken followed through with his statement from earlier this semester by writing three letters to congress regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy (DACA), demanding a reinstatement of its protections.

“In registering under the DACA program, our students placed their trust in our government. They agreed to play by our rules and meet our standards and, in turn, America would protect them,” VanAken wrote. “Removing this protection violates this trust and also pushes away a critical talent pool that is needed for America to compete in a 21st century, globalized economy.”

He wrote the letters to the Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and House Representative Mike Quigley, discussing their individual time spent at EC and the value placed on inclusivity of the campus.

“[I] have been proud to lead an institution that celebrates the diverse backgrounds and experiences of our students and our community,” VanAken wrote.

Associate Professor of the Political Science Department Constance Mixon, who VanAken worked with on the letter because of her experience with Durban and the DREAM Act in the early 2000’s, was pleased with the end result of the letter.

“I’m glad he’s reached out and engaged us using, largely, a lot of the language I suggested,” Mixon said.

In support of VanAken’s letter Ana Garcia, a DACA student at EC, expressed her appreciation in an email interview.

“As a DACA student at Elmhurst, I felt a sense of safety to have the president voice his support for DACA, and I’m sure it has helped other DACA students feel the same,” she wrote.

Mixon continued to describe the rescinding of DACA as a “window of opportunity for the DREAM Act,” as she feels there are enough republicans in the House that see a need for a replacement act.

As for what can be done to help get something passed in the House and Senate, Garcia asked for professors to be more informed about the issue.

“As far as what else can be done, I think educating faculty about the issue and having faculty be informed in regards to the resources Elmhurst offers to DACA students [would help],” Garcia wrote. “For example, [VanAken] let me know that legal services are being provided to any DACA student at Elmhurst at no cost to the student.”

From the faculty point of view, Mixon suggested that students get more politically involved.

“[VanAken] and faculty can scream until they are blue in the face,” said Mixon, “but ultimately the student voice means a lot.” 

Mixon elaborated by saying that there are students on campus who do not live in the districts and state VanAken wrote for and that they should also call their representatives, giving their stories and supporting DACA.

“Part of the problem is that the senators [VanAken] wrote to are already in favor of finding a replacement, so the letter is not so much asking for support but for thanking and showing appreciation for the support they have already given.”

Students submit feedback for EC strategic planning

By Alveena Siddiqi, News Reporter

Students offered their critiques of the college’s planning, implementation and suggestions for improvement at the Elmhurst College Strategic Planning Forum on Sept. 26 in Founder’s Lounge. EC’s Student Government Association (SGA) held three forum sessions on Sept. 26, 27 and 28. The Leader was in attendance at the session on Sept. 26. 

VanAken welcomed students to the forum by introducing the college’s yearlong strategic planning process, aimed at planning for the next four to five years, called “Elmhurst 2021.” 

Students were presented with a recently revised draft of Elmhurst’s vision, mission and core value statements and asked to offer critique and suggestions for improvement.  

During the open discussion, students noted the need for a clearer and more explicit emphasis on the college’s values of religious diversity. 

Senior Derek Sire pointed out that the old mission statement, unlike the newly revised one, explicitly mentioned “religious freedom” as a core value. 

“Saying that explicitly is really important in this environment globally, and in the national political environment,” he said.

The three statements are still in revision and are not yet official, according to VanAken.

In addition to being invited to improve upon the new vision, mission and core value statements, students were asked to respond to the question, “What would you do for the college if you had five million dollars?”  

Student suggestions ranged from fixing residence hall maintenance issues to improving the orientation and admissions experience for transfer students to engagement with colleges in an international sister city.  

Senior Daniel Crusius expressed his interest in focusing the budget on making the campus a more disability-friendly space. 

Crusius emphasized the importance of “improving campus accessibility, having ASL interpreters at all public events, trying to obtain audio and braille textbooks whenever possible, ensuring that there are ramps and elevators and elevators in every building as well as improving accessibility to other things such as doors.” 

He also suggested that the city of Elmhurst consider the installation of audio walk signs “to help blind people cross the street safely and independently.”

Senior Derek Sire suggested a scholarship fund for “under-represented or undocumented students” in reference to those affected by the rescission of DACA.  

When reminding students to write their ideas on provided Post-it notes, Van Aken briefly made mention of EC’s parking space problem as one of the most common student complaints. 

“There’s a couple of students here who put ‘parking garage,’” he said, “and then one said ‘Just build a parking garage already!’” 

However, there was no mention of if, how or when any of these issues would be resolved. 

Water main burst near Memorial Hall and Frick Center causes major construction on campus

Construction workers attempt to fix the water main break beneath the sidewalk outside Memorial Hall on Saturday, Sept. 23.  Photo courtesy of Bruce Mather

Construction workers attempt to fix the water main break beneath the sidewalk outside Memorial Hall on Saturday, Sept. 23.  Photo courtesy of Bruce Mather

By Lauren Vana, Staff Writer

A water main burst on Saturday, Sept. 23 between Memorial Hall and the Frick Center, causing major construction that blocked off a portion of the road and sidewalk. 

