North Central College experts were all over local and national media in October 2020, giving their opinions on the most important matters in the news.

North Central News

North Central College experts answer the call to help the public make sense of the news


Kelly Murphy

Oct 30, 2020

As times of uncertainty have continued to take society by storm, North Central College has stayed current within the media landscape. From national media placements on technology and the pandemic, to what’s happening in politics, the College’s subject-matter experts have been able to provide the public with knowledge they need on everyday issues.

Dr. Marci J. Swede weighs in on e-learning making snow days obsolete in the New York Times

For generations, snow days meant no school and a day of fun for many students. Now, they are likely to mean logging into a laptop for a Zoom lesson due to the coronavirus pandemic and increase in online learning. Many school administrations are making the decisions to do away with snow days, citing the pandemic. When schools were forced to transition to online learning in the spring, officials realized they could do the same during hazardous weather.

Dr. Marci J. Swede, dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences at North Central College, spoke with the New York Times on this topic. She mentioned that at the college level, many students are parents themselves. A snow day that disrupts day care could put those students behind if they must skip online class to care for their children.

“We have to have some compassion for the complexity of the students’ and the teachers’ lives,” said Swede.

Click here to read the full interview on the New York Times website.

Dr. William Muck talks technology and international discussions during the pandemic in the Associated Press

In a world where technology is playing a larger part in our daily lives, world leaders feel closer than ever, yet still far apart. This sentiment was revealed during the United Nations General Assembly, a common thread in a COVID-era world. While the remote General Assembly created a more intimate setting, it still somehow felt colder—even the people who collectively govern the world can’t necessarily transcend the nature of teleconferencing that has become foundational to the way human civilization operates in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. William Muck, professor of political science at North Central College, discussed in an interview in the Associated Press that it has become increasingly clear that the “information superhighway,” as the internet was called in the 1990s, has, in the coronavirus era, become more congested with traffic than ever.

“COVID has created an inflection point. Countries are starting to rethink how they connect with each other. It’s hard to imagine everything that has occurred over the last six months occurring five years ago,” said Muck.

“Tech is one way they see that they can solve problems and avoid political pitfalls,” Muck said.

Click here to read the full article on the Associated Press.

Dr. Mary Groll shares medical perspective on federal case regarding child neglect in the New York Times

In late August 2020, a 12-year-old girl, Kaitlyn Yozviak, was found unconscious in her home in rural Georgia. Her cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest and the secondary cause as severe anemia, the result of repeated lice bites that lowered her blood iron levels.

The unusual conclusion that lice could have killed a child raised doubts among some doctors and scientists. But child welfare specialists said the details of the case underscored deep concerns about how the coronavirus pandemic has cut many children off from teachers, counselors and doctors who could report possible signs of neglect or abuse, especially as families struggle with the economic crisis.

Dr. Mary Groll, professor of health sciences at North Central College, was quoted in the New York Times on this case.

“There have been a handful of cases of children with severe lice infestations who were hospitalized for low levels of anemia,” said Dr. Groll. “But I don’t know of any deaths from it. It is possible a child could suffer a fatal arrhythmia if hemoglobin levels fell precipitously. But before concluding that the lice alone were the cause, a doctor would need to know if there were other factors, like a diet of processed foods or menstruation.”

Click here to read the full article on the New York Times website.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo reveals what to expect on first presidential debate of 2020 on FOX 32 Chicago

The first presidential debate takes place on Tuesday, September 29, and it is the matchup the American people have been waiting to watch. Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago and broke down what to watch for during the first presidential debate of 2020 between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

“The first debate is an exciting one because it gives us a chance to see the two candidates on the same stage together interacting,” said Dr. Caliendo.

While some are saying the first debate is always a popular one, this debate is being deemed as “must see TV.” When Dr. Caliendo was asked if he was excited to tune into the debate, he expressed he was ecstatic.

“I’m a political scientist who studies American politics, my excitement level is at a 12 out of 10,” said Dr. Caliendo.

Click here to watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.

