Dominican University Campus Reacts To Tobacco Ban

February 16, 2016

By Marty Carlino

On Wednesday, Feb. 3, Dominican University officially announced a ban on all tobacco products, scheduled to take effect in August of 2016. The idea of a tobacco free campus is something that’s been on Dominican’s mind for quite some time. Originally proposed in 2008 by student lead organizations, the tobacco ban has been in the works.

University officials want to stress that communication will remain positive throughout. It has yet to be determined how Dominican plans to spread the word, but negativity will not be a part of it.

“We really want to build a positive culture around this,” said Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the wellness center. “The plan is for a lot of signage, especially targeting areas where people smoke.”

One of the main reasons to launch the ban was a health concern for everyone on campus.

“We really want to look at this as a health initiative,” said Carol Seley, business operations and risk manager. “We don’t want this to be punitive. We’re not trying to tell you that you can’t smoke, we’re just saying you can’t smoke here.”

The problem of second-hand smoke was also a major health issue that was factored into the decision.

“Research is very clear that second-hand smoke is very bad for you,” said Ritzman. “There is no way for someone who is smoking to make sure that nobody gets impacted by the residue of their smoke. We’re trying to make the campus a place where people can expect the air to be clean.”

Once put into effect, enforcement of the tobacco ban will be treated similar to current university policies. “For students, it will be a code of conduct,” said Seley.

Lack of compliance among students has not been a huge concern. “I don’t see people not complying, unless they’re trying to make a point,” Seley added.

University officials are hoping for student support, and they will receive it from Dominican’s Student Government Association (SGA). At SGA’s annual bi-weekly meetings, the student leaders voted in favor of full support of the tobacco ban.

“SGA has voted, after a lot of deliberation, to support the tobacco ban on campus,” said SGA President, Will Schuneman. “We recognize that there will be some issues which will arise out of this, and we will handle them accordingly.”

The announcement of the tobacco ban has raised reactions from smokers around campus.

Professor of Accounting and a smoker of nearly 50 years, Khalid Razaki, understands the policy.

“I love smoking, but the only thing that was always a bother to me about smoking was that it bothers other people,” said Razaki. “It may cause me some inconvenience, but I support it. It’s a good policy.”

While many on campus understand the policy, there are students that are quite upset.

“We definitely feel offended,” said Jesus DeLeon. “There’s only a focused number of us on campus but we’re disappointed.”

Others have questioned if a complete ban is even necessary.

“Banning smoking inside is understandable, but we feel that banning smoking outside was a little much,” said Lauren Buckley.

“In terms of health, it’s the right move and they have the right to do so, but they could have made a move somewhere between the two,” said Chris Schwarz. “Stick us in the parking lot, we’re fine with it.”

Come August of 2016, anyone on either of the two campuses with the desire to smoke will have to leave campus to do so.

Men’s Basketball: On The Home Stretch

February 16, 2016

By Chris Sich

The Dominican University Men’s Basketball Team lost a close game to Aurora University this past week. The Stars started the game strong, building a 19-12 lead, but fell short losing to the Spartans 79-99.

The Spartans up-tempo style of play caused some problems for the Stars.

“We have to improve our transition defense,” said Head Coach, Mark White.

The Stars fell short again as they lost to Marian University over the weekend but, with three games remaining, the future looks bright.

“We have a very young and talented team,” White said. “I am optimistic about the future; I think the team is going to continue to improve each and every game.”

The Stars have had an up and down season, but the team has responded well.

“We have a resilient group of guys who work hard each and every game; their resiliency has put us in a lot of close games,” White said. “Each player is doing their job and contributing to the team in their own way.”

With two games remaining in the season, the Stars look to finish strong and end on a high note. Make sure to come and support the Stars as they show their grit against bitter rivals, and neighbors, Concordia University on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Igini Sports Forum.

Showdown In Springfield Leaves MAP Funds Frozen

February 16, 2016

By Rich Bodee and Mary Alice Maloney

No matter where you go, college has always been expensive. However, the state of Illinois has been known for assisting students in the payment of higher education through the MAP (Monetary Award Program) grant. In the past, students who qualified for the grant have been able to rely on the state funds each semester.

“The Monetary Award Program is designed to financially assist residents who are in the lower third of the income level for the state of Illinois,” said Pamela Johnson, interim vice president of enrollment management.

To be more specific, qualifications include an Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, of less than $9,000.00, being resident of Illinois and the completion of a student’s FAFSA form.

“The purpose of the MAP grant is so that the best students in Illinois don’t decide to go out-of-state for college,” said Johnson.

Dominican University had an additional standard in order to receive the maximum amount of money; a student must be taking a minimum amount of 15 credit hours. Once a student meets all of these requirements, they are eligible to receive the full amount of money, which is $4,720.00 split between two semesters. If a student is under 15 credit hours they will still receive money, but the amount granted will be less. Generally, this is what the process entails. However, the 2015-2016 school year has been different.

On July 1, 2015, the start of a new fiscal year, the state of Illinois did not approve a budget. When colleges in Illinois started classes in the fall, there was still no budget approved. State legislators have repeatedly tried and failed to settle on a budget, but to this date, there is no budget for anything, and that includes the MAP grant funds.

What does that mean? For the fall 2015 semester, after Dominican students received their financial aid packages, Dominican paid $2.6 million to cover the missing MAP grant funds for those who qualified. For the 2015-2016 school year, 50 percent of Dominican students were MAP grant eligible.

