Unite to End Rape Culture

By Jorie Dybcio  Behind closed doors lie identities stripped and dignities broken. Behind closed doors lie gender-less humans seeking justice. Closing those doors is an entire community turning a blind eye to the existence of rape culture on North Park campus. However, for the week of April 11–15, North Parkers decided to open the doors proudly. Criticism had nothing on the three students heading the North Park Unites movement: Sam Van Pykeren, Rachel Boge and Carmi Mueller.

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The week began with pads being pasted around campus. They read “Imagine if people were as disgusted with rape as they were with periods” followed by statistics portraying the severity of assault. For example, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 13 men are victim to sexual assault, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. Dean of students and Title IX coordinator, Elizabeth Fedec, says that "the administration was aware they would be posting pads and statistics around campus" and the senior team leadership was similarly informed. Fedec also met with the three student leaders several times prior to the event, discussing plans and providing guidance for raising awareness.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, sheets were hung around campus with powerful images and phrases. These actions to raise awareness were approved by administration prior to their occurrence. For the most part, the art was well-received by students. However, a few reactions proved the point they desired to make: students getting more upset by strong imagery than the fact of sexual assault being a dark reality on our campus.

Not all were entirely behind the movement, as campus security had an issue with this form of awareness. In the midst of decorating campus on Monday, the student leaders were approached by security and asked not to put the pads up due to the arrival of major donors. Boge recalls being asked by an officer to "avoid certain buildings ... because these 'important' people on campus did not need to see this." In an interview, Head of Security Dan Gooris said "We're behind you ... but out of courtesy to the development office to stay away from that day." Registration for new students was also happening on the same day, with Gooris recalling he would have preferred another day for the awareness event to occur. This push back from security was echoed by several students as well.

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Boge says that the response to Sexual Assault Awareness week surprised her. "The beginning of the week made me see people for who they really are, not how I wanted to see them. Many people think sexual assault is wrong but their actions reflected misogyny," she says. With sexual assault being a serious and controversial topic, this sort of backlash was to be expected, and it opened many pockets of conversation.

Predominantly these conversations took place over social media, causing comments and intentions to be received negatively by some—expression is difficult to perceive behind a screen. Regardless of how people were affected by the Facebook posts, it got the campus talking, which is the first step to diminishing rape culture on campus.

Many of these incidents were reconciled through conversation and assembly on Thursday and Friday. Thursday was a time to dissect the week’s events and discuss what changes need to be seen within the North Park community. The night was intended as a time to make posters for the rally on Friday and watch The Hunting Ground, which is a documentary highlighting the mishandling of sexual assault cases on college campuses. It also was a safe space for a healthy reflection on the week thus far and how the movement was to continue.

It was time of bonding for North Park students in which they could share their feelings, stories and ideas for the movement. It also became an overview of what the movement was to look like in the future, not only through a change in culture but also policy. Van Pykeren, Boge and Mueller displayed their desire for legislation over the course of the week’s activism.

The legislation put forth by students includes a reform for how interim measures function on campus. During a Title IX investigation, interim measures are taken to protect the victim from the person they are making a claim against. If claims aren't substantiated by those measures then they are not active during the appeal process. The goal is for the victim to have protection from the moment the claim is made.

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In addition, the legislation aims to reform education of sexual assault on campus. Currently, before entering a first semester at North Park, students are required to take an online course on sexual assault, but most students decide to rush through it. Then, the first week there's normally a skit or a video using humor and tea metaphors. Instead of using such humor to seemingly underplay the seriousness of rape, this legislation wants to increase the education surrounding Title IX, especially for student leaders.

According to the student leaders, the legislation also addresses emergency services and counseling. The only time to get support on campus is during the typical 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. health services. However, rape doesn’t fit a schedule. It is an epidemic that requires 24-hour emergency service, as well as STI checks and rape kits, which is a prominent reproductive rights issue in itself. These are not available at North Park, however, local healthcare providers such as the Swedish Covenant ER do offer these services.

