Northeastern Illinois University's student-run newspaper

The Independent

Kenwood Oakland Community Organization

Dee Patterson, Contributing Writer
January 24, 2012
Filed under Opinions

  The legacy of Civil Rights in the United States is best represented by the sit-in movement and the battle to desegregate public schools. It is this legacy that the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, KOCO, draws from in its fight against the closure and consolidation of south Chicago neighborhood schools with a prolonged sit-in at City Hall, just outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. I was late for the sit-in by three days. Like many, I had only a vague idea of the politics of school closings. On the face of it, the argument is simple: if a school isn't doing well, why shouldn't it close? It's a seductive argument, one that speaks to American values like hard work and merit. Still, when I learned of KOCO's protest the day before, I decided I had to hear for myself what would make these folks so outraged over the closing of failing schools. And sitting with members of KOCO, listening to their story, I began to see the bigger picture. KOCO charges that the main thrust of school closings and consolidations have been happening in the black and brown neighborhoods of Chicago's south side. The pattern has been to close schools that are on academic probation and fold them into schools that aren't. Again, on the face of it, a clear solution to a clear problem. Where the problem lies is that, with no additional resources to keep abreast of new students, these schools, some of which had no prior academic issues, fall into level 3 probation. What replaces them? In many cases, schools that take public money but are not subject to things like Teacher's Unions. These charter schools often take enrollment by lottery or selective testing, ensuring that many neighborhood kids will have to walk passed close-by schools on their way to take mass transit elsewhere. As KOCO sees it, the CPS's plans are leaving families with three choices for their children: schools outside of their neighborhoods, lotteries or selective enrollment. According to the Chicago Reader, the majority of city jobs, Chicago's third largest employer, are being cut from the same neighborhoods whose schools are closing, the same whose physical and mental health clinics are being shuttered. Is it any wonder that these neighbor- hoods feel under attack? KOCO hopes to present its own, community-based alternative to closings and charter schools. As of this writing, they're still waiting for a face-to-face with the Mayor. The Mayor's office didn't want to make the sit-in too easy on KOCO. I spoke with Shannon Bennett, one of the lead organizers for the protest, who told me that they were allowed chairs on the first day of the protest. By the second, a security officer had asked them to sit on the marble floor. That is where I found Mr. Bennett, a tall man in an immaculate suit: sitting on the floor. That is where I saw several white haired women who should have been perched on supportive chairs, not suffering on the hard ground with stone at their back. After an hour on that cold floor, I was squirming uncomfortably. I can't imagine what it must have been like sitting for hours over the several days of the sit-in. By the end of the sit-in, one unfortunate protester had slipped trying to get to her feet. As the others surrounded her, there lying prone, with the security officer looking on, worriedly asking if he should call the hospital, I wondered if this is what the Mayor's office had wanted. Discomfort? Humiliation? KOCO may be standing against the powers-that-be but they didn't stand alone. Members of the Chicago Teacher's Union were present, though few in numbers since the semester was back in session; there were also members of the Occupy Movement present, some from the south side while others came down from Rogers Park. When the press conferences were over and the journalists and cameras were gone, it was these people who sat down with one of the KOCO organizers and spokespeople, Jitsu Brown, and listened on as he described the troubles of his home and community; it was these people who listened, when the Mayor had yet to....

