Page 29 – V #107 I #3: Fake news around Safe-T Act, one of DePauls 125 faces and Banned Books Week


The DePaulia podcast is back and with our new host Amber Stoutenborough. Listen in each week to get an inside scoop of the latest news at DePaul and Chicago.

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The Multimedia Managing Editor Amber Stoutenborough talks to Editor in Chief Erik Uebelacker and Managing Editor Patrick Sloan-Turner about their article on the Safe-T Act. Then Amber sits down with The DePaulia’s news editor Kiersten Riedford to discuss one the 125 faces of DePaul, Danny Cruz . Ending with our Focus Editor, Una Cleary on why Banned Books week is important and how DePaul decided to celebrate it.  

Host: Amber Stoutenborough
Producer: Amber Stoutenborough
Editors Interviewed (in order): Erik Uebelacker, Patrick Sloan-Turner and Kiersten Riedford and Una Cleary
Music: Do it by Paolopavan


Hi. My name is Amber Stoutenborough and I’m the multimedia managing editor for the DePaulia this year. I will also be the host of the podcast. Page 29. The DePaulia is a student-run newspaper that prints 28 pages each week covering Chicago news as well as everything else about DePaul university. This is page 29. 

Today I’m meeting with Eric Ubelacker, our editor in chief of the DePaulia as well as Patrick Sloan Turner, the online managing editor. This week, they wrote a story about Safe-T Act and all the misinformation around this new law.

Amber Stoutenborough: I’m here today with Eric Ubelacker and Patrick Sloan-Turner, Hi guys.

Erik Ubelacker: Hi, Amber,

Patrick Sloan-Turner: Hi Amber.

Amber Stoutenborough: Can you explain what the safety act is?

Erik Ubelacker: So the safety act is, it includes a lot more than just what’s being publicized. The biggest part of the safety act is the elimination of cash bail for certain criminal offenses.

This isn’t a new idea. This is something that has been kind of thrown around mainly by progressive groups. But even some libertarians groups as well for people that don’t want to hold certain criminals in jail just because they can’t pay bond. So that’s been, what’s been getting the most attention from the Safety Act is the elimination of that cash bail.

Because that’s where a lot of the rumors have started, that this is some kind of purge law. That crime is now going to be legal, that all these jails are going to be setting criminals free, which based on the sources that I talked to are just completely untrue for the most part. But that’s the crux of what you’ve been hearing about the safety act.

Patrick Sloan-Turner: And like Erik said, it’s not a new idea, but, um, last year it was passed and it is the first bill of its kind that’s actually been passed. And I think that alone just its freshness and newness kind of feeds into the fire a little bit with the rhetoric that’s been coming with it.

Amber Stoutenborough: I was going to say, I feel like I’ve heard so much misinformation. Also like just in Chicago, we have like city wire in other places that are just telling us misinformation

Erik Ubelacker: Well, it’s, it’s made worldwide news as kind of the purge law. I’ve been reading stories from all over the world talking about the significance of this when in reality, you know we don’t know what it’s going to look like when the law takes effect on January 1st, 2023.

But I think a lot of the misinformation stems from the fact for a couple of reasons actually, Illinois is the first state that is trying to get rid of cash bail. No other state has done it before. It’s like I said, kind of been popular in progressive circles and Illinois is not the most progressive state. Outside of Chicago, it’s a very red state, so it’s very polarized. We have a lot of centrist democratic history in Chicago government as well. I think a reason why people are so prone to misinformation about it is because of Chicago’s reputation as a violent city. Chicago’s reputation as a city with a lot of people in these prisons.

So, anytime you have a law this new passed, especially in a city where the issue of crime is as polarizing as Chicago, people are going to be very susceptible to misinformation from the right. The right has a very big presence outside of Chicago, in Illinois as well. So I think that that’s been the biggest reason for misinformation.

