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Gov. Pat Quinn anounces a large donation to Dominican

By Emily Lapinski

Dominican faculty and students gathered outside Lewis Hall this afternoon to hear Gov. Pat Quinn announce his $1,345,758 construction grant to the university.

The grant will be used to fund the university’s plan to build a student commons on the North side of Mazzuchelli Hall. In addition, the Dining Hall kitchen will be expanded and modernized and air conditioning will be installed in the Social Hall and Dining Hall.

Student Government Association president Cutberto Aguayo introduced Gov. Quinn, calling him a leader to those “without a voice or vote.”

Aguayo said: “Although I am acutely aware that this is an election year, I am glad the governor came to Dominican because it gives the governor a chance to strengthen his ties to the University. He has shown a deep commitment to undocumented students, college affordability and now by providing financial assistance to build our student commons.”

Gov. Quinn talked about the importance of Dominican values as well as his personal ties to the university. He said: “One of my best workers went to Dominican. Dominican does a great job of teaching its students the ethic of service and other fundamentals of what they need to know in life. Service to others is the rent we pay to God for our place on earth.”

At face value, this visit and grant are beneficial for the university; however, some students are skeptical. Junior Chance Emlund said: “I find this plan to be yet another instance of frivolous spending by our Democratic governor. Furthermore, with Dominican being a private institution, I do not understand why we are getting state money to put towards this expansion plan. We may be gaining a luxury but this does not benefit any of our futures nor does it help our debt-plagued state.”

President Donna Carroll was delighted with the visit, despite its proximity to the election next week. Carroll said: “It’s a strong statement for his support of higher education. The fact that he is familiar with Dominican and our students and what we’re doing is important. His visit is probably timely but I think it’s sincere. He’s announcing dollars that were committed before this election cycle.”


No criminal charges filed in alleged sexual assault on campus

By Cory Lesniak

River Forest police officers announced today that no criminal charges were filed against the person of interest in the alleged sexual assault of a female freshman resident.

The victim and the person of interest, a campus guest, were at a party on campus Oct. 10. Police confirmed alcohol played a role in the incident. The person of interest walked the student back to her dorm late that night.

On the morning of Oct. 11, the student reported on assault to Campus Security and requested to be transported to a nearby hospital where a rape kit was used. River Forest police officers were dispatched to Dominican at 10:05 a.m.

The person of interest turned himself in on Oct. 13 to RFPD officers. Members from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Felony Review Unit were waiting to take statements from all parties involved.

RFPD Deputy Chief James O’Shea said, “Cook County officials spent about eight hours conducting interviews with approximately eight to 10 witnesses, the victim, and the person of interest.”

“With primary statements from witnesses and the victim and person of interest the Cook County State’s Attorney’s felony unit determined not to press charges,” said O’Shea.

The 22-year-old Chicago resident was released from police custody late Monday.

Any further investigation will be conducted by the university, police said.



Person of interest in custody following alleged sexual assault on campus

By Cory Lesniak

An 18-year-old female freshman reported being sexually assaulted on campus on Oct. 11. The River Forest Police department and university officials say they are investigating.

The student reported the assault Saturday to Campus Security officers. RFPD officers were dispatched to Dominican at 10:05 a.m.

At the student’s request, she was taken to a nearby hospital to be further evaluated; the evaluation included a rape kit.

Dominican President Donna Carroll said the student has returned from the hospital.

The assault happened in one of Dominican’s residence halls and, according to university officials, the offender was a visitor to the campus. University officials declined to say in which hall the assault occurred, or provide additional details about the incident.

“We do know who was involved.” Carroll added, “We take these events very serious. We responded accordingly and are working with the police.”

Police on Monday were also declining to release details. “It is still an ongoing investigation,” RFPD Chief Greg Weiss said.

The person of interest turned himself in on Monday. RFPD detectives are awaiting members from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Felony Review Unit.

“We will conduct an interview and follow-up with witnesses,” said James O’Shea, deputy chief of police.

The Dominican community was not notified about the attack until the official statement from Dominican, which was posted on Campus News late Sunday.

Dean of Students Trudi Goggin said there was no need to send an alert message to students and staff on campus over the weekend because there was no “immediate danger” to the students on campus.

