Thumbs up: To an anonymous local donor who has pledged to match donations the Egyptian Theatre can raise by Aug. 15, up to $25,000. Besides the generosity of such a pledge, offering the donation as a match encourages more people to give. Knowing their own donation will essentially be doubled, people who may have hesitated because they can’t afford to give much may go ahead and donate the $10 or $20 they can, and all nonprofits know that every little bit helps.
Thumbs down: To lower expectations. U.S. business economists have reduced their forecasts for the country’s economic growth for 2014, expecting the economy to expand only 1.6 percent this year – the weakest year since the Great Recession. The reduction comes after figures showed that the economy shrank by 2.9 percent during the chilly first quarter of this year. We never like to hear gloomy economic news and would like to blame the “polar vortex” for some of that contraction. Either way, economists are expecting growth this year, just not as much as they once expected. People need to feel secure and spend more freely if we’re going to see better growth.
Thumbs up: To Northern Illinois University for responding to concerns about sex assault on campus. The Obama administration released some alarming national numbers earlier this year, including the statistic that 1 in 5 coeds is a victim of rape, but only about 12 percent of college women attacked report it. On Wednesday, NIU President Doug Baker announced the formation of a task force to address sex assault concerns, comply with new federal regulations, make changes to student discipline policies and raise awareness about the university’s several resources that are available to victims. The task force’s 20 members will meet weekly and make recommendations to Baker by Oct. 1. Sex assault is a serious issue and its victims should not suffer it in silence.
Thumbs up: To increased library use. During a report to Sycamore City Council members, Sarah Tobias, the Sycamore Library’s executive director, said that both material checkouts and visits have increased, partially because library leaders have been buying more copies of bestsellers. The number of books circulated went up by 14 percent in the past year over the previous year. If popular books bring patrons into the library, perhaps they will discover the wealth of literature, both old and new, that isn’t attracting as much publicity. We applaud library leaders for increasing use of this great facility.
Thumbs up: To creativity and connection. Twenty students, including six from Taiwan, attended the Northern Illinois University co-ed video game camp this week. They learned how to create their own games including character and concept development, as well as learned how to interact with each other. Aline Click, director of E-Learning Services and director of the Digital Convergence Lab at NIU’s library, said video games are part of most children’s culture, regardless of where they are from, and can help them identify with one another despite their differences.