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NATO, Writing, Politics, Biking the Arts...

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A Busy Spring for Chicago Studies
by Sydney Paul, Class of '12

reunion1935baseballbtw.jpgSpring 2012 is already shaping up to be a busy time in the city with events like the NATO Summit in May.  We here at Chicago Studies plan to help students make the most of it.  We have the pedal to the metal with collaborations with a variety of faculty, the Sustainability Office, ORCSA, OMSA, the Creative Writing Program, the Human Rights Program,  the Logan Center, the Film Studies Center, and more. 

Here is a wrap-up of exciting events Chicago Studies has planned for Spring 2012:

NATO: Where It Came From and Where It's Going

(April 19th)  - 6:30pm Stuart Hall 101
mearshimerbtw.jpgJoin us for a discussion with Professor John Mearsheimer, who is the R.  Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, as  lectures on NATO's history and its relevance to the U.S.  and the world going forward.  Co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program. 

A Time to Celebrate the Leaders Among Us

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Nominate exemplary community partners, faculty, staff, and houses

Relationships are the lifeblood and foundation of the work we do at the University Community Service Center (UCSC).  Through the years, we have seen how outstanding partnerships can make lasting, significant change at  the University of Chicago and in Chicago communities.

Partners come from many walks and play many different roles.  They are university students and employees.  They are community leaders working with kids and the elderly, civic institutions working hand-in-hand with the University and community activists challenging the University to think about how it can be a strong, supportive neighbor.

Engaged faculty challenge, energize, and support students to learn about and work in Chicago neighborhoods.  Staff take on vital roles grounding University initiatives and student efforts in communities.  Students, whether as individuals or part of groups like House communities, roll up their sleeves and put on their thinking caps in service to our neighbors - in nearby areas Woodlawn, Kenwood, and Hyde Park, but also neighborhoods as far flung as Rogers Park or Roseland.

Community partners - individuals working on their own or with organizations - welcome our students, share their knowledge, wisdom, and expertise, and create opportunities for our students to make meaningful contributions throughout the city of Chicago and beyond.

As we move into the final quarter of the academic year, it is important that we reflect on and recognize the strength of these partnerships and the individuals, groups, and organizations which sustain them.  UCSC continues its rich tradition of honoring students, community partners, faculty, and staff at the 15th Annual Volunteer Recognition Reception this May. 

Please take a few moments to recognize the energy, innovation, and good will of those whom you know have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to public service.

Nominations for the awards below are due by midnight on Sunday, April 15, 2012.

  • Faculty Service Award - This award recognizes the extraordinary commitment of faculty in either direct service or in the support of students engaged in civic-minded scholarship. Selection criteria include strong recommendations from students across campus.
  • Staff Service Award - This award recognizes the extraordinary commitment of professional staff in either direct service or in the support of students engaged in civic minded scholarship. Selection criteria include strong recommendations from students across campus.
  • Community Partner Award - Community partners provide interesting volunteer opportunities, challenging internships and a forum for the community and university to engage. This award recognizes superior commitment connecting the university and the broader Chicago community.
  • Edward R. Turkington House Service Award - The Edward R. Turkington House Service Award is given annually to a House within the University of Chicago Undergraduate House System that has demonstrated a deep, ongoing commitment to service in surrounding communities and the broader Chicago Metro area.

By Michael Lipkowitz, Class of 2012

Twelve kids get on the wrong school bus. First the bus takes them to different places in Chicago--Lincoln Park Zoo, the Loop, the middle of Lake Michigan.  Suddenly the bus swerves westward and speeds them across the country to California. The kids get out to enjoy the sunshine, only to discover a moment later that the bus is revving up to speed them to New York City.  They hop in with glee as they speed across the wide-open deserts of Nevada.


This is not the latest story ripped from the headlines; rather, it is a creative piece written by a group of twelve 3rd-to-6th graders in an elementary school on Chicago's South Side.  They are part of Southside Scribblers, an after-school creative writing program run by University of Chicago undergraduates. Scribblers is a Community Service Recognized Student Organization that has been around since 1994, starting out its life as Student Teachers.

IMG_0611.JPGAs a child, Caesarei Marsh was very independent - in ways not always to his own benefit. At nine years old, he was already roaming the streets of the South Side and abusing drugs. He's been through a lifetime and a half of tragic events - being shot, time in prison, you name it.

