Mary Cullen

2018 Public Affairs Reporting Intern

Mary works as an intern for NPR Illinois' Illinois Issues. She is currently a student in the Public Affairs Reporting master's degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield and will graduate in May 2018. Prior to coming to Springfield, Mary worked as the Editorial Intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. She obtained her bachelor's degree in journalism from Illinois State University where she served as the school newspaper's news editor and editorial writer. Mary is from Naperville, Ill., and attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School.

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Illinois Senate Democrats

In addition to an overhaul of how the Illinois General Assembly deals with sexual harassment among its ranks, lawmakers approved several other measures meant to address concerns from the #MeToo movement. 

Illinois Senate Democrats

The Illinois General Assembly is continuing its push to change what’s been criticized as a culture of sexual harassment. Lawmakers approved the first set of recommendations from a task force Thursday.

The measure would overhaul the power of the legislative inspector general — taking hiring and firing authority away from the legislative leaders and giving it to the Legislative Ethics Commission.

It would also allow the inspector general to investigate sexual harassment without getting permission from the commission.

 

Flickr User: Stanford EdTech

A measure that has passed the Illinois House would require hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who can treat and examine victims of sexual assault. Some say it would mean better collection of forensic evidence and better treatment of victims.

Illinois State Police

 

For this week’s Illinois Issues, we bring you a story about a measure that would train more nurses how to collect DNA evidence after a sexual assault for use in a criminal trial, often referred to as rape kits. NPR Illinois spoke with Melissa Souto about her experience undergoing the testing.

Souto, a 23-year-old Chicago resident, said she was sexually assaulted two years ago on an Illinois college campus. She could not say where since her legal case is pending. Following the incident, Souto decided to get a rape kit.

BlueRoom Stream

More than 260 girls and young women came forward to tell their stories of sexual assault by former USA Olympic doctor Larry Nassar, who is currently serving multiple prison sentences for the abuse. The trial resulted in more than a prison sentence and settlement money for victims. It shined a light on the mishandling of sexual assault reports by young athletes. And last week, Illinois took center stage in this national issue.

VOX EFX / FLICKR

Casting a ballot before election day is becoming more popular in Illinois, according to a report by the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR). The group found that the percentage of voters opting to vote before election day climbed to 22 percent this primary compared to 18 percent in 2016.

Landmarks Illinois

The Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin, which are frequented by hundreds of thousands of people annually, are included on Landmarks Illinois’ latest list of Most Endangered Historic Places.

Landmarks Illinois compiles the annual list as a way to call attention to threats of development, deterioration and more.  

Mary Cullen / NPR Illinois

Illinois’ bicentennial commission finds ways to commemorate the state’s 200th with little time and limited budget.

Illinois will celebrate its 200th birthday with statewide events, building projects, specialty Pepsi cans, stamps, rosé, apparel and even an officials brew, "1818 Prairie State Farmhouse Ale."

Martha Dominguez on Unsplash

Lawmakers advanced a measure Tuesday that would require Illinois hospitals to have nurses on staff who can provide specialized care to victims of sexual assault, including children.

The measure would require Illinois hospitals to have Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), who can treat and examine victims, on their staff within five years.

 

Illustrator Pat Byrnes​

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, state lawmakers have tried to address sexual harassment in a variety of ways. We explore what's been done and what some say may be ahead.

Accusations of harassment from a campaign worker against her supervisor and close aide to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, Kevin Quinn, led to Quinn’s firing last month. Madigan is still struggling with the ripple effects from Alaina Hampton’s claims, with some observers predicting this could be the downfall for the powerful politician.

Hampton’s story has also brought attention to how political campaigns deal with sexual harassment.

University of Illinois Springfield

The University of Illinois Springfield trained students and staff on how to respond in an active shooter situation at an hour-long training session this month.

During the session, UIS police showed a video by the Center for Personal Protection and Safety that demonstrated the many responses to an active shooter situation on campus.

 

While colleges are all about learning, it’s a sign of the times that this subject is being taught.  

FRANKIELEON / FLICKR- 2.0 GENERIC (CC BY 2.0)

Opioid deaths nearly doubled in Sangamon County last year, with heroin as the leading cause in 20 of the 42 opioid-related deaths, according to data retrieved from the county coroner’s office.

State Rep. David McSweeney at podium
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Two new proposals at the Illinois statehouse aim to hold lawmakers and other government officials accountable in cases of harassment or discrimination.

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Nearly 90,000 students in schools across Illinois do not have access to high-speed internet, preventing them from participating in modern classroom activities like taking online tests or classes and browsing the internet.

Legislation announced Wednesday would set aside $16.3 million to help fund the installation of fiberoptic cables for high-speed internet in about 100 districts. The one-time state payment could be matched with roughly $47 million in federal funds.