April 27, 2005
|Volume 22, Issue 27|
By Jason Satek - SGA/General Assignment Reporter
A panel discussion regarding harassment and bullying in schools took place at the University of Illinois-Springfield Brookens Auditorium on Monday the 25 th , highlighted by the participation of United States Congressman John Shimkus.
Shimkus, a West Point graduate and current officer in the Army Reserve, is the 5-term Republican Representative for the 19 th District. He introduced House Resolution 284 in January of this year, along with Democratic Congressman Danny Davis of the 7 th District in Chicago, that would seek to amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA) to include specific mention of Bullying and Harassment.
As defined by the briefing material provided, Bullying implies conduct that adversely affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from school educational programs or activities by repeated negative actions by one or more students that creates a reasonable fear of physical harm. Harassment is similar, with an inability to participate or benefit because of offensive conduct based on a student's actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or other factors.
Originally created in 1986 as a reaction to high rates of drug and alcohol use by students, SDFSCA was DFSCA until the Safe portion was added in 1994. It was reauthorized again by the “No Child Left Behind” Act of 2001, providing federal monies to states for assessment, treatment and prevention programs.
Referred recently to the Subcommittee on Education Reform, HR. 284 currently has twenty-four cosponsors. Notable among these are Rep. Ray LaHood [IL-18], Rep. Jerry Costello [IL-12], Rep. Mark Steven Kirk [IL-10], Rep. Daniel Lipinski [IL-3], Rep. Timothy V. Johnson [IL-15], and Nebraska Rep. Tom Osborne, Educational Psychology PhD. and former coach of the University of Nebraska football team.
In assessing H.R. 284's chances for a vote, Shimkus stated he “needed to get the number of cosponsors up to get the attention of the Chairman of the Committee. It is not imminent”. Ryan Tracy, a spokesman for Rep. Shimkus later estimated that it would require roughly two hundred cosponsors to achieve that tipping point, but noted, “We haven't begun to push it yet”.
Other members on the panel included UIS Associate Professor Allan Cook, Kristin Allen of the Boys and Girls Club, Mark Schwartz of the Youth Service Bureau and Julie Grove, the Coordinator of District 186-Safe and Drug Free Schools. Each of the panelists expressed concern over the subject of bullying in schools and answered questions from the audience.
Topics from the unfortunate stigma of bullying being a “rite of passage” and the lack of concern by parents of children not involved, to the particular difficulties of gay and lesbian students and the evolving 21 st century “cyber bullying” (termed by Grove to cover the harmful use of communication technology like text messaging, paging, and instant messaging to convey threats) were discussed with the panelists speaking about their experiences.
Possible solutions were also discussed, with opinions expressed for more societal education to minimize perceived differences, engaging the “silent majority” of bystanders to be more of a deterrent, and changing cultural attitude to be less “mean” and to be less accepting of the practice.
Acknowledging bullying as a long-standing practice, panel participants cited smoking and sexual harassment as societal attitudes changed through public opinion shifts. With those examples as guide, their cause could be seen as achievable and the seventy-minute roundtable concluded with an optimist note.
By Mallory Medved - Copy Editor
Brush off those gowns and straighten those tassels, people – graduation is closer than you think. On Saturday, May 7, UIS will hold its 34 th Commencement Ceremony, sending this year's crop of seniors into the world, freshly-minted diplomas in hand.
This year's ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. at the Prairie Capital Convention Center , located at 9 th and Adams streets downtown.
According to a release on UIS's website, the featured commencement speaker this year will be Phillip Zeni, a publisher, author, Internet pioneer and executive of Orban/CRL, which manufactures broadcast audio equipment. He's also a UIS alumnus.
Besides Zeni a student, a representative from the Board of Trustees, UI President White and Chancellor Ringeisen will speak to the soon-to-be graduates.
This year, UIS reaches another milestone when its first class of Capital Scholars graduates. About 60 will take the walk on May 7, hailing from all four colleges – Business and Management, Education and Human Services, Liberal Arts and Sciences and Public Affairs and Administration – says Ryan Morrison, senior.
Doors open at 1 p.m. on the day of the ceremony, but be warned: tickets are required for admission up until 15 minutes prior to the ceremony. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
For those who can't make it to the ceremony, it will be webcast live at www.uis.edu/technology/uislive.html and will also be broadcast on Public Access Channel 4 later that night.
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