Class project leads to house bill amendment

By Lauren Dielman

A class project for students in a sociology class led to a recently instated amendment to House Bill 180.

House Bill 180 is concerned with “disorderly conduct” at a memorial service or funeral. The amendment increases the time that the conduct is prohibited from 30 minutes to 60 minutes before and after the service. It also increases the distance that the conduct must take place from 200 feet to 1,000 feet away from a funeral site. This new change, thought up by students in Sociology 392: Organizing for Social Action, will take effect immediately.

Sociology professor Jack King said one of the options for the class was for students to select one or more projects that dealt with social justice.

“One of the students felt that although people have the right to protest at military funerals, people should also have the right to grieve in peace,” King said.

King said although his students weren’t sure if the bill would get voted on and sent to the governor, they are happy with the outcome.

“I was excited the students were willing to do it,” King said. “I’m really pleased with how it turned out. The students were surprised it made it as far as it did.”

King said one of the 17 students who took on the project, Gayle Deja-Schultz, followed up with the amendment to the bill and tracked its progress.

State Rep. Kay Hatcher, R-Yorkville, testified on behalf of the bill and the new amendment. The governor mentioned the bill and the amendment in his State Address.

The class project was also the inspiration for EnACT, a new program at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA).

King said the purpose of EnACT is to get the sophomore class at IMSA “engaged in legislation.”

Linsey Crowninshield, assistant director of Student Life: Leadership Education and Service at IMSA, said King’s presence at the IMSA campus was “overwhelmingly” successful in multiple ways.

“The energy and drive of IMSA’s current sophomore class with focus on EnACT has grown since professor King was able to enter our non-traditional learning environment and foster our students passion to pursue and impact positive societal change,” Crowninshield said.