Caliendo shares insights on the role of television in presidential debates on CBS 2 Chicago

Sixty years ago, CBS Chicago hosted the first presidential debate ever televised. It turned out to be a pivotal night in the race between Vice President Richard M. Nixon and U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy. It also really illustrated the role of TV in presidential debates.

Historically, televised presidential debates have helped voters decide on which candidate they planned to cast a vote for on a ballot. But, by 2016, polls found only 10 percent of voters said the debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton helped them make up their minds.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with CBS 2 Chicago on this topic ahead of the first 2020 presidential debate.

“In other words, we have lots of opportunities to see these candidates through social media, through websites to 24-hour news TV, and that wasn’t the case in the 1970s, 1980s, and even in the 1990s,” Caliendo said.

And this year, polls show many Americans have already decided who’s getting their vote.

“But remember that the goal isn’t only to persuade undecided voters,” Caliendo said. “The goal is also is to energize people who are supportive of one of the other candidates.”

Click here to watch the full interview on CBS 2 Chicago.

WGN interviews Caliendo and Professor Suzanne Chod on what voters can expect from the first presidential debate

As the nation turned their attention to politics on Tuesday, September 29, two North Central College political science experts prepared for a special interview on WGN ahead of the first presidential debate of 2020. Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. Suzanne Chod, associate professor of political science, spoke with WGN political analyst Paul Lisnek on what voters should anticipate from the first matchup between President Donald Trump and former Vice President and democratic nominee Joe Biden.

When Dr. Chod was asked if these presidential debates even matter, she said, “That’s what political scientists are still trying to figure out. One of the things we know is that most people have made up their minds, which is typically the case; therefore, if you’re asking whether they [debates] matter in regard to changing people’s minds, no, they don’t really do that. What it can do, though, is it can mobilize or make people more enthusiastic about the candidate they already do support.”

Dr. Caliendo added, “Dr. Chod is absolutely right, per usual. I would also say that even if it is a small number of people who are undecided, that small number, the right state, the right time, can make a difference if the electoral vote is close.”

Click here to watch the full interview on WGN’s Facebook page.

Swede and Mikel Mays ’22 share a COVID-19 campus update with Naperville Community Television

Colleges across the country all had the same dilemma this year—how would they open safely in the age of COVD-19? To tackle the issue, North Central College created the “COVID-19 Institutional Response Team”, which would be responsible for creating a plan to get back to school. The team’s, along with other subcommittees’, strategy involved a multi-pronged approach to testing.

Dr. Marci J. Swede, dean of the School of Education and Health Sciences at North Central, interviewed with Naperville Community Television (NCTV) about the campus testing and safety protocols and the success the College has seen thus far.

“We are looking at what’s called a ‘surveillance testing model’ in which we routinely test a percentage of the students, staff, and faculty on campus,” said Dr. Swede. “To kind of get a sense of how our prevention methods are working, and to contain any potential outbreaks.”

Mikel Mays, a junior and a resident advisor at North Central College, also spoke with NCTV and said it was key to have a good relationship with his residents so they could understand and follow the health protocols.

“Building that relationship with the first years and having that empathy saying ‘I know that your senior year was horrible and you got these guidelines in place for your freshman year in college, but let’s just work together and get it done. So, we can stay here and get what we need to do [done]’,” said Mays.

Click here to watch the full interview on NCTV.

Caliendo weighs in on voter confusion ahead of the 2020 election on ABC 7 Chicago

As the election gets closer, voters across the country are trying to navigate how best to cast their ballots come November. More than 2 million registered voters in Illinois have requested vote-by-mail ballots, and tens of thousands have already filled them out, voted and sent in the ballots. Still, with Election Day is less than five weeks away and early voting is in full swing, the questions from confused and concerned voters are still pouring in.

Election experts and voting officials agree we are all likely to have questions on election night, most notably who won the presidential race. Mail-in votes take longer to process and verify at a time when staffing and budgets are challenged, and officials are warning that winners may not be known for days or even weeks in tight races.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, spoke with ABC 7 Chicago on how this confusion can be bewildering, but he hopes concerns about the process do not translate into voter apathy.

