Rachel Otwell

Reporter

Rachel's reports currently focus on education and equity. She's also reported extensively on arts, community & diverse culture. 

She's a graduate of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois Springfield, and while obtaining that degree she spent a legislative session covering news for Illinois Public Radio with a focus on fracking. Rachel also holds degrees in Liberal & Integrative Studies, Women & Gender Studies and African-American Studies. She's tutored Rwandan refugees in Ohio, volunteered at a Kenyan orphanage,  served as an activities assistant at a nursing home and volunteered at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. 

Rachel started a career in public media in 2011 when she interned for the National Public Radio program Tell Me More with Michel Martin in Washington, D.C. Her reports have also appeared on NPR, WorkingNow.org, and 51%.

Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Media

In the midst of #MeToo movement and several high-profile sexual misconduct cases involving its own faculty, the University of Illinois is announcing recently released recommendations that would change how the university handles cases of sexual harassment and misconduct. Recommendations include prohibiting confidentiality agreements that keep findings of misconduct secret, and a system for tracking and disclosing findings of misconduct on a "need-to-know" basis.

Sally Deng, special to ProPublica

Tuesday, November 19, 6 - 8 p.m.

Main Library, Room 66

University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign

T. Christian Miller, a Pulitzer-winning journalist and editor with ProPublica, will moderate a discussion about issues of sexual harassment at UIUC, especially sexual misconduct perpetrated by faculty and staff.

Pat Nabong special to ProPublica

The ACLU of Illinois, press freedom groups and victims’ rights advocates urged the university to alter a policy that requires reporters to tell campus officials about sources’ sexual harassment complaints.

Pat Nabong, special to ProPublica

A new report from a University of Illinois panel on faculty misconduct seeks a broader definition of sexual harassment and more transparency. But a university spokesperson couldn’t say when the reforms would be adopted or how much they would cost.

Rachel Otwell

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign committee released on Tuesday its recommended changes to how the university handles claims of sexual misconduct against faculty.

Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Media

A University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate student and lecturer has filed a lawsuit against the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, alleging the university withheld public documents regarding faculty sexual misconduct that should have been released through public records requests.

Pat Nabong, special to ProPublica

Former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Gary Gang Xu assaulted and threatened students while university officials downplayed complaints, a lawsuit says. He ultimately resigned, taking $10,000 as part of his separation agreement.

This article was produced in partnership with NPR Illinois, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

Sally Deng, special to ProPublica

After NPR Illinois and ProPublica found that several University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professors who violated policies were allowed to quietly resign and take paid leave with their reputations intact, lawmakers called for reforms.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

A new report from NPR Illinois and ProPublica shows the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has protected the reputation of several members of the faculty accused of sexual harassment.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s tenure crossed the 100-day mark. She marked the ocassion by giving a speech laying out the city's significant fiscal problems, but stopped short of saying precisely what she wants to do to fix them.

Sally Deng, special to ProPublica

An administrator resigned amid sexual harassment accusations. Another college hired him. A professor was found to have stalked a coworker. She agreed to retire, then won a Fulbright grant. Campus leaders vow reforms, but many say it’s a long road.

This article was produced in partnership with the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

Pat Nabong, special to ProPublica

NPR Illinois and ProPublica found several sexual harassment allegations against University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign faculty that haven’t been publicly reported. Here's a rundown of the accusations, the consequences each faced and their responses.

This article was produced in partnership with ProPublica Local Reporting Network .

c/o Marc Nelson

In highly politicized times such as these, teachers are often warned to remain neutral in the classroom. But at a public primary school in Kewanee, Illinois, one art teacher is showing kids it’s their duty to speak out about injustices.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey

A look back at the top stories in Illinois politics and government over the past year.

c/o Shriver Center

A new report says Illinois lacks comprehensive guidelines when it comes to dealing with sexual misconduct cases in elementary and high schools.

