WBEZ | Northeastern Illinois University http://www.wbez.org/tags/northeastern-illinois-university Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en NEIU expansion invokes eminent domain http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neiu-expansion-invokes-eminent-domain-110461 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 6.17.23 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Northeastern Illinois University is taking a big gamble: that if it finally builds on-campus housing, it can reverse declining student enrollment. But the way the university&rsquo;s going about this has upset some neighbors. The university plans to acquire the properties through eminent domain, leaving owners on one block of W Bryn Mawr Ave. with little say in the matter.</p><p>Depending on who&rsquo;s speaking, the 3400 block of W Bryn Mawr Ave. could be described as &ldquo;sleepy,&rdquo; &ldquo;stagnant,&rdquo; or &ldquo;depressed.&rdquo; But nearly every storefront is occupied. On the south side sit a Chinese restaurant, dental clinic, hair salon, and hookah cafe. On the north side, a travel agency, real estate agency, bank, and 7-11.</p><p>On a recent morning, two surveyors were casing the street. They said they were there for &ldquo;the university,&rdquo; measuring the dimensions of the buildings and their properties. The information could go into an appraisal of the properties&rsquo; values.</p><p>&ldquo;My grandfather developed this building in 1954 and built it from the ground up,&rdquo; Dolly Tong said, about her family&rsquo;s property at 3411 W Bryn Mawr, which now houses a Chinese restaurant called Hunan Wok. Tong and her siblings were raised in the apartment above the restaurant space, and she still lives there with her elderly mother, whom she describes as severely disabled.</p><p>Tong said she and her siblings are only able to care for their mother with the rent they receive from leasing out the restaurant. So last winter, when they received a letter from NEIU stating that it intended to acquire the property for some compensation, she was devastated.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re already feeling now this impending doom that they&rsquo;re going to take away our family&rsquo;s legacy,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard.&rdquo;</p><p>Five other property owners are facing the same prospect, including the parents of John Boudouvas. His family owns the parcels just east of Tong&rsquo;s. Boudouvas said when his family received their letter from NEIU, he accompanied his parents to speak with a university lawyer about it. They told the lawyer they didn&rsquo;t want to sell.</p><p>&ldquo;And he goes, &lsquo;well, the university wants it, and they&rsquo;re going to eventually end up getting it,&rsquo;&rdquo; Boudouvas recalled. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s when I paused and I looked at him and I said, &lsquo;well, how can you guys use eminent domain?&rsquo; And as I said that I realized the university is owned by the state.&rdquo;</p><p>Eminent domain is the right of a government to take private property for its own use. It has to offer those property owners compensation. But Boudouvas, Tong, and other property owners say NEIU&rsquo;s offer was pitiful. And they all want to know the same thing: Why won&rsquo;t the university build on property it already owns?<br /><br />&ldquo;I think it is a really good question,&rdquo; said Dr. Sharon Hahs, President of NEIU. Hahs said a 2008 student housing feasibility study identified a second site for student housing, in addition to the block on Bryn Mawr Ave. It sits on Foster Ave., on the south end of the campus, by the athletic fields.</p><p>&ldquo;The answer lies somewhat in what is the most help to the community sooner,&rdquo; said Hahs.</p><p>The university is planning two large multi- use buildings -- one on each side of Bryn Mawr.&nbsp; The ground floor would feature new retail and restaurants.&nbsp; Above those, enough dorm rooms would be built to fit 500 beds. Hahs hopes the project will set off a domino effect of revitalization, extending east down Bryn Mawr.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to change the character of the neighborhood,&rdquo; Hahs said. &ldquo;It is economically depressed. And something will have to change for that to occur.&rdquo;</p><p>While the university frames its decision as a desire to inject some economic pep into the slumbering Hollywood-North Park neighborhood, it&rsquo;s also about the school&rsquo;s survival. Last fall, NEIU enrollment dipped below 11,000 for the first time since 2001. Hahs is focused on reversing that by recruiting a greater number of students from more than fifty miles away. But she said that won&rsquo;t work if the university does not offer housing for them to live in, or the amenities of a lively, young neighborhood.</p><p>The plan threatens to split the community into two camps. For Janita Tucker, who owns a home several blocks west of NEIU, this has been a long time coming.