Staff and faculty vax questions, SGA elections open and Pfizer approved for ages 12-15

Plus this year's TEDx theme announced

Hey y’all, welcome back to another fun and fresh week, we’re your newsletter team - Claire, Aneesah, Grace, Kate, Francesca, Robin and Cam. 

If you’re a part of DePaul student media be sure to join the DePaul’s Society of Professional Journalists for a mixer this Saturday at 6 p.m. on Zoom

Faculty Council Votes to Urge Administration to Require Faculty & Staff Vaccinations for Fall

Though DePaul will require students to get vaccinated before the start of the Fall Quarter, university officials announced on April 21 that faculty and staff are not required to do so. 

In a statement released by the university, DePaul President A. Gabriel Esteban, wrote the following:

“No decision has been made on whether DePaul will require employees to be vaccinated…I continue to encourage you—for your own health and to protect those around you—to be vaccinated at your first opportunity. Please remember that you may use paid time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or to recover from vaccine side effects.”

Though university officials have said they do not plan on requiring vaccinations for faculty and staff, the Faculty Council has voiced disagreement with this decision. 

At a Faculty Council meeting on Wednesday, councilmembers voted to send a statement to the administration urging them to extend vaccination requirements to faculty and staff.

The statement, written by the DePaul Health Committee, acknowledged that any decision on a vaccine mandate would rest with the president and his advisors. Even so, the committee wrote of a need for a universal vaccine mandate for all those on campus in the fall.

“We strongly and unambiguously speak in favor of a vaccine mandate as it supports the well-being of the faculty, staff, students, and Chicagoans,” the statement read. “DePaul must require vaccines of all faculty, staff, and students for the Fall Quarter.”

Arguing in support of a vaccine mandate for all students, faculty and staff, the committee cited DePaul’s “moral obligation” to ensure the health and safety of both those on campus and in the broader Chicago community. 

“Urban universities, like DePaul are not shielded from their neighborhoods and regions, nor are our neighborhoods shielded from us. With two campuses, campus housing, dependence on public transportation, the likelihood of unsupervised student gatherings, and an increase in cases among young adults, the DePaul community is particularly susceptible to outbreaks,” the statement explained. “As an urban university, we must show leadership and compassion by adopting the most powerful safeguard we have against this global threat.”

The vote to approve the statement was passed by the Faculty Council with 30 in favor, two opposed, and one abstained.

In an emailed statement, Kelly Kessler, the secretary of the Faculty Council, wrote plainly about the decision.

“I think the numbers speak for themselves.”

Jay Baglia, the chair of the DePaul Health Committee, co-wrote the approved statement. He believes a vaccine mandate is essential for the health and safety of everyone in the DePaul community. 

In addition to his role on the Faculty Council, Baglia works as an associate professor in the College of Communication. From his experience as a faculty member, Baglia says he believes the majority of faculty and staff favor a vaccine mandate. 

“I think faculty and staff, honestly, are overwhelmingly in favor of vaccines. You know, we want to be back on campus, we want to be in the hallway with our colleagues, we want to be in classrooms. We don't want to worry.”

In regard to the current campus vaccine mandate — which only requires students to be immunized — Baglia spoke of what he sees as a double standard.

“I can't imagine working at a university where you're going to mandate students [to get vaccinated] but not faculty and staff,” said Baglia. “I think that's placing all the responsibility on students, and none of the responsibility on staff or faculty, and that's not right.”

The statement will now go to Interim Provost Salma Ghanem for consideration. The provost can respond to the motion with one of the following: “approve,” “acknowledge,” “take under advisement,” “revise and resubmit,” or “not approve.”

If she so chooses, Ghanem can unilaterally approve the motion on behalf of the university president.


Chicago Headlines

  • As of this morning, community groups can host COVID-19 vaccine clinics. Groups can apply online to host clinics and receive vaccines, supplies and healthcare providers to administer the vaccine. Block Club’s Kelly Bauer reports

  • Developers in Back of the Yards are competing for funding for projects which will be built on the area at 47th and Ashland. The winning pitch will be funded through INVEST South/West, the $750 million fund which was established last year to fund 12 commercial corridors in 10 South and West Side communities. Mauricio Peña of Block Club has all the details

  • Pedestrians who favor the Lake Shore path in the Loop are in for a treat. Today the long-awaited Navy Pier Flyover opens for public use. The Flyover project is the final section of the $64 million that has been put towards the 18-mile lakefront path which reaches from South 71st Street to West Hollywood Avenue. The Sun-Times staff has the story.

  • In the age of COVID-19, visiting incarcerated loved ones has become a highly difficult feat, so local advocacy groups teamed up to help children send photos to their mothers on the inside. “The power of a photo is in its portal effect: its ability to transport people to a different place and time,” writes City Bureau’s Sarah Conway for Injustice Watch. 


DePaul News

As the end of the academic year approaches, the library has a few updates

First, email notifications for overdue items will be returning, but overdue fines will not be charged due to the ongoing pandemic. However, replacement fees are still in effect. Next, all library materials borrowed through the end of spring quarter will be due June 30. Finally, I-Share materials checked out prior to January 5, 2021, are no longer renewable.   

