Newsletter for September 26

Admin asks for hold on grad unionization case; Man whose shooting threat shut down campus speaks out; and Law prof testifies on Special Counsel bills

By Adam Thorp and Pete Grieve

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Good morning. Welcome to first week.

The University filed Friday to delay the graduate student unionization election previously set for mid-October. The University’s motion argued that the case should be put on hold because new, Trump-appointed members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were likely to rule that graduate students cannot unionize, as was the case before last August. Yesterday, the Senate confirmed Trump’s second appointee to the NLRB, giving the body a Republican majority.

A former UIC student who was arrested by the FBI in 2015 for threatening a mass shooting at the University of Chicago spoke out about his experience last week and encouraged the public to “think before you post.” As part of an agreement with prosecutors to eventually drop his charges, Jabari Dean appeared in a PSA video on the FBI’s YouTube account, and he spoke at the FBI’s Chicago headquarters on Thursday.

  • ​​Dean: “At the time, I just wasn't thinking. I used social media to vent…. People took it as a terrorist threat. The University got shut down. I got arrested by the FBI, and now I don't know what my future looks like. I search my name on the web almost every day and look at the stuff. It's not going away.”

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Twenty-one senior faculty in the history department issued a statement last evening in response to the online harassment reportedly stemming from a blog post in which University of Chicago medievalist Rachel Fulton Brown pushed back against a Vassar professor who had written an article decrying white supremacy in the field. 

  • "When other parties use one’s arguments as grounds for online threats, intimidation,
    harassment, or verbal violence in general, it is one’s firm responsibility to denounce those actions and to mark a clear and public distance from them, even (or especially) if those aggressive or extremist forms of speech misconstrue one’s stated points of view. History shows us that silence in the face of such virulent speech acts is neither prudent nor defensible."

Arts Block: The University begins construction this month on the Green Line Arts Center, a space on East Garfield Boulevard that will include “a black box theater, rehearsal space, green room, dressing room and lobby for gathering and exhibition.” The Arts Center will be a major part of the planned arts and culture corridor near the Green Line stop.

The David Horowitz Freedom Center has again put up posters on campus targeting members of the University community affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and other organizations as “terrorist supporters.” A press release from the Center alleges that SJP “is a campus front for Hamas terrorists.”

  • Previous iterations of the campaign drew condemnation from campus groups on both sides of the divestment debate. UChicago Hillel condemned the posters in a statement yesterday.

Cable Car Grant: The Hyde Park Historical Society is competing for a grant that would refurbish the Hyde Park Cable Car building. The squat, incongruous building on the western side of the Metra tracks at 55th is one of the few relics of the cable car system that once connected Hyde Park with downtown. You can vote in support of their bid here.

Law School professor Eric Posner is on the witness list for a Senate judiciary hearing today on “Special Counsels and the Separation of Powers.” In his prepared testimony, he writes that he believes that two pieces of legislation that would require judicial review for the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller are constitutional.

Events: George Lakey presents the conclusions of his book Viking Economics, in which he promotes the virtues of the Scandinavian economic model and its plausibility as a path forward in the United States. Wednesday, 6:30–8 p.m. at the Experimental Station, 6100 South Blackstone Avenue. See more events or submit your own at

CBA: After Barack Obama explained at a community event earlier in the month that his foundation won’t sign a community benefits agreement for his presidential center, the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization stressed that it is also pursuing the avenue of getting an ordinance passed through City Council to secure its demands.

25th District: The race to represent Hyde Park and much of Chicago’s southern shoreline in the Illinois house is beginning to take shape. Last week Barbara Flynn Currie, who represented the 25th District for forty years, half of those as house majority leader, announced that she will not run for reelection in 2018. Anne Marie Miles, an elder law attorney and activist who twice challenged Fifth Ward alderman Leslie Hairston, announced yesterday that she will run to replace Currie.