Patrick Sloan-Turner: I also think timing plays an issue here. You know, we have an election coming up and fear can be a powerful tool to get people on your side and to listen to what you have to say. So I think it was kind of a perfect storm of the timing and using Chicago’s reputation, like Eric said, just to kind of push this message and wield it for political use.

Amber Stoutenborough: Okay, interesting. Did you talk to anyone that was really supportive of the Safe-T act?

Erik Ubelacker: So I did not talk to anyone that was like unequivocally in support of this act. I talked to three sources that acknowledged that it had some positive benefits to it. And all of them agreed that it was a step in the right direction. Kareem Butler, for example, he’s a pretrial justice fellow at Chicago Appleseed, which is an organization that’s centered on achieving quality within the criminal justice system.

Obviously somebody like him, he was very much in support of abolishing cash bail like this, because contrary to what you may be reading from a lot of the misinformation about the safety act. Abolishing cash bail does not put people that “should be in jail” out on the streets. Everyone that is eligible for cash bail if they had the money, they would be back, they would get their freedom anyway. So every source that I talked to acknowledged that this was a positive step in limiting the class disparities and the racial disparities in Chicago or all of Illinois’ criminal justice system. Because it gets rid of that barrier if you’re arrested for a crime and bail is set at $10,000, if you can’t pay the $10,000 you remain in jail. Obviously, you know, when you say it like that, just thinking about it, you can see why that would cause disparities in the criminal justice system because wealthy people can commit crimes, pay bail and get their freedom. That’s not the case for many people in Illinois.

So in terms of getting rid of class disparity, in the criminal justice system, everyone that I talked to acknowledged that that was certainly the case.

Demetrius Jordan, the DePaul professor that I talked to, he again, acknowledged the positives that it could have and kind of limiting inequities in the justice system. But he even floated the idea that this might not even be the reason for the bill to pass in the first place. Chicago in particular, but all of Illinois tend to be on the fuller side. That costs the state a lot of money. So if you have all these people that can’t pay their bail anyway, if you’re not giving the state money to pay your bail, you’re actually costing the state money by remaining in prison.

So he thinks that that was probably a pretty significant reason behind this part of the safety act, getting rid of cash bail is because it costs the state so much money as well. So, people on the right should look at this and be like well, that’s a good thing. We’re saving the state money so it doesn’t fall neatly along party lines.

Patrick Sloan-Turner: I think like a big part of the messaging that’s been pushed by the right. The misinformation really is that cops are going to be powerless in arresting people now, or judges won’t have any discretion, or ability I should say to keep offenders pre-trial, but that’s just like categorically untrue. Like any cop that feels that offender is danger to public safety, can still arrest them on their own discretion in any court in Illinois can still make that same determination

Amber Stoutenborough: Do you guys have anything else that you think is important for the listeners to hear?

Patrick Sloan-Turner: I think that it’s important not to read really anything and have some kind of knee jerk reaction of like, oh, this is what’s going to happen. Like Eric said, in reality, we don’t really know what this is going to look like. I think that like, it’s not going to be some crazy extreme thing in either way. You know, the water’s going to find its level and, I think it’s just a piece of criminal justice reform that Illinois started first and it is going to spread elsewhere.

Amber Stoutenborough: Well, thank you guys so much.

Erik Ubelacker: Thank you, Amber.

Patrick Sloan-Turner: Thanks Amber.

You can view their article here: SAFE-T slander: Misinformation surrounds Illinois’ new criminal justice reform law



Amber Stoutenborough: I’m here today with our news editor, Kiersten Riedford . about her story about Danny Cruz. Hi Kiersten.

Kiersten Riedford: Hi Amber

Amber Stoutenborough: So can you tell us, who is Danny Cruz?

Kiersten Riedford: Danny Cruz is the head custodian for the Schmitt Academic center. He not only is a custodian that’s been there for 28 years now but he also is in charge of a lot of different areas over his time he’s been here. He is the custodian in like the alumni hole and other areas of the school. He also works with the library and stuff like that, but I think there’s a lot more to Danny than what we kind of notice and like something that I added in the story too, is how Danny works in a food pantry outside of working at DePaul. He is really tied to his Vincent chin values. 

