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Gun violence committee considers helping 'at-risk' get back in school

Gun violence committee considers helping 'at-risk' get back in school


City Colleges is attempting to tackle the issue of Chicago’s gun violence in the form of a committee that will focus on rehabilitation and education of people prone to be involved in gun violence.

The committee is being set up by Faculty Council, and they are still forming a plan.

“We are mostly interested in interrupting the cycle [of gun violence],” said Jessica Bader, Vice President of Faculty Council.

They plan to do that by targeting people on probation and getting them back into school.

“We discussed the initiative at [faculty council] and came up with the title "Committee H,” Faculty Council’s president Jennifer Alexander wrote in a recent report to the Board of Trustees..

“The “H” stands for hope,” said Alexander.

The idea comes after a record setting year for gun violence in Chicago. Faculty Council’s president felt the need for the schools to get involved.

One main goal for the committee is to target the potential students who are potential victims of gun violence. Bader spoke of going to UIC lectures that addressed lowering the rates of recidivism and was wondering how CCC could contribute.

“These individuals have never been rehabilitated, never had the chance to get access to education,” said Bader. “These potential students need support.”

Committee H has about 20 members from across the City Colleges.

Faculty Council is still finalizing the committee, “organizing, finding members and getting the thumbs up from district office,” Bader said.

Part of overcoming the gun violence is to provide more attractive opportunities to the at-risk persons. The committee will try to “figure out what they want to do with their lives,” said Bader.

They would be targeting people on the inside of prisons, too.

“We could be teaching students on the inside or when they get released,” Bader said.

The idea might have come from the faculty council, comprised of faculty and teachers, but the administration seems to be completely on board with the committee.

Alexander was thrilled to learn that the Chancellor and Provost agreed to meet in November with Committee H members to articulate and brainstorm strategies.

Even the Interim president of Harold Washington is supporting the efforts of this new committee.

“HWC supports Committee H’s mission to address and find solutions for the violence and poverty that affect Chicago,” Interim President Ignacio Lopez wrote in an email.

The idea behind Committee H has its roots in “The Probation Challenge Program Act,” said Bader. That program provided education and social and vocational counseling to convicted criminal defendants for 29 years, starting in 1981. The act sought to give opportunities to these defendants to become contributing members to society.

In the law, he Illinois General Assembly mandated that CCC must take the responsibility of being the facility the “clients”, or those individuals in the program, go to for those educational opportunities but also the institution who governed the entire program and provided its regulations.

This state mandated program suddenly closed its doors in 1999.

“No one knows what happened,” said Bader. “There was no answer as to why”.

Even though Committee H is still putting together a plan, its members believe in it strongly and encourage others to join including faculty and even students. The committee meets with Provost Potter and Chancellor Salgado on Nov. 21 to further discuss its goals.

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