- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The University of Chicago says President-elect Donald Trump paints the Windy City with a “broad brush,” and school officials are looking to pay someone to change its “unsafe” image.

Tour guides at the University of Chicago were recently challenged by its admissions office to find a “creative way” to change perceptions of the city with prospective students. An email obtained by the school’s newspaper shows Assistant Director of Admissions Colleen Belak lamenting Mr. Trump’s tweets on Chicago violence while offering $500 for the best way to counter a tarnished reputation.

“If you’ve paid attention to the national news (or Donald Trump’s tweets) over the last few months, you’ll notice that the city of Chicago is often painted with a broad brush as an ‘unsafe’ or ‘scary’ place to reside,” Ms. Belak wrote in an email provided to the The Chicago Maroon Jan. 6 on condition of anonymity. “Of course, certain realities should not be ignored, but at the end of the day most of us are proud Chicago residents with a deep love of the city.

“With that spirit in mind, we have an opportunity for you to win some money — $500 to be exact,” she continued. “If you are able to come up with a creative way to approach this negative perception, be it a video series, blog post, photo, or something else (and better) entirely, please put together a proposal and I will present it to the powers that be.” 

The school’s email comes on the heels of the most violent year for Chicago in decades. The city tallied 762 homicides in 2016, easily surpassing the 704 recorded in 1998, the last time the city had more than 700 homicides.

Mr. Trump tweeted on Jan. 2 that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel may need to “ask for federal help” if he could not figure out policies to stem the violence.

The school newspaper noted that University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus is rated 52nd out off 77 community areas for incidents of violent crime.

SEE ALSO: Chicago’s homicide total passes 700; reverend laments city’s ‘culture of death’

“Nearby Woodlawn and Washington Park neighborhoods rank 22nd and 27th respectively,” The Chicago Maroon added.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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