</p><p>&ldquo;My husband and I purchased the property here in part because it was so close to Northeastern and North Park University,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;and we wanted that university town vibe.&rdquo;</p><p>But many other residents, who live in closer proximity to the proposed development, fear student dorms could change the character of their neighborhood for the worse.</p><p>Both sides have hired lawyers, and Tong is spearheading a coalition of business and property owners against the property takeover. Litigation could mean it will be years before anything really happens. But quietly, many property owners concede that unless NEIU voluntarily backs off the plan, they suspect this will be a losing fight.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 06:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/neiu-expansion-invokes-eminent-domain-110461 Kwame Dawes http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/kwame-dawes-106989 <p><p>Emmy award-winning poet and writer, <strong>Kwame Dawes</strong>, presents a talk with readings from his 2010 collection of poems entitled <em>Wheels</em>.&nbsp;</p><p>Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes moved to Jamaica in 1971 and spent most of his childhood and early adult life there. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of that lush place, citing in a recent interview his &ldquo;spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music.&rdquo; In Jamaica, he attended Jamaica College and the University of the West Indies at Mona. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of New Brunswick on a Commonwealth Scholarship, and he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Brunswickan.</p><p>A former Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina, he taught English and was Distinguished Poet-in-Residence, Director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative, and Director of the USC Arts Initiative. He is currently Professor of English at the University Nebraska, Lincoln. He serves as editor-in-chief of the <em>Prairie Schooner</em> and teaches in the Pacific University MFA Writing Program.</p><p>A prolific author and social activist, Dr. Dawes is the author of sixteen poetry books and numerous other works, including plays, fiction and nonfiction. In 1994, he won the Forward Poetry Prize - Best First Collection- for his work <em>Progeny of Air</em>. His forthcoming opus is as editor of an anthology entitled <em>Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green</em>, due to be published in 2013.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NEIU-webstory_1.jpg" style="float: left;" title="" /></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Recorded live Thursday, April 11, 2013 at Notheastern Illinois University.&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 11 Apr 2013 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/chicago-amplified/kwame-dawes-106989 Latino youths organize for control of Radio Arte http://www.wbez.org/story/latino-youths-organize-control-radio-arte-86809 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-19/Zavala1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some young radio producers are organizing for control of the Chicago area’s only noncommercial Latino broadcast outlet.</p><p>They’re upset about plans by the National Museum of Mexican Art to sell the building and license of WRTE-FM Chicago (90.5), a youth-run station known as Radio Arte that airs music and public affairs content in English and Spanish.</p><p>Transmitting at 73 watts from Little Village, Radio Arte reaches several other Latino neighborhoods of the city’s Southwest Side and some nearby suburbs.</p><p>The station also trains hundreds of volunteers a year and puts dozens on the air each week. Some have formed a group to try to keep the station in their community’s hands.</p><p>Many of these volunteers share a bond: They don’t have papers to be living in the United States.</p><p>“Radio Arte helped me learn to fight back,” said volunteer Adriana Velázquez, 20, who arrived in the Back of the Yards neighborhood from Mexico at age 11.</p><p>Velázquez graduated from Benito Juárez Community Academy in nearby Pilsen and dreamed of going to college. But her immigration status disqualified her from most financing.</p><p>“So I felt like all I had done all these years in high school — being a good student, a good member of the community — was not worth [anything] to people,” she said Thursday.</p><p>Velázquez said her life changed in 2008, when she started working on a Radio Arte show, <em>Salud: Healing Through the Arts</em>. “That summer was when I started really talking about my status and sharing that with other students who were also going through my situation,” she said.</p><p>“It was kind of a relief to feel [at] home somewhere, not feeling ashamed that I was undocumented,” said Velázquez, now a music-performance student at Northeastern Illinois University.</p><p>Velázquez and the other volunteers want control of Radio Arte’s name, license and transmitter. But they haven’t won over museum officials.