University Offers Reward To Downplay Chicago Violence

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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The University of Chicago is seeking some creativity from its students to improve their city’s crime-ridden image.

According to The College Fix, the university’s admission’s office is offering a $500 cash prize to student tour guides who can find “a creative way to dispel the negative perception” that the city is somehow less than safe.

In an email first obtained by The Chicago Maroon, Colleen Belak, the assistant director of admissions at the university, asked students to think hard about how their city is depicted.

“If you’ve paid attention to the national news (or Donald Trump’s tweets) over the last few months, you’ll notice that the city of Chicago is often painted with a broad brush as an ‘unsafe’ or ‘scary’ place to reside,” Belak wrote.

Though she admits that “certain realities should not be ignored…at the end of the day most of us are proud Chicago residents with a deep love of the city.”

If students were looking for ideas, Belak had a few in mind, as well as a financial incentive: “With that spirit in mind, we have an opportunity for you to win some money—$500 to be exact. If you are able to come up with a creative way to approach this negative perception, be it a video series, blog post, photo, or something else (and better) entirely… Keep in mind that the audience is a high school student and his/her family.”

Chicago racked up 762 murders in 2016 and over 1,000 more shootings than the year before. Though Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel insists his city is a safe haven and sanctuary city for illegal immigrants, there are more homicides in the Windy City than in New York and Los Angeles combined.

The university’s admission website is replete with helpful reminders of why Chicago’s image has apparently been overblown by news reports and President-elect Donald Trump:  “…Hyde Park is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago…”  Though the admissions staff ultimately admits that “urban life demands street smarts.”

The site also provides a contact list of campus and city security numbers and suggests that “being aware of your surroundings and being prepared for unexpected situations go hand-in-hand with city life. The University of Chicago encourages you to make safety practices a part of all your daily routines…”

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