First two weeks of Winter Quarter moved online, new faculty resolution on racial slurs and Omicron in Chicago
Plus a new show to put on your must-watch list
Hello, everyone! Welcome back to ‘In the Loop!’ We hope you all had a nice, restful holiday and are enjoying the break.
We’re back this week and have lots of news and updates to fill you in on. First, a feature story on DePaul’s latest Winter Quarter announcement, then we’ve got news on a Faculty Council resolution regarding the use of racial slurs in the classroom, updates on the omicron variant from Chicago officials, a national story on New York City’s latest COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to round it all out, we have yet another stellar media recommendation from our resident columnist, Emily Soto.
One last thing — if you haven’t already filled out our newsletter survey, you can do so here. The feedback you provide helps us grow and allows us to tailor this newsletter to better serve your needs and interests, so any and all responses are greatly appreciated!
That’s all from me, so why don’t we get right to it? This week’s newsletter is thanks to our wonderful team — Claire, Kate, Grace V., Ally, Emily, Cam and Grace DV.
First Two Weeks of Winter Quarter to Move Online — Without Faculty Input
By Claire Malon
On Friday, university officials announced that classes at DePaul would move online for the first two weeks of Winter Quarter.
In an email sent to DePaul students, faculty and staff, DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban and Provost Salma Ghanem cited the emerging omicron variant and the potential surge in COVID-19 cases during the holidays as reasons for moving classes online from January 3 to January 15.
Though the omicron variant has not yet been reported in Illinois, the announcement from the university administration comes as cases of COVID-19 surge throughout the city and state.
Last Monday, Chicago reported more than 1,376 new cases, breaking the daily record set back in January. Similarly, on Thursday, Illinois reported the highest daily total of new cases this year, with more than 11,500 cases.
However, faculty and staff say they were not made aware of the university’s plans for Winter Quarter.
“Unfortunately the decision was made without Faculty Council leadership knowledge or input,” wrote Faculty Council President Sonia Soltero in an email to 14 East. “As the faculty president, I was notified Thursday that the announcement would be going public on Friday.”
Moreover, Soltero expressed concern that she and other members of the Faculty Council were not consulted on the matter.
“The Faculty Council Leadership should have been consulted, per shared governance principles, as well as the Faculty Handbook that stipulates that the faculty’s primary responsibilities are teaching, delivering the curriculum and the academic calendar.”
Other faculty members agree.
Jay Baglia, chair of the DePaul Health Committee, said that his organization was also left in the dark.
“I can tell you that neither DePaul Health nor Faculty Council leadership was included in this decision,” said Baglia. “What I find perplexing, once again, is that upper administration seems to be doubling down on leaving out faculty expertise.”
The university administration was not contacted for comment on whether they reached out to faculty for input.
Soltero also went on to express that such a decision has a “significant impact on teaching” and how “faculty structure their courses.”
The university, however, did state that “in certain cases” exceptions would be made for courses that could not be offered online. What those exceptions will be, however, remains unclear.
Amid this news, the university stated that DePaul’s on-campus COVID-19 guidelines will remain in place for the coming quarter, requiring vaccination, masking indoors and physical distancing to the extent possible.
According to Mary Hansen, a spokesperson for the university, the health and safety measures that DePaul had in place for Fall Quarter will remain in place for Winter Quarter. These mandatory measures include the continued vaccination requirement, masking indoors and physical distancing to the extent possible.
Hansen also stated that the university does not plan to require booster shots for the Winter Quarter.
In an email, she wrote, “At this time, DePaul is not requiring faculty, staff and students to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster, however anyone eligible to receive one is highly encouraged to do so.”
Safety measures aside, it’s unclear what the university’s plan will be for the remainder of the Winter Quarter should cases continue to rise throughout the city and state.
Currently, in-person classes are expected to resume on Tuesday, January 18, following Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
By Kate Linderman
Faculty Council Resolution Regarding the Use of Racial Epithets and Slurs
DePaul’s Faculty Council introduced a resolution on December 1 asking Provost Salma Ghanem to “establish a policy that requires all faculty, in instances where verbalizing a racial epithet has a legitimate pedagogical purpose, to substitute the racial epithet with a euphemism (except in the case of theatrical and musical performances).” Moreover, the council has asked that racial slurs that have “no legitimate pedagogical or performative purpose” be avoided entirely.