This however is not the end of his story. Though he took a tumultuous path, his individuality also gave him the ability to become a powerful vehicle for change in his community later on in life. Caesarei now works as a case manager at Inspiration Corporation's Living Room Café at 64th and Cottage Grove - the same place that helped him get off the streets. [The Living Room Café was founded in 1995 by SSA Alum Jennifer Kihm (AM '94).]

The Occupation Heard 'Round the Nation

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by Sydney Paul, AB 12

The United States has always been a nation of revolutionaries.  The desire for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a very active concept, which Americans practically take as an extension of themselves.  Every nationally historical event, from the Boston Tea Party to the recent Tea Party, can attest to this aspect of passionate solidarity and call for civic action, especially in times of despair.   The ordeal brought on by the United States' current economic downfall has been this generation's trumpet to arms. 

On September 17, 2011, a series of demonstrations began in New York City in protest of the social and economic disparities that plagued the nation, in addition to the condemnation of corporate greed.  New Yorkers of all ages, working and unemployed joined together in efforts to actively, and peacefully, make their voices heard to those they hold accountable.  Roughly a month later, the group, now known as Occupy Wall Street, has a large presence in Liberty Plaza Park which is getting stronger every day.

The New York movement has inspired many more cities across the country to rise to the occasion.  For the past 21 days, Chicagoans have been protesting in front of the Federal Reserve Building in the financial district of the Loop.  Thousands of demonstrators, who call themselves the "99%", have been marching and chanting every day so far, expressing their discontent and anger toward what they believe is unjust corporate control over the political system.  With more and more people joining in every day, the group has been remarkably gaining strength very quickly.

Many tactics of the demonstrations are based off the Arab Spring movement, like the 2011 Egypt protests for example.  So, Occupy Chicago is using a fairly new tactic of action--a lateral organization form, where everyone has an equal voice.  In this strategy, social networks play an integral part in sharing information and rallying the masses.  The presence of the younger generation in this strategy is very prominent and many students in other cities have jumped on the opportunity to participate.   Student activists at The University of Chicago have also taken notice and have begun to show their support.

Larissa Pittenger, a Uchicago student and activist, believes that this movement is bringing out the best in the people of Chicago.  "There's a lot of creativity and positivity that I think shows that this movement has a great potential for lasting change", said Larissa.  The 4th year in the college first entered the movement by marching with protesters downtown on day 5 of the Chicago occupation.  

Pittenger and other student activists have now organized an informational meeting for those who want to learn more about the movement.  The "Teach-In About the Global OccupyChicago Movement", will take place on Friday, October 14th, from 3pm to 4:30pm in Harper 130.  Students can expect to learn about the history of the greater Occupy movement, get an overview of what is Occupy Chicago, and discuss the academic aspect of the events with faculty members.  Notably, students will also gain some insight from representatives from Occupy Chicago, who will be attendance.

Over the past decade, our present generation of college students has proven to be a very civically motivated force.  In times of frustration and lost hope, they've educated themselves on current issues, but most importantly stepped up to the plate and have taken action.  Those who joined the Occupy movement are a great example of the enthusiasm that youth have for change and progress.  What an inspiring thought!

"I feel lucky to a part of [the] process" said Larissa.  "If it's something you care about, why not be involved?" 

Hizzoner - 2011 Edition

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For the first time since the class of 2011 was born, the city of Chicago has elected a new mayor: Rahm Emanuel.

Also in this election:
  • Booth alumna Stephanie Neely won reelection as City Treasurer
  • Dual-degreed alum Will Burns (4th Ward Alderman) won his bid to fill SSA Alum Toni Preckwinkle's 4th Ward Aldermanic seat.
  • UofC Fourth-year and Bridgeport native Johnny Kozlar garnered a respectable 22% in his challenge to long-time 11th Ward Alderman James Balcer.
  • Law School alum Carol Moseley Braun was unsuccessful in her mayoral campaign.
For full results (including sortable mayoral results), visit:

If you're reading this post far into the future or want to check out past elections, visit the Chicago Board of Elections website:

Students Help Save Mothers in India

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By Lynda Lopez. News and Public Affairs Intern

In 2010, President Barack Obama signed his long debated health care bill into law, but it still remains an issue of controversy among concerned Americans.

While the United States deals with its own share of health care issues, there is another world of health concerns on the other side of the world and some inquisitive University of Chicago students in a new student group have taken notice.