Brian Mackey

The Illinois Statehouse is looking festive this year, with its annual outdoor lights descending from the dome to the ground. But on the inside, things look a little less traditional.

Illinois Public Radio

Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker and a new crop of legislators will take office come January. Those crafting state education policies say they will continue one of the biggest fights in recent years, finding more funding for teachers, students and schools.

Alex Coleman / Illinois Newsroom

Students across Illinois are calling for tougher campus policies on sexual harassment and misconduct as the Trump administration proposes changes to federal law that victims’ rights advocates say would weaken guidelines that are already lacking.

Rachel Otwell

Preston Jackson is a martial artist, an accomplished guitar player, an educator and professor-emeritus, and a visual artist who has studios in Bartonville, Peoria and Chicago. His newest work, unveiled on Tuesday, is a mural that depicts the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis caring for the wounded after the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield.

Alex Coleman / Illinois Newsroom

Every college campus has standards and policies to prevent sexual harassment. But time and again, repeated complaints are filed against professors for saying and doing inappropriate things -- yet they often keep their jobs. Documents and interviews from two recent cases on campuses in Illinois shed some light on the reasons why this remains a persistent issue at many schools.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

In an especially contentious election year, there are a couple alternatives to the major party candidates in the race for Illinois governor. But, even some backers of third parties say they aren’t great options either, though that’s not where they want the story to end.

Rachel Otwell

Preschool is a key part of building a solid foundation for lifelong learning, some experts even say it’s the most important part of a child’s education. And yet, it’s not considered by the state of Illinois to be as important as K-12 education, based on the way funding is allocated.

'Hell No to the Memo' rallies have popped up in response to word from the federal Dept. of Health and Human Services that it wants government agencies to limit the way gender is categorized. That information came out via a leaked memo reported on by The New York Times. Trans-rights’ activists say it’s a move that would unravel work they’ve accomplished. They say gender is not binary and their identity is valid.

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

It's been one year since the #MeToo movement led to a letter about sexual harassment and misogyny within state government being circulated and signed by about 200 people who work within it. Like many public sectors, this was one with problems that had yet to be adequately reckoned with.

Mary Cullen / NPR Illinois

This month marks a year since the Me Too movement went viral as a hashtag on social media (after having first been started in 2006 by Tarana Burke.) This week, we've been hearing from several women in Illinois whose work in government has been affected. 

Illinois Senate Democrats

This month marks a year since the Me Too movement went viral as a hashtag on social media (after having first been started in 2006 by Tarana Burke.) This week, we hear from several women in Illinois whose work in government has been affected. 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This month marks a year since the Me Too movement went viral as a hashtag on social media (after having first been started in 2006 by Tarana Burke.) This week, we hear from several women in Illinois whose work in government has been affected. 

Rachel Otwell / NPR Illinois

This month marks a year since the Me Too movement went viral as a hashtag on social media (after having first been started in 2006 by Tarana Burke.) This week, we hear from several women in Illinois whose work in government has been affected. Today we hear from State Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez of Springfield who is the Republican spokesperson for the House Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Task Force

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

This month marks a year since the Me Too movement went viral as a hashtag on social media (after having first been started in 2006 by Tarana Burke.) This week, we hear from several women in Illinois whose work in government has been affected. The first woman we spoke to is Susana Mendoza, state Comptroller and member of the Illinois Anti-harassment Equality and Access Panel.

Rachel Otwell

Athens is a town like many others in central Illinois. With a population of about 2,000, it’s rural, and encapsulated by fields of crops like corn and soybeans. Visitors driving into town off the interstate are ushered in by numerous American flags and a welcome sign listing several area churches.

LLINOIS STATE MUSEUM, DICKSON MOUNDS MUSEUM. ARTIST, ANDY BUTTRAM.

States like Hawaii, South Dakota and Alaska have replaced Columbus Day with the designation of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day.' It's a trend that goes back decades, and in 2017 a law was signed that brought Illinois up to speed with that trend. Sort of.

Pages