Newsletter for December 5

Supreme Court questions University on artifacts case; the stakes for UChicago in tax reform reconciliation; sales up at Sem Co-Op.

By Adam Thorp, Pete Grieve, and Euirim Choi

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Good morning. Welcome to finals week. Add/Drop opened yesterday.

The graduate student and student library worker unions are tied up at the NLRB, engaged in legal fights with the University over election conduct and employee status. We spoke to experts about what’s next for the University’s two newest unions.

There’s a lot to watch as the GOP tax reform plan moves to reconciliation, with some significant outstanding differences between the Senate and House plans regarding higher-ed.

  • Tuition waivers provision: The House bill includes a provision that would treat tuition waivers for graduate students as taxable income. Grad students across the country are fighting to prevent this from becoming law.

  • Endowment tax: A last-minute amendment before the Senate bill passed raised the threshold from $250,000 in endowment dollars per student to $500,000. This will have to be squared with the House bill’s $250,000 threshold. Read more here.

  • Individual mandate: The Senate bill includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) issued a statement to The Maroon over the summer opposing any cuts to Medicaid, but a spokesperson said yesterday that UCM does not have a position on efforts to repeal the mandate.

** Student activists affiliated with UChicago Student Action carved some time out of finals week to join a protest downtown yesterday, holding elected officials accountable for supporting the bill.

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Supreme Court justices questioned Law School professor David A. Strauss yesterday; Strauss is representing the University and the Field Museum in a case which could potentially lead to the seizure of Oriental Institute artifacts. According to news reports, the justices seemed skeptical of the claims by the families of victims of the 1997 Hamas-led Jerusalem bombing, who are seeking to satisfy a $71.5 million judgment against Iran.

  • The University’s argument: Strauss argued that, while the seizure of commercial property was warranted under the judgment, the seizure of noncommercial property, like some of humanity’s greatest artifacts, was not. “That principle has the deepest roots in U.S. law and international law,” he said.

Sales are up substantially at the Seminary Co-Op, but not enough to put the bookstore in the black, shareholders were told at their annual meeting Monday. The bookstore’s leadership expects their operating deficit to grow in coming years as they invest in programming.

It’s scholarship season, and several prestigious ones have been awarded to University of Chicago affiliates.

  • Lucas Tse, a fourth-year in the College, has been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. He hopes to use the scholarship, which fully funds study at the University of Oxford for one to three years depending on the length of the program, to pursue an MPhil in economic and social history. Lucas is the 52nd person affiliated with the University to have earned the scholarship.

  • Pradnya Narkhede and Valerie Gutmann (A.B. ’17) have been awarded the Marshall Scholarship, two of 43 Americans this year. Narkhede will use the scholarship to earn degrees in science and technology in society and plant chemical biology at the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College London respectively. Gutmann hopes to earn an MPhil from the University of Oxford in comparative social policy.


Furnished Apt Hyde Park. 3BR 2BA condo; lots of amenities incl. Artsy, elegant living; short-term leasing. Ideal for grad students, faculty or staff. Avail. Immediately; 773-383-1553, Verna.

5116 S. Kimbarck #1. Attractive 1BR apartment in well maintained building, lots of light, hardwood floors, updated kitchen, ceiling fan, laundry on site, steps to campus shuttle stop & shopping. $1100.00 includes heat & water. Chad 312-720-3136

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Nuclear anniversary: The University marked the 75th anniversary of the Chicago Pile-1 nuclear chain reaction with a series of talks, musical performances, and a rainbow fireworks display by Chinese artist Cai Gui-Qiang.


In Viewpoints

Editors Cole Martin and Urvi Kumbhat write in:

Social Media Editor Jamie Ehrlich argues that the University's celebration of the first contained nuclear chain reaction is overzealous and insensitive.

Columnist Meera Santhanam contends that adding "woman" or "female" in front of otherwise gender-neutral titles inadvertently reinforces the notion that these roles are typically for men.

Columnist Krishna Sunder writes an open letter to Dean Boyer, asking for more transparent and effective budget allocation.

With finals week around the corner, columnist Alexa Perlmutter reminds us that getting enough sleep is essential for leading healthy lives.


Freehling Pot and pan, a cookware store on 53rd Street, is permanently closing after 43 years of business in Hyde Park. Owner Susan Freehling told the Herald she and her husband are retiring to have more time to travel.

Law School professors Eric Posner and Daniel Hemel say Michael Flynn violated the Logan Act, writing a New York Times op-ed yesterday.

The Southeast Chicago Commission, a community development non-profit long backed by the University, has a new executive director as of Friday. Diane Burnham, who has been on staff at the SECC for four years, replaced Wendy Walker Williams, who will work for the University’s Office of Civic Engagement as the Executive Director for Community Partnerships. Burnham will be the first new leader of the organization since it severed direct governance ties to the University.


In Sports

Editor Cavell Means writes in:

Men's soccer reaches the final four, while women's soccer falls in the championship game. Men's basketball wins big against Kalamazoo.


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