Advocacy groups are pushing state Illinois lawmakers to pass domestic violence firearms bill

by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection

Illinois enacted a "red flag" gun law in 2018 that gives courts authority to use emergency orders to remove guns from people who are a danger to themselves and others. However, Illinois has rarely used such emergency orders.
CHICAGO - Domestic violence and gun violence prevention advocates are urging the Illinois General Assembly to pass a bill to strengthen state laws protecting people who file restraining orders.

The proposed law is named for domestic violence victim Karina Gonzalez, who was shot and killed by her husband. The measure would require law enforcement officers to quickly remove guns from people who have orders of protection against them.

Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network, says Karina's Bill would close numerous loopholes in the current law.

"Karina's Bill will clarify and strengthen the law to give law enforcement a clear directive to remove the firearm from the home when an order of protection is granted with the firearm remedy by a judge," she contended. "So this isn't something that survivors can do on their own."

Gonzalez and her 15-year-old daughter were shot and killed shortly after obtaining a restraining order in July against her husband Jose Alvarez. Backers are asking legislators to pass the bill during the year-end session, which begins October 24th. Gun rights advocates oppose it, claiming it violates the Second Amendment.

Illinois enacted a "red flag" gun law in 2018 that gives courts authority to use emergency orders to remove guns from people who are a danger to themselves and others. However, Illinois has rarely used such emergency orders.

State Sen. Celina Villanueva, D-Chicago, said the presence of firearms in the home significantly increases the likelihood of death or serious injury.

"One research study of intimate partner homicides found that among victims who had orders of protection, one-fifth of victims were killed within two days of the order being issued. About one-third were killed within a month. This is unacceptable," she continued.

Records show that Gonzalez reported her husband's abusive behavior to the police and took out an order of protection against him. The order required Alvarez to voluntarily surrender the gun and move out of the house. He did neither. Alvarez was charged with first-degree murder and is being held without bail.

Related articles:

How social media fuels today's gun violence - ‘All We Want Is Revenge’
Juan Campos has been working to save at-risk teens from gun violence for 16 years.

As a street outreach worker in Oakland, California, he has seen the pull and power of gangs. And he offers teens support when they’ve emerged from the juvenile justice system, advocates for them in school, and, if needed, helps them find housing, mental health services, and treatment for substance abuse.

But, he said, he’s never confronted a force as formidable as social media, where small boasts and disputes online can escalate into deadly violence in schoolyards and on street corners.

As gun violence is rises to epidemic levels, many traumatized Americans now live in fear
A majority of Americans say they or a family member has experienced gun violence, such as witnessing a shooting, being threatened by a person with a gun, or being shot, according to a sweeping new survey. The national survey of 1,271 adults conducted by KFF revealed the severe physical and psychological harm exacted by firearm violence, especially in minority communities.

Fighting Illini Open women's tennis tournament starts November 6

Lorilei Yau lines up a winning shot while playing a high school match against Centennial in August. The Urbana senior and a state-qualifier in tennis this season, along with other area tennis players and fans, will have the opportunity to watch some of the top female tennis athletes in the world compete at the Fighting Illini Open from November 6-13 at Atkins Tennis Center.
Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

URBANA - Atkins Tennis Center, located on the University of Illinois campus, will host the area's final women's professional tennis tournament of the year on November 6-13. The Fighting Illini Open will be a unique opportunity for central Illinois tennis players and fans to see rising stars on the ladies' side of the sport and top players from all over the world. Thirty-two singles players and 16 double pairs will compete for a $15,000 purse during the first full week of November.

Last year's title was won by China's Fangran Tian, who defeated Ania Hertel from Poland in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. The 20-year-old rolled through the bracket without dropping a set.

Fangran, who was ranked 1,138 in the world by the International Tennis Federation, has won three more W15 hardcourt tournament titles since visited the home of the Fighting Illini Womens Tennis program. Now a sophomore on the UCLA roster, she picked up titles and prize money at tournaments this summer in Rancho Santa Fe (CA), San Diego, and Los Angeles, pushing her international ranking to a career-high 512.

Katherine Duong, a junior at the University of Illinois last November, battled her way from a wildcard entry to a semifinal match against Sara Daavettila, who is currently ranked 525 by the Womens Tennis Association. Doung fell 6-3, 6-2, ending her 2022 run but not before winning matches over Swiss Sophie Luescher (6-4, 6-1), Great Britain's Tiffany William (6-3, 6-3), and Wisconsin University frosh Maria Sholokhova (7-5, 6-4) from Sochi, Russia.