The water main lies approximately eight to ten feet beneath the ground.  After uncovering the pipe, workers found they needed to replace fifteen feet of pipe.  This led to a large construction project that blocked off the entire street and sidewalk outside the Frick Center, according to Executive Director of Facilities Management Bruce Mather.

“It was quite a digging effort,” said Mather. “You’ve got to dig a hole fifteen feet long, ten feet deep, and with workers, it’s got to be wide enough for them to get down and work.”

They worked on the project for several days, and a decision was made to continue working until it was completed.  Construction was completed on Friday, September 29.

Photo by Abby Robb

Photo by Abby Robb

Though this burst caused construction and blocked an entire entrance to the Frick Center, no other problems were caused in either Memorial Hall or the Frick Center.

“We had a bypass that fed the Frick Center,” said Mather, “so it was a lot of work, but it didn’t shut the building down.”

Prior to this water main issue, the same pipe had burst over the weekend on the east side of Old Main, though it was a significantly smaller problem.

Though the pipes are old, Mather doesn’t attribute the burst to their age.  “It’s not unusual for a water main to be 50, 60, 70, 80 years old,” he said.  

Rather, Mather believed it was the recent weather that caused the burst.  

Photo by Abby Robb

Photo by Abby Robb

“It was the fact that it’s been so dry, and then it was so hot, that the ground just cracked and moved and took the water main with it,” he said. 

The facilities management office is having an engineering company evaluate the water mains to decide if more maintenance needs to be done.

Middlebury College political scientist attempts to “weave the truth” from leaking epidemic

Middlebury College political scientist Allison Stanger speaks in the Founders Lounge on Sept. 28.  about leaks in the Trump administration as well as the overreach of the NSA. Photo by Kenneth Edison

Middlebury College political scientist Allison Stanger speaks in the Founders Lounge on Sept. 28.  about leaks in the Trump administration as well as the overreach of the NSA. Photo by Kenneth Edison

By Mogueli Jimenez, Staff Writer

Middlebury College political scientist Allison Stanger attempted to decipher the truth behind government leaks in her lecture on Sept. 28 in the Founders Lounge.

“What I’m trying to do is to weave the truth out of these opposing narratives without being unduly influenced by partisan politics,” said Stanger while introducing her lecture.

Stanger has spent the last few years researching whistleblowing for a book she is writing titled “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Leaks: The Story of Whistleblowing in America.”

“My book on whistleblowing was near completion when the Snowden story broke four years ago,” Stanger said as she proceeded to discuss the act of whistleblowing and its history. 

“Over the last few years I’ve interviewed the entire senior leadership of [the] National Security Agency at the time of Mr. Snowden’s flight, as well as all of the other NSA whistleblowers,” she said. “And this March I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Snowden himself.”

She also mentioned how whistleblowing has once again become a key issue in Washington with the many controversies surround President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.

“We’ve got the problem of Michael Flynn and his Russian contacts were leaked causing his resignation and since then there have literally been a fountain of leaks regarding the Trump team’s ties to Russia,” she said.  

Stanger continued, “here and now is the intelligence community in the United States leaking like a sink. There’s been nothing like this before and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”

As to why this unprecedented leaking is happening, Stanger proposed that these leaks are indeed a response to Trump’s own attacks on the intelligence community. 

“These transgressions are what Harvard Law School Professor Jack Goldsmith has called ‘an immune response to President Trump’s unprecedented attacks on the intelligence community,’” she said. 

“President Trump seems to think that the entire intelligence community has sworn an oath of allegiance to him, when the reality is that the intelligence community has sworn to protect, uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States,” she added. 

The specifics of the Fourth Amendment, the Patriot Act and PRISM were mentioned as legislation with loopholes used by the intelligence community to circumvent civilian privacy. 

“Technological change happens so rapidly that it outstriped our laws, and the NSA exploited that,” she said. “For example, data harvesting that would be illegal if done on U.S soil is not illegal if it is done overseas. So email and social communications that travel via fiber optic channels outside the United States are fair game for interception.”

When the lecture was nearing its end, Stanger, in the context of protecting private information, gave out a piece of advice.

“You just don’t want to give out information unless you have to.”

EC student Hamna Amin said in response that the content of the lecture should be the cause of concern for everyone. 

“I think the American people should be concerned, relatively to the fact that they don’t know the whole truth,” she said in relation to the U.S. and Russia.

Stanger, even after explaining the harsh truths of privacy being invaded, had a positive note to end on.

“We’re going to treat each other more kindly and we’re going to build a better America,” she said.

