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DePaul Targets Eight BIPOC and Jewish-Led Student Organizations for Disciplinary Action After Encampment

DePaul University

The DePaul University administration sent an email requiring eight student organizations to attend disciplinary meetings for their support of an encampment calling for divestment from Israel’s genocide in Gaza. These disciplinary measures come just weeks before graduation and days after DePaul President Robert Manuel authorized a Chicago police raid on the student encampment, during which a police officer removed the hijab off of a Muslim student bystander before arresting her. 

The DePaul Divestment Coalition is a network of over thirty student organizations supporting divestment, but the only student organizations the University is targeting are those led by cultural minorities, including all organizations that participated in the encampment negotiations with President Manuel. The University notified them that they were accused of violating unspecified policies in unspecified ways, and must arrange an initial meeting with the administration by Friday, May 31st. 

Yesterday’s notice from the administration was sent to Palestinian, Jewish, Latine, South Asian, Native/Indigenous, and Black student leaders, including those who are regularly consulted and depended on by the University to provide input on University operations including the University budget, reviewing the Code of Student Responsibility, student safety, and other advisory matters. One of the organizations impacted by the DePaul administration’s disciplinary measures is the Student Government Association, which is considered part of the University’s governance structure. 

The administration’s initiation of the disciplinary process is a clear attempt at suppressing the Palestine solidarity movement. This attack represents a fundamental shift from the values DePaul claims to most cherish. “Myself and the other organization leaders being targeted have immersed ourselves in advocating for improved student life at this campus as long as we have been students at the institution. The administration’s recent weaponization of the conduct process to suppress student freedom of expression of these same organizations is shocking and unprecedented,” said Student Government Association President Parveen Kaur Mundi. “This will all have a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression at DePaul not just for us, but for students who engage in activism on all kinds of issues.”

Student organization leaders anticipate that the University is pursuing the first steps of a conduct process that will ultimately stifle the organizations’ rights to call for future protests. While negotiations were ongoing, President Manuel used the threat of discipline in an attempt to coerce the students’ agreement to the unreasonable demands he made during the negotiations. During those negotiations, he made clear that one of his main aims was to end Palestine solidarity protests at DePaul; he offered some degree of amnesty predicated explicitly on agreement by the coalition of organizations to not further “create organized disruptions,” especially during finals or commencement.

The student groups currently targeted by the DePaul administration are the Student Government Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, Jews for Justice, the Black Student Union, Native American and Indigenous Student Association, Students Against Incarceration, Movimiento Estudiantil de Solidaridad y Apoyo, and Southwest Asian and North African Cultural Association.

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