This year's tournament draw and results can be found on X (formally known as Twitter) at @illiniProTennis or on the official tournament website at For more information contact Atkins Tennis Center at (217) 244-8562.

4 tips for a healthier Halloween

Illustration by S. Bartels/Pixabay
Brandpoint - Candy, sweets and seasonal treats - it's officially dessert season, and you may be starting to think about how you'll stay on track with your nutrition goals this year. While there's nothing wrong with a little indulgence, it can be overwhelming when the kids bring home their overflowing bags of candy.

"We're coming up on several months of holidays and it's so fun to celebrate with our favorite candy and treats," says Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., registered dietitian and Quest endorser. "But there can be too much of a good thing, so it's important to take some proactive steps to stay on track while also enjoying yourself."

Kirkpatrick is dishing out her tips on how to make this year's trick-or-treat season festive while sticking with healthy behaviors when it comes to candy and sweets.

1. Watch out for "snack-sized" portions.

A "fun-sized" or "snack-sized" piece of candy may seem harmless, but a common misconception is that this smaller candy is healthy for you, according to Kirkpatrick. However, even a snack-sized candy bar is high in sugar. And because they're small, you may be tempted to eat several pieces, sometimes even more than a standard-sized serving. Instead, be mindful. Keep track of how many snack-sized treats you eat to ensure you're not overindulging.

2. Opt for smart swaps.

Choosing a candy option that has more protein and isn't packed with sugar and net carbs, such as the Quest Chocolatey Coated Peanut Candies, can allow you to stick to your nutrition goals while still enjoying a sweet treat. With 10 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar per serving, this treat delivers the crunch, sweetness and might help "scare" away the candy cravings you might experience during Halloween. If you prefer traditional candy, choose a kind that has a little fiber (such as nut-based candy). This can help fill you up quicker, meaning you may eat less overall.

You can also stock up on healthier options for snacks and treats for your kids - and yourself. For example, you can find snack servings of popcorn, pretzels, cheddar crackers, trail mix and dried fruit.

3. Fuel up before trick-or-treating. Before you head out the door for a night of spooky fun and candy hunting, be sure to serve your family a nutritious, balanced meal with protein and fiber. This can help your kids feel full and energized and may prevent them from overindulging on sweets later in the night.

4. Share your sweets with others.

After a long night of trick-or-treating, sit down with your kids and help them go through their stash. Have them pick out a few of their favorite candies, then talk to them about the benefits of sharing and allow them the opportunity to give to others. Ask your local food pantry or shelter to see if they are accepting Halloween candy. This can help your family make healthy choices after Halloween while also donating to a good cause.

If you're not able to donate the treats, consider freezing it for later or using it for baking during the holiday season.

Consider these tips to make managing Halloween candy in your house a little easier this year. And for more sweet swaps, check out

Comfortly scared; climate change takes fall chill out of air for Halloween trick-or-treaters

by Mark Richardson
Illinois News Connection

Parents should keep a close eye on the Halloween weather forecast and dress kids appropriately if they're going trick-or-treating.
As Halloween approaches, cooler temperatures will spread over Illinois. But weather experts say climate change is making October nights across the Midwest warmer, more often than not.

According to a new analysis from the nonprofit Climate Central, fall evening temperatures in the United States have warmed by nearly two degrees on average since 1970. It's even higher in cities such as Chicago and Peoria, which have seen increases of more than three degrees when comparing minimum temps.

Climate Central meteorologist Lauren Casey said it doesn't just affect traditional fall activities.

Photo: Charles Parker/PEXELS
"The extension of the allergy season can be a nuisance for some people who are sneezing and sniffling," she said, "but much more burdensome for people with other, more serious respiratory issues, like asthma."

Casey said parents should keep a close eye on the Halloween weather forecast and dress kids appropriately if they're going trick-or-treating. She also pointed out that mosquito season is being extended, too. To help mitigate these trends in the longer term, Casey said, Illinois residents should do what they can to avoid energy sources from fossil fuels.

Casey said adapting to these changes is another important step so that folks aren't caught off guard when the calendar flips to November.

"You can best prepare if you do have asthma, if you are potentially susceptible to mosquito-borne illnesses," she said, "all these things which can impact our everyday lives."

