LINCOLN — A presentation on curbing violence in Chicago by Zachary Fardon, U.S. attorney for northern Illinois, gave Lincoln College President David Gerlach an idea.
“We're doing it (curbing violence) in a different way,” said Gerlach. “We're educating students.”
About 100 to 150 of Lincoln College students — out of a total enrollment of just over 1,000 — come from the south and west sides of Chicago, said Gerlach.
He compared their locations with a map from the Chicago Sun-Times showing where shootings had occurred since 2015 and noticed many of those violence-scarred areas were near where his students come from.
Gerlach said that caused him to “wonder what life is like for some of our students.”
He had a couple of students come in and asked if they would tell him what it was like to grow up in Chicago amid the violence.
“I had all I could do to keep from tearing up,” said Gerlach. “I need someone to tell their stories.”
Gerlach reached out to assistant professor Deb Antoine, the lead faculty member for the college's radio, television and new media program. He asked, “Do you think this could be a project your students could tackle?”
Antoine agreed it was a good project and her students have begun interviewing fellow students on camera for an eventual documentary.
“I was pleased, but not really surprised, by how willing students are to tell their stories,” said Gerlach.
“This is part of the success story. They should be incredibly proud with the environment they came out of and what they've accomplished here,” he said.