So he really notes that in order for him to feel whole as a person, he has to live, breathe and be like the Vincentian message. So he saw a service needed, and it’s just something that’s like really big to him. So yeah, that’s basically who Danny is.

Amber Stoutenborough: Where did you find the inspiration to write this story?

Kiersten Riedford: Basically newsline came out with their solidified 125 faces of DePaul on their website and linked it and I was like, “Wow, super cool, I’m gonna look at this.” And then I saw Danny’s face all lit up and big, and I was like, no way because last year when I would walk around and distribute the papers for the DePaulia every week, I would always see him when I was carrying like three or four stacks of the paper, he’d always be like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so strong” because I’m carrying like four stacks of papers through the SAC and one time he even said like, “If you were fighting a bear, I wouldn’t want to be the bear. I’d be on your side.”

Amber Stoutenborough: That’s amazing. So you mentioned 125 faces. Can you explain what that is?

Kiersten Riedford: The 125 faces of DePaul project was basically- it wasn’t really much of an initiative, more just this year is the 125th anniversary of DePaul’s existence. Like a really like pivotal moment. For instance, the logo from this year, it was chosen by the university leaders to represent the 125th anniversary, and the art was done by a student that’s a senior this year.

So they’re really just going all out this year, but they wanted to choose 125 people at DePaul that they think represents the Vincentian message, like the mission as a whole, and what really makes DePaul like what it is. So the people that were chosen were nominated by different people in the DePaul community. So, it’s just a collection of a bunch of people that they think represents what DePaul really is.

Amber Stoutenborough: And who chose that?

Kiersten Riedford: From what I was reading, they had 145 nominations and then basically they went by whoever was chosen the most amount of times. So it was like the top 125.

Amber Stoutenborough: That’s really cool, and Danny Cruz was one of them?

Kiersten Riedford: Yup. So when you look at the website, the people that have the bigger circle, like profiles, have the most amount of votes. And Danny’s was the biggest circle.

Amber Stoutenborough: Oh, that’s amazing, that’s really cute that everyone picked him.  How did it go talking to him about this? Like what did he say when you asked to interview him for this story?

Kiersten Riedford: You know, it was interesting because I had to go through his boss first to make sure he could actually do it.

When we actually got to like sit down with him and everything, he was really nervous. It was kinda cute but he kept re-emphasizing that he doesn’t feel like he’s worthy. Like he said, “This is my job, this is what I’m doing. I’m doing this for the kids. I’m doing this for like everyone that’s here. I’m not doing this for accolades and awards and everything else. Like, I’m just doing this to like to get the paycheck to be able to get the education that my wife and my kids need” and you know, he’s just doing it to make sure that his family has a good life. And out of it because of his personality and like bubbliness and like willingness to talk and be with people, He’s gotten so much more from it. So I think that’s really cool, but yeah.

Amber Stoutenborough: That’s amazing. Was it an in-person interview when you did this?

Kiersten Riedford: Yeah. Basically, me and Erin Henze, our assistant photo editor, all met in the SAC, and we met there and he was like, “so I don’t know what to do. Do you like, what do you want me to do?” And Erin’s like, “oh, just stand right there” and holds the camera. And he’s like, I don’t know what I’m doing. He’s like talking mid photo is kind of funny.

Basically after that, He just walked us around the school and showed us a bunch of different stuff that he does. And I think something what’s really cool is he showed us like all the small aspects of it.

 Every time we’re in a classroom, we have to make sure the podium is in the center of the room. We have to make sure all the chairs are like back to where they should be, because it kind of looks chaotic after a whole class gets done. And like the whiteboard needs to be wiped down. Stuff like that.

 I think some of the things I did kind of already know about the facility, but that’s also because I’ve been made really aware of a lot of things in the school, kind of just what comes with my job. But I think something that was super important that he pointed out was like, he was emphasizing how everything in the building goes towards helping the students that go to the school. He was like, my kids, my family, like this school, like everyone that’s here is like my family. And the stuff that I’m doing is making sure that I’m helping take care of them and keep them safe.

