Pass/D/Fail debate, speeding ticket hike and Trump's CPAC speech
Plus two more exciting 14 East events
Welcome back to the newsletter and welcome back to March — what a long, strange trip it’s been, everyone. We’re coming up on a year since Chicago and cities across the nation effectively shut down at the onset of COVID-19 last year. Lots has happened, many things have changed and some things haven’t, and next week 14 East will be rolling out an issue to commemorate and update stories from one full year of living through the pandemic. Have an article, essay, photo series or video you want to submit for the issue? Email Francesca Mathewes with your pitch/submission at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, before we forget, be sure to join us tomorrow night at 6 p.m. on Zoom for our public newsroom on COVID-19 in Chicago: Masks, Vaccines and Communicating Health to Our Communities. Featuring Kelly Bauer of Block Club Chicago and Martha Bayne and Charmaine Runes of South Side Weekly, sign up to attend here.
Otherwise, your newsletter team — Francesca, Justin, Claire, Grace, Cam and Robin — are here with this week’s news. Let’s get into it.
Trump Continues Claims of Election Fraud in First Post-Presidential Speech
During his first public appearance since leaving office on Sunday, former President Donald Trump spread baseless claims of election fraud in a speech to crowds at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“This election was rigged,” said Trump to applause. “The Supreme Court and other courts didn’t want to do anything about it.”
Despite overwhelming support from the audience at CPAC, various media outlets were quick to refute the former president’s claims.
The Associated Press was one of the first outlets to fact check this statement and others that pushed election-based lies.
“All of [these claims are] flatly wrong, except it is true that the high court did not intervene, because the justices — Trump nominees among them — saw no reason to.”
AP reporters went on to explain this correction in detail, criticizing Trump’s ongoing allegations of widespread voter fraud and continued attempts to overturn the election.
“Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud were either refuted or brushed off as groundless by a variety of judges, state election officials, an arm of his own administration’s Homeland Security Department, and his own attorney general,” wrote AP reporters. “His campaign’s lawsuits across the country were thrown out of court or otherwise came to nothing.”
In addition to corrections from various outlets, even one Republican election lawyer disputed Trump’s falsehoods. Speaking on a panel at CPAC, attorney Charlie Spies refuted concerns of election fraud.
“I may get booed off the stage for this, but I have to say that’s simply not true,” said Spies. “There is just zero evidence that’s true.”
What’s Happening in Chicago?
Today, tens of thousands of Chicago Public Schools students in kindergarten through fifth grade returned to in-person classes. The return was filled with mixed emotions and Nader Issa of the Sun-Times has the story.
The Chicago hunger strike is coming up on one month to pressure the mayor to deny General Iron to build on Chicago’s Southeast Side. While strikers have since received a response from the mayor, they were left unsatisfied. Read Taylor Moore’s coverage for the Guardian.
As of today, Chicagoans could be ticketed for going as little as 6 miles over the speed limit. Check out the details of the speed cameras in Jonathon Berlin’s article for the Chicago Tribune, or in this piece that aired tonight on WTTW’s “Chicago Tonight,” produced by DePaul Journalism students!
As Chicagoans continue to line up for the COVID-19 vaccine, Chicago homeless shelters are now on the list to receive them. By as soon as the end of the month, guests and staff at shelters will be receiving the vaccine. Madeleine Parrish reports for South Side Weekly.
DePaul’s Faculty Council has reaffirmed its decision to not renew a temporary Pass/D/Fail option aimed at lessening academic stress for students during COVID-19 in response to a petition calling for the university to continue the temporary option into Winter Quarter 2021. This option, which allowed students to elect a Pass/D/Fail grading scale for classes counting towards their major or minor, was implemented during Spring and Fall quarters in 2020 following recommendations set by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).
The IBHE removed this guideline in December. DePaul followed suit, prompting a student-led petition calling for a reversal of the university’s decision to discontinue the Pass/D/Fail option. Though adamant against renewing Pass/D/Fail grading for Winter Quarter, Faculty Council President Scott Paeth, in an interview with The DePaulia, said the university remains committed to following IBHE guidance and would reimplement the alternative grading scale if IBHE issued a new recommendation to do so.
Undocumented students and DACA recipients in need of tuition relief or emergency financial help can now receive monetary assistance through DePaul’s Rising High Fund. For consideration to become a Rising High Fund recipient, students must first be referred, which can be done by DePaul faculty, staff, student peers or the student themselves. Upon receiving funds, recipients will be given continued support from the university’s Office of Multicultural Student Success, which includes legal support, financial help and guidance.