“The individual was already identified and there was no impending danger on campus,” Goggin said. “The text messaging is about duty to warn so that you don’t drive into a danger. This person won’t be able to do this to anyone else on campus.” Goggin said.

The offender has been banned from campus according to university officials.

This incident came after Dominican launched its recently revised sexual assault policies, as required by federal Title IX legislation.

If a sexual assault occurs, the victim has the choice to file a report or not. If the victim chooses to file a report, he/she can do so through the online reporting system.

Chief Diversity Officer Christiana Perez confirmed that a report was filed after the incident.

Carroll said security on campus is priority especially in the late night hours in the resident halls. Assaults on campus are rare but are taken very seriously, she said.

“We always review all security protocols and all aspects of the incident and assess what worked and what didn’t work. Sexual assault is an issue we take very seriously; security is part of it. Having an informed and well educated student body is part of it,” Carroll said.

This story has been updated.


Dominican students protest during Weekend of Resistance

By Cruz Rodriguez

ST. LOUIS – A handful of Dominican students traveled on Oct. 11 to march in a peaceful protest over recent events in Ferguson, Mo. The march began in Ferguson and ended in downtown St. Louis where a number of speakers spoke about police brutality, economic justice and Michael Brown.

The weekend’s protests dubbed “Ferguson October” and the “Weekend of Resistance” focused on the last month’s encounter between Brown and Police Officer Darren Wilson, who authorities said shot Brown after he attacked him and tried to take his gun. But witnesses offered a starkly different version they said the unarmed teenager had his hands in the air when he was shot.

The “Weekend of Resistance” which began Friday was part of a four-day event in Missouri that attracted protesters from around the nation.

The AFL-CIO offered busses to the public to ride down to Missouri for the weekend events. The goal was to “build momentum” for a nationwide movement to address police violence, organizers said.

News reports from CNN contributed.


ISIS violence in Iraq hits close to home

By Melissa Rohman

Theology professor Father Richard Woods has made many close friends in Iraq and is heartbroken with the violence and turmoil the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is causing in the Middle East.

Following the Gulf War, Woods and several Dominican sisters traveled to Iraq in 2001 to help establish hospitals and aid relief efforts. He returned to Iraq in 2003 and 2004 to check on the work and revisit old friends.

“It’s the people,” Woods said, who suffered during the Gulf War and who are suffering now at the hand of ISIS.

“I fell in love with Iraq,” said Woods. “The coming of ISIS is a terrible tragedy, a blow upon a bruise. They represent the worst example of intolerance, savagery and heartless cruelty to anyone who doesn’t think and act exactly as they do.”

On his trips to Iraq, Woods and his team focused on getting medicine and supplies to the hospitals and bringing necessities and toys for the children who had been injured in the fighting.

“The children taught me that our efforts were well worth the time, energy, money and work,” Woods said. “They were wonderful kids, eager to learn and to become part of better world, and they thanked us for helping make it possible.”

Today, there are 25 Dominican friars and 150 sisters working in Iraq to be advocates for and help those citizens and children still suffering.

“The dedicated Dominican sisters are the real workers,” Woods said. “They are working to save the children.”

In August, ISIS extremists captured American journalist Steven Sotloff and beheaded him, capturing the gruesome event on video as a “second message to America” to halt airstrikes in Iraq. This act made the violence that had been occurring toward Iraqi citizens for months seem much closer and much more real to American citizens.

Founded in 1999 under the command of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, ISIS has been claiming religious authority and political control over the world’s Muslims. Active in Iraq and Syria, ISIS a self-proclaimed caliphate, a type of Islamic state led by a group of religious authorities under a supreme leader, who is believed to be the successor to Mohammed. The group has been described by the United Nations and Western and Middle Eastern media as a terrorist group, and several countries have designated it a foreign terrorist organization.

Although it is unclear exactly how much territory ISIS controls, some experts estimate the group dominates 13,000 square miles in Syria and Iraq. In Iraq, their devastation has reached within a few miles of Baghdad.

Where ISIS militants have gained ground, they have persecuted Christians, making Christianity a crime punishable by death. They have destroyed churches, murdered innocent people and forced thousands to flee their homes.

In September, the CIA estimated ISIS had between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Syria and Iraq. ISIS had close links to al-Qaeda until February 2014 when, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its brutality and “notorious intractability.”