For prolonged allergy seasons, health experts have said vulnerable people should put some time and research into establishing a medication regimen that works for them. Meanwhile, Casey said the warmer weather results in heavier rain events, which attract more mosquitoes. She suggested being more mindful of areas of standing water as the fall drags on.

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Season cut short

TOLONO - Ruby Tarr and teammates from the Unity volleyball team react while players from the opposing team celebrate their first-round postseason match at the Rocket Center. Tarr and the Rockets' season came to an end after facing Warrensburg-Latham on their home court on Monday. After taking the first set 25-13, Unity dropped the pair, 27-25, 25-15. UHS finished with a 16-17-1 record and closed out the regular seasono 7th in the Illini Prairie Conference. Follow this link to view more match photos ...

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Unity Junior High 8th Grade Honor Roll announced

TOLONO - Last week, Unity Junior High School announced the names of eight-grade students who achieved honor roll and high honor roll status after the third quarter. Congratulations to the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.

High Honor Roll

Cameron Pierre Barnes
Patrick Benjamin Baxley
Cooper Charles Beckett
Brilynn Creola Cain
Jackson Christopher Cheely
Soren Lovell Davis
Andrew Patrick Donovan
Dillon Michael Ellars
Kaylee Grace Estes
Carson David Fairbanks
Cohen Fincham
Reagan Elizabeth Lisle Fisher
Jordan Stephen Harmon
Brady Cullen Harris
Roman James Hastings
Tessa Lynn Horn
Karleigh Grace Jamison
Lincoln Banner Johnson
Joseph Brooks Kamradt
Tatum Anne Kirby
Bryan Michael Kleiss
Tysen Mac McConaha
Nolan Mark Tempel Meharry
Dalton Robert Moose
Rhianna Olivia Ocasio
Larissa Marie Parr
Kandace Lachelle Reed
Caleb Arthur Saxon
Carter Charles Schmid
Ava Sommer
Kole David VanSickle
Gavin James Warren
Sawyer Allen Franks Weller
John William White
Austin James Wiersema
Olivia Ann Williams
Olivia Ruth Witheft
Cole Thomas Zorns

Honor Roll

Joseph William Willard Baird
Beckam Krystopher-Wayde Brown
Sadie Jo Carpenter
Madison Grace Castor
Skyler Andrew Chilton
Garrisan Martin Cler
Devlin Davis
Shamya Merari Davis
Kinzey Nicole Duitsman
Zoe Margaret Fish
Shae Lin Fournier
Mackinzee Brooke Gumm
Nathaniel Howard Hammer
Hallie Lynn Handal
Adien Hanes
Brooke Raelynn Henson
Joel Ryan Hoewing
Khison Able Kern
Kane William Knudsen
Jax Hunter Logsdon
Clint Michael McCormick
Lilly Jean-Elizabeth Moore
Payten Renee Niles
Clayton Wyatt Pruitt
Journee Lynn Ring
Lillian Yvonne Ring
James Rohn
Riley May Schendel
Caleb Joshua Siegwald
Ian James Skibbe
Bradley Scott Smith Jr
Bodie Springer
Kelsie Sue Lynn Tritchler
Lylliana G Trujillo
Wyatt R VanDyke
Taydyn Kawvin Dewayne Wilson
Reece Earl Winfrey
Makaylah Winland

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Unity Junior High First-Quarter 7th Grade Honor Roll

TOLONO - Last week, Unity Junior High School announced the names of seventh-grade students who achieved honor roll and high honor roll status after the third quarter. Congratulations to the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.

High Honor Roll

Kelsey Marie Adcock
Kenny Wayne Adcock
Lilly Annabelle Bailes
Ethan Earl Bent
Katherine Elaine Berkey
Konnor Lewis Bletscher
Kale Boden Cowan
Trevor Daniel Coy
Hayden Bradley Grussing
Kynedy Ashlynn Hoel
Alivia Krall
Adeline Marie Marinelli
Tatum Faith Meharry
Baeden Edward Millsap-Moore
Kelvin Justus Moose
Holden William ONeill
Jaxon David Pendleton
Carolina Maria Pagaduan Popovics
Luc Sandor Marcelo Popovics
Maxwell Douglas Powers
Marina Ray Price
Bella Rose Robbins
Skylar Grace Savona
Connor Allen Schwartz-Rouse
Jaylan Serczyk
Austin David Shafer
Vivian Rosalie Shunk
Hayden Dale Smith
Dylan Robert Stierwalt
Olivia Jane Styan
Nicholas James Thomas
Hayley Olivia Thompson
Cassandra Pearl Thweatt
Charles Reider Watson
Quentin Stephen Webber
Za'Brya White-Thompson
Aria Marley Shafer
Daisy Mae Stierwalt
Clementine Lucille Summitt
Silas Richard Swim
Jaycob David Tatman
Justin Michael Tempel