Battling the “Sadists Of People’s Amalgamation – SOPA” On Internet

Syed Ahad Hussain, Opinions
January 24, 2012
Filed under Opinions

Copyright NEIU Independent The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is an illegitimate son of Hollywood fathered by our very own house lobbyists. God forbid, if passed, this bill literally can shut down all user-content websites such as YouTube and Wikipedia, among others. The legislation would authorize law enforcers to remove an entire internet domain due to something posted on a single blog, arguing that an entire online community could be punished for the actions of a tiny minority. SOPA's older sister is the PROTECT IP Act (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 or PIPA) bill of senate. According to BBC, PIPA is a re-write of the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which failed to pass in 2010, the failure eventually led to the formation of SOPA. Let me ask you a simple question, how many of your professors showed you videos of YouTube as part of their lectures? How many of you had to upload your projects to YouTube, and/or on Google Docs? Imagine a world without Wikipedia, YouTube, and most importantly, Google, you have no free and easy access to information and education, you don't have any online help for your assignments, do you want to live in a world like that? If yes, how long you think you can survive in that distopia? ABC News reported that the White House said that as of last Wednesday, 104,000 people had signed "We the People petitions asking the Obama Administration to protect an open and innovative internet." Jimmy Wales, the head of Wikipedia, said 162 million people clicked on his site's message opposing the bills, "now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA, up from 5 last week! 41 no votes and we win," he tweeted on January 19th. So are the bills dead? In their existing forms they were already in trouble. The House version had been put on hold by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor even before last Wednesday's protest. And in the Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy, an original co-sponsor, had last week promised amendments to address the concerns of website managers, and, significantly, at least a dozen senators who supported the bill, according to various head counts, have now publicly backed off." Cinemablend.com writes that, in response to all the protesters against SOPA and PIPA, the MPAA (Motion Pictures of America Association) lashed out against them in a letter published on Tech Crunch. In it they call the looming blackout a "prank" and accuse anyone who disagrees with this dangerous legislation of being a "corporate pawn". "Ironic when you consider that the entire purpose of the bill is to protect corporate interests at the expense of free speech. Cinema Blend concluded that, "combine previous shunning down of several file sharing websites in the past with these rumors of funding cuts from Hollywood backers miffed that the President isn't backing their play for SOPA power and that message is clear: It doesn't matter whether Congress passes SOPA or not, Hollywood is taking control anyway, and has power to shut down websites already." Wikipedia, during the black out, commented that, "In a post SOPA/PIPA world, Wikipedia and many other useful informational sites, cannot survive in a world where politicians regulate the Internet based on the influence of big money in Washington. It represents a framework for future restrictions and suppression. Congress says it's trying to protect the rights of copyright owners, but the "cure" that SOPA and PIPA represent is much more destructive than the disease they are trying to fix." I personally just cannot imagine life without Wikipedia. No Wikipedia means certainly no free information, which means no free access to education, which makes this world a jungle not a civilized humane society. I remember discovering it on my college PC back in 2004. I did not had PC at home, and I remember being in a huge line outside lab every morning so I can get a hold of a PC and all I end up doing was surfing just Wikipedia to quench my thirst of knowledge, it educated me and kind of made me what I'm today....

Man vs. Technology

Eric Bryant
January 24, 2012
Filed under Opinions

Remember the good old days when people used to communicate with actual people? Well those days are gone! We now live in the age of information, technological advancements are being made at the speed of light, and the more we advance in technology, the more ignorant we become and the more separated we...

Practical Financial Ideas for the College Student

January 23, 2012
Filed under Letters to the Editor

Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 22:01 It's obvious that as students, you should avoid getting into debt. Look around and read some business publications such as Wall Street Journal, The Economist and others and you will see all kinds of headlines about European countries in debt and how much trouble they're in. Just like some countries – people in general, and students in particular get into the trap of overspending, which leads to debt. Student loans are great, but only to a degree. Your college education should not be financed solely by student loans. Remember, student loans aren't a debt you can get from under. It's the type of debt that cannot be wiped off even in the case of a bankruptcy. So think twice about how much you want to borrow. Do not borrow more than you can realistically afford. This level will be different for each student. As far as interest goes, the student loan interest – once in repayment status – is tax deductible, which essentially makes the interest rate lower for the student. Now if you ask how to finance your education, here are some suggestions: 1.Tuition Reimbursement – This is a great way to finance your education. Some employers offer this because they receive tax breaks, and it's good fore personnel as they become more valuable to the company. Therefore, it's a win-win situation. The problem – you have to be working for such employers and there may be some rules such as the need to maintain a certain G.P.A., etc. 2.Family Members – This is another great way to finance your future. Usually, there are some kinds of tax benefits for the philanthropic family member, plus there's the added bonus of their happiness for helping you achieve your dreams. Even if you cannot get them to pay 100% tuition, every little bit helps – you can even try to convince them to at least pay for some of your books! 3.Financial Aid – This is federal financial help for the students that are enrolled and do not have to be repaid. You will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. There are limitations as to what it will pay for, but in general, your tuition and fees are included. You even get a stipend for books, supplies, and transportation on the CTA. The FAFSA is based on students demonstrated financial needs, rather than grades. You can read more about the benefit of taking advantage of this program at www.fafsa.ed.gov 4.Grants and Scholarships – This is also a fantastic way of paying for your education. Now the problem is that there are limited amounts of funding and you must be awarded the available funds. As around, especially at the in the Scholarships Office located on the 2nd floor of Enrollment Services office – house in the same location as Financial Aid. You can also search for scholarships that aren't through the university on the web. Ask your advisers what – if any – grants are available also. The beauty of the grants/scholarships is that you don't have to repay those. However, you have to do your homework to get them! 5.Loans – This should be your absolute last resort for funding your education. There are private and federal loans. Parents can also borrow on behalf of their dependent undergraduate students. I do not recommend loans, but if the question comes down to whether or not you can continue your education – I would say to go for the loan. Speak to a Financial Aid advisor for more information about your options. Now there are lots of resources on the web that you can explore, but you have to start somewhere, right? The first place you should start is at: http://www.neiu.edu/NEIU%20Departments/Administrative%20Departments/ Financial%20Aid/Financial_Aid.html   Victor Peters, Assistant Director, Office of University Budgets - Contributor...

“Too Cool for School?”

