Steans Center > For Students > Service Speaks > Faculty Reflections
Alliance of the Southeast (ASE) is involved in a mutli-year campaign to develop Community Benefit Agreements across and city and specifically in South Chicago around the former U.S. Steel site. ASE is using their work to build a case for Community Benefit Agreements throughout Chicago. The student work products have been used in citywide meetings building support for equitable development. Students are more aware of inequity issues and have a vested interest in working in South Chicago especially after engaging with the community partner. It really helped to have the student presentations in South Chicago, so community members could talk to the students directly. The audience members were really interested in the student work and we had to tear away the students from the audience by the end of the presentations! The students were able to intellectually grasp the racial and income inequities in Chicago, but it impacted them personally after learning from and interacting with ASE staff and community members. I believe this made the students more engaged in their projects.
Students said the project changed the way they felt about the census, the City of Chicago and their community organization partners. Given the systemic racism and lack of resources the community partners face, the students initially thought the community partners would feel discouraged about making their communities better places to live (census data informed funding for government programs that provided important services to make communities better places to live) and blame others for their misfortune. Students were also highly moved by the hospitality of the community organizations when the students tabled at events sponsored by the community organizations.
Journalism Professor Robin Hoecker had many in-person activities and photography events planned for her Photojournalism and Environmental Justice students but was halted when the pandemic began right before the Spring quarter started. Instead, students photographed their own lives as well as the Chicago-area riots and protests in opposition of police brutality after the killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd. Students also studied the history of the Chicago heat wave, the Hull House, Lake Michigan, the Chicago River, and the impact of climate change in the city of Chicago. Professor Hoecker's perspective and featured student work can be found