Honor Roll

Brooklyn Blair Bates
Elizabeth Joanne Berkey
Alec Joseph Daly
McKenzie Lynn Deakin
Emma Nicole Denney
Katelyn Dhom
Ian Robert Gaines
Keelie Rae Germano
Amelia Marie Good
Aubrie Paige Gumm
Jordan Elizabeth Hamilton
Cora Dee Leonard
Owen Michael Lighty
Russell Patrick McCabe
Scarlet Rosemary McCann
Lane Lucas Meharry
Lilly Madelyn Meharry
Ellery Merkle
Lillian Calen Mohr
Jacklynn Kay Alexandra Moore
Maya Alexis Rawdin
Henry Scott Ritchie
Madelyn Olivia Roth-Robertson
Grace Catherine Schriefer
Sophia Isabella Schuckman
Jasper Lee Souza
Tucker Douglas Stierwalt
Virgil Laurence Summitt
Jack Christopher Terven
Jayden Michael Terven
Deklyn James Thomas
Hallee Ann Weber Patterson
Ethan Matthew Wishall
Ashton Jace Wolf
Adam Scott Wolken

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Unity Junior High 6th Grade First-Quarter Honor Roll

TOLONO - Last week, Unity Junior High School announced the names of sixth-grade students who achieved honor roll and high honor roll status in the third quarter. Congratulations to the students who earned the requisite grade point average to celebrate the honor.

High Honor Roll

Maylie Rose Bates
Rya Jolee Bialeschki
Nora Kristina Blanchard
Brailey Marie Cain
Viola Ayame Carman
Lydia Grace Crowe
Elizabeth Irene Davidson
Bronson Edwin Davis
Quentin Xavier Dykeman
Brady Gallagher Eckstein
Beau Richard Eisenmenger
Alarik Byrum Ellison
Cooper Alexander Fairbanks
Hayden Marie Gabbard
Lena Anne Guild Borchers
Natalie May Gumbel-Paeth
Jessica Marie Hamilton
Dylan Paul Holladay
Gabriel Heinrich Jahnel
Allie Rose Kamradt
Molly Kathryn Lydia Kleiss
John Isaac "Isaac" Leaman
Adeliah June Little
Adelyn Jolene Maxwell
Owen Thomas Menacher
Finn Alexander Merkle
Graham Charles Moore
Ashley Ann Mumm
Nicole Nava Palomares
Jordan William Pruitt
Avery Elizabeth Remole
Riker Alan Rogers
Kyle Sean Roosevelt
Camdon Levi Schmid
Nora Julianna Shields
Drake Alan Siuts
Cashtyn Ryder Sutherland
Owen Robert Vasey
Kadence Ryleigh Wiese
Alexis LeAnn Wolken
Alivia RaeLyn Wolken
Brendan Kurtis Zerrusen

Honor Roll

Ashlyn Nicole Alt
Kaylee Jo Black
Isaac Mathew Boitnott
Rowan Bryant
Harper Christine Causey
Raeann Loucille Cozad
Kylee Paulette Cunningham
Olivia Kate Davis
Greyson Zachary DeHart
Savannah Jo Drewes
Collin Daniel Eckstein
Tinsley Layne Elliott
Kenzlee Rae Evans
Nadia Grace Fairbanks
Evelyn Anne Gould
Libbey Marlene Ethel Griffin
Casen Quartez Harden-Powell
Harper Quinn Harris
Addilynn Mae Hatfield
Mason James Holladay
William Timothy Huntington
Finnegan Samuel Bowie Isberg
Matthew Stephen Kroes
Azaria Christianne Lisanby
Jack Thomas Ludwinski
Collin Danger Manion
Lillith Rose Meuser-Willis
Caylynn Josie Parker
Ellie Rose Parker-Johnson
Maxwell Tyler Pound
Raelyn Marie Prosser
Makena Jade Pruitt
Payton May Richards
Liam Joseph Ryan
Jonah Ryan Schriefer
Layla Marie Scott
Aria Marley Shafer
Daisy Mae Stierwalt
Clementine Lucille Summitt
Silas Richard Swim
Jaycob David Tatman
Justin Michael Tempel
Annabelle Patricia Thorman
Meah Ann Tieman
Colby Aaron Weaver
Lucy Jeane Weaver
William Ross Wetherell
Phoebe Ashlynn Witheft

