Thursday, September 25, 2014

Potential University Expansion Wakes Up Sleepy Chicago Street

How would you feel if you received a letter in the mail one day stating that your house or business would be torn down so that something else could stand in it's place even if it was for a good cause like education? This question is a reality for people living down in the city of Chicago in the neighborhood North Park. I was interested in this issue so I researched it further and came across this story run by Odette Yousef, a reporter for a local radio station:

"NEIU Expansion Invokes Eminent Domain"

According to the report done by the local radio station (WBEZ 91.5) many businesses and apartments located one block west of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago received a daunting letter from the university stating that it intended to acquire their property for some compensation. Northeastern Illinois University says that this expansion plans to include more on campus housing. Dr. Sharon Hahs, President of NEIU says that the character of the neighborhood needs to be "changed".  Dr. Hahs views the area surrounding the university economically depressed and believes that it needs to be transformed and with the addition of the on campus housing, the community would shift from quiet streets to a more exciting and lively campus. The university frames this decision as a desire to inject some economic pep into the otherwise economically depressed neighborhood. They are noticeably less vocal about the fact that this plan is absolutely vital to the survival of their school, as enrollment numbers are at an all time low. Offering more housing will hopefully bring in more students and cause numbers to go up again. I think that the university is trying to make this seem like a less selfish act by primarily stating it is for the good of the neighborhood. In my opinion the addition of dorms in place of the shops and apartments could change the character of the town for the worse because more students means more antics and therefore additional disturbances to residents.

Understandably many residents and shop owners were deeply upset by this letter and one person in particular chose to take action. Dolly Tong (picture below), owner of a Chinese restaurant and an apartment unit above it is one of the more vocal business owners against the universities plans to expand. The Chinese restaurant she owns has been passed down from generation to generation in her family and the income generated from the business goes towards paying for her severely disabled mother's health bills. Without the restaurant she will have to start over, lose a part of her family history, and find a new source of revenue. Tong is reminiscent to me of Florence Scala, a neighbor of UIC who was effected by it's expansion in 1960. Florence tried to fight the City of Chicago with protests and it seems that Tong is doing the same, choosing to rally the people of North Park. Tong also is spearheading protests against the property take over much like Scala did in her time.
Dolly Tong displays a book featuring the history
of Chinese restaurants in the U.S. in which her family's
restaurant is featured.

My question is why take all of this land to the east that is occupied by families and small business owners when there are allegedly more vacant lots a few blocks further west? It is unfair to force people to move out of their homes when there are other spaces readily available.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should Northeastern Illinois University look further west for expansion or should they be able to obtain land from residents residing closer to their campus?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Helmets in Women’s Lacrosse: A No-brainer?

Recently while flipping through my “Lacrosse Magazine” I came across an article about whether or not women’s lacrosse players should be required to wear helmets. It is currently a hot debate in the women’s lacrosse community. I believe that commanding women to wear helmets in lacrosse would be an absurd and unnecessary regulation.

Currently women lacrosse players are required to wear goggles that protect your eyes (picture below). Although most every state abides by this rule there is an exception. Florida High School Lacrosse Association has mandated that helmets be worn by all women lacrosse players beginning in the 2015 season. Roger Dearing, FHSAA executive director says it, "Adds a layer of protection for the girls." Their reasoning behind the jurassic shift  is that it is an additional preventative measure to help reduce concussion and other head injury rates.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 7.17.23 PM.pngScreen Shot 2014-09-21 at 7.18.22 PM.png

While a helmet is undoubtedly another layer of protection I would argue that it is not the right kind of protection. Helmets blunt the actual collision but the brain still hits against the inside of the skull, which is what causes a concussion.

Additionally I believe that with the addition of helmets, play becomes much more rough. Right now when I play lacrosse I am careful of hitting another players stick when it is close to their heads but when you add a helmet to the equation I think that people will justify their violent actions on the field because the other player is wearing a helmet.

If Florida and other states are truly concerned for their players well-being they should consider taking a deeper look at the referees instead of head gear. They officiate the game and can control the nature of it much more than any helmet could. The referees dictate the type of play that is allowed so it is key that they have a firm knowledge of the game and call teams out when they see dangerous play.

Do you think helmets are the right precautionary measure for keeping women's lacrosse safe?

Monday, September 8, 2014

CVS Chooses to Forgo Over 2 Billion Dollars- Demonstrating Commitment to Community Health

        Would you refuse to sell tabacco products to prove your healthy reputation even if it meant turning down over two billion dollars? CVS Pharmacy, a large chain much like Walgreens made the decision to forgo over 2 billion dollars this past spring. Along with this refusal to sell tobacco products they also plan on changing the company's name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health with the intentions of proving their dedication to the community's health. 

 As my family and I were driving up to the University of Notre Dame this weekend to visit my siblings we were listening to my mom's favorite morning talk radio station, 780AM. Usually I have no interest in this sort of radio but I have recently been attempting to pay better attention to it. Pat Cassidy was on and began talking about the fact that CVS was changing it's name and and adjusting the products they sold even though it would cost them. This really got my attention, you seldom hear about a huge company like CVS making such a bold statement, throwing billions of dollars and I wanted to know more about it. Upon more research I found out that nicotine gum and various other products meant to kick the tobacco habit will now stand behind the counter in place of the cigarettes and cigars that once stood there. Lisa Kroon, chair of the clinical pharmacy department at the University of California San Francisco released a statement that I really liked. “We are health care providers,” she said. “We should not be helping treat conditions caused by cigarettes and then sell them at another location in the pharmacy. It makes no sense.” Lisa Kroon brings up a great point, it seems so contradictory the way the chain was running before. You can come pick up medicine to get treated for your addiction but the place that is helping to treat you is also selling what is making you sick. 

I think that this is a very positive step for more people to become smoke free. Millions of customers go to CVS and now that they aren't selling tobacco products that you can buy at the check out I have hope that it will cut down a bit of the addiction in the United States. I also think that CVS' bold decision to ban all tobacco products starting October 1st may push people who do smoke to quit because as they check out at CVS the various products that help people quit will be right in front of them. I wonder if CVS' decision to move forward with this will propel other companies like Walgreens to do the same. 

Unfortunately we hear so much about businesses being unethical just to make money but I am glad to see that CVS doesn't care about losing over 2% of their total revenue but instead are looking to have a reputation of being a healthier place. The company has proved their dedication to a broader commitment to healthcare.