The Global Affairs Leadership Society (GALS) became a Registered Student Organization (RSO) in the fifth week of the first quarter. The basic premise behind the group is to provide a place where students can discuss issues of conflict within women's rights in the Western and in the developing world. Not only do they seek to talk about these important issues, they also want to take an active role in combatting them.

"So many people spend their time talking about important issues, but spend no time doing anything about it," says Molly Cunningham, a GALS board member and 2nd year in the College, "GALS is 'doing' rather than just talking."

One of the first issues the group has sets its eyes on is the high maternal mortality rate in India. According to, over 160 women in India die each day due to problems from pregnancy and complications in childbirth, over 50 times higher than the rate in the United States. Statistics and concerns such as these spurred the members of GALS to become involved with Save A Mother, which is a local organization that is working to reduce the maternal mortality rate in India by educating villagers regarding better ways to maintain good health while in pregnancy. Eventually, these educated villagers become health activists in each of their villages.

Hoping to learn more about this organization, GALS held a special event at the Center for Gender Studies on January 10th. Dr. Shiban Ganju, founder and chief volunteer of Save A Mother, visited the university in order to talk further about the organization's work and to inspire the group to further the organization's cause.

Cunningham says that his visit definitely motivated the group. "After hearing him speak, we felt that we could truly change the world," she says.

Throughout the upcoming quarter, GALS is going to work on strengthening its relationship with Save A Mother and continue furthering the organization's cause.

Besides their work with Save A Mother, GALS has also been thinking of unique ways in which to spread the word about their unique RSO. Since their inception as a RSO, they have carried out a series of social experiments intended to gain insight into the issue of women's rights. One of the first and most interesting social experiments was implemented at the end of last quarter. Each of the members of GALS changed their Facebook status to "people like people who like women's rights."

"Our generation is constantly checking their emails, phones, and Facebook, so we knew we should take advantage of this connectivity," says Cunningham. "This social experiment gave us further insight into the thoughts of men regarding women's rights."

Cunningham says that she received many playful, silly comments on her status that day, which, she says, indicates the unclear role that women's rights tends to have in society. What does it truly mean to have rights as a woman? GALS plans to continue its social media experiment throughout the quarter in order to further explore this question and many more.

Despite all of the different endeavors that GALS is working towards, including a conference on women's rights, all of these activities have an underlying theme: Education.

"Ignorance kills even the best of ideas," says Cunningham. "We are hoping to raise awareness about important issues and even if the students we talk to don't get involved, it is still a better world because we opened their eyes a little more."

UCSC accepts story submissions from contributing writers that take a timely national issue and examine it in the local perspective. To join the pool, or learn more, visit

By Lynda Lopez, News and Public Affairs Intern for UCSC

The winter quarter has officially gotten underway, which means another 10 weeks of dedication, hard work, and discovery in everyone's academic lives. Even though the quarter represents the return to academic normality, it does not have to mean a return to the same day to day routines of campus life.

Before planning out your entire winter schedule for involvement on campus, make sure to ask yourself some important questions. Am I getting to know the city of Chicago? Am I doing something that I feel passionate about? Are the groups on campus fulfilling all my needs/expectations? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, then it may be time for you to branch out into the city as a whole and get involved with an organization not necessarily on campus.

It can often be difficult to leave the UChicago campus because of homework and transportation expenses, but getting involved in an organization off campus may prove to be a much needed booster to your academic confidence. Reaching out to new horizons allows you to truly gauge your ability as a person and a student. Besides, getting involved does not mean that you are becoming an employee at this specific organization. It simply means that you may start to volunteer once or twice a week on a weekday or weekend, depending on your availability.

The city of Chicago is a vast place with endless resources for college students. From environmental activism to anti-violence prevention, there are a myriad of opportunities for students to get involved.

In order to facilitate your search around the city of Chicago, the UCSC has compiled an easy reference list of some great non-profits around the city. There are different non-profits listed under each side of the city with a brief description of what each does, which can also be found on each of their websites.


Beyondmedia Education
Beyondmedia Education is an organization that collaborates with under-served and under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories, connect their stories to the world as a whole, and organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Center on Halsted

The Center on Halsted serves as a place where the LGBT community can find a safe and nurturing environment. It provides community resources and other social services for youth and adults.


Little Village Environmental Justice Organization
The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization is a place where students and other activists come together and discuss issues pertaining to the condition of the environment in the city, specifically the Little Village community. The organization has a reputation of being at the forefront of the environmental movement and is well-respected across the city.