“In the fall of 2015, 1,199 students were considered MAP grant eligible and 100 more would have been had they submitted their FAFSA on time,” said Johnson.

Recently, a number of college newspapers throughout the state of Illinois have focused on spring college dropout rates, directly related to students’ inability to pay their tuition without MAP grant funds.

Surprisingly, the number of students who were eligible for MAP grant funds in the spring differed from those in the fall here at Dominican.

“For the spring 2016 semester, 1,082 students were eligible,” said Victoria Lamick, director of financial aid.

That’s a difference of 117 students between fall 2015 and spring 2016, and it might mean that some students may have left Dominican because they knew they couldn’t afford it without the help of MAP grant funds. Nothing has been confirmed or denied regarding this matter.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the MAP grant is gone forever.

“Dominican is still expecting to receive $5.2 million in funds from state for the MAP grant,” said Johnson.

However, according to David Dolence, political science professor, “As of right now, the state of Illinois promising the MAP grant is nothing more than a political promise. I can’t even articulate how asinine it is that the state is operating without a budget. Normally, the state creates a budget, which needs to be voted on, then appropriates the funds. In light of the budget stalemate, the state of Illinois has proposed appropriating funds without a budget, which is risky, but not unprecedented.”

The tension and turmoil in Springfield stems from a long-standing deadlock between Democrats and Republicans in the state of Illinois. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan seem to be engaged in a literal standoff that mirrors that of an Old Western gun fight. Each of these gunslingers refuses to back down or come to a compromise.

As for Dominican, university officials are currently in the process of making contingency plans. What the plans will consist of is still unknown, but rest assured Dominican will not throw students out into the street.

Amy McCormack, senior vice president of finance and administration said, “We are very sympathetic to the student situation. I mean, this is higher education and students are our future generation. I’m optimistic that the state recognizes its commitment to students in helping fund education.”

Regardless, concerned students are taking matters into their own hands. Student Government President Will Schuneman sent an email to Dominican students regarding two rallies. The first took place Feb. 11 at Concordia University and the second will take place on Feb. 16 at 11:30 a.m. at the Thompson Center in Chicago. Buses will be leaving Dominican at 10 a.m.

Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing situation.

Jasmine Guy Comes To Dominican

February 2, 2016

By Nayah James

Award-winning Hollywood actress, dancer and singer Jasmine Guy stepped foot on Dominican University’s campus for two days. On the first day she had a meet-and-greet with the lucky students of the Black Student Union (BSU) and on the second day she starred in her musical Raisin’ Cane, featuring the Avery Sharpe Trio.

Shocked, excited and ever so lucky were the students of BSU. Not only did they get to see her up close and personal in the Martin Recital Hall, some had to chance to ask her questions.

As the students filled up the rows of the Martin, a live camera crew announced that students would be recorded for the popular television network BET. Students adjusted their clothing and texted their family members anxiously revealing that Jasmine Guy would be inches away from them.

Waiting for her to appear from behind the stage curtain, no one noticed her enter the Martin Recital Hall from the back.

Jasmine came dressed in a black turtleneck, black leggings and Ugg boots with her makeup and hair styled flawlessly. She took her place on stage with a mic in hand.

Jasmine went down her resume of legendary films, movies and TV performances and began to give the audience a look into her life.

“There has to be some kind of fluidity in what we do with our lives . . . and for me I think I didn’t have a lot of fear in the beginning,” said Guy. “I was just very focused and I went for it, but as time has gone on, I know what it’s like now not to get that dream, that part that I wanted.”

She proceeded to give more detail about her life discussing her daughter, loving your body, how struggle and trials changes you and receiving support to turn negative thinking around.

Guy, who spent her college years at the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, spoke about being lonely and how now college appears to be a social experience and how responsibilities come with age.

“It’s a hard time because you know you’re finding yourself and learning so many new things in addition to wanting to explore and express yourself,” said Guy.

Jasmine asked the audience about their college experience gave her opinion on the political campaign and wanted to know how the audience felt about the portrayal of women in reality television.

The way that most students were informed about this event was through email and most didn’t know who she was. Sophomore Ashlynn Hill said, “I used to watch her in ‘A Different World’, I knew who she was before she came”.

What students liked about the meet-and-greet was Jasmine being so fascinated to hear about their lives.

“I liked the advice she gave us,” said Hill. “To love yourself, be yourself, have self-confidence and believe in yourself.”

Most students know or have seen Guy in the show ‘A Different World’ which was a spin-off of The Cosby Show in the late 80s.

At the end of her meeting, Jasmine hugged every person in the room and stood in for a few group photos.

When asked about her musical, students praised Guy’s amazing performance. Guy’s performance centered on the Harlem Renaissance period. Guy performed various poems, short stories, literature excerpts and songs by legends like Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Bennett, W.E.B DuBois and Jean Toomer.

“Raisin’ Cane was very well done,” said Hill. “I learned a lot I didn’t know. Jasmine Guy is a one-woman act. She performed Jazz, Blues, poetry and she sang and acted. She personality to the show and her funny jokes continued to connect with the audience. I was excited to be there.”

Hollywood came to Dominican and when it all ended, the audience was welcomed to take photos and get autographs from Jasmine and the Avery Sharpe Trio band.