WORLD in Review

By Syeda Sameeha, News Reporter

Saudi citizen Faisal BaDughaish tweets out a picture of him and his wife driving on Oct. 6, celebrating Saudi womens’ new right to drive. Internet Photo

Saudi citizen Faisal BaDughaish tweets out a picture of him and his wife driving on Oct. 6, celebrating Saudi womens’ new right to drive. Internet Photo

Saudi Arabia lifts driving ban for all women

On Sept. 26,  the Saudi Arabian government announced it would allow women to drive for the first time in the country’s history. The government announced that the law will take effect. by June 2018. 

As The Guardian reports, women will be able to obtain driving licenses without having to ask permission from their male guardians and will be able to drive freely, without the requirementof a male guardian in their car.

Saudi women played a huge role in fighting to end this ban.  According to ABC News, the first protest againstthe “no female” driving policy was organized by Saudi women in 1990 in the capital city of Riyadh.

 It ended in women being arrested and released only when their male guardians signed a pledge that would prevent the women from driving. Many similar protests and demonstrations soon followed. 

In 2011, Manal al Sharif, an activist and engineer drove through the streets of Khobar, Saudi Arabia with fellow activist Wajeha al-Huwaider filming her. The video was posted on social media platforms like Youtube and Facebook. Sharif was arrested and imprisoned for nine days. 

However, the video sparked a movement across Saudi Arabia, leading to several women driving and posting their own videos online. In 2014, another Saudi woman named Loujain al-Hathloul attempted to drive while crossing the border from theUnited Arab Emirates into Saudi Arabia. Saudi police imprisoned her for 73 days.

While the lifting of the driving ban is a long awaited victory for Saudi women, Saudi Arabia still has a long way in paving the road for equality. Many hope the ending of the driving ban is a stepping stone and a catalyst for more reforms for equality. 

A graphical illustration paths the line of site from shooter Stephen Paddock’s hotel room towards a country music concert in Las Vegas. Internet Photo

A graphical illustration paths the line of site from shooter Stephen Paddock’s hotel room towards a country music concert in Las Vegas. Internet Photo

Shooting at Las Vegas country concert leaves 58 dead and hundreds wounded

Gunfire broke out on Sunday, Oct. 1 at a Las Vegas outdoor music festival in what the Washington Postreported as the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with 58 people dead and 489 wounded.

The gunman, Stephen Paddock, was found dead with 23 firearms in his hotel room as well as 18 firearms, explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition at his home.

Across the country, vigils are being held for the victims who lost their lives. Landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Vegas Strip went dark in respect to the victims. The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France also went dark in remembrance of the Las Vegas shooting and the stabbing in Marseilles, France.

The Las Vegas tragedy reignites the age long debate in American policy regarding gun control and gun legislation. 

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein proposed a bill that would ban bump stocks, or devices that can be bought online to alter semiautomatic weapons to fire like automatic weapons. The Washington Post also reports some Republican Senators such as Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin stand with the idea of banning bump stocks. 

Senator Lindsey O. Grahamof South Carolina said she would be interested in a ban “to see if a law change would matter” and affect things while Senator Jeff Duncan, an avid gun rights supporter also said he would be open to hearing more about bump stocks, something he said “didn’t know existed.” But others such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “it’s completely inappropriate to politicize an event like this.”

President Donald Trump issued out a statement on Monday morning, calling the act of the Las Vegas shooting “pure evil.” In response to a question asked about gun legislation at a press conference at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, he said he will talk about gun laws “as time goes”.

Hurricane Maria makes landfall, devastates Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, creating destruction and devastation in its path. A Category 5 hurricane, Maria wiped out Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure, affecting almost 3.4 million people. As of now, the death toll is at 34, according to a report by the New York Times. 

According to The Intercept, the island was already $74 billion in debt to the U.S. before the hurricane and in its aftermath, it is still struggling.  Hospitals have taken a dire hit and are in critical need, especially because 91 percent of Puerto Rico still does not have power, as stated by Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rosselló in a press conference onWednesday, Oct. 4. 

Many hospitals and medical centers are reported to be running only on emergency generators and lack supplies such as oxygen gases and IV solutions.

Carmen Yulin Cruz, mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city San Juan, made a direct appealto President Donald Trump, “I am begging you to take charge and save lives.” 

World in Review -September 26th, 2017

By David Morrison and By Alveena Siddiqi, News Reporters

Metropolitan police respond to the scene of the Parson Green bombing that left 22 passengers injured. Internet photo 

Metropolitan police respond to the scene of the Parson Green bombing that left 22 passengers injured. Internet photo 

Arrest made in London Tube bombing

Eighteen-year-old Iraqi-Britain refugee Ahmed Hassan was charged with attempted murder and causing an explosion in breach of the Explosive Substances Act early Friday morning on Sept. 15. 