The resolution, sponsored by Valerie Johnson, a professor of political science, also states that in cases where racial epithets or slurs are in course material, students must be alerted in the course syllabus and instructed to use euphemisms instead. The statement also outlines that faculty members that are found in violation of this policy are subject to disciplinary action as outlined in the faculty handbook.
Winter Break Building Hours
From the evening of Wednesday, December 22 to the morning of Monday, January 3, the university will be closed.
The Clifton Parking garage will be closed from 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 22 to 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, January 2. There will be no access to vehicles left in the garage during this time. The Sheffield parking garage will remain open.
Individuals or departments seeking access during those dates must have made their requests to public safety by December 3. If access is granted, those entering buildings will need to show a valid DePaul ID to enter the building.
Winter Quarter Tuition
Winter Quarter tuition was due Friday December 3 according to an email from DePaul Central.
Finally, here’s your weekend sports update (December 4-5):
The men’s basketball team lost to Loyola Chicago 68-64 on Saturday.
The women’s basketball team beat Xavier 103-85 on Sunday.
By Grace Vaughn
City Invests in Affordable Housing — City officials announced the investment of $1 billion into affordable housing around Chicago. The package proposed 24 developments with a combination of new construction and preservation work. It is expected to create 2,428 units of affordable housing. Kelly Bauer of Block Club Chicago has the story.
Omicron Variant Predicted to Reach Chicago Within Days — Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady predicted that the omicron COVID-19 variant will be detected in the city within days. New data suggests that omicron is twice as contagious as the delta variant. Mayor Lori Lightfoot voiced her concern for the new variant’s arrival and encouraged all residents to get vaccinated. Read the full story from the NBC 5 Chicago staff here.
Twenty-one Arrested After Chaos in the Loop — A large gathering of teenagers in the Loop on Saturday turned violent after a 15-year-old boy was shot during an argument and a CTA bus operator was assaulted. The boy was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital in good condition; the driver was taken to Northwestern in fair condition. Police said they arrested 21 young people that evening. Trenier Ward of ABC 7 Chicago has the details.
Jussie Smollett Testifies at Trial — Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett took the witness stand today in an effort to convince the jury of his innocence. Prosecutors accuse Smollett of making false reports to authorities that he was a victim of a hate crime attack back in 2019. The testimony has spanned five days despite the defendant only facing low-level felonies. Read more from Andy Grimm of the Chicago Sun-Times.
By Ally Daskalopoulos
Parents of Michigan School Shooting Suspect Charged — James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested on involuntary manslaughter charges for their alleged involvement in the Oxford High School shooting and are being held on a $500,000 bond. This comes after the Crumbleys evaded law enforcement for hours on Friday. Their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is being charged as an adult with murder and terrorism as the suspect in the school shooting, where four students were killed and many more injured. Both Ethan and his parents have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Becky Sullivan of NPR has more details.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s Trial Continues — The federal sex trafficking trial of Jeffrey Epstein’s former business partner Ghislaine Maxwell continues this week. A goal of the prosecution: demonstrate the specific nature and details of the partnership shared between Maxwell and Epstein. This will be essential to return a conviction. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Rebecca Davis O’Brien and Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times tell the full story.
U.S. Announces Diplomatic Boycott of Winter Olympics — The U.S. announced it will not send government officials to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing as a response to ongoing human rights abuses. This serves as one of President Biden’s most publicized condemnations of China. The announcement comes after both parties in Congress called for holding the nation accountable for their actions in the abuses of the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. These efforts also increased after the disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai after she accused a top Communist Party leader of sexual assault. Zolan Kanno-Youngs of the New York Times has the story.
New York City to Require All Private-Sector Workers to Vaccinate — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a requirement for all private-sector workers to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. The mandate is set to go into effect on December 27, days before newly-elected mayor Eric Adams will take office. An estimated 184,000 businesses are predicted to be affected by the mandate. Chip Cutter and Jennifer Calfas of the Wall Street Journal have the full story.
