Newsletter for September 6

What the University is (and isn’t) supporting after the DACA decision; FIRE falls out of love with UChicago; Major Title IX announcement coming

By Adam Thorp, Pete Grieve, and Euirim Choi

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Good morning. 
The University responded to the administration’s DACA decision yesterday with a statement to The Maroon declaring that it will support legislation that protects the ability of people covered by DACA to study in the United States.

  • Although the University opposed the cancellation of DACA and now says it supports a legislative solution, it won’t be taking a stance on one possible version of this legislation—the DREAM Act—because that “encompasses issues that do not directly affect the University.”

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Making sense of the response: The 1967 Kalven Report limits the University’s ability to weigh in on political matters, but Law School professor Daniel Hemel suggested in e-mail to The Maroon last night that the University may have another consideration in mind:

  • “Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code and the accompanying regulations draw a distinction between efforts to ‘influence legislation,’ which are considered lobbying, and efforts to influence the executive branch, which are not,” he said. “As the University of Chicago is a section 501(c)(3) organization, it is not surprising that the institution would be attentive to that distinction.” Note: There’s also a self-defense exception, which says a communication is not lobbying if it’s related to a possible legislative action that would affect the existence of the nonprofit. 

Major Title IX announcement coming: DACA isn’t the only Trump administration storyline we’re watching. BuzzFeed News reports that tomorrow Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will make a “major announcement on Title IX,” likely about what the department will do with the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter which mandated that colleges use a low burden of proof for adjudicating sexual misconduct allegations. The University changed its policy to comply with President Obama’s guidance, and the University has not said unequivocally that it would continue to use the lower burden of proof if the guidance is revoked.
“D” rating from FIRE: Due process rights are insufficiently guaranteed in UChicago administrative policies, a report by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) concluded this week. The report, which looked at the top 53 schools in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, gave the University and 28 other schools a “D” on the protections they afford accused students. No school received an “A,” and only two received a “B.” FIRE, a civil libertarian group focused on higher education, had previously heaped praise on the University’s approach to free expression, launching a campaign encouraging other universities to follow its lead.

Legendary federal judge retires: Richard Posner, an influential senior lecturer at the Law School who has written over 3,200 opinions and scores of books and articles, has retired after over three decades of service as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Posner, 78, said in a statement that he would continue teaching and publishing, focusing on social justice reform. Stay tuned for further coverage. 
Politico listed Law School professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos and his collaborator Eric McGhee on its “Politico 50 List” recognizing the “50 ideas blowing up American politics (and the people behind them).”

  • Stephanopoulos was recognized for his role in getting the Supreme Court to hear a Wisconsin case (Gill v. Whitford) on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering by coming up with a legally palatable way to measure politically motivated redistricting. If SCOTUS strikes downpartisan gerrymandering as unconstitutional in Gill, the political map could be fundamentally transformed, likely on the whole benefiting Democrats. We talked to Stephanopoulos about his efforts earlier this summer.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago and will co-commission the United States’s pavilion at the high-profile Venice Architecture Biennale, the schools announced last week. Niall Atkinson, an associate professor of architectural history, will help put together the exhibition, to be titled “Dimensions of Citizenship.”

Prof criticizes ACLU’s defense of far-right speech: In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Law School professor Laura Weinrib writes that today’s ACLU should not defend far-right speech. She argues that the ACLU defended free speech, even Nazi speech, earlier in its history because it viewed speech as a “tool of social justice”—not because it believed free speech was an end in itself. Weinrib says that the ACLU should remain consistent to its founding values and no longer be as fierce in defending free speech.

  • Pro-Trump media personality Mike Cernovich and Breitbart News shared the op-ed, presumably in disagreement. The right-wing publication hassaid the ACLU is a left-wing guerilla organization heavily funded by supposed globalist puppeteer George Soros, yet it has also defended the right of neo-Nazis and “alt-right” members to express their views.

Obama Foundation updates:

  • Four finalists have been selected for the construction of the Obama Presidential Center. From the Tribune: “Foundation officials said they want each of the firms to submit proposals that outline not only how they would get the work done but how they would ensure a diverse workforce employing residents from the South and West sides of the city.”
  • The Foundation is moving into a multi-purpose space next to the Starbucks at 53rd Street and Lake Park Ave. 

Times Higher Education released its world university rankings for this year and the University of Chicago was ranked one spot higher than last year, at ninth. Only five American universities were ranked above Chicago: Caltech (third), Stanford (third), MIT (fifth), Harvard (sixth), and Princeton (seventh). 

Sharon Marine, who worked in fundraising at the Booth School of Business through most of the 1990s, will return to campus as the University’s vice president for alumni relations and development, the University announced this week. Marine led fundraising for Cornell’s New York City technology campus from its inaugural year in 2012.
Salon opens: A threading and waxing salon called The Threading and Waxing Salon has opened on 53rd Street, the Hyde Park Herald reports.
Tian Zhong, a molecular engineer at the University, coauthored a study that describes a novel process to create a tiny crystal capable of storing quantum information, which could be an essential element of secure quantum communication systems.
Men’s soccer crushes Knox: The University of Chicago men’s soccer teamdefeated Knox College 4–0 on Monday to cap off its second game of the season. Third-year forward Max Lopez netted two goals.
Events: City Bureau’s public newsroom this week will address Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, the impactful and little-understood tax districts that blanket ChicagoLocal examples include TIFs covering Washington Park ($422,554 in revenue in 2016), Woodlawn ($3,235,250) and 53rd Street and its environs ($4,115,101). A group of journalists examining the issue review their work on Thursday from 6–8 p.m. at Build Coffee, 6100 South Blackstone Ave.See more local events, and add your own, at