HLC Report Results: Is Morton College Violating its Own Mission and Core Values?

mission&valuesBy Veronica Fernandez

Morton College’s Mission statement is pridefully displayed on the second floor of the C building in bold blue and orange lettering: “To enhance the quality of life of our diverse community through exemplary teaching and learning opportunities, community service, and life-long learning.” Boldly listed below are the school’s Core Values: Compassion, Fairness, Respect, Responsibility, Tolerance, and Truth.

The mission statement is clear: the institution seeks to enhance the quality of life through “exemplary teaching”. Does this then, only apply to the faculty interacting with the students inside of classrooms? Shouldn’t there be an institutional-wide effort to be “exemplary”?

Earlier this month, The Collegian explored the findings of the highly anticipated report on Morton College’s Higher Learning Commission (HLC) visit last semester. The report included information about criteria that the college either “met” or “met with concerns.” The sections that were “met with concerns” are as follows: Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct, and Resources, Planning, and Institutional Effectiveness.

Furthermore, the HLC explicitly reports their concerns with the Board of Trustees and their role in governing the school. Among the information provided in the report was the decision-making process for the “new president” which was described as lacking transparency in hiring objectives.  The report then continues with a rather alarming statement that reads,

“…there remains a perception with employees that the board unduly influences hiring decisions for administrators and staff and that in many of these cases new hires minimally meet job qualifications.”

The report follows this statement up later:

“…there is a perception that current hiring practices support the
hiring of unqualified administrators and staff who then require expensive training to reach competency levels necessary to perform their assigned duties.”

If the aforementioned is occurring, where are the components of responsibility within the administration? How is this fair to the students who are striving to obtain an education from this college? Are “learning opportunities” being infringed upon when there are unqualified individuals appointed to crucial positions in administering the institution?  If the college is not providing the absolute best in regard to administration, is it then failing to “enhance the quality of life” for the community it serves?

Furthermore, the HLC reports that the atmosphere of fear and confusion has to do with the combination of a lack of transparency and communication that has overall affected employee morale. The HLC reported having found evidence of ineffective communication:

“Ineffective two-way communication appears to be gravely affecting the president’s ability to lead the institution.”

In addition to the report itself, there was a letter issued to the President. While affirming Morton’s accreditation to 2026-27, the letter states that Morton will be monitored in the interim, with a Focused Visit occurring by January of 2018.

Days after this communication from HLC, a letter was released by the administrative office to the Morton College community. This letter celebrated the college’s reaffirmation of accreditation, issued several statements of praise from the administration, noted some items about the history of the HLC, and finally the HLC “revisit” to Morton College in 2018.

The disconnect and violation occur with not only the results of the HLC visit but with the approach, the Administration decided to present this information to the community it serves. It seems as if truth is another eroded value, along with responsibility and fairness.

Moving forward, students and faculty should be taken into consideration with the matters that directly affect their environment, communities, careers and futures.

Local Politician and Activist Come to Morton College to Talk Politics and the Importance of Being Involved

20170405_112448By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On Wednesday, two local Latino politicians and activists spoke to college students at a Morton College Open Forum on the importance of becoming involved in politics and being aware of what’s occurring in the world.

Chicago City Council Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, (who is Alderman of the 35th District and one of the youngest Alderman at 26) said he was drawn to politics because of his love for Chicago and because he wanted to ensure that “the people in the neighborhoods were the ones represented in City Hall.”

Ramirez-Rosa was joined by Angelica Alfaro, a community organizer, and former Illinois State Senator candidate. Alfaro grew up in Humboldt Park and emphasized her decision to come back to Chicago after college to work for change, saying: “A lot of people say you made it when you leave, you made it when you stay.”

The two sat side-by-side as they spoke to the crowd of students, answering questions about politics and the political process curated by Professor Drury, a Sociology professor. Veronica Fernandez, a Morton College student, assisted in gathering questions from students to ask aloud.

Both Ramires-Rosa and Alfaro agreed that the political process is not being actively pursued by American citizens, and some may be turned off by American politics, especially, as Alfaro noted, “after what happened in November,” referring to the election of Donald Trump as U.S President.