Hey, Check This Out!
With Featured Columnist Emily Soto
Hi everyone, I hope you all had a relaxing holiday, let’s jump right into this week’s rec.
Nine Perfect Strangers on Hulu is about nine individuals — a writer, an ex professional athlete, a divorcee, a health and fitness fanatic, a young couple and a family of three — making their way to a mysterious wellness retreat known as Tranquillum. There, the retreat leader, Masha, played by Nicole Kidman, is dark and mysterious in her own ways. She hopes to guide them through their pain and suffering in order to bring them true peace.
But what is really happening behind closed doors? What brought these people to a wellness retreat? Why were these nine specifically chosen?
As these questions about the individuals continue to build, conflict and disagreements form between the retreat staff, played by Manny Jacinto and Tiffany Boone, which raises even more questions about Masha, her team, their methods and their past.
Oh, and meanwhile, Masha is starting to receive anonymous death threats. (Try maintaining a calm, healing atmosphere with that in the back of your mind.)
Though the series is just eight episodes, the story is slow and tedious. The show has almost seven episodes of secrets and only one of resolution, so don’t expect all the answers — some things are meant to remain a mystery.
Despite the secrets, there are still moments of fun, laughter and understanding. The rest of this impressive, star-studded cast, including Melissa McCarthy, Regina Hall, Luke Evans, Michael Shannon, Melvin Gregg, Samara Weaving, Grace Van Patten and Bobby Cannavale, comes together and bonds over their shared pain. Friendships are formed and healing begins. They really are perfect for each other.
The Illinois Housing Development Authority periodically offers rental payment programs which send vouchers directly to landlords to subsidize rent costs. The program is currently closed to new applicants. However, housing stability service providers are offered year-round. Check out the resources here.
The city of Chicago’s Rental Assistance Program provides funding for Chicagoans who are at risk of becoming homeless.
Rentervention is a legal-aid bot that can answer questions, draft letters and explain tenant rights. See how it can help you here.
Cook County also provides rental assistance for renters. See if you qualify and for how much here.
COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Resources
All of these testing sites and vaccination sites can be accessed for free and without insurance.
Howard Brown offers free, walk-in COVID-19 viral and antibody testing at multiple locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, in addition to mobile testing sites that are updated weekly. The organization also offers the Moderna vaccine for individuals 18 and older. You can check all of their current COVID-19 resources here.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the city of Chicago offer free COVID-19 testing sites in the city and surrounding counties, which are listed with more information here. IDPH also offers COVID-19 vaccines to all residents 12 years and older. Call 833-621-1284 to schedule an appointment.
The city of Chicago partnered with the Community Organized Relief Effort to set up free drive-thru and walk-in testing sites in the city, primarily on the South and West sides, with appointments available Monday through Friday. Register here.
The city has also updated its COVID-19 testing program with more mobile sites, which change weekly. More info here.
Know someone 12 years of age or older who has yet to receive their COVID-19 vaccine? Check out appointments via Zocdoc, the city of Chicago’s Vaccine Finder or pharmacy websites such as Walgreens and CVS.
Mental Health Resources
At Open Counseling, there’s a list of people and nonprofits with counseling services available for free or low cost.
This website compiles mental health resources, including therapist directories and other online resources.
The Center on Halsted offers behavioral health, anti-violence and educational resources for LGBTQ+ people.
Howard Brown Health offers anti-racism resources and sliding scale counseling specializing in the LGBTQ+ community.
This document is a resource for Black people experiencing racial trauma. The master list includes specific resources as well as protesting tips and donation links.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago who provide services for under $75.
The Trans Lifeline’s peer support hotline is a resource operated by transgender and nonbinary staffers for the trans community: 877-565-8860.
The Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago is a nonprofit that provides affordable, sliding-scale counseling. Call 312-263-4368, ext. 9081 to schedule an intake appointment (counseling is not religious-centered).
That’s all for this week! We’ll see you next Monday with more campus updates, city news and columns. Until then, take care!
The 14 East Newsletter Team