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Camille: Resolutions and Resolute Action

Camille Taylor

WJBC Forum

Rather than make resolutions I don’t keep, I focus on my hopes and dreams for the New Year. Here’s my list.

I hope to increase my advocacy for things I support, as well as things I’m against. I will use a variety of information sources to learn how best to advocate such as news updates from the League of Women Voters, Organizing for Action, and Action 36. I plan to be vigilant about what our legislators at the state and national level are doing and won’t hesitate to contact them to share my thoughts whether it involves the lack of an agreement to develop a state budget or the intent of the Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

I will be closely watching the new president, hoping that he will demonstrate responsibility and respect for the position he was elected to. I will not be silent if he chooses to be the Commander and Chief via Twitter using harmful and inflammatory rhetoric like he did during the campaign, nor will I be silent about cabinet choices who have demonstrated divisiveness and harm to our country via their past policy and/or business decisions.

I hope to increase the presence of the Not In Our School efforts locally, as well as continue to work with Not In Our Town to make our community more safe and inclusive for everyone. I hope to connect more with family and friends even without the benefit of social media. I don’t want to ever lose that “personal touch” that lets people know I care about them and love them.

I hope I’m healthy and strong, so that I can continue to care for those I love. I dream that students who depend on financial aid for college and people who have basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter can be served despite the stalemate in Springfield. I hope and dream for peace in our world whether domestic or abroad.

I hope that people will take the time to look at their source for accurate news as opposed to reading ‘fake news” and then using this information to make decisions and form opinions. I hope I learn new things this year and use that knowledge to benefit others. Last, I hope that people begin to acknowledge that “words matter,” and being polite and using good old fashioned manners should not be the exception, but the rule.

District 87 Taps Expertise To Address Social Media, Bullying

While Oakland Elementary School Principal David LaFrance reported bullying-related issues are “always a focus every year,” Bloomington’s District 87 is placing an expanded emphasis on the impact the Information Age – social media, cyberbullying, and the like – is having on students. the district also has hired a social media specialist to explore growing online concerns, he said.

“We have really looked at that avenue, and how we can support and be proactive and teach kids how to be appropriate with their use of the Internet and computers, because of the influence of social media and how it can influence bullying and truly hurt people,” LaFrance noted during Unit 5’s recent participation in the annual back-to-school West Side Block Party.

“Sometimes, kids make mistakes and make choices without realizing that the one thing you do, quickly, with the touch of a button, they can go out to everyone, and it’s forever.”

The addition of a technology specialist coincides with plans to roll out 1,300 new computers at Bloomington High School. The district is renowned for “one of the finest technology departments in the state,” with a BHS-based “iCloud” program that is helping shape school technologies across the state and, increasingly, the U.S.

Oakland Elementary School has implemented the SchoolReach CyberBully HotlineTM. The purpose of this program is to create an anonymous, two-way means for students, parents, guardians and others to report incidents of bullying, harassment, intimidation and information on potential harmful or violent acts by others. Oakland's CyberBully Hotline number is 309-232-8087.

LaFrance and others also continue to communicate the basics. Anti-bullying education begins with teaching students “how you should treat people in relationships,” addressing image issues that particularly affect older students, and “celebrating differences,” he said.

“Everybody has a story, and your story’s going to be different from mine, and that’s what makes us unique,” LaFrance stressed.

WGLT's Investigation of Race and The Law Spotlighted

WGLT's award-winning pre-Ferguson investigation of Twin Cities racial issues was again in the spotlight this week, in a featured spread by the Washington-based communications website Current.

In a story also featuring Not In Our Town: Bloomington/Normal leader Camille Taylor and photography from a recent police-community gathering, Current's Henry Scheider relates how the Illinois State University-owned station began reporting for its five-part Police and Race series in August 2014, spurred by an Illinois-mandated study of traffic stops that indicated that people of color were being stopped and searched significantly more often than white drivers.

The study also revealed that canine searches were ordered more often during traffic stops involving people of color, though white drivers were more frequently found with illegal drugs or weapons. WGLT's coverage drew local interest, "and then the situation in Ferguson brought that to everyone’s attention nationally,” Bruce Bergethon, WGLT’s general manager, told Schneider.

WGLT’s four-person newsroom sought "a balanced picture” of the relationship between police and minorities in the community, according to Bergethon. Over the next four months, WGLT reviewed recordings of police interactions with minorities, examined court records and interviewed public officials, scholars and residents of Bloomington-Normal.

The resulting series, which aired last December, received two National Murrow Awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association.

For the complete story, visit Current at

ISU President, NAACP Address Racially Charged Post Head-On

ISU President Larry Dietz has taken swift action to address the above Twitter post submitted following this week's events in Baltimore.

In the wake of the controversies surrounding the Freddy Gray case, protests regarding the case, and both peaceful protests and early turmoil in the streets of Baltimore, Illinois State University President Larry Dietz and the campus' NAACP responded swiftly to an inflammatory Twitter posting.

Here, in an open letter Friday, Dietz outlined steps taken, plans to publicly address concerns, and ISU's basic "not on our campus" commitment:

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This afternoon, I met with student leaders from the Illinois State University chapter of the NAACP.  The organization is planning a rally that begins at noon Friday, May 1, at Schroeder Plaza.  I encourage you to attend.

The idea for the rally was sparked by a racially charged Twitter posting.  Although the posting has been removed, and the Twitter account has no connection to the University, it does have the letters ISU associated with the account. 

This small-minded posting may have prompted our students to take action, but we all know it is another example of abusive, intolerant and often racist opinions and actions happening across the country.

As unsettling as it is to read headlines in the national press, it is even more troublesome when incidents occur in your own backyard.  The students I spoke to today told me that examples of this type of hostility can be found on our campus and in our community.

The United States Constitution protects our right of free speech, but it also enables cowards to hide behind anonymous social media handles and distribute vile and often racist content. It is not nearly enough to dismiss these individuals as fools or bigots - we must continue to speak out, and act to condemn and stop such behavior. I applaud our student leaders for taking action.

Diversity is one of Illinois State's five core values under the University's strategic plan, Educating Illinois

The value states:

Illinois State University affirms and encourages community and a respect for differences by fostering an inclusive environment characterized by cultural understanding, ethical behavior, and social justice. The University supports a diverse faculty and staff who mentor a diverse student population. The University endeavors to provide opportunities for all students, staff, and faculty to participate in a global society.

Those of you who know me or have heard me speak understand how strongly I feel about Illinois State's core values.  To those who cannot or will not respect these values, I invite you to follow your pursuits elsewhere.

To everyone else, I urge you to continue to speak out against intolerance whenever and wherever you find it.  A good place to start is Friday at noon at Schroeder Plaza.

Thank you.


Larry H. Dietz