Sean Vera new president of Loyola student government

Sean Vera
Sean Vera, 20, a junior political science major, won a four-way race for president of Loyola University Chicago’s  Unified Student Government Association.

According to a USGA tally, Vera received 702 votes, with runner-up Timothy McMahon received 599. The other candidates, junior Jessica Hyker and freshman Sean Anderson received 542 and 400 votes respectively.

 After learning of his victory, Vera immediately began making plans to usher in a new era of student representation at the administrative level.

“The school of business is hiring a new dean and the school of social work is hiring a new dean, but there is no student representation on those decision-making bodies,” Vera said. “That’s going to be a huge goal, is to, you know, get that student voice, specifically with voting privileges… so that students are not left at the wayside by decisions that the university makes.”

He added, “I think we will be able to make this a new era, essentially, of making sure that students are put at the front of decision making and that they’re viewed as the students that they are and not just a tuition bill and an ID number.”

Vera won the USGA election with running-mate Stephanie Romeo, 20, a junior elementary education major. They were elected after two days of voting.

As president, Vera hopes to run a USGA that is not afraid to “take stands on issues.”

“We can’t shy away from controversy,” he said. “There are going to be times when people disagree with us, and sometimes those people are going to be the heads of this university, but we can’t decide to take a hands-off approach because we’re afraid of what somebody is going to say about it.”

Vera also wants to increase student awareness about USGA.

“General students don’t view the student government as a relevant part of their lives,” Vera said. “We do a lot of good things — we funded the bike club, we got the solar trash compactors on campus. We’ve done all these things but I don’t think students recognize that the USGA was at the heart of those things.”

Vera blames USGA for not doing its part to engage Loyola students.

“We haven’t made the effort to connect with students who don’t necessarily have a group behind them,” Vera said. “If there’s something that people need I want them to feel like we are the ones who they should come to for help because we are them.”

McMahon, Vera’s runner up, offered his support to the president-elect.

“Congratulations,” said McMahon, 21, a junior political science and communication studies major. “If you need anything, let me know.”

Tony Catalano, 22, a senior economics and political science major, and current USGA president offered some advice to Vera.

“Be transparent in your actions,” Catalano said in an interview. “Good times or bad times, always hold yourself accountable.”

Loyola, DePaul speak out on controversial website

Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University have issued strong statements against a new “no-strings-attached” relationship website being marketed to students, the RedEye reports.

Loyola University Chicago “does not endorse or condone the site,” the university said in a statement. “We trust our students to hold themselves to the highest standard of personal integrity and behavior. Loyola students are expected to adhere to the University’s code of conduct and all University policies.”

“DePaul University strongly recommends that its students avoid the potentially dangerous and anonymous situations that this new website facilitates,” the university said.

eduHookups, a controversial website designed for college students, announced that it is creating sites for Loyola University Chicago and DePaul University beginning Thursday.

eduHookups, which is an independent website. originally started in February as UChicago Hookups, offering University of Chicago students a site to arrange “no-strings attached encounters.” Users needed a University of Chicago email address to register.

The site garnered a lot of attention, including a story in the Chicago Tribune, and  jokes on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”  But that only fueled its popularity, and the site changed its name to eduHookups and expanded to  Northwestern and Columbia universities.

Now eduHookups is posting the following message:  “Due to popular demand, we will launch at DePaul University and Loyola University on Thursday, March 31st, at 12 a. m.!”

The news spread quickly, including an article on the San Francisco Chronicle website: The Next Facebook?

NowPublic also covered the news: eduHookups expands.

So did the Chicago Reader: UChicago Hookups, Now eduHookups, Spread the Love

Jewish Federation grant to aid seniors in Rogers Park

A $40,000 grant to benefit older adults who live in West Rogers Park is among the more than $200,000 in funding being released by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Here is the news release from the organization:

Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has granted more than $200,000 for continuing projects designed to support vulnerable populations and address emerging needs in Chicago’s Jewish community.

The funds come from the Federation’s Priority Grants Program, which provides start-up funding for new programs and services that address unmet and emerging communal needs. If the program is successful after three years, Priority Grant funds are integrated into the regular budget of the sponsoring agency. To date, 93 projects have become fixtures in the community.

“At a time of continued economic distress, the programs approved for continued Priority Grant funding are assisting the most vulnerable members of our community – children, seniors, and the urban poor,” said David T. Brown, chairman of the Federation’s Overall Planning and Allocations Committee. “They have a proven record, and we stand behind them for another year.”

All of the programs receiving renewal funding are operated by the Jewish Federation or one of four of its beneficiary and affiliate agencies.

Just over $100,000 will support programs at Chicago-area Jewish day schools.

A project supporting children with learning and educational disabilities will receive $63,440. The program offers specialized services that engage the students and help them stay in school and participate in classroom activities. During the 2009-2010 school year, 334 students at three pilot schools participated, and no one was removed from school.

Another $40,000 will continue a Sinai Health System program that sends a traveling nurse consultant to the six Associated Talmud Torah schools, which serve more than 3,100 students from preschool to eighth grade and have 180 staff.

The remaining Priority Grants will support efforts geared toward adults in need.

A grant of $40,000 will help care for caregivers through Jewish Child & Family Services’ Respite Across the Lifespan program. Families that care for a relative with disabilities or chronic illness have access to in-home respite services through the project. Last year, 31 families received more than 2,800 hours of respite care within the first six months.

Another $40,000 grant will benefit older adults who live in West Rogers Park and Peterson Park. Called LaBriut (Hebrew for “to your health”), the program promotes healthy living and offers services for seniors who are “aging in place” – staying in their homes rather than moving to senior residential facilities – for as long as possible. LaBriut offers traditional programs such as cholesterol and blood pressure screenings, as well as nutrition advice and cultural events.

“CJE’s mission is to support older adults where they are. If we know people are living at home, what can we do to help them live better at home?” said Gerri Fiterman Persin, manager for the Center for Healthy Living, where LaBriut is housed. “Older adults are sometimes hard to serve because their needs change so fast. We can be flexible. We’re really focused on seeing what people’s needs are and how to address them.”

There also is a $20,000 grant for a Dina and Eli Field EZRA Multi-Service Center program that helps the homeless, or those on the verge of homelessness, find apartments. In existence since 2008, Kesher Bayit: Connection to Housing achieved nearly 50 successful moves into safe and affordable homes in 2010. Meanwhile, Housing Coordinator Amy Haynes has helped more than 110 EZRA clients search for apartments and build a budget, and also assisted with referrals for landlords, subsidized apartment lists or supporting housing programs.