Amber Stoutenborough: He really deserves that 125 face.

Kiersten Riedford: I mean, like I would argue that too. So it’s interesting how he doesn’t think so, but I think I would argue that he does. Okay.

Amber Stoutenborough: Well, thank you so much, Kiersten

Kiersten Riedford: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me.

Read Kiersten’s article here :‘I don’t feel worthy of it’: Danny Cruz named as one of 125 Faces of DePaul


Amber Stoutenborough: All right and next we have Una Cleary, our focus editor for the DePaulia. This week she wrote about banned books. Hi Una.

Una Cleary: Hi, Amber.

Amber Stoutenborough: So, can you tell me about what your story was this week?

Una Cleary: Yeah. So I wrote about Banned Books week 2022. Kind of just all about what banned books week is, the history of it, the controversy around and a lot about the polarization of it in our country, how it’s become quite a political statement.

Amber Stoutenborough: That’s really cool. Is this like nationwide that it’s just a full week of banned books, like a whole discussion on it?

Una Cleary: Yeah, it is. The American Library Association started it. And they started it to talk about banned books, just like why it’s important that we have it.

Amber Stoutenborough: So, why is it important for this?

Una Cleary: Yeah, so like what I was saying, um, a lot of what the conversation around it has been, it’s been around censorship in our country, and that has a lot to do with the first amendment, our first amendment rights as Americans. And that is our right, and banning information for anyone is something that is going to become like an argument for a lot of different people. Um, even the organizations that are banning it are using American ideals to kind of argue against them, and so I think it’s like just kind of funny how it’s almost like the same reasons for arguing it, but they’re kind of using it in different ways.

Amber Stoutenborough: That’s an interesting perspective to think that it’s just, it’s the same argument. They’re just like angry at each other for it.

Una Cleary: Yeah, basically. I mean, it’s, it’s all about censorship and, just taking away information from people. And a lot of the people I interviewed, just talk about why that’s so crucial that we have this information.

Amber Stoutenborough: So you said that signal that came in to discuss with DePaul about banned books. Can you explain like what they are and what the event was?

Una Cleary: Yeah. So city lit theater is a Chicago theater company. And for I’m pretty sure 15 years now, they’ve been doing live readings of banned books. Like, so whatever the previous year’s banned books were, um, they come into different libraries around Chicago. And they will read excerpts from different books.

And so they came to DePaul this year, and did that. It was super fun. It was a full just a lot of students, some professors. And yeah, it was just super fun to hear, um, some of the readings,

The excerpts, their reading is reasons why the books are banned. Um, okay. And some of the books. Like, it’s just funny what they’re reading, The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian was about this. The main character. And his new friend at his new school. And the kid is explaining to him that, reading books will give you a boner.

And the kid was saying that it will give you like a literal boner, not in an actual And he’s like, yes, I’m getting a boner from this. And so they were like, Acting it out. And it was just super funny to hear, especially when you, when you see it acted out, and you’re like, oh, this is the reason that the book was banned. It’s just super cool I think.

Amber Stoutenborough: Comical and almost like, oh, this is it. 

Una Cleary: The reason, like it’s, I mean, if anything I learned from this from writing this article is that books will be banned for, I mean, really any reason at all. A lot of the times when books are banned, they’re banned because they may have one instance of talking about mental illness or talking about, someone kissing or something like that. I mean, they’re being banned for absolutely anything and everything. I mean, it’s yeah, it’s crazy.

Amber Stoutenborough: Interesting. Yeah. And your article, you talked to a lot of different people. Can you kind of explain like what they were talking about?

Una Cleary: I quoted, um, the, English chair. Michele Morano. And she had a lot of interesting things to say. She just asked, like, why is this threatening? Why is learning about race and LGBTQ rights, why is that threatening?