</p><p>President Carlos Tortolero said the volunteers were making too much of the museum’s plans. “Radio, to a lot of funders, is old school,” he said. “And we can still do radio classes without a radio station. A lot of people are streaming now online and podcasting.”</p><p>Tortolero said selling the building and radio license would free up resources for projects in other media such as video and computer graphics.</p><p>The Radio Arte volunteers counter that terrestrial radio signals still reach much bigger audiences than web streaming and podcasting do. “That’s especially true in immigrant and low-income communities,” Velázquez said.</p><p>The license’s market value is not clear. Radio Arte staffers say the museum paid $12,000 for it in 1996.</p><p>Tortolero said the museum hasn’t received any offers yet but adds he’s talking with potential buyers, including DePaul University and California-based Radio Bilingüe. He has also met twice with Torey Malatia, chief of Chicago Public Media, the parent of WBEZ.</p><p>Interviewed Wednesday, Malatia said his organization would not have cash for the license at this point. But Chicago Public Media is preparing a proposal to “help with operations and costs,” he said.</p><p>“We deeply respect Radio Arte’s mission,” Malatia said. “If we get involved, we would keep the tradition alive.”</p><p>Malatia said Chicago Public Media would connect Radio Arte to WBEW-FM (89.5), a youth-oriented station known as Vocalo that transmits from Chesterton, Indiana. Vocalo Managing Director Silvia Rivera worked at Radio Arte for more than a decade, including three years as general manager.</p><p>If the Chicago Public Media proposal were accepted, Radio Arte likely would continue broadcasting student- and volunteer-run shows, while “primetime blocks would be simulcast” with Vocalo, according to Malatia.</p><p>“As this story gets out,” Malatia added, “it puts pressure on DePaul and [Radio Bilingüe] to close the deal, and probably will pull some religious buyers into the mix.”</p><p>The building, 1401 W. 18th St., houses Radio Arte’s offices and studios as well as Yollocalli Arts Reach, another youth program of the museum. The wedge-shaped structure has two stories and a partly finished basement. Tortolero said the space totals about 11,000 square feet.</p><p>The museum had a real-estate appraiser look over the building this month but Tortolero said his team has not yet set the asking price.</p><p>The building stands on the corner of Blue Island Avenue and 18th Street. The intersection includes a Mexican-themed plaza that serves as a cultural anchor of Pilsen, a neighborhood whose Latino population has been shrinking.</p><p>The volunteers say they won’t try to buy the building.</p></p> Fri, 20 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/latino-youths-organize-control-radio-arte-86809 Dear Chicago: Help us go to college http://www.wbez.org/story/education/dear-chicago-help-us-go-college <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Jesus_8805.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Jesus Palafox, 21, came to the U.S. illegally when he was 11. He was the last member of his immediate family to make it across the border, posing as a son of a relative who was an American citizen.</p><p>Palafox knew he wanted to attend college, but as he grew older, he realized he&rsquo;d face a monumental challenge: in Illinois undocumented students can pay in-state tuition at public universities, but they&rsquo;re ineligible for most student loans. Meanwhile, the number of affordable alternatives is dwindling. One option, Chicago&rsquo;s City Colleges, may soon be out of reach if the city ends open admission, <a href="../../../../../../story/news/education/cutting-open-admission-city-colleges-draws-fire">as was proposed last summer</a>.</p></p> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 11:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/education/dear-chicago-help-us-go-college Dear Chicago: Help us go to college http://www.wbez.org/story/american-friends-service-committee/dear-chicago-help-us-go-college <p><div id="PictoBrowser120123123819">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "498", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: Help us go to college"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628998996281"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "-29"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123123819"); </script><p>Jesus Palafox, 21, came to the U.S. illegally when he was 11. He was the last member of his immediate family to make it across the border, posing as a son of a relative who was an American citizen.<br> <br> Palafox knew he wanted to attend college, but as he grew older, he realized he’d face a monumental challenge: In Illinois undocumented students can pay in-state tuition at public universities, but they’re ineligible for most student loans. Meanwhile, the number of affordable alternatives is dwindling. One option, Chicago’s City Colleges, may soon be out of reach if the city ends open admission, <a href="../../../../../../story/news/education/cutting-open-admission-city-colleges-draws-fire">as was proposed last summer</a>.