However, both emphasized that American citizens, especially minorities, such as the Hispanic community, need to let their voice be heard by either getting elected to public office or pushing for change. Ramirez-Rosa said, “We need to get more people from our generation to have a seat at the table…” in order to ensure positive change for their communities.

As a result of having the forum, students reported feeling more knowledgeable and had positive approaches to getting involved in political affairs.

Christian Operza said that the event enlightened him to the fact that they [politicians] are not just white people running for office and made him “want to volunteer for some campaign or something.”

Angel Sanchez said that he was impressed with Ramirez-Rosa, who is openly gay, and said it was “Pretty cool” that someone in the LGBT community was in Chicago politics. However, he did add that although he found it interesting, “it didn’t really motivate (him) to become part of politics…”

The debate and continuing need to get young adults involved in the political process will continue into the foreseeable future. Alfaro had a simple answer when asked what piece of advice she would give to a student who is interested in doing politics: “Do it.”

Open Forum: Knowing the Rights and Needs of Undocumented Students 

20170308_111133By Veronica Fernandez

An open forum was hosted on March 8th in the Student Union that allow the Morton College community to be informed of the rights of undocumented individuals, along with having the opportunity to voice their needs.

Prior to the forum’s start, available to students were an array of documents that included lists of rights written in different languages and lists of immigration attorneys.

First to present in the forum was student trustee, Andrea Chavarria. She guided the audience through a sideshow with information on the recent shift of policies and laws, what can be done if ICE comes to your home, the validity of arrest and search warrants, and constructing a family plan. Students were attentively listening and actively participating by asking questions.

After the informational portion of the forum sociology professor, Benjamin Drury, lead an interactive discussion on the particular needs of undocumented students of Morton College. Here students gathered into groups and discussed the different ways in which undocumented student’s fears and apprehensions could be alleviated when in school. A student suggested that professors discuss and perhaps become knowledgeable about immigration here in the country. Another student suggested that students should take it upon themselves to learn about the topic and to live with caution rather than fear.

As the forum came to a close, professor Drury encouraged participants to “Continue the conversations that you started here today.”

Chicagoans Speak Out for Equal Job Rights for Women as They Celebrate International Women’s Day

20170308_184339By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On March 8th, prestigious speakers and nearly 400 men and women assembled outside the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. They spoke about the importance of women within the workplace and the economy while celebrating International Working Women’s Day.

Workplace inequality between male and females has long been an issue in the world and in the United States. In 2015, full-time American workers who were female only earned 80% of what American men earned, measuring up to be a wage gap of 20% between the two sexes.

Prestigious speakers, from organizers, editors, and activists of differing organizations supporting women’s rights, equality for all, and a global minimum wage, came out to speak in support of International Working Women’s Day.

Zerlina Smith, 29th Ward and Action Now activist, was the most prominent speaker at the event. She spoke about the importance of their battle for the future, as her young daughter and another girl, sat at her feet.

Because we need our legislators to actually write some real policies that will not just affect us now, but will affect these little ladies later on in life.”

Men and women, bracing the windy conditions, spoke out positively about women in the workplace and their importance to the United States economy.They also gave reasons on how equality in the workplace can be achieved. Some suggested that equality can be achieved through changing people’s attitudes, others noted that legislation that support women needs to be promoted and passed, and others suggested simply fighting for it.

Juan-Carlos Parker, a former Morton West graduate who was at the rally supported this final point of view. “When you’re asking for a seat at the table, the people already at the table aren’t usually happy about it.”

Morton College students support women’s equality, in and out of the workplace. Women and men all voiced their support for women, but all acknowledged the long fight ahead for them. A Morton College student, wishing to remain anonymous, said, “I will most likely not see the end of the fight for women’s equality in and out of the workplace.”

But Morton College students also stressed the importance of being one. Eunice Bonilla said she found it encouraging to see men and women, “Band together toward the social, economic, and political equality of the sexes.”

The fight for women’s rights, in the workplace and out, will continue to be fought over in the next coming years. And their determination is not lost out to the people, as the 400 men and women ended their protest outside James R. Thompson Center by shouting, “Stand up and fight!” as passing bystanders looked on in curiosity, and some clapped in support.