These changes would be revolutionary for North Park and would make the campus a model of how universities should approach Title IX cases. While the legislation will be huge for administration and their power to make a change, that doesn’t mean the perpetuation of rape culture will altogether disappear in the North Park community. The legislation has yet to be submitted to administration.

On Friday, students and staff came together to make their voices heard through chants, poetry and storytelling. The rally on the compass had a turnout of about fifty students and staff. This was the first time North Park students have publicly come together to share their stance on sexual assault, and the first opportunity for many students to publicly declare themselves as survivors.

North Park’s distinct unity as a campus has never been more obvious as people of all groups came together to end rape culture. At the start of the week, the North Park community as a whole wasn’t actively aware that rape culture was perpetuating itself on our campus; as many students claim, they didn’t even think it was an issue. Boge says, “even though there were students who seemed like they didn’t want to be involved in the movement a change of heart was noticed by the end of the week.”

The momentum from the Unite movement on campus will hopefully continue to radiate respect, support and reform in the lives of North Park students. Boge wants everyone to know this: "You have the power to use your voice. Momentum from this week will continue to come from a community walking alongside our voices. It is incredibly difficult but we all have the ability to change something." Everyone on campus has much to learn from the Unite movement, and to recognize their ability to contribute to the revolution.

SGA Budget Crisis

By Lyndsie Cox  With the SGA budget deficit over the past year, a lot of questions were raised about the effects on funding of this year and if it will affect students in the future. Director of Student Activities GG Flint and SGA Treasurer Niko Sanchez were willing to answer questions and provide some background about the budget crisis, that has now been resolved.

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Regarding the lack of funds, one aspect is how it started. After Laurie Konecky, former director of student activities left, SGA realized they were short a large amount of money. An accumulation of over $10,000 had been overspent from past years, unknown to this year's SGA executive committee. Flint described how every year SGA is allocated money based on how many students attend North Park. In order to get an accurate number, SGA has to wait several weeks in case any students drop out. Konecky left before the six weeks were up, which is when Flint stepped in and was alerted by the business office that SGA had a deficit. Sanchez explained that these expenses SGA did not know about were due to miscommunication.

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A large part of SGA is managing the budget for all of the clubs on campus. Clubs were given $500 to spend each semester, and had to provide information on how the money was spent. According to Flint, the clubs are given this standard amount for each semester and that was unrelated to the deficit, decided before they knew about the debt. Sanchez met with each club president at the beginning of the semester to clarify any questions and look at how they planned to spend their money.

SGA has a constitution that they have to follow and there were changes made regarding the budget, but this was again, unrelated to the deficit. SGA had plans to change the constitution in more than one way, not just how the budget is run. They are leaning more toward allowing clubs to decide how much money they need. This will ensure bigger clubs are getting more money to accommodate more people while smaller clubs are also getting the money they deserve.

With all of the information regarding this deficit, it became worth questioning whether or not a boat dance was possible after Fall Music Fest did not take place this year. A large scale event was really important, according to Flint, to include a majority of the student body. SGA felt that the boat dance was a necessary event even though the budget was a tight squeeze. SGA has managed to allocate funds well and they kept enough money in reserve to cover the deficit to avoid negatively affecting next year's account. Because the boat dance was expensive, clubs have not been able to spend as much money this spring semester. Most clubs did not spend the full $500 that they were given, so the executive committee decided they would put money to the dance instead of clubs. The boat dance did have ticket sales, which created some revenue as well.

In regards to how the budget will be run next year, Sanchez shows optimism. He stated that he has done everything in his power to end this year in a positive manner and keep SGA on the right path. According to Sanchez, whether or not better budgeting will make way for more events next year "all depends on what SGA wants to do for next year." Sanchez also explained the expenses and finances of SGA for the 2015 fiscal year, and how the new software they use to budget is completely different.