Ashley Hovde, Staff Writer
February 7, 2011
Filed under Opinions

    There exists a very thick line between an insulated snowsuit and the kind of outfit one might wear to go clubbing in Miami, does there not? Off the top of my head I can come up with a few exemplary items: a knit beret, jeans, a v-neck sweater, a wool scarf, suede boots, etc. As far as I'm concerned, winter in Chicago is a great time and place for fashion, and it is entirely possible to simultaneous look good and stay warm during the annual pseudo-Arctic months. Don't get me wrong, I love my heels, peep toes, flowing scarves, adorable fall/spring jackets, and putting them away each year always seems to catalyze my winter funk. However, I also really love having intact bones and no frostbitten skin, so the aforementioned items hibernate in my closet, snuggled up next to my skirts, sun dresses, and sandals, awaiting their spring revival. If you too have seen women in stiletto heels wipe out on the ice this semester, or you've scratched your hat-covered head while looking at a coed wearing a jacket in lieu of a coat, you probably see where this piece is headed. So please enlighten us, urban ice skaters and polar bears, what gives? Beyond having been introduced by mutual friends, through internet dating services, and at religious gathering places, most people meet the person they end up forming a lasting romantic partnership with at school, so I can understand wanting to look good for Mr or Mrs Right. That said, doesn't looking sane figure in to looking good? I've never heard anyone say "I'm really looking for a man with so little sense that he doesn't wear a coat and gloves during a blizzard!" So why, gentlemen, do you forgo wearing hats and gloves in sub-freezing weather? You're not fooling anyone by saying that you're warm. The icicles in your mustaches and the chattering of your teeth give you away. Ladies, it seems unlikely that the phrase "I'm really looking for a girl who doesn't let the possibility of a compound fracture stop her from strutting her way around this learning establishment in spike heels" has ever been uttered. On the contrary, I have seen few fashion statements exude a less "come hither" vibe than that of a young woman rocking a leg brace with a mini-skirt last winter. As unlikely as it is that all offenders are on the prowl, this phenomena seems even more mind-boggling. My take away message is this; its freezing, you're cold, don't deny it. Your grades don't go up in tandem with your hemline and unless you're taking a class in wilderness survival, not protecting yourself from the cold won't lower your GPA. So bundle up, already!    ...

Masters of Disaster Are Back! Why?

Jeff Dutton, Staff Writer
February 7, 2011
Filed under Opinions

After holding the presidency for eight years and controlling both houses of Congress for four of those eight years, the Republican Party by 2008 had effectively lead this nation into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression, and started one absolutely needless war while mismanaging another...

Man On The Street

January 25, 2011
Filed under Golden Perspectives

  NEIU Independent Taiwan NEIU Independent Tiffany NEIU Independent Amber "I couldn't get into certain classes…they should have handled that more quickly being that they are a university not a junior college. It was real time-consuming." -Taiwan, Junior   "It dropped me from classes I was registered for…when the system came back up, I lost those classes. I'm actually still having problems with that. Now there's the departmental approval, so now I have to go through more obstacles." -Tiffany, Freshman   "It was really a big pain, because you couldn't trade your classes. They shut down one of our classes and we couldn't sign up for the next one." -Amber, Senior...

Are Guns Safe in the Hands of all Citizens?

Ashley Hovde, Contributor
January 25, 2011
Filed under Opinions

    A year ago I discovered that I'm a great shot a natural with a 9mm. I emptied a clip into my first target – never missing the orange "person" and achieving five "kills." Although I was proud of my unexpected talent and my ability to conquer my fear of guns, a nagging sense o...

Graduate School: To Enroll or Not to Enroll Commentary

Agustin Flores
January 25, 2011
Filed under Opinions

As undergraduates entering our last semesters we may already feel the frigid and austere wind of the real world sneaking through the sheltered halls of academia here at NEIU. Short of an existential crisis, most of us are wondering if there will be a good job or even a decent livelihood waiting, and...

First things first…

Patrick O'Brien, Staff writer
September 28, 2006
Filed under Opinions

There were several NEIU presidential candidates on campus this past week to meet with students and staff, to press the flesh, so to speak, and answer questions about what they would do in the top job at this university. I missed those sessions, but I had few questions of my own for whoever is the next...

All-time low attendance

Felicia Maxa, Staff writer
September 26, 2006
Filed under Opinions

During student activity hour on Sept. 19, the Free Speech Taskforce held an open forum. Only three students attended. It is this number, the number three, that brings to mind the searing question: do the students of such great ethnic, racial and cultural diversity seriously care about their rights...

The obesity culprit: fast food

Jennifer Maciuba, Staff writer
September 26, 2006
Filed under Opinions

The perception of the number calories in fast food is skewed in the American mind, as found by a study recently published by the Annals of Internal Medicine and reported by msnbc.com. People, in general, seem to have an easier time guessing the number of calories in a portion when it is smaller. The...