 

Greetings from the New Publisher

img_2334By Veronica Fernandez

Welcome to the all digital Collegian Newspaper. It is a great privilege to have been recently named publisher of the online edition

As this new journey beings, I will vigorously work towards accurately informing the Morton College and local community.

As a student, I believe it necessary to be aware of school events, policies, and changes that occur in the place where my intellectual abilities are being shaped. As a member of the community, I am concerned about the place I call home. I recognize that knowledge is power, and this opportunity can be of great advantage to students, faculty, and community members alike.

In the coming months, I aspire to publish articles and stories that will captivate the reader’s attention with relevant and engaging content. I look forward to contributing to the newspaper’s success.

The Collegian Newspaper will publish new articles Wednesdays and Fridays.

For any questions, comments, or concerns contact Veronica Fernandez at veronica.fernandez@morton.edu.

Re-purposing the Second Floor of the Morton College Library Continues

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By Veronica Fernandez

As the two-year plan of the re-purposing of the second-floor of the Morton College Library rapidly occurred last semester, students and faculty were left to wonder what exactly was going to be placed in the newly appointed Student Success Center.

Several student forums also took place last semester to notify students of the changes to the second floor of the library. Students were given the opportunity to ask questions and gave their opinion on the matter.

Last October, initial statistics released by the library stated that the second-floor collection of books was going to be reduced by 50%. However, in newly revised statistics, it was shown that of 55,000 items, less than 18,000 were “weeded” or pulled from the shelves, less than the percentage reduction originally released. The weeding process was done in the span of three weeks. The whereabouts of the books pulled are in an unknown storage location on campus, it is still unclear what will be done with them.

Cristal Aranda, a library student aide, led a petition of nearly 500 signature to halt the process of the re-purposing. She noted that not enough light was shed on the plans for the transformation. “Students still don’t know this is going on” she commented.

A Student Success Center Committee has been developed to further develop proposals that students will be given the opportunity to comment on. Leading this committee is psychology professor and ILC (Individual Learning Center) director Robert Wood. The committee consists of seven members that include a reference librarian, full-time faculty members, an adjunct instructor and tutor, a testing and assessment specialist, a dean, and finally the director of ILC.

The second floor of the library currently consists of an open space with study tables and study rooms that are available on a first come first serve basis.

Morton College’s Sociology Department Holds Open Forum for Students to Voice Concerns About Trump’s Actions

By Domingo Xavier Casanova

On February 8th, just before 11 A.M, The Morton College’s Sociology Department held an open forum in the Student Union for students, faculty and staff to voice their opinions on current political matters.

Sociology Professor Benjamin Drury, took the initiative to organize the event. He stated: “I saw a need for a safe environment for all students to share their views regarding current issues facing them and their families and I went with it.”

Drury welcomed both Trump supporters and non-Trump supporters to the forum, but gave everyone one rule: “This conversation will be civil. This conversation will be professional, and this conversation will be absolutely collegial.”

He then asked students to rate Donald Trump’s first three weeks as president on a scale from 1-10.

The majority gave Trump an unfavorable rating. The audience discussed Trump’s plans on education and Betsy Devos. Some cited his comments against women, different races, and limiting the options LGBT community has on adoption.

Melissa Favela, a sophomore majoring in nursing, said that she wasn’t originally afraid, but that her fear has been rising since the Trump’s election, “Especially because I see all these different views on Trump and it can cause a lot of chaos.”

Some students had a modest approach to the President, giving him a 5. As one student explained, “He’s doing a lot of the things he promised….it’s not saying that they’re good things he’s doing, but he’s actually doing something.”

Trump’s presidency has been a moment of inspiration for many students to get politically involved. Alexis Trejo, a freshman, said “I feel more inclined to know what’s going on…No matter how upset I get, I feel like I have to know.”

The forum was concluded by Drury’s encouragement to follow websites with objective eyes by not being misled because of believing in all internet information. He concluded: “To be honest, I see nothing but good coming in the future….It won’t be an easy task getting there, but by working together, listening to each other, and protecting one another we will make it through this.”