Alexis Michelle, featured on season 9 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” will join DePaul After Dark in a special drag night on Thursday, March 4, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a night of fun, glamour and entertainment.
In other event news, 14 East & Friends will be held on Friday, March 12, at 6 p.m. Join us on Facebook Live as we celebrate five years (!) of publication. Though we can’t all meet in person this year, as is typical with 14 East & Friends, we invite you all to hop on our livestream of the event as we showcase current staff and alumni and look back on all that we’ve accomplished over the past half-decade for a night of fun and fun-draising. (Psst, there might be some merch in store, too.)
After 14 East & Friends, follow us over to Zoom for the inaugural launch of the 14 East After Hours Gala beginning at 7 p.m. Be mesmerized by the interactive and humor-filled magic of Peter Boie, “the magician for non-believers,” as he joins us as our guest entertainer. Boie was previously featured on the CW Network show “Penn & Teller Fool Us.” Following his performance, stick around to take part in one of our fun-filled breakout rooms to finish the night.
The Washington Post reports that the CDC recommends the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine. The 3.9 million doses will ship as early as Monday to sites where the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are held. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 85 percent effective at protecting severe cases, and there were no deaths or hospitalizations one month after participants were vaccinated.
States are dealing with a new wave of fraud with unemployment aid, according to the Associated Press. States failed to safeguard their systems and some won’t acknowledge the problem. Fraud related to prior identity theft from banks, credit rating agencies, health care systems and retailers from perpetrators abroad is mostly to blame. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating and as of now, $63 billion has been paid to fraudulent accounts.
President Joe Biden is preparing a new economic package designated to fix the nation's roads, bridges and other infrastructure, according to The Los Angeles Times. This comes after power outages and water issues in Texas after a winter storm caused mass destruction across the state. This bill doesn’t come as a surprise since Biden ran on a pledge of $2 trillion for infrastructure and clean energy. While Democrats are on board, Republicans are concerned with the price tag.
I’ve been listening to “telepatía” by Kali Uchis all week long. This song, along with a number of hers from her late 2020 album titled Sin Miedo (del Amor y Otros Demonios),have been climbing U.S and Global music charts since going viral in Tik Tok. I recommend this album while you’re putting away your laundry and dancing in your room or taking a nice walk on the first “warm” days of early spring. Listening to this album feels like taking yourself on a date in a way I think we all need right now, and I can’t recommend it enough. | Francesca Mathewes
If you’re thinking about starting a new show to get your mind off of the fact that it’s week 9, try the genre-warping Wandavision, which is streaming on Disney+. The limited series, which will air its finale on Friday, centers on the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of Wanda Maximoff, or the Scarlet Witch, and her love interest, the AI-turned-android Vision. The show is a little confusing at first, but is a fascinating character study into one of the most powerful superheroes in the comics and film universe, and touches on themes of loss, trauma, grief and rage. I’d recommend watching Marvel’s 2015 film Age of Ultron, as well as their two-part saga of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and 2019’s Avengers: Endgame first (all also streaming on Disney+!), if you’re new to the MCU or just need a refresher. | Cam Rodriguez
Although power has returned to homes across the state of Texas, people are still in need of support from the fallout of the winter storm. Here’s a few groups you can donate to and support efforts on the ground:
Austin Mutual Aid: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kick-the-cold-austin-mutal-aid
Feed the People Dallas: https://feedthepeopledallas.com/
Trinity Mutual Aid: https://www.instagram.com/trinitymutualaid/
LUCHA Dallas: https://www.instagram.com/luchadallas/
Feeding Texas: https://www.feedingtexas.org/
All of these testing sites can be accessed for free and without insurance.
Howard Brown offers free, walk-in COVID-19 testing at multiple locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, in addition to mobile testing sites that are updated weekly, which you can access here.
The Illinois Department of Health and the City of Chicago have opened more free COVID-19 testing sites in the city and surrounding counties, which are listed with more information here.
In the spring, the City of Chicago partnered with CORE response 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.
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/counselor directories and other online resources.
The Center on Halsted offers behavioral health, anti-violence and educational resources for LGBTQIA+ 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. This master list includes specific resources as well as protesting tips and donation links.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago.
This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago who provide services for under $75.
And 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 extension 9081 to schedule an intake appointment (counseling is not religious-centered).
That’s all from us this week — we’ll see you back here next Monday for more updates.
Francesca, Justin, Claire, Grace, Cam and Robin