An explosion at the Parsons Green tube station injured 22 people within the central London borough of Fulham, leaving one woman with “life-changing injuries, having suffered severe burns to her face, hands and legs,” according to The Guardian.

The first Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said the city “utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life,” according to the Guardian. According to Downing Street, prime minister Theresa May swiftly called a meeting of the government’s Cobra crisis response committee to respond to the manhunt Mayor Khan has described in press releases.

The Guardian reported that Hassan “was arrested in the departure lounge at Dover’s ferry port last Saturday morning, before he could board a ferry to France.” The device contained triacetone triperoxide — a powerful explosive — a timer and shrapnel such as broken glass, knives and screws.

Details of what prompted Hassan to act are unknown; however, the young man had lost both his parents in Iraq, where he is said to have been detained and tortured. Hassan had been living with a foster couple leading up to the incident. This attack is listed among four others occurring within the past six months in the UK.

 Myanmar national police looks on as protesters voice concerns with the government’s persecution of the country’s Muslim minority. Internet photo

 Myanmar national police looks on as protesters voice concerns with the government’s persecution of the country’s Muslim minority. Internet photo

Reports point to Myanmar government participating in ethnic cleansing

Amnesty International reported mass village arson attacks across the northern Rakhine State of Myanmar on Sept. 14 where vigilante mobs and Myanmar Border Guard Police have been burning down entire Rohingya [Muslim minority] villages and shooting people at random as they try to flee.

“The violence is part of an unlawful and disproportionate response [by the Myanmar government] to coordinated attacks on security posts by a Rohingya armed group on 25 August,” said Amnesty International. Since the 1962 Burmese coup d’état, most Muslims have been excluded from serving in government positions, leaving the Rohingyas with insufficient legal representation.

The UN classifies the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar as one of the most persecuted groups in the world. Since 1978, there have been multiple cases of rape, arson, and lootings; since 2012, tensions have risen between the majority (80%) Buddhist population and Muslim (4%) communities when three Rohingya men were unjustly accused of rape, leading to the 2012 Rakhine State Riots.

As of Aug. 25, more than 429,000 Muslim refugees have fled Bangladesh (Myanmar) for their lives, fearing the situation will only tilt less in their favor.

EC enrolls most new students in history

Kenneth Edison, Editor-in-Chief

Follow him at @krazo1

The fall 2017 academic year featured the largest class of new students in EC’s history, according to the ten day numbers presentation given on Friday, Sept. 15 in Illinois Hall during the semester’s first faculty meeting. 

The ten day numbers, the admission department’s report on the number of students enrolled in various departments, was delivered in the form of a lengthy presentation by Interim Dean of Admissions Tim Ricordati. The presentation compared the performance of the 2017 school year to that of previous years and tocompeting colleges.

Enrollment numbers at EC over the years, as presented on Friday, Sept. 17, showing 2017 as the largest group of incoming students in the history of the college. Graphic by Domenica Divietro

Enrollment numbers at EC over the years, as presented on Friday, Sept. 17, showing 2017 as the largest group of incoming students in the history of the college. Graphic by Domenica Divietro

According to Ricordati’s presentation, the fall 2017 class boasted a total of 497 new first year students enrolled. His presentation also revealed other recruiting details, such as the 392 transfer students that were enrolled in fall 2017. 

In addition to sharing these reports, Ricordati also set the guidelines to recruiting for the fall of 2018. 

“We’re going to continue to refine our out-of-state recruiting plan,” he said. “We kind of started the out-of-state initiative last andwe’ve refined it to really look at areas like southwest Michigan, the Columbus area, Indianapolis, St. Louis and also Wisconsin.”

Ricordati then touched on his intention to further pursue the international recruitment efforts started last year. 

“International recruiting really is a five-year process but it takes about three years. We saw some of the fruits of our labor this summer when we hosted about a dozen students from Vietnam to take Macroeconomics,” he said.

The meeting also addressed a number of other initiatives, most notably the change to the ECIC requirements for students whose first language is not English. The change came in the form of a motion brought up to the faculty, and effectively made English courses count as an accepted second language for ECIC’s foreign language proficiency test.

The motion was unanimously approved by the faculty. 

Among other things addressed at the meeting was the looming discussion around the changing of the college’s name from Elmhurst College to University of Elmhurst. During his address that kicked off the meeting, EC President Troy VanAken addressed the name change as something that needed further discussion after some faculty expressed a desire to have a strong voice in the conversation.  

“We do need to have a University of Elmhurst discussion. I know at the end of last year faculty asked that they be able to have some time to look at that and I totally respect that,” he said. “I know there are some concerns and some questions and we owe it to ourselves to have that conversation. And I’m glad that we’re taking some time and [not] doing it in a rush.”

 “I still remain open on what’s best for Elmhurst and our discussion and ideas and debate should inform that. But I do want to have that conversation this semester.”