“Folks might be so concerned or confused, they just choose not to participate that’s a problem as a political scientist I want to have maximum suffrage, but I’m really worried about what happens afterwards,” said Caliendo. “I’m worried about the messages that are going to come from candidates or parties, particularly the president because he’s already signaled that he has legal teams in place that he expects there to be problems. “

Click here to watch the full interview on ABC 7 Chicago.

Dr. Steve Macek talks about the ’90s sitcom ‘Friends’ in the Naperville Sun

Instagrammable tourism and extreme ’90s nostalgia met and had a baby. Congratulations, it’s “The ‘Friends’ Experience.” Jonathan Mayers, the co-founder of Superfly X, which produces “The ‘Friends’ Experience,” said the exhibition is designed “to celebrate these television shows that we all love.” The show started as a 30-day pop-up in New York City and Boston in 2019. They decided to bring it to Chicago for 2020. While this ‘90s sitcom still remains to be a tremendously popular show it hasn’t exactly aged well.

Dr. Steve Macek, professor and chair of communication at North Central College, was interviewed by the Naperville Sun on how we reckon with our past favorites compared to the current standards.

“I’m familiar with the nostalgia around ‘Friends.’ When I was in grad school, I had a column in the student newspaper (The Minnesota Daily) and got some of the most negative letters to the editor for the one I wrote about ‘Friends.’” In the column, Macek pointed out issues such as the all-white cast. “That’s one thing that I still stand by — New York City projected by the show is a complete distortion of the New York of the time and to this day. It looked like a suburban strip mall circa 1990.”

Still, Macek says things have changed, and probably for good. “Thirty years from now you’re not going to have the same nostalgia for the streaming shows from now. There’s a defined niche for ‘Pose’ and another for reruns of ‘Duck Dynasty.’" The fans of those shows don’t connect with each other, Macek said.

Click here to read the full article on the Naperville Sun.

Caliendo talks SCOTUS nomination of Amy Coney Barrett on FOX 32 Chicago

Washington takes the spotlight today, October 12, as Judge Amy Coney Barrett appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first hearing of her Supreme Court nomination. With the Affordable Care Act and abortion-rights on the docket, the conservative—known for her strong religious beliefs—is facing headwinds from Democrats.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, was interviewed on FOX 32 Chicago about what citizens nationwide should expect to learn from these hearings. When asked whether certain topics will be deemed fair game to address by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dr. Caliendo shared religion might not be one of them.  

“I think the Democrats are advised to steer away from religion,” said Dr. Caliendo. “Questions about policy, record about policy, that is all fair game. It determines her judicial temperament and how she will apply the constitution to cases.”

Click here to watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.

Caliendo talks about ‘dueling town halls’ amid the race to the election on ABC 7 Chicago

Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Trump both appeared in town halls on Thursday, October 15, but some voters say they will be tuning out. With the election three weeks away and voting currently underway, experts say that events like these will be a key component in swaying the undecided voters.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with ABC 7 Chicago reporter Craig Wall about the town hall events and what it could mean ahead of the election.

“I don’t think these [town halls] are about persuasion, I think it’s about turnout, making sure people vote, get enthusiastic about a candidate or being excited to vote against one of the candidates, either way,” said Caliendo. “It’s about solidifying people’s feelings about these folks.”

Click here to watch the full interview on ABC 7 Chicago.

Shealeigh Voitl ’21 shares how Gen Z can save the election by working the polls in a published op-ed

As the election season nears a closing, more and more voters are embracing the “new normal” and finding new ways to participate in what has become one of the most contentious presidential races in history. North Central College’s Shealeigh Voitl ’21 shared her view on the topic and published an op-ed in the following publications: Canton Daily LedgerEffingham Daily NewsAugusta Free PressThe Bryan Times and Nueva Semana

The following is an excerpt from her published piece:

“More importantly, COVID-19 has highlighted our vulnerabilities as a nation and the many things we take for granted. Among them are election workers, 58% of whom were 61 years or older in 2018, an age group that is at greater risk of complications due to COVID-19.

Revall Burke, 60, a Chicago election judge, died of the coronavirus in April after working the polls at Zion Hill Baptist Church the previous month. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker responded to critics, who believed the March primary should be postponed, by saying that eliminating the public’s ability to vote in-person was unconstitutional.

