Essential Workers at UChicago; New SG Slate Elected | Newsletter for April 28

In the April 28th, 2021 newsletter, The Maroon’s special on essential workers and a new executive slate is elected.

By Matthew Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Good morning. It’s fifth week. So, how’s the weather? ☀️

Read the digital edition of The Maroon here. In this week's issue, we're excited to present our special series on labor on campus, Essential at UChicago.

  • With May Day around the corner, we are proud to bring you news and opinion coverage highlighting the experiences of campus workers, ranging from ongoing unionization efforts, challenges faced by maintenance and trade workers during the pandemic, and more.

The Thrive slate, comprising Parul Kumar as president, Murphy DePompei as vice president for administration, and Natalie Wang as vice president for student affairs, was elected Student Government’s next executive slate on Friday as the election concluded.

  • The slate ran unopposed on a platform centering “transparency, advocating for marginalized groups, and reconnection.”
  • A referendum to split Student Government into a separate Undergraduate Student Government and Graduate Council, intended to improve internal coordination and student representation, was also passed. This means that from the spring 2022 election onward, candidates for executive slate will form a two-person slate. CC will also expand to include five representatives per class starting the first day of summer quarter.
  • First-year M.B.A. student Grace Schlesinger was elected graduate liaison to the Board of Trustees. She defeated Alex Levi, the outgoing SG vice president for administration, who campaigned on a platform of disbanding the Board of Trustees.
  • The sole official candidate for undergraduate liaison to the Board of Trustees, third-year David Liang, was elected to the role.

Citing the community’s adherence to the UChicago Health Pact, the UChicago Forward update last week reported 23 new cases of COVID-19, totaling a positivity rate of 0.11 percent, a dramatic decrease from 0.6 percent in the previous week.

  • This decrease follows the University’s decision to lift restrictions on the stay-at-home order imposed due to a  spike in positive cases. In the email, the University asked that students continue to refrain from unmasked in-person gatherings in order to finish the spring quarter without another outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
  • UChicago Medicine began offering doses of vaccine to students through a random lottery this week. The City of Chicago has now moved into Phase 2 of vaccine distribution, under which all residents over the age of 16 are eligible to receive a vaccine.

College Council recommended an immediate return to a 10-week quarter in a report sent to the University administration last week that puts undergraduate student satisfaction with the 2020–21 academic calendar at 38 percent.

  • Out of 808 students surveyed, only 11 percent of respondents felt that shorter quarters are an acceptable trade-off for increased internship access, the original selling point of the recommendations outlined in the Committee to Review the Academic Calendar’s 2019 report.
  • The College Council report also advocates for the formation of a designated committee of faculty, administrators, and students from both undergraduate and graduate divisions to reevaluate the 2019 committee report, which recommended the nine-week quarter. 

Despite University efforts to show the UChicago Police Department (UCPD)’s commitment to public accountability in the neighborhood, organizers often cite examples of UCPD racially profiling UChicago’s neighbors as proof that the department is fundamentally unaccountable to its community. The Maroon looked into UCPD’s disciplinary actions amid its pursuit for reaccreditation.

  • In a 15-minute public UCPD reaccreditation forum held by assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), only one person spoke: a UChicago student recounting his experience with the UCPD.
  • While a complaint over UCPD usually initiates an internal review, the Independent Review Commission (IRC) reviews a complaint as well when it involves “issues of excessive force, violation of rights, abusive language, or dereliction of duty,” according to the commission’s charge.
  • Since March 2005, there have been 183 complaints filed against UCPD, according to the IRC’s December 2020 report. Of those, the IRC has sustained roughly a quarter of the charges.


In Viewpoints

Editor Kelly Hui writes in:

As a new executive slate is elected, columnist Matthew Pinna examines the work of the Engage slate and lambasts its infighting, inefficacy, and mismanagement of funds.

Former Class of 2021 College Council member Kevin Yan resigns from student government, arguing that it will never be able to accomplish meaningful policy change despite having hardworking members.


In Grey City

Editor Avi Waldman writes in:

From inducing isolation to disrupting education, the pandemic has deeply affected youth entangled in Illinois's juvenile justice system and underlined some of the system's contradictions.


In Arts

Editor Veronica Chang writes in:

Student-run podcast Kinda Sorta Brown offers interviews with local activists, opportunities for engagement, and historical context in its coverage.