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America's rising "War on Culture" is becoming a factor in choosing the right college

Thousands of students visit Quad Day on the University of Illinois campus in 2003. The university hosts hundreds of student-lead recreational, social and political organizations each semester.
Photo: PhotoNews Media Archives

Students have long picked schools based on their academic reputations and social life.

By Jon Marcus
for The Hechinger Report and courtesy Illinois News Connection

When Angel Amankwaah traveled from Denver to North Carolina Central University for incoming student orientation this summer, she decided she had made the right choice.

She had fun learning the chants that fans perform at football games. But she also saw that “there are students who look like me, and professors who look like me” at the historically Black university, said Amankwaah, 18, who is Black. “I knew that I was in a safe space.”

This has now become an important consideration for college-bound students from all backgrounds and beliefs.

Students have long picked schools based on their academic reputations and social life. But with campuses in the crosshairs of the culture wars, many students are now also taking stock of attacks on diversity, course content, and speech and speakers from both ends of the political spectrum. They’re monitoring hate crimes, anti-LGBTQ legislation, state abortion laws and whether students like them — Black, rural, military veterans, LGBTQ or from other backgrounds — are represented and supported on campus.

“There’s no question that what’s happening at the state level is directly affecting these students,” said Alyse Levine, founder and CEO of Premium Prep, a private college admissions consulting firm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. When they look at colleges in various states now, she said, “There are students who are asking, ‘Am I really wanted here?’ ”

For some students on both sides of the political divide, the answer is no. In the chaotic new world of American colleges and universities, many say they feel unwelcome at certain schools, while others are prepared to shut down speakers and report faculty with whose opinions they disagree.

It’s too early to know how much this trend will affect where and whether prospective students end up going to college, since publicly available enrollment data lags real time. But there are early clues that it’s having a significant impact.

One in four prospective students has already ruled out a college or university for consideration because of the political climate in its state, according to a survey by the higher education consulting firm Art & Science Group.

Students from a campus club demonstrate Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art and game that includes elements of dance, acrobatics, music and spirituality at Quad Day in 2003.
Photo: PhotoNews Media Archives

Among students who describe themselves as liberal, the most common reason to rule out colleges and universities in a particular state, that survey found, is because it’s “too Republican” or has what they consider lax gun regulations, anti-LGBTQ legislation, restrictive abortion laws and a lack of concern about racism. Students who describe themselves as conservative are rejecting states they believe to be “too Democrat” and that have liberal abortion and gay-rights laws.

One in eight high school students in Florida say they won’t go to a public university in their own state because of its education policies.

With so much attention focused on these issues, The Hechinger Report has created a first-of-its-kind College Welcome Guide showing state laws and institutional policies that affect college and university students, from bans on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and “critical race theory” to rules about whether student IDs are accepted as proof of residency for voting purposes.

The interactive guide also lists, for every four-year institution in the country, such things as racial and gender diversity among students and faculty, the number of student veterans enrolled, free-speech rankings, the incidence of on-campus race-motivated hate crimes and if the university or college serves many students from rural places.

Sixty percent of prospective students of all backgrounds say new state restrictions on abortion would at least somewhat influence where they choose to go to college, a separate poll by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation found. Of these, eight in 10 say they would prefer to go to a state with greater access to reproductive health services. (Lumina is among the funders of The Hechinger Report.)

“We have many young women who will not look at certain states,” said Levine. One of her own clients backed out of going to a university in St. Louis after Missouri banned almost all abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, she said.

Institutions in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Texas are the most likely to be knocked off the lists of liberal students, according to the Art & Science Group survey, while conservative students avoid California and New York.

One in eight high school students in Florida say they won’t go to a public university in their own state because of its education policies, a separate poll, by the college ranking and information website, found.

