Student activists continue to protest DePaul while social distancing


Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia

DePaul University Lincoln Park campus.

In an era of social distancing, student activists dissatisfied with DePaul’s response to COVID-19 are using alternative methods to traditional in-person protesting.

The COVID-19 pandemic creates setbacks to student activist’s ability to organize, but DePaul student coalitions persist by utilizing numerous social media platforms. Student activism is finding virtual ways to include more student voices in order to hold the school accountable. 

“It does not prevent us from actively demanding that DePaul do better,” DePaul senior and student activist Kelly Garcia said. 

“Time and time again, students have proved that when they are at the forefront of confronting institutional oppression, effective change can happen,” she added. 

Multiple petitions have surfaced across social media platforms demanding answers to DePaul students’ concerns. While DePaul clarified some of these issues, they neglected to answer other important questions — one of the most prominent being housing concerns. 

Students were told to vacate on-campus housing in response to COVID-19, leaving many students struggling to make last-minute living arrangements. 

“DePaul took their time telling us what they planned on doing to help,” sophomore Nathalie Hoste said. 

Students came together to create a comprehensive document of housing resources. The document has been shared online, allowing people in the Chicago area to list what services they’re able to provide for students including free moving assistance, storage space and even couches to sleep on. 

Students also question if DePaul has appropriately allocated its funds to ensure resources and support for students and members of the DePaul community. Garcia was an RA on campus and was disappointed by the way the school handled the move-out transition.

“I’m disappointed in the lack of communication and accountability that there was in response to students who were (and continue to be) in dire need of resources, including but not limited to housing, food, school supplies, etc.,” she said. 

Members of DePaul Student Worker Solidarity, a group of students raising awareness to student grievances, have been among the most vocal about DePaul’s reaction to the virus.

“DePaul doesn’t want to hear people’s concerns and critiques. They want to do damage control. Why else would they not acknowledge student demands?” the group tweeted.

Student activists also criticize DePaul’s lack of support for social justice issues. Jorge Iniguez, a sophomore at DePaul, is well known amid his class for calling out unjust behavior online. 

In light of the 2020 presidential election, debates between right and left-wing students emerged in the Official Class of 2022 Facebook group. Some students made racially insensitive comments, to which Iniguez and his peers called out, resulting in punishment for some members.  

“I’m dirt to DePaul. [The administration] kicked me out of the Facebook group,” Iniguez said. 

He added that the students who made the original comments online did not receive repercussions. 

“[DePaul] is giving out a clear message. They don’t care about students of color.”

In response, DePaul students created an alternate Facebook group. The group offers a space for individuals to engage in open discussion without racist sentiment from others or restrictions from administrators. 

The Facebook controversy and other COVID-19 related stress continually sparks remote student activism at DePaul. 

”It’s not a fun school to attend during this crisis,” sophomore Esther Ajayi said. “They are pushing aside the concerns of students and their wellbeing.” 

In the midst of a crisis, students want DePaul to listen to their concerns and take the steps necessary to ease Coronavirus induced burdens. By addressing some issues and ignoring others, students expressed that they feel like DePaul doesn’t value their concerns.

“I feel like the administration shuts us down and makes a decision by themselves,” Ajayi said. “Then, they wonder why it isn’t working and why people don’t like it. It’s because they aren’t listening.”

The DePaul student body has rallied for each other because they feel that the school hasn’t offered much support to students. 

”I feel like they aren’t listening to us at all, even with all of the petitions,” Ajayi added. “They don’t care.”