And, I think that’s a question a lot of people are asking, like, I mean, It shouldn’t, it shouldn’t be anything that’s threatening. Knowledge is not threatening. And, it’s being perceived as such, just like learning about these things or these groups that are banning these books, they think that it’s threatening because of a lot of different reasons. One of these reasons is because they think that reading these books will turn their children gay I mean, obviously just doesn’t make any sense and. It’s bold. I mean, it’s it’s not surprising that this is happening right With everything else going on. And that’s why the amount of books are being banned right now is just because of, I think everything else happening in are happening in our country. And these past couple of years, and I think it’s definitely in direct relation to, just the absolute polarization of politics in our country.

Amber Stoutenborough: Yeah, I was gonna say that’s one of the big pieces that you talk about in your article is about the polarization.

You know, like you said, it’s a huge topic right now and I just find it so interesting that it’s about like children’s books. Exactly. Not even just in general, but like that people are so concerned about what their children are reading that they’re willing to ban it for everyone. Yeah. Um, do you want to go more in depth with that?

Una Cleary: I read a couple of these organizations websites. And I read some of their mission statements, and I mean, I’m not surprised this is happening. And that it’s happening in like such an amount in these past couple of years. But it’s just completely like the way that they talk about it. They say that they’re bringing like liberty and they’re bringing American values back into schools, but it’s the complete opposite of what they’re doing. They’re censoring information.

That’s not what our country is supposed to represent. And it’s sad because they’re children and, if you’re grown up in these communities and that’s all you’re learning about, you can’t learn about these things. It’s just a cycle.

It’s just going to keep going on and on I think. So I think it’s really important to keep talking about it. And I think that’s why it’s, it’s super cool that we have a banned books week. Um, I think it’s great that DePaul had it, and so it’s great that DePaul had it, but I think we need to make sure that these type of things are all over the country. Happening in places where, you know, it’s not as liberal.

Amber Stoutenborough: So obviously they have a top 10 banned books, were there any that you’ve read from your childhood?

Una Cleary: I read the hate U give. And the absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian which is about a kid growing up on a reservation in Spokane Washington. I grew up in Washington and, I didn’t grow up in Spokane, but I mean reading that and I’m reading how education is there in our country. I read it freshman year of high school. The author came in and spoke to us because he’s from Washington. And it was just like one of the coolest books I’ve read. You know, it’s again, it’s nothing harmful. It’s just knowledge. That’s what it is. It’s learning about a perspective that’s different from your own. And it’s opening your mind. Even in a place like Spokane is a four hour drive from where I lived. And like learning about that, growing up Seattle, super liberal. So growing up there and learning about a place four hours away where they don’t have education like that. They don’t have all of these things. Um, It was, it was really just like, Really opened my mind. Same thing with the hate you give learning about police brutality.

It’s just knowledge. That’s all it is. And it doesn’t. I mean, it opens your mind, it may change your opinions, but. It’s not going to change like who you are as a person. But. I don’t know it was surprising for sure. And I think it’s sad that like, some people just can’t read these books because it, I mean, those two books definitely opened my mind, like early on in high school. And made me interested in things that I’m now interested in. And some people haven’t read those books or don’t even just don’t have the option to another thing. That chief of the English department said Michelle Marino,

It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the book. It’s your opinion to not like the book, but it’s the fact that you don’t have the option to read the book. Um, because taste is subjective, but if you don’t even have the option to, to read something it’s insane.

Amber Stoutenborough: Well, this is a really interesting topic. I’m glad you got to cover it this week and make it your focus piece as well. I mean, it’s absolutely amazing. Did you have anything else that you wanted to say?

Una Cleary: Look at the American library associations, top 10 most challenged books. I think everyone should read them.

Just keep reading books.

Amber Stoutenborough: Alright, thank you so much.

Una Cleary: Thank you.

Read Una’s article here : Books behind bars


You can read all of these stories and more at or picking up one of our print newspapers this week. My name is Amber Stoutenborough and this is page 29. Thank you so much for listening.