It is apparent that SGA is working hard to fix the deficit and make positive changes for next year. Clubs and students certainly were impacted by this issue in funding, but SGA is making strides in improving the budget and trying to ensure this does not happen again.

Chicago Intensive Reflection

By Jorie Dybcio  North Park claims that “we engage Chicago as our dynamic place of learning and service; Chicago is our classroom and all Chicagoans are our teachers.” While this prevails as true for some students who have the chance to venture into Chicago through programs such as Honors Congress, there is still a sum of students who have yet to even experience an “L” ride. Opportunities to be involved in the city, especially in ways concerning justice—both for humanity and the environment— tend to be insufficiently provided at North Park.

Richard Khong and Dr. Rachelle Ankney have a plan to fix the lack of integration through a bottomless love of food and vision for social change. From that vision came the Chicago Intensive program (CI). The purpose of the program is to engage students through a combination of an internships at a non-profit organization, classes exploring Chicago, and an integration session to experience our studies first-hand.

Dr. Ankney claims: “We take pride in combining our students' learning curriculum with engaging sessions. We could send students into soup kitchens and they will leave thinking: 'I am so lucky.' But after they don’t have the resources for a broader understanding of society. Students tend to do these service opportunities as if they are checking a box."

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For the 14 students who are currently involved in the CI, it has accomplished just that. Students have been placed in internships at several different non-profit organizations around Chicago: Lawndale Christian Legal Center, Sarah’s Circle, Communities United, Breakthrough Ministries and more.

Personally, my placement at Sarah’s Circle has helped me develop a true sense of what service means. It is more than simply giving time and energy—it becomes something that shapes you and your intersectional view of the world. Our internships have allowed each of us to see a side of Chicago that is usually only discussed in the traditional classroom setting.  Emily Farwell, who is interning at Centro Autonomo claims that her experience “has allowed me to get out of my own mind and life in so many ways.” To see many of these issues first-hand has truly changed us and the lens through which we look at the world.

Universities tend to create a bubble on their campus—talking about deeper issues within the classroom but then leaving students to experience those issues on their own time, rarely presenting students with the opportunity to engage. The classwork within the CI is distinctively integrable. As a cohort we are together for nine hours every Tuesday and Thursday, and all day Wednesday. The time spent with one another makes it easier for students to dissect complicated issues and share honest opinions through debates and conversation. This has transcended into friendships we were not expecting. We, of course, imagined getting close to one another with such an experience, but we didn't expect the sort of community that was formed on the first encounter.

While the Chicago Intensive has been life changing for all it’s cohort this past semester, it is important to consider the impact it has on North Park’s campus as a whole.

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This program sets a great model for what our small university could look like in a few years. Or how any university in an urban setting should look like. Khong claims "our world will be 70% urban by 2050." Our world is vastly developing and urban communities are growing. This advancement makes it essential to understand the repercussions of city expansion in order to prevent damage to the world around us: for both nature and humanity. Integrating concepts of justice and environmental sustainability inside and outside the classroom grants students the ability to understand their vastly changing world and their role within that system.

This past semester of the CI, we took a week long course solely on environmental science encompassing urban living. Incorporating that awareness was essential to being able to understand that God has given us nature to utilize, not have dominion over. When we speak about urban development we hardly ever consider the impact we have on natural beauty.

Beyond a comprehension of the balance between nature and city, it is also important to find an appreciation for beauty not made by human hands, so that urban development doesn’t entirely taint it. Through integrative sessions, students are able to explore the preserved parts of the city such as conservatories and numerous parks. Being given this opportunity by the university is essential to understanding our role in keeping a natural balance between development and destruction.

The CI also sets an example of how the classroom should engage discussion on who we are as humans, and how city life contributes to the way we make sense of ourselves and the world. Living in a city with such a great amount of violence that it has been coined “Chi-raq” by popular culture, we have a moral authority to take action. The CI incorporated a number of justice issues into our learning and integrative sessions, including: gentrification, segregation, racism, sexism, xenophobia, political unrest and more.