<br> <br> Some of these concerns would have been partially addressed by the federal <a href="http://dreamact.info/students">DREAM Act</a>, co-sponsored by Democratic Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. The proposed law offered a path to citizenship for undocumented youth who, like Palafox, enrolled in college. The measure was filibustered in the U.S. Senate last year.<br> <br> Palafox was lucky; ultimately he made it to college by cobbling together several sources of funding, including a $2,500 award from former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. Palafox earned the award for having racked up the second-most service learning hours of any CPS student in his graduating class.<br> <br> Now that Palafox is set to graduate from Northeastern Illinois University, he wants the new mayor and city council to make the dream of a college education a reality for other undocumented students, especially ones who may not be as lucky as he was.<br> <br> <em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WEBZ’s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. Jesus Palafox was nominated for the series by the <a href="http://afsc.org/">American Friends Service Committee</a>.<br> <br> <em>Dear Chicago -<br> <br> I want to tell you my story about being an undocumented student.<br> <br> The beginning was hard. I didn’t know any English. The only thing I was good at was math, because math doesn’t have a language.I even had to help some of my fellow classmates because they were behind on math.<br> <br> I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to be able to afford college. My dad wasn’t making enough. So we started going to visit technical schools, but I realized I wasn’t even going to be able to pay $10,000 a year, so even the technical schools were too expensive.<br> <br> The counselors at my high school were not prepared to help me. I let them know my situation but they told me to either go to a City College or not go to college at all. I didn’t see the City Colleges as an option for me at that time. I wanted to go to a four year university.<br> <br> I started looking for scholarships, trying to find ones for undocumented students. I was doing a lot of research on my own, sending letters to different organizations, visiting chambers of commerce. I would lock myself in my room and just cry, thinking I wasn’t going to be able to make it. I was getting some acceptance letters but I didn’t have any money.<br> <br> Then I started getting more scholarships and getting into more universities. I decided to go to Northeastern because it was affordable. I think my first year I paid $7,000. UIC was a little more expensive. I also got accepted by Valparaiso University. There I got accepted as an international student and offered a scholarship for $30,000 for four years. But tuition was $30,000 a year and I couldn’t pay the rest.<br> <br> My first year at Northeastern I got about $12,000 in scholarships, but it was year to year. I didn’t know if I would have the money to pay for the next year.<br> <br> One of the reasons I wanted to go to college was to set an example for my younger siblings. My sister is graduating from high school this year and she knows that she has to go to college because I already did it. I will do everything to help her. But we’re going through a recession and my dad didn’t work for six moths, so we’re just recovering right now, and my sister graduates in three months. I know she’s going to get accepted to colleges but it’s going to be tough financially.<br> <br> I think there are a couple of things I would say to the new mayor and city council.<br> First of all, reform the public school system. A lot of undocumented students drop out. They don’t feel welcome in the schools and they know it’s going to be hard for them to go to college because of their status.<br> <br> Next, set up some kind of scholarship or grant for them. I know that they talk about having a local version of the DREAM Act that would let students have loans, but I think what we need are scholarships and grants, and not just for students with a 4.0 GPA. We hear about the valedictorian, but we don’t hear about the regular undocumented students.<br> <br> Then, keep open enrollment in the City Colleges. The reality is that a lot of undocumented students are not prepared to go to a four-year university.<br> <br> We’ve talked about Chicago being a world class city. I think that a world class city needs a world class citizenship. We should allow not just a citizen but also an undocumented person to be part of this. If we want to compete in the world, as Mayor Daley says every day, then we want to have a citizenship that can compete in the world. We need people prepared to compete, and not just U.S. citizens, but every resident of the city.</em><br> <br> <br> &nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/american-friends-service-committee/dear-chicago-help-us-go-college