education

NIU May Soon Install More Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Apr 13, 2016
Katie Finlon / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University is in the early stages of a proposal that would implement gender-neutral bathrooms.

NIU’s chief diversity officer Vernese Edghill Walden says the proposal is still in the planning stage, but a draft should be completed sometime during the summer or fall semesters.

Kristen Myers directs the Gender and Woman Studies department at NIU. She says the school has ranked as one of the most LGBT-friendly schools in the past … but the only thing that would help is gender-neutral bathrooms.

Northern Illinois University

The student senate at Northern Illinois University appointed its first female speaker last week.

NIU student association senator Christine Wang begins her tenure as speaker this summer. She says she’s happy with the progress of the student association senate in selecting its first woman speaker. 

“It’s a huge move for NIU,” Wang said. “It showcases a lot of our diversity and how much we emphasize on it. I think it means that we’re moving forward with the changing dynamic that is our society today.”

Illinois college students will march for higher education funding and MAP grants in Springfield next week.

At least 60 students plan to take part in the march. That’s according to the march’s Facebook event.

The “March for MAP” was created by a University of Illinois Springfield student. The event was inspired by the legislature's failure to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto to a bill to fund MAP grants.

YouTube user Ford Scholars / "Jefferson Fitness Trail" Screen Shot

Two northern Illinois high schools have students competing for a $10,000 prize in a national STEM competition. The money would go to help implement the winning group’s project proposals that could benefit their schools and the community.

There are ten finalists in the Ford STEM Community Challenge. They include students from Jefferson and East High Schools in Rockford.

Katie Finlon / WNIJ

A lack of funding for the Monetary Award Program -- or MAP grants -- have cost Illinois public universities more than $72 million overall.

That's according to data provided by each of the state universities and their campuses.

The Illinois House passed a bill earlier this month that would help fund the MAP grants. That's in light of the state's budget impasse.

The legislation was introduced to the state Senate this week, but public universities that temporarily covered those costs still haven’t been reimbursed.

Higher Education Leaders Discuss Budget Fears In Springfield

Mar 10, 2016
State of Illinois

Illinois lawmakers heard Thursday from an assortment of higher education leaders asking for funding.

They used terms like “starving,” “dismantling” and “economic suicide” as they tried to persuade state senators to find some way to heal the budget impasse. 

One of the last witnesses was Eric Zarnikow, director of the state agency that runs the Monetary Award Program. MAP grants help needy college kids with tuition.

Zarnikow quoted his mother, who he says always warned him not to eat the seed corn.

Chicago State University had a visit from the Higher Learning Commission this week regarding its accreditation status. That came after the school declared financial crisis about a month ago due to the Illinois state budget impasse.

But how does state funding affect university accreditation?

Higher education officials say taking away accreditation is generally treated as a last resort. But if a school loses its state funding, it could put its status at risk.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

A program designed to educate -- and keep -- engineers in Rockford officially kicked off its six-million dollar fundraising campaign Tuesday. The joint project between Rock Valley College and Northern Illinois University is already halfway to its goal.

Chicago State University won’t have funds to operate by March 1 if  state money is not released, officials there have said.

A Chicago area transgender student whose fight to use a girls' locker room sparked a national debate will be allowed access on Friday.

The move follows a long battle with federal authorities and public meetings.

Palatine-based Township High School District 211 entered an agreement with federal officials last month after the student filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

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