Faculty info sheet addresses ongoing racial tensions

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Faculty info sheet addresses ongoing racial tensions

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An info sheet Friday was given to faculty detailing the efforts administrators are taking after the Milo Yiannopoulos’ event last week. The document, obtained by The DePaulia, came hours before a student town hall with President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., and days before a similar event with faculty addressing race tensions on campus.

The document lists the problems and aftermath of the last week, and also answers some frequently asked questions from staff. Among those questions are why student groups are allowed to bring people to campus if their views are against the university’s mission and what actions, if any, will be brought against the protestors of the day.

Valerie Johnson, chair of the political science department who has also received hate mail and other messages, said the document is not enough.

“I find it objectionable that this narrative starts with the protests when many things happened before that,” Johnson said.

In a DePaul Facebook group in January, the n-word was used in multiple posts in a discussion thread. After racial incidents at Mizzou, BSU and other student groups held a solidarity event, and after meeting with them, Holtschneider issued a “tepid” response, Johnson said.

Leading up to last Tuesday, there were also chalkings on sidewalks around the Student Center in April which included phrases like “Build the wall” and “Blue Lives Matter.” The day of the Yiannopoulos event, a student wrote an anti-Mexico statement in an oil-like substance on the quad. A Change.org petition before the event raised concerns about the nature of the speech, noting fears of xenophobic and racist speech at the event. Holtschneider, in a quote on the petition’s site, said he did not share the same level of concern as those creating the petition.

This quote and the lack of action to stop the speech or turn it into a moderated one, Johnson said, shows that Holtschneider “had plenty of time to exhibit some concern for marginalized groups.”

The event itself has caused an uproar on campus, and emails from Holtschneider have led to many calls for Holtschneider’s resignation.

Ann Russo, associate professor and graduate program director of the Women and Gender Studies and Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies departments, said that though emails and info sheets can be helpful to making sure people know what went on last Tuesday, addressing the timeline of events on campus and allowing those most affected to lead discussion is important.

“There are so many things that need to be done and those most impacted should be at the center of formulating and envisioning next steps and necessary measures to cultivate accountability for the racial, gender, xenophobic harassment and hostilities of this past couple of weeks,” Russo said. “The town halls are a necessary but only a small step in the process.”

Within the FAQ section of the sheet, the answer to whether or not protesters would be reprimanded was that the actions of those who disrupted are currently being addressed. Johnson said this is unconscionable.

“The very notion that these students may face disciplinary action is problematic,” Johnson said. “It’s tragic that DePaul has chosen the ‘cover your ass’ approach.’”

Johnson said this is a leadership crisis, “pure and simple.”

The school is attempting to address the concerns of its faculty, staff and students no matter their political background or thoughts on the administration’s actions over the past two weeks in the coming week as the school winds down for summer break. Provost Martin denBoer, at the student town hall Friday, said he felt it was important to hear from multiple perspectives across the university as DePaul goes forward.

“I’m here because I believe in what the university does in a Vincentian sense. I want to improve things, and learning about what’s not working is an opportunity,” denBoer said. “For students it’s much more real and emotional. Students are more vulnerable to this than faculty or staff, but there’s a lot of emotion there too, because they fear for themselves and for their students.”

Read the full info sheet.