UIS partners with area organizations for Project X kickoff
By Heather Shaffer
The use of ecstasy, meth, and other
club drugs is on the rise in Illinois as well as across the
country. In his State of the State address last year, Governor
Rod Blagojevich announced his plan to launch Project X, a $2.5
million initiative targeting abuse of the drugs ecstasy and meth
throughout the state. The kickoff to Project X occurred at UIS on
Thursday, February 5, 2004. A number of campus leaders as well as
representatives from area organizations came together to support
the kickoff of this statewide project.
According to information provided
by the Wells Center in Jacksonville, ecstasy
and other club drugs, popular at large dance events or raves, are
now surfacing at smaller parties in homes and are quickly becoming
the choice drugs of the age group of eighteen to twenty-five.
Project X aims to provide information about prevention,
intervention and encourage enforcement in order to stop the usage
of these drugs in the state of Illinois.
In a press release on November 9,
2003, Governor Blagojevich stated, “Project X is different because
it doesn’t rely on one approach to stamp out a growing club drub
problem but rather it is three-pronged approach that uses
prevention, treatment, and enforcement. Project X is the state’s
most aggressive law enforcement crackdown against illegal
trafficking of Ecstasy and meth in the state’s history. We must
attack swiftly and aggressively to curtail the growing, dangerous
trend these drugs have on our youth.”
Project X is primarily funded
through assets confiscated from drug dealers by the Illinois State
Police. It will help to crackdown on illegal trafficking of drugs
in this state in partnership with federal, state, and local law
The Wells Center has been named one
of the nine special sites out of many other possibilities in the
Illinois to implement Project X. According to Rebecca Ward,
Intervention Specialist at the Wells Center, they will work on the
intervention portion of Project X. “We will be helping to help
parents and students learn about the dangers and warning signs of
drug usage and help prevent false information,” she said.
Project X, while providing services
in the community, will focus much of its efforts on local colleges
and universities, with a special emphasis on UIS. “UIS was named
in this grant because it is a growing school with enrollment
growing every year. UIS has many more programs and students
coming to campus that we thought it would be an important asset to
this program,” said Ward.
During the Project X Kickoff event,
Lieutenant Cherly Sims of the Illinois State Police released some
alarming statistics about drug usage in this community. “The
Central Illinois Enforcement Group has done studies that show that
usage of club drugs such as ecstasy and meth is occurring in this
area,” she said. Their investigations have shown that the
consumption of methamphetamines has almost tripled between 1998
and 2001. According to Sims, CIEG has initiated 73 investigations
of meth labs in this area.
Sara Moscato, acting CEO of the
Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association noted during
the presentation that in 2000, twenty-nine counties reported cases
of meth, while in 2002 that number was increased to forty-two.
“Meth is a statewide problem and it was cited in 2003 as being the
number one upcoming problem facing young people,” she said.
Another speaker Jeanne Hansen of
the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Alcoholism
and Substance Abuse said, “The governor wants to stop the use of
club drugs before it becomes an epidemic, as it has with other
drugs like marijuana. Hats off to him for that.”
According to Ward, this program can
be helpful in providing college students with correct knowledge
about drug usage. “College kids have a lot of knowledge, but more
knowledge about drugs is better. The goal of this program is to
provide education.” She said. Ward also noted that in college,
people are old enough to make their own decisions but this program
will attempt to provide information that could help them make
“We at the state level will do what we can to help increase
awareness to residents about the dangers of these club drugs.
Project X is a comprehensive strategy that helps parents
understand, dissuades kids from using and gives our law
enforcement the resources they need to stamp out escstacy and meth
in Illinois,” said Governor Blagojevich.
Dr. Christopher Miller, Vice
Chancellor of Student Affairs spoke on behalf of the Chancellor
and UIS Administration about their excitement of the start of
Project X. “We are pleased to be a part of this commitment to
education and prevention. As a university, we have a duty to care
when it comes to what happens on campus. When students find
themselves in trouble, part of our job is to reach out. The
mission of this campus is public service and we are pleased to be
a part of this new program,” he said.
Sculpture will be moved next to pond
By Tom Cronin
red sculpture that has stood alongside the Public Affairs Center
for nearly 14 years will soon be getting a new home. To allow for
the construction of a new quad in the center of campus, the
“Window’s Edge” sculpture will be moved to a hill north of the UIS
Bob Dixon, associate professor
emeritus of visual art, created the sculpture and said that he
agreed to its relocation. Cheryl Peck, associate chancellor for
public relations, said that she expects the sculpture to be moved
either late in the fall 2004 semester or early in the spring 2005
Jason Stuebe, Student Government
Association president, said that he was part of the group that
designed the quad, which would connect the new University Hall
with the Brookens Library, the Health & Sciences Building and PAC.
The group designed a quad that they believe will be aesthetically
pleasing and provide a “real collegiate campus feel,” but it will
be necessary to move the sculpture to construct the quad, he said.
“… [W]e’re moving forward, and
things are changing on this campus, and there comes a point where
you have to … grab the bull by the horns and say: ‘If we’re going
to make this progress, changes are going to be in order. Some
people might like the changes. Some people might not like the
changes,’” Stuebe said. “But I think overall, the best interest of
the university is at heart here, and I think it’ll add to the
Dixon said that he first heard
about the construction plans last fall from Dave Barrows, director
of UIS planning and operations.
“Basically, he told me it was
going to be cut apart and put into storage, and I said, ‘No, I
don’t think so,’” Dixon said. “Then I called the foundation.
Through collective meetings, we came to an agreement.”
The foundation accepted Dixon’s
suggestion to move the sculpture to the hill by the pond. The
location would give the sculpture a “continued presence on this
campus,” Dixon said.
“Personally, I think it’s a good
move,” Stuebe said. “… You’re going to see it from the road as
you’re driving past. If you take a walk out by the pond, you’ll
see it. It’s not like we’re burying it or anything, or we’re
putting it on some extreme appendage of the campus that no one is
ever going to see. It’ll still be seen. It’ll serve its purpose.”
The sculpture was dedicated in
1991 in honor of George C. Hoffman, a founder of Sangamon State
University. Dixon said that he designed the sculpture with the
architecture of the three surrounding buildings in mind.
“Placement of the work was
specifically designated to sit within the center of the three
buildings because it had a relationship to the campus and the
architecture,” he said. “By moving it to the new location, it
stands alone, but may very well represent the campus even by being
away from its particular site now. I do think that it will take on
a whole new aesthetic meaning, but I believe that it will be
Dixon said that he proposed the
addition of a sculpture garden and a Japanese tea garden to the
land that would surround the sculpture at its new location. The
proposal is still under consideration, he said.
Unlike most universities, UIS
doesn’t recognize public art as much as it should, Dixon said.
“Frankly, we are a university of contemporary thought,” he said.
“There should be a university of contemporary art instead of
continued support for Wal-Mart décor.”
Dixon said he thinks that the
university should form a committee to examine ways to add more
sculptures and other works of public art to the campus.
“I think the potential’s here,
and I think it is going to happen,” Dixon said. “It’ll be small
steps, but it will happen. There’s enough enthusiasm, enough art
appreciation by the administration that it’s inevitable that it
will come about.”