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April 30, 2018

The Maroon Speaks to Candidates for College Council

Myles Hudson

First-year Myles Hudson is seeking reelection to his College Council position. Hudson wants to continue his initiative to create cultural sensitivity workshops for incoming first-years and to expand student counseling resources.  

Hudson’s focus on cultural sensitivity workshops is intended to help introduce students to aspects of different cultural identities that they may not have been familiar with before coming into the College.  

“Ideally [it would be] some sort of workshop for first-years during fall quarter, winter quarter, and spring quarter, just for an hour during house meetings,” he said. “Preferably they would address issues like microaggressions, various cultural stigmas, and ways that we deal with people who are very different from us.”  

In addition to first-year workshops, Hudson would like to work with the Center for Identity and Inclusion to create peer-to-peer mentorship programs, because “the best efforts are conducted through peer to peer interactions, and not necessarily from faculty members.” 

Hudson will also seek to work collaboratively with on-campus organizations and Student Counseling Service (SCS) to make mental health resources more visible and accessible.  

“There are a lot of resources buried on the student counseling services website,” Hudson said. To address this, he plans to increase signage around campus advertising mental health resources to alleviate ignorance surrounding resources. 

For example,  Hudson would like to collaborate with Active Minds, an organization with a chapter on campus that aims to connect students with mental health resources, to further the reach of SCS. In particular, he would like to expand accessibility of SCS resources for people of color.  

Hudson says UChicago’s SCS is too small, with 18 staffers, compared to peer institutions, like Columbia University, which has 59 staffers. Therefore, Hudson believes that UChicago is unable to provide a diverse workforce to match of its student population.  

He would like to see an expansion in SCS hiring alongside an increase in resources that would allow students to remain on campus for support.  

“Ultimately I think there is no reason that with as strong a medical facility [as there is] on campus, students should have to be referred to outpatient services,” he said. 

Matthew Pinna

First-year Matthew Pinna is running for College Council and says that he is “really the practical candidate.” He adds that “I don’t pretend to be anything else, I don’t pretend to push for things I know that we can’t do.”  

During the fall quarter College Council elections, Pinna felt that then-representatives were making promises they could not keep, and that he should take the initiative to make more feasible changes.  

“Just look at some of the candidates that are running for reelection,” he said. “If you look at what they’ve done during the minutes you’ll see that none of them were able to follow up on what they promised and they are promising the exact same thing this upcoming year. And that’s where I feel like I come in.”  

His platform’s primary goal is an expansion of a personal project: the Maroon Muscles Program (MMP). After interacting with many friends who were uncomfortable with exercising in Crown and Ratner, Pinna began taking them to the gym with him and introducing them to equipment.  

“A lot of people want to make a positive change in their life but do not feel comfortable doing so because they feel intimidated...I know the people who go to the gym regularly and many of them love working out with someone else and teaching other people,” Pinna said. 

This led him to outline a plan for the MMP, which would pair experienced gym-goers with those looking to learn how to use equipment and gain confidence exercising at the gym.  

Similar short term projects will be a staple of Pinna’s tenure if elected.  

Another goal of his platform will be making College Council projects widely known due to their direct effect on the everyday lives of students. He hopes to raise awareness of what college council does for the student body.  

“I want to do things for the College that I know we can accomplish as fellow students and with the limited funds and limited power that we have.” 

Brian Johnson

First-year Brian Johnson is running for College Council on a social issue agenda, hoping to influence sustainability initiatives, mental health resources, University of Chicago Police Department accountability, and the development of cultural centers on campus.  

During his time at UChicago, Johnson has competed on mock trial, participated in and led Art Is Movement (AIM) workshops, worked at the University Community Service Center, and will be serving on the leadership team for the Chicago Bound pre-orientation program this coming summer.  

Johnson said he would like to partner with the Phoenix Sustainability Initiative to aid in their efforts to make the Food Recovery Program more widely known and bring compost bins to the dining halls.  

The Food Recovery Program works with RSOs to collect any leftover food from events and move them to areas where people can eat it, such as in house lounges or the Regenstein Library first floor.  

As for composting, Johnson said, “We have recycling bins, we have some things that we are doing to help prevent waste, but I think compost bins would be a great next step to prevent food waste.” 

His platform also advocates for expansion of resources and availability of SCS.  

To achieve this, Johnson would like to create a mental health resource book to aggregate resources for students and to provide direction towards the best health care professionals in Hyde Park and the greater Chicago area for any given situation. 

“Therefore if students find that student counseling doesn’t have any options for them or isn’t the best option for them, they can just look at this resource book and call around and see what in the area is available and so students can have a little guidance getting help, which I think is an important step,” Johnson said.  

UCPD accountability is also an important issue to Johnson. 

He cited concerns with UCPD’s lack of requirement to act under the Freedom of Information Act as a private police force and argued that the breadth of their jurisdiction, nearly 65,000 Chicagoans, makes this lack dubious.  

In a mission to uphold the University’s support for cultural diversity, Johnson stands with the campaign for cultural centers on college campuses.  

“If the University of Chicago is dedicated to diversity initiatives as they say they are, I believe that establishing cultural centers on campus would be the next step to showing that they are committed,” Johnson said.  

Despite his extensive long-term goals, Johnson understands the limitations of his position on college council.  

“Things may change and may become apparent that maybe it’s not possible...but I think everything I have suggested is within a possibility. These are things that are being done across college campuses across the country, so why not at the University of Chicago?”

Raven Rainey and Alex Levi 

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