WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Local Commentaries

The opinions expressed in these commentaries are not necessarily those of Tri States Public Radio or Western Illinois University. Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.

As I sat down to write this commentary, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor were the latest in a long line of popular and influential men in media and politics to be fired for sexual harassment.

Over Thanksgiving as I was walking with my sisters we talked about what was happening with the men in the media. They asked if I thought this was a watershed moment, one where the narrative of how women were treated would change.

How We Live with Our Enemies

Nov 29, 2017
Rich Egger

In his novel Atonement, Ian McEwan writes: "It wasn't only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you."

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

A couple of weeks ago, Gloria Delany-Barmann and I returned from a short trip to Puerto Rico.  We went to check up on our colleagues we've been working with the last couple of years and to take a few supplies and funds so generously donated by members of our community to those in need.  And yes, just in case you were wondering, it is possible to take a chainsaw as part of your checked baggage. 

The Security of a Free State

Nov 12, 2017
Rich Egger

"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." – That is the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

I’m not sure how many Militias we need to maintain the security of our free State, but thanks to a lack of infringement, Americans now possess 270 million guns to maintain our freedom, and that’s not counting our military, not to mention our nuclear arsenal.  I have never felt so free.

The Only Crime for which the Victim is Blamed

Nov 8, 2017
Rich Egger

Once again, we are in a news cycle where powerful, famous men's sexual assaults are being made public.  The men say the sex was consensual, meaning, of course, that no one forced them to do anything they didn't want to do.  The men say they now know their conduct was unacceptable.  Scores of courageous women disclose private, humiliating, and hurtful events. Then we have a national conversation about what women should do to avoid sexual assault and sexual harassment, because, you know, men are men.

Rich Egger

I love Halloween. For as long as I can remember, I have loved reading horror novels, watching slasher films, dressing up in costumes where no one knows who I am, and being scared about what's around the corner in the haunted house. I couldn't wait to trick or treat and attend Halloween parties.

Preserve Minima to Discourage Salary Inequities

Oct 26, 2017
Rich Egger

A recent report on Tri States Public Radio cited the current impasse in salary negotiations between the University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) and the Western Illinois University (WIU) administration.  According to the report, there are several issues that have stood in the way of an agreement.  Among other issues, the administration asks to reduce compensation, increase furlough days, and eliminate the current contract use of "minima."

Meaningful Results Emerged from Humble Beginnings

Oct 25, 2017
Emily Boyer

This is the year of changes. This nation has seen a change in its leadership, and with this change, there is a new focus and direction for the country. The anticipation of what lies ahead has sent shock waves throughout the country. In counties, cities, townships, urban areas, as well as rural communities, there is no level of government so large or so small as to remain untouched by what is being proposed for the future.

The Law of the Land

Oct 18, 2017
Franz Jantzen, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

In October, most people look forward to Halloween; as a lawyer, I look forward to the start of a new United States Supreme Court term.  Starting now and working through next spring, the Court will decide over 40 cases. Some of these decisions will have significant effects on the value of our votes, our cell phone privacy, marriage equality, union membership, education for disabled kids, police use of force, transgender rights, deportation and many more issues.

ISER Caribe

I believe that optimism is a moral choice.  Lately the news has been overwhelmingly grim – hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and senseless gun violence.  It is a reminder to us all that we are living in an increasingly volatile world. And while it is easy to be discouraged, in the midst of every tragedy and disaster there are, what Mr. Rogers called, "helpers."  People who don't wait on others to take charge, they simply do it themselves.  Take the recent disaster in Puerto Rico as an example. 

As I participated in WIU's Homecoming this weekend, tailgating and watching the football game, I continued to return to the reaction to the NFL athletes, coaches, and owners kneeling during the National Anthem as a protest to the racial injustices in our country. The rhetoric that these athletes, starting with Colin Kaepernick and now the NFL, are un-American and unpatriotic shows the changes in the way we define patriotism and the fact that we refuse to listen to why these athletes are protesting.

Looking For Government That Works? Try Local

Sep 27, 2017
Rich Egger

I doubt that many people would disagree with me when I say big governments – those in  Washington DC and Springfield -  have not been working very well in the past few years.  Washington and Springfield seem to have a very difficult time doing anything. 

Julia Albarracin

On September 10, I attended a rally in Springfield in support of the beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).  The day before, I made three signs for the rally that read: "Defend DACA," "Dreamers, not Criminals," and "Dreamers are Here to Stay."

Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

The last several weeks have been full of weather – wildfires in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho; drought in North Dakota; flooding in Texas; and most recently Hurricane Irma in Florida.  Weather related events like these happen all the time, but they only become disasters when they cross paths with humans. 

MisterPCollins, via Wikimedia Commons

Over the weekend, I watched The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington as professor, poet, and activist Melvin Tolson. The film takes place in 1935 in Marshall, Texas. One of the threads in the film is Tolson's work to create a sharecropper's union in Texas made up of both black and white farmers. For his work with the union, Tolson is called a communist and blacklisted from many universities. Watching the film over Labor Day weekend made me reflect on the importance of this holiday and our union history.

Marching for Planned Parenthood

Jun 8, 2017
Beth Howard

Last month, former Gov. Terry Branstad joined Iowa legislators in eliminating funding for health care clinics that provide abortions. Soon after Planned Parenthood of the Heartland announced it would be closing 4 of its 12 clinics in Iowa, including sites in Keokuk and Burlington.

Let's Play a Game

May 10, 2017
Rich Egger

When I was growing up my family spent a lot of time playing games. Board games, word games, travel games. We had games for every event and occasion.

This semester I've been one step ahead of my students while teaching a course that is new to me called Religion, Magic, & Shamanism. Using an excellent textbook and a couple of really good ethnographies, the students and I have explored how religions around the world provide people with various cosmologies or frameworks for how to live a good life. 

Ready to Run

Apr 26, 2017
Rich Egger

A recent Friday night found me and my fourteen year old daughter on the couch, Netflix cued up, and we are  transported to Washington D.C. circa 2003.  The characters created by Aaron Sorkin that populate the world of The West Wing  make the hard decisions, walk the fine line between political expediency and ethics, and always take the high road.  

Thresholds

Apr 19, 2017
Rich Egger

Today, my daughter crosses a threshold. She turns thirteen. Thirteen glorious years. I try to avoid clichés, but honestly, that profound moment—the moment I first held her, looked into her face, and then her father's, well it does seem like yesterday. Like it just happened.

Ann Comerford

As the spring semester sprints to an end, I find myself preparing to travel again.  First, back to Germany with students to spend two weeks immersed in an ever-changing culture.  The second group of students will be traveling to rural Puerto Rico to do a month long internship with WIU alumni as part of a Department of Education grant titled "Communities as Agents of Change". 

April is National Poetry Month. When I talk with my students about poetry—writing poetry, teaching poetry—most of them shudder. They have an immense fear of poetry. It is intimidating.

Cultural Expressions – Hear My Voice

Mar 29, 2017

In a college community the concept of student run organizations has been very beneficial, and has provided students with an outlet to take on leadership roles while being involved in things they love. For me this is true with my role as the president of Cultural Expressions, also known as CE, which has helped my love for poetry to grow greatly. 

How I Feel about Bombers

Mar 22, 2017
Rich Egger

Whenever I pass a Bombers sign here in Macomb, I wonder how the word Bombers and the image of WWII airplanes that dropped bombs can represent us, our community, our high school student-athletes, today in 2017.

Rich Egger

On a beautiful, sunny, late February Sunday, I worked with my parents to put up a basketball net for my son, Jack's, ninth birthday. I knew this was a gift Jack would use daily. And sure, enough, the morning after his birthday, he was out back, shooting baskets at 6:39 a.m.

WIU Athletics

For the last six or seven years, most of my weekends have been spent at some sporting event or another.  The early years included weekends at Harper College for Shotokan Karate tournaments.   These days I travel to exotic places like Bloomington for three day swim meets. 

Rich Egger

I am a proud product of public schooling. I learned how to read in public schools. I was encouraged to explore the world around me, find books that I loved and learn about a variety of different people and cultures.

Our Unhealthy Obsession with Body Image

Feb 22, 2017
Rich Egger

I am fat.  The first time I remember being told this was on the first day of third grade, when a friend I hadn't seen all summer said how chubby I looked in the back-to-school dress I had been so excited to wear. 

My knees turned to liquid and my legs shook uncontrollably. My hands trembled. Sweat beaded at my hairline and my palms were slippery wet.  I fought the urge to throw up.

courtesy Heather McIlvaine-Newsad

One of the things I love about my job is the daily opportunity to interact with students.  In sitting and listening to them I am constantly amazed about how they make sense of their world.  Anthropologists call this method ethnography.  And while it is somewhat out of vogue and deemed by many to be something that anyone can do, there is much to be learned from the art of really listening and observing. 

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