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The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student News Site of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul’s College of Law cancels event scheduled at Trump Tower

(Carolyn Duff  / The DePaulia)
(Carolyn Duff / The DePaulia)

Following waves of student protest, DePaul’s College of Law cancelled a contract to hold an upcoming event at Donald Trump’s eponymous Trump Tower in Chicago.

Michael Burns, the associate dean for student affairs for the College of Law, announced in a Feb. 2 email that the university would accept all fees for the contract cancellation of the college’s annual Barristers’ Ball. The event, which is expected to take place in early April, will instead be held at a different venue.

“It is important to us all that this event be held at a venue that all of our students feel welcome and comfortable at,” Burns said in the email.

The decision was made by both the College of Law administration and the Student Bar Association (SBA) leadership, according to Burns’ email. Officials from the College of Law and university spokespeople denied multiple requests for further comment.

Trump has proved to be a divisive figure during the presidential election cycle, in which he is running as a Republican candidate. Holly Sanchez, president of the Latino Law Student Association, said she thinks that polarization was a large factor in inciting student disapproval.

“There’s two effects that your actions have on people. One is your intention and the other is the way it’s perceived,” Sanchez said. “And I think students just said that by holding (the Barristers’ Ball) in the Trump Tower, everyone (was) going to perceive the administration and the school to be a body that values an event over the inclusiveness and safety of the students.”

In particular, she said students objected to Trump’s rhetoric regarding Hispanic and Muslim people.

“Students were like ‘OK, am I even welcome in this place?’” Sanchez said. “Not that DePaul wouldn’t welcome them, but that this location with this person who directly says these things, (were they) going to be welcome there?”

According to Sanchez, students began voicing their feelings about the venue on Facebook and other social media sites the weekend before the decision was made. From there, the conversation gained momentum as posts were shared and viewed many times over by people within the College of Law community. By the beginning of the week, Sanchez said that even alumni noticed to the dispute, and that their involvement was instrumental in getting action to be taken so immediately.

Speaking to the swift turnaround surrounding the controversy, she said her group met on Monday, Feb. 1 to discuss the controversy and planned to meet with SBA the following day. However, by Tuesday, the event’s contract had already been cancelled.

Some students outside of the College of Law agreed with the university’s decision to move the location of the event.

“I think that that’s good because I feel like here at DePaul it’s a very liberal atmosphere and I feel like a university associating (itself) with a presidential candidate, especially Donald Trump, kind of sounds like a bad message,” said freshman Erica Skibicki. “And a lot of people here aren’t really Trump supporters.”

Laraib Fatima, a junior, added that she thought the decision was “the right thing to do.”

“Although there are people on both sides of the whole Donald Trump pro-con situation, it’s better to not take a firm stand as a university,” Fatima said. “If they did it there, it’s more (like) they’re advocating for the person rather than just having the event in a neutral place… It’s not like they moved it from the Trump Tower to, if Hillary Clinton had a building, to have moved it there.”

Others were concerned about the expenditures that the school would incur as a result of the event’s breach of contract. Although the exact amount of fees has not been released, some students say that they doubt the cancellation will be worth the money.

“I don’t think it was worth it for DePaul to cancel (the contract), because it’s going to cost them extra money for event cancellation fees and such,” freshman Connor Petit said. “Just because the event venue was branded as ‘Trump’ doesn’t mean that you’re supporting his political ideology when you go there.”

In a similar vein, sophomore Cam Murray said the university decision was a “safe move,” but that it didn’t take into effect that ramifications the sudden cancellation could have on employees only affiliated with Trump by name.

“I think that (it) affects those who are planning the event,” Murray said. “I think that people would be affected by the cancellation perhaps if they relied on the income from the event. You can’t just necessarily target one individual and have this righteous decision made based on not liking Trump.”

Despite a somewhat mixed reaction across campus, many law students said they are relieved and appreciative that DePaul took their considerations into effect.

“The law school tends to be separate from DePaul in terms of the institution, so I think that for lots of students we took this to mean that the administration did really want to implement Vincentian values in diversity and including and putting yourself in the minds of others, and being empathetic with others,” Sanchez said. “Those are the kinds of values that DePaul stands for.”

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