TEDxDePaulUniversity will be hosting a free online event on May 21 at 11:30 a.m. featuring six DePaul community members tackling this year’s theme – “The Unexpected.” Registration for the event can be found here

Graduating students are invited to share short notes and selfies thanking faculty, staff, and peers throughout their time at DePaul. Submissions will be shared via Newsline in the weeks leading up to June commencement ceremonies. Graduating students can fill out the form here

Faculty and staff are also invited to share short notes and selfies with the Class of 2021. 

DePaul’s Student Government Association elections began this morning at 9 a.m. and will end Thursday, May 13, at noon. More information about candidates and links to vote can be found on SGA’s website

Political science professor Valerie Johnson sent a statement to President A. Gabriel Esteban following his response to an open letter detailing issues of DePaul’s Black community sent to Esteban on April 26. According to the DePaulia, Johnson claimed that Esteban’s response was “not enough” and requested that substantial action toward the issues addressed in the open letter be taken. 


National Headlines

  • The Pfizer vaccine has been approved by the F.D.A. for children aged 12 to 15, according to the New York Times. The vaccine has a few more hoops to jump through, including being approved by the CDC, before it can be used by the general public, which is expected to be soon.

  • House Majority Whip James Clyburn suggests Democrats should not delay new policing reform legislation according to CNN. Clyburn says that Democrats can push to end qualified immunity, which is a legal principle that allows for government officials, including police officers, to be protected from some civil suits, later. His push to move forward with the bill is a departure from progressives, who said they wouldn’t move forward with the bill if it compromises on the qualified immunity. 

  • The New York Times reports  that the Justice Department seized some of The Washington Post’s phone records from 2017. The Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of three reporters at The Washington Post during the early months of the Trump administration. Prosecutors took reporters’ work, home and cell numbers from April to July 2017 –– it’s not clear why the Justice Department seized the Post’s records.

  • D.C. unemployment benefits issues trigger an investigation according to The Washington Post. Lawmakers are receiving constant messages from workers who have experienced lapses in unemployment benefits. The Department of Employment Services (DOES) said this problem is due to an antiquated website, a large volume of new claims and a glitch caused by a vendor in February. DOES Director Unique Morris-Hughes told reporters that those who missed weeks of payments would receive them by late April, but residents are still waiting for their payments.

  • The Los Angeles Times reports that starting Monday, L.A. will offer appointment-free COVID-19 vaccinations. This decision is intended to provide people who aren’t as comfortable scheduling appointments online the opportunity to get the shot. 


Recommendations

In film and television recommendations this week, Michael Che has delivered the absolutely hilarious That Damn Michael Che, a sketch comedy series about different situations from the Black vantage point, streaming on HBO Max. In addition to this, Julie Dash’s landmark film Daughters of the Dust (it inspired Love Drought by Beyoncé) is also on HBO Max. The film takes place on St. Helena Island within a Geechee family, The Peazants, and explores three generations of Black women as they prepare to migrate to mainland South Carolina. Music-wise, I’ve been obsessed with two albums: Live In Los Angeles by soul band Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly and Toni Braxton by Toni Braxton. These throwback albums are old-school fun and bring out so much joy. Aneesah Shealey


Resources

COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Resources

All of these testing sites and vaccination sites can be accessed for free and without insurance. 

  • Howard Brown offers free, walk-in COVID-19 testing at multiple locations from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday, in addition to mobile testing sites that are updated weekly, which you can access here.

  • The Illinois Department of Health and the City of Chicago have opened more free COVID-19 testing sites in the city and surrounding counties, which are listed with more information here.

  • In the spring, the City of Chicago partnered with CORE response to set up free drive-thru and walk-in testing sites in the city, primarily on the South and West sides, with appointments available Monday through Friday. Register here. 

  • The city has also updated its COVID-19 testing program with more mobile sites, which change weekly. More info here. 

  • Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine in Chicago? Check out appointments via Zocdoc, the City of Chicago’s Vaccine Finder or pharmacy websites such as Walgreens and CVS to see what is available in or around your zip code. 

Mental Health Resources

  • At Open Counseling, there’s a list of people and nonprofits with counseling services available for free or low cost.

  • This website compiles mental health resources, including therapist/counselor directories and other online resources. 

  • The Center on Halsted offers behavioral health, anti-violence and educational resources for LGBTQIA+ people.

  • Howard Brown Health offers anti-racism resources and sliding scale counseling specializing in the LGBTQ+ community.

  • This document is a resource for Black people experiencing racial trauma. This master list includes specific resources as well as protesting tips and donation links. 

  • This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago. 

  • This link is a directory of Black therapists in Chicago who provide services for under $75.

  • Here’s 7 virtual mental health resources supporting Black people right now, including Chicago-based community organization Sista Afya’s support groups

  • And the Trans Lifeline’s Peer Support Hotline is a resource operated by transgender and nonbinary staffers for the trans community: 877-565-8860.

  • The Center for Religion and Psychotherapy in Chicago is a nonprofit that provides affordable, sliding-scale counseling. Call (312) 263-4368 extension 9081 to schedule an intake appointment (counseling is not religious-centered). 


That’s all from us for this week! We’ll see you back here next Monday with more updates, insight and all things Chicago and DePaul.

Claire, Aneesah, Grace, Kate, Francesca, Robin and Cam.