With 494 anti-LGBTQ laws proposed or adopted this year, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, prospective students who are LGBTQ and have experienced significant harassment because of it are nearly twice as likely to say they don’t plan to go to college at all than students who experienced lower levels of harassment, according to a survey by GLSEN, formerly the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

“You are attacking kids who are already vulnerable,” said Javier Gomez, an LGBTQ student in his first year at Miami Dade College. “And it’s not just queer students. So many young people are fed up.”

It’s not yet evident whether the new laws are affecting where LGBTQ young people are choosing to go to college, said Casey Pick, director of law and policy at The Trevor Project, which supports LGBTQ young people in crisis. But LGBTQ adults are moving away from states passing anti-LGBTQ laws, she said. And “if adult employees are taking this into account when they decide where they want to live, you can bet that college students are making the same decisions.”

Students protest Israel's Independence Day on the Quad in May 2006. Universities have always been an environment for political and cultural awareness and ideas. Today, campuses are becoming more hostile to diversity in race, religion, and sexual orientation.

Meanwhile, in an era of pushback against diversity, equity and inclusion policies in many states, and against affirmative action nationwide, Amankwaah is one of a growing number of Black students choosing what they see as the relative security of an HBCU. Enrollment at HBCUs increased by around 3 percent in 2021, the last year for which the figure is available, while the number of students at other universities and colleges fell.

College students of all races and political persuasions report feeling uncomfortable on campuses that have become political battlegrounds.

“The real attack here is on the feeling of belonging,” said Jeremy Young, who directs the Freedom to Learn program at PEN America, which tracks laws that restrict college and university diversity efforts and teaching about race. “What it really does is hoist a flag to say to the most marginalized students, ‘We don’t want you here.’ ”

More than 40 percent of university and college administrators say the Supreme Court ruling curbing the use of affirmative action in admissions will affect diversity on their campuses, a Princeton Review poll found as the school year was beginning.

College students of all races and political persuasions report feeling uncomfortable on campuses that have become political battlegrounds. Those on the left are bristling at new laws blocking programs in diversity, equity and inclusion and the teaching of certain perspectives about race; on the right, at conservative speakers being shouted down or canceled, unpopular comments being called out in class and what they see as an embrace of values different from what they learned at home.

One Michigan father said he supported his son’s decision to skip college. Other parents, he said, are discouraging their kids from going, citing “binge-drinking, hookup culture, secular teachings, a lopsided leftist faculty mixed with anti-Americanism, anti-capitalism, anti-free speech and a diversity, equity and inclusion emphasis” that he said is at odds with a focus on merit. The father asked that his name not be used so that his comments didn’t reflect on his daughter, who attends a public university.

More than one in 10 students at four-year universities now say they feel as if they downright don’t belong on their campus, and another two in 10 neither agree nor strongly agree that they belong, another Lumina and Gallup survey found. It found that those who answer in these ways are more likely to frequently experience stress and more likely to drop out. One in four Hispanic students report frequently or occasionally feeling unsafe or experiencing disrespect, discrimination or harassment.

Military veterans who use their G.I. Bill benefits to return to school say one of their most significant barriers is a feeling that they won’t be welcome, a survey by the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University found. Nearly two-thirds say that faculty and administrators don’t understand the challenges they face, and 70 percent say the same thing about their non-veteran classmates.

Colleges should be “safe and affirming spaces,” said Pick, of the Trevor Project — not places of isolation and alienation.

An anthropology lecturer at the University of Chicago who taught an undergraduate course called “The Problem of Whiteness” said she was deluged with hateful messages when a conservative student posted her photo and email address on social media.

Yet a significant number of students say they don’t feel comfortable sharing their views in class, according to another survey, conducted by College Pulse for the right-leaning Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth at North Dakota State University. Of those, 72 percent say they worry their opinions would be considered unacceptable by classmates and 45 percent, by their professors. Conservative students are less likely than their liberal classmates to believe that all points of view are welcome and less willing to share theirs.

“Is that really an intellectually diverse environment?” asked Sean Stevens, director of polling and analytics at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, or FIRE, which has launched a campus free-speech ranking based on students’ perceptions of comfort expressing ideas, tolerance for speakers and other measures.

“Anecdotally and from personal experience, there’s certainly a pocket of students who are weighing these factors in terms of where to go to college,” Stevens said.

Eighty-one percent of liberal students and 53 percent of conservative ones say they support reporting faculty who make comments that they find offensive, the same survey found. It used sample comments such as, “There is no evidence of anti-Black bias in police shootings,” “Requiring vaccination for COVID is an assault on individual freedom” and “Biological sex is a scientific fact.”