The CI has opened the cohorts' eyes to these issues and sparked a passion to do something about it. Nico Canete for example is planning on furthering the work he currently is doing for his internship with Jedidiah BrownWithout the opportunities to become more engaged with justice issues throughout Chicago, Canete wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get involved with the inequalities and violence happening on the south side.

Canete is a perfect example of the vision the CI has for the future. Khong plans on helping the program grow into a major-orientated program offered to every North Park student. For example, criminal justice majors will have classes based around Chicago, as well as a general urban setting. They will then have internships with organizations working on confronting justice issues around the city in addition to an integrative session incorporating all they’ve learned within the classroom and their internship.

North Park’s desire to expand the idea of the CI is evident with their intended incorporation of the Engage schedule for next semester. The schedule will leave more room for classes to go into the city to Chicago beyond the bean, giving students a precious appreciation of Chicago, and a chance to call themselves a “real” Chicagoan. But the question prevails as to whether or not this schedule will cpnflict with the intentions of the Chicago Intensive, or prohibit its expansion of the program.

The question of whether or not the Engage schedule will spark conversation about justice and environmental protection is also one to be answered. However, regardless of where it goes, the fact the CI is getting our campus talking about a myriad of issues and creating a model of how North Park should function is revolutionary in itself.

For the Love of Guitars

By Jake Laser In case you aren’t already aware, our student body is quite talented. However, it is rarely the case that students are able to turn their skills into a business before they even graduate; North Park student Jeff DiCiaccio has accomplished such a feat. In the Fall of 2015, DiCiaccio launched his online store DiCiaccio Guitar Company, through Etsy.

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As of February 2016, the musician and craftsman hit a benchmark of $750 in sales for his woodworking company. DiCiaccio’s ultimate dream is to eventually build acoustic guitars, but for now, he focuses mostly on wooden guitar picks and wearable rings in order to build his ever-growing brand.

“The first night I put everything up, and I was so nervous about it,” DiCiaccio recalled. “I wake up at like 9 a.m. for my class and some lady made this $55 order … I was off the walls.”

DiCiaccio began his business with selling guitar picks, but has recently expanded his product line to jewelry, specifically multi-layered rings made from exotic and domestic hardwoods. Although he doesn’t yet build guitars for sale, he said that he is currently building a special guitar for a soon-to-be-groom in his band.

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According to survey results released this January by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, small business owners see marketing as their greatest need. Actively promoting his company on both Facebook and Instagram, DiCiaccio said he appreciates the need for marketing. However, he noted that this social media activity is his least favorite part of the business. “I can sit there all day making my guitar picks and making my rings but I don’t like the mundaneness of posting about it [on social media],” DiCiaccio fretted. In 2014, Chicago ranked second in the United States for the “Number of Fast Growing Small Businesses”, according to the annual “Inc. 5000” study from Inc. Magazine, lending support to DiCiaccio’s choice of Chicago as the location to start his business.

When we met up so that I could take photos for this article, DiCiaccio began making some picks so that I could document the process. Even after we captured the images that we needed, he continued sanding and sawing away like he was in a trance. If you ever get a chance to talk to DiCiaccio about his woodwork, it becomes very clear that the man is passionate about what he does; his eyes light up and the candor in his voice elevates to a level of happiness that you know is from his heart. His knowledge of hardwood varieties, physical properties, finishes and styles show a passion to take what he does to the next level; he doesn’t just work with the material, he is an artist with wood as his medium. Jeff is very particular in the wood that he uses. Although it is mostly sourced from a company based out of Pennsylvania, there is an occasional opportunity to use woods of more sentimental value, such as fallen shards of the oak tree in front of Burgh Hall.

Someday, you might be able to buy a DiCiaccio Guitar yourself, when Jeff’s brand is spoken in the presence of names like Martin, Taylor, and Gibson.