Latinos Progresandos
Latinos Progresando was founded in 1998 to address the lack of high-quality, accessible community resources in Little Village. The organization is uniquely attuned to the specific needs of the communities Little Village and Pilsen. Some services offered include immigration services and theater programs for young men and women.


Erie Neighborhood House
Erie Neighborhood House is committed to empowering Latinos and diverse low-income communities to reach their fullest potential with a range of educational programs for all ages. Their mission is to promote and just society by providing low income families with the tools for a better future.

Homan Square Community Center
The Homan Square Community Center is for every resident of North Lawndale and Chicago's West Side. The programs and services offered are designed to meet the needs and wishes of the community.


Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to equal participation in the life of our society. It also aims to raise awareness about immigrant issues to the general public in order to encourage further participation in the important immigration movement.

Dreams for Kids
Dreams for Kids is a volunteer based, registered non-profit children's charity that breaks down social barriers and end the isolation of at-risk youth. Dreams for Kids is empowering youth who live in poverty and those with disabilities, by uniting them with their peers, recognizing their abilities, and allowing their voices to be heard. The most isolated young people from every community are reminded they have something to give, and they are the solution- not the problem.

Friday, November 19th

When: Sign-ups at 8, performances at 8:30
Where: Woodlawn Collaborative 6400 S. Kimbark (inside 1st Presbyterian Church)
What: Come join us in an effort to bring students and community members together for a fun night of art and activism! You got something to say? (or sing, play, mime, perform) Then come to the Woodlawn Collaborative's first open mic night of the year. --Event organizer Divya Sundar
The Woodlawn Collaborative is a shared space for Woodlawn residents and University of Chicago students to collaborate on, and explore the connections between, art projects, education initiatives, and progressive political activism. CONTACT Catherine Greim at or (408) 406-1280

Saturday, November 20th, 2010.
Register for the Autumn Day of Service
What: Interested in community service on the South Side?
The Autumn Day of Service is an opportunity for University of Chicago students,
staff and faculty to participate in one-day volunteer projects within the community
and will be held on Saturday, November 20th, 2010.
Where: We will gather at the Reynolds Club
When: at 9:00 am, do service at various sites from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and return to
campus by 2:00 pm. Past projects have included preparing and serving food
in soup kitchens, gardening, cleaning, office work, and more.

To register, please visit and we will confirm your
registration via email. Groups that would like to register will need to register
each group member individually.

Feel free to e-mail Kaitlyn at regarding any
questions or concerns about the UCSC Days of Service you may have.

To learn more about service opportunities, visit:

Chicago Studies highlights of the week

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When:Tuesday 26th, 7PM, Harper 130
Details from the organizers: Join Green Campus Initiative, Students for a Democratic Society, Students for a Just and Sustainable Future, and the Southside Solidarity Network for presentations and discussion of the University's investment in mountaintop removal coal mining and Chicago's heavily polluting coal power plants. Free Diner from Rajun Cajun!

You Are Here: Screening and Discussion
When: Thursday, October 28th
What: From UCSC: Join Graduate Student Affairs and the University Community Service Center for this film screening and discussion, moderated by Wallace Goode. "You Are Here, Too" was produced by students, and explores the University's civic engagement on the South Side of Chicago - both today and in the past. Free lunch!
Contact: Rosa Yadira Ortiz at
Time and Location: 12-1pm in Ida Noyes Hall, East Lounge

CSRPC/Black Star Project: "Beyond the Bricks"; documentary screening & town hall meetings
When: Saturday from 11am - 12:30pm
Location: International House - International House, Assembly Hall 1414 East 59th Street
What: According to the CSRPC: "The Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago and The Black Star Project are the Chicago hosts for the national community engagement campaign for the documentary film, "Beyond the Bricks", which focuses on one of America's critical problems in education: the consistently low performance of black males in school. This event includes a screening of the film (30 minutes) and a town hall discussion with panelists Dr. Cathy J. Cohen, Professor of Political Science at U of C; Salim Muwakkil, Senior Editor, In These Times; Bryan Echols, Executive Director, MAGIC, Inc.; Jonathan Lykes, Third year student at U of C and blogger for The Black Youth Project; Cheo Tyehima Taylor, National Media Director, 2025 Campaign for Black Men and Boys; and Trevor Wilkins, Princeton Undergrad and Collegiate Scholars Alumni.
Contact: Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture (CSRPC),773-702-8063"