While 16 states and two territories postponed their primaries, Pritzker maintained that attempting to unilaterally cancel in-person voting may set a dangerous precedent.

Pritzker emphasized that local election authorities were supported in their efforts to provide workers with PPE and hand sanitizer but that voters should try to prepare to vote by mail come November if possible.

So it seems that Gen Z has been given a unique opportunity to save the (election) day. Although not invincible, young and otherwise healthy people typically fall into the low-risk category for COVID, making many of them ideal candidates for poll workers.”

Click the above links to read the full op-ed.

Caliendo discusses expectations for the final presidential debate on FOX 32 Chicago

The final presidential debate took place on Thursday, October 22 and the two candidates faced off to convince voters one final time about their platforms. Moderator Kristen Welker chose six topics to focus on during the debate: fighting the coronavirus, race in America, national security—which was not covered in the other debate—climate change and leadership and American families.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago about what voters could expect to hear ahead of the debate.

“I will say that both have a lot on the line,” said Dr. Caliendo. “The president has to try to convince folks that he is still the right choice and that if the plan he put forward that attracted people to him four years ago isn’t finished and he has more work to do and if you want to stay on that path, you should elect him. Vice president Biden, of course, has a commanding lead, not only in the national polls but in many of the battleground states, in states that Hilary Clinton struggled in four years ago, but he has been pressured not to make the mistake, he needs to look presidential.”

Click here to watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.

Chod predicts what voters can expect to hear in the final presidential debate on WGN

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in the final presidential debate on Thursday, October 22. The stakes were high, but many voters were left curious as to what to expect from the two candidates as they took the stage.

Dr. Suzanne Chod, associate professor of political science at North Central College, interviewed with WGN ahead of the debate to breakdown what voters could anticipated from the contentious debate.

“I know it feels like we’ve heard everything from everyone at this point, said Dr. Chod. “I think for both candidates, what we’re going to see from Joe Biden is continuing to make the case that we’ve seen failed leadership from the White House and that he is the one that’s going to come in and be able to sort of take this country and unify it, unify us back together. President Trump is going to continue to say that Joe Biden is corrupt, he is going to bring up what others have been bringing up about his son. So, I think for President Trump, in this home stretch here, is really going to try to attack Joe Biden and spend less time talking about the things that he’s going to do.”

Click here to watch the full interview on WGN.

Caliendo debriefs FOX 32 Chicago on the final presidential debate

There are less than two weeks to go to Election Day and many Americans are still left undecided. With events like the final presidential debate, which took place on Thursday, October 22, it is an opportunity for both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden to provide a closing argument to their voting bases.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago and provided a political analysis on what took place during the final presidential debate.

“It’s hard not to think about the 2016 map and which states broke for President Donald Trump and how Vice President Joe Biden is leading in many of those states,” said Dr. Caliendo. “Remember in 2016, the polls were wrong in a number of states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—so, voter turnout will matter. We know it will be higher than it was in 2016, maybe the highest we have seen in modern times for a variety of reasons. The path to the presidency is narrow. The path for Joe Biden is larger because there are states now in play like Arizona. If those break differently, there is a lot of combinations of electoral votes that could lead right into the presidency.”

Click here to watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.

Caliendo discusses early voting breaking records on FOX 32 Chicago

The number of people voting early is massive, over 50 million people have voted so far, more than all the early votes from 2016 and there are eight days to go until Election Day. These figures are so large that they, in fact, are breaking records, making this election one for the record books in more than a few ways. However, the question remains as to whether the early voting records is due to the global pandemic or people wanting a change in leadership.

Dr. Stephen Maynard Caliendo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at North Central College, interviewed with FOX 32 Chicago to discuss this very topic.

“It’s hard to disentangle those things, but we will get a better sense next week around the end of the week,” said Dr. Caliendo. “We cannot discount the pandemic. Some states that were not doing early voting—typically as we have in Illinois other states have not—but they are now, so the opportunity is greater. There is no question people are worried about the density of the election place on Election Day so they’re choosing to spread out to get their voting done early.”

Click here to watch the full interview on FOX 32 Chicago.