A professor at Texas A&M University was put under investigation when a student accused her of criticizing the state’s lieutenant governor during a lecture, though she was ultimately exonerated. An anthropology lecturer at the University of Chicago who taught an undergraduate course called “The Problem of Whiteness” said she was deluged with hateful messages when a conservative student posted her photo and email address on social media.

More than half of all freshmen say that colleges have the right to ban extreme speakers, according to an annual survey by an institute at UCLA; the College Pulse poll says that sentiment is held by twice the proportion of liberal students as conservative ones.

An appearance by a conservative legal scholar who spoke at Washington College in Maryland last month was disrupted by students because of his positions about LGBTQ issues and abortion. The subject: free speech on campus.

Many conservative critics of colleges and universities say faculty are indoctrinating students with liberal opinions.

A group of Stanford students in March disrupted an on-campus speech by a federal judge whose judicial record they said was anti-LGBTQ. When he asked for an administrator to intervene, an associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion confronted him and asked: “Is it worth the pain that this causes and the division that this causes?” The associate dean was put on leave and later resigned.

“Today it is a sad fact that the greatest threat to free speech comes from within the academy,” pronounced the right-leaning American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which is pushing colleges to sign on to its Campus Freedom Initiative that encourages teaching students about free expression during freshman orientation and disciplining people who disrupt speakers or events, among other measures.

University of Illinois
The University of Illinois welcomes students from all backgrounds who wish to pursue a higher education.
Photo: PhotoNews Media Archives

“I have to imagine that universities that have a bad track record on freedom of expression or academic freedom, that it will affect their reputations,” said Steven Maguire, the organization’s campus freedom fellow. “I do hear people saying things like, ‘I’m worried about what kind of a college or university I can send my kids to and whether they’ll be free to be themselves and to express themselves.’ ”

Some colleges are now actively recruiting students on the basis of these kinds of concerns. Colorado College in September created a program to ease the process for students who want to transfer away from institutions in states that have banned diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives; Hampshire College in Massachusetts has offered admission to any student from New College in Florida, subject of what critics have described as a conservative takeover. Thirty-five have so far accepted the invitation.

Though many conservative critics of colleges and universities say faculty are indoctrinating students with liberal opinions, incoming freshmen tend to hold left-leaning views before they ever set foot in a classroom, according to that UCLA survey.

Fewer than one in five consider themselves conservative. Three-quarters say abortion should be legal and favor stricter gun control laws, 68 percent say wealthy people should pay more taxes than they do now and 86 percent that climate change should be a federal priority and that there should be a clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Prospective students say they are watching as new laws are passed and controversies erupt on campuses, and actively looking into not just the quality of food and available majors at the colleges they might attend, but state politics.

“Once I decided I was going to North Carolina Central, I looked up whether North Carolina was a red state or a blue state,” Amankwaah said. (North Carolina has a Democrat as governor but Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and hold a veto-proof supermajority in the state Senate.)

Florida’s anti-LGBTQ laws prompted Javier Gomez to leave his native state and move to New York to go to fashion school. But then he came back, transferring to Miami Dade.

“People ask me, ‘Why the hell are you back in Florida?’ ” said Gomez. “The reason I came back was that there was this innate calling in me that you have to stick around and fight for the queer and trans kids here. It’s overwhelming at times. It can be very mentally depleting. But I wanted to stay and continue the fight and build community against hatred.”

Jon Marcus wrote this article for The Hechinger Report. This article is provided by the Illinois News Connection.

Spartans win game 7th game on the road

St. Joseph-Ogden's Wyatt Wertz stiff-arms Paxton-Buckley-Loda's Xander Campbell while running the ball in the fourth quarter. The Spartans (7-2) rolled to a 50-21 win in their final regular season contest on Friday. After the game, both SJO and PBL qualified for this year's state football playoff. The Spartans will face Carlinville at home on Saturday at 2pm. Meanwhile, the Panthers (5-4) will travel to Princeton to take on the 8-1 Tigers. Wertz finished the game with 20 yards on two carries.
PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

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Ryan Miller runs throught the banner during team introductions before the start of St. Joseph-Ogden's home game against Rantoul back on September 7, 2018. The Spartans defeated the visiting Eagles 21-6 to go 2-0 on the season. SJO hosts Rantoul this Friday at Dick Duval Field and will recognize this year's senior class prior...

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