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Education

Lack of evacuation plans leaves students, staff unprepared

By Mary Beth Versaci/For CU-CitizenAccess -- On April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 students in two separate attacks on the Virginia Tech campus, one in a residence hall and the other in a classroom.

On Feb. 14, 2008, Steven Kazmierczak entered a lecture of about 150 students at Northern Illinois University and shot 26 people, killing five of them.

If a shooter were to walk into a classroom on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus, the University is ready with a campus-wide Emergency Operations Plan , but no campus mandate requires each individual campus building to have an all-hazards evacuation plan.

Darrell Hoemann/Foellinger Hall on Friday, Feb. 3, 2012 on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus has a campus-wide Emergency Operations Plan, only 16 percent of its buildings have building Emergency Action Plans. The Office of Emergency Planning began an initiative to establish such plans for every building on campus more than two years ago, but estimates it will take a decade to get plans in place. The plans help building staff prepare better responses to emergencies like the presence of a gunman in a classroom.
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Low income students up more than 50 percent in Champaign County schools

 Public school districts everywhere have seen dramatic increases in the number of low-income students as overall enrollment has decreased or remained the same. 

Across the county, nearly half of students enrolled in public schools are now low income — a 56 percent increase over a decade ago. 

Among schools with 900 or more students, Rantoul, Champaign and Urbana school districts have the highest percentages of low-income students. Low-income students are defined as all schoolchildren (ages 3 through 17) receiving free or reduced-price lunches or other forms of government aid.

Darrell Hoemann/The News-Gazette/Students at Westview Elementary School practice their reading in a English as a Second Language class.
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Local schools see deep drop in white students

 By Pam G. Dempsey and Melissa Silverberg/CU-CitizenAccess — Over the past decade, public schools in Champaign County have seen a loss in white students, but none more so dramatic than in its two largest urban school districts. 

Officials attribute the shift in students to national trends mirrored by census data as well as more choices in private education. 

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Darrell Hoemann/The News-Gazette/A hand-drawn poster of students at Westview Elementary School in Champaign, Ill.

Four years later, state-funded campus security grant waiting for disbursement

By Mary Beth Versaci/For CU-CitizenAccess -- Nearly four years after a report on Illinois campus security recommended that $25 million be appropriated for the improvement of campus security across the state, no college or university has received any money, and state officials are just beginning to draft plans for a grant program using the funds.

“At this point, the program hasn’t been developed,” said Patti Thompson, Illinois Emergency Management Agency media contact. “There is no program for colleges to apply for grants.”

Darrell Hoemann/ The News-Gazette/Gregory Hall on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.
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Sidebar: Behavioral Intervention Teams

By Mary Beth Versaci/For CU-CitizenAccess -- A Behavioral Intervention Team is made up of representatives from offices across the University of Illinois campus meets once a week to discuss students whose behavior can be considered disruptive and concerning to the rest of the campus community.

This behavior oftentimes does not require disciplinary action, but it has reached a level of concern and needs to be addressed before it escalates, said Ken Ballom, dean of students.

Darrell Hoemann/The hallway of the English Building Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Counseling and psychiatric services at Midwest universities are straining under the increased demand from students who are entering schools with more serious illnesses than seen before. A 2011 national survey of counseling center directors found increases in students who are on psychiatric medication and longer wait times for services at counseling centers.
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Campus lacks resources to meet demand for mental health services, safety initiatives

For the past five months, journalism students and faculty have examined the state of mental health treatment at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

By Darrell Hoemann/Gregory Hall Friday, Feb. 3, 2012, on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Campus. Counseling and psychiatric services at Midwest universities are straining under the increased demand from students who are entering schools with more serious illnesses than seen before. A 2011 national survey of counseling center directors found increases in students who are on psychiatric medication and longer wait times for services at counseling centers.
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University campus struggles to meet growing demand for mental health services

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is seeing more demand for mental health services but is struggling to meet that demand.

More of the university’s students are on psychiatric medication and more students are diagnosed with severe issues such as depression and anxiety than in years past.

For most college campuses across the nation, this is now considered “the norm” rather than atypical, Carla McCowan, director of the Counseling Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign said.

Cowan said that years ago counselors dealt with students saying they had problems with roommates or were homesick or having trouble in classes.“

Darrell Hoemann/Carla McCowan, director of the Counseling Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, discusses student mental health in her office Friday, Feb. 3 at Espresso Royale near the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus. Counseling and psychiatric services at Midwest universities are straining under the increased demand from students who are entering schools with more serious illnesses than seen before.
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Rising tuitions hurt middle class students most at University of Illinois

By Christen Grumstrup/For CU-CitizenAccess -- As tuition rises at the University of Illinois, the middle class student is facing the most financial pressure, say financial aid officials and students.

Sandy Street, the director of the University Office for Planning and Budgeting for all three university campuses, says that the middle class is most affected by tuition cost because they are the ones that “don’t get the state aid.”

 

Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess/Main library at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaing Monday, Nov. 7, 2011.
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