Newsletter for January 5

Div School admin wants to charge Grounds of Being more rent than it says it can pay — but there may be signs of progress

By Pete Grieve and Euirim Choi

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Good morning. It’s first week.

Grounds of Being rent dispute: Last month we reported that the Divinity School wants to charge rent from its student-run coffee shop. Details were scarce at the time, but on Wednesday the Divinity Students Association (DSA) and the Grounds of Being preservation committee sent a letter to the community explaining that the Div admin had made clear that GoB must come up with $61,000 per year in rent, or face closure.

— The letter stated this was not at all viable because “in recent years, GoB’s net profits have amounted to between twenty-five thousand and thirty-five thousand dollars per year.” These funds support student resources administered by DSA, like student travel grants for research.

— An update on DSA’s website Thursday said, “Discussions have continued today, January 4, and we are confident in both parties’ commitment to finding a solution.”

— Dean Laurie Zoloth referred our questions yesterday to the University’s news office—we’ll provide an update when there is a response.

**Update 5:30 p.m. … A University spokesperson said in a statement: "This discussion has been constructive, and the process has given confidence that any remaining issues can be resolved soon."

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Democratic Illinois attorney general candidates will attend a public forum on Monday hosted by UC Democrats and the College Democrats of Illinois. The event, which will take place at the First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park, will be the first forum of the campaign where all Democratic candidates will be represented, although one candidate will be represented by her political director.

Jonathan Smith, a historian of religion who taught at the University for more than 40 years, died at 79 on Saturday.

— Wendy Doniger, Divinity School professor, told UChicago News:“Generations of undergraduates knew Jonathan Z. Smith as a challenging, inspiring, uncompromising, witty and breathtakingly erudite 

— Brett Colasacco, Divinity School PhD candidate wrote a piece forSightings, which he edits, “How I Failed J. Z. Smith.

— Supriya Sinhababu, who in 2008 conducted a remarkable two-hour interview for The Maroon with Smith, published in full, wrote in an e-mail last night: “Even though he was a great scholar and an equally great character, he wasn't intimidating at all in person. He was just truly lovely to talk to…. I'm so sorry to hear that he's gone. I was hoping he would live to be 300 at least. That almost seemed possible with him.”

Law prof worked on CA legislation: The California Senate’s president pro tempore, Kevin de Léon, worked with Law School assistant professor Daniel Hemel and two other legal scholars to draft legislation that would protect Californians from certain provisions of the recently passed Republican tax plan. De Léon introduced the bill yesterday in the state Senate.

In Sports
Both men’s and women’s basketball were active this winter, winning games throughout December. Wrestling closed out their 2017 with a win at the Chicago Duals.

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