We all scream for ice cream (and answers): President Manuel holds Ice cream vision session


Lucas Paredes

The event originally was set to allow 25 students, but expanded to 30 due to increased student demand.

An earlier version of this story implied a university official was inaccurate in stating the number of attendees at Blue Demon Welcome. It has since been corrected.

President Rob L. Manuel hosted an ice cream social and vision session on Oct. 12 for students to express their ideas about what they want to see at the university. Originally, students were supposed to have the opportunity to attend a vision session earlier in the quarter, but Manuel combined the ice cream social and the vision session into one hour-long session.

Manuel held the vision session in the LPC Student Center. It was originally limited to 25 students but was expanded to include more students, due to increased demand. About 30 students and faculty members attended the social. 

Students were asked to discuss why they chose DePaul and to identify the university’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. 

This event follows an email from DePaul’s Joint Council outlining the need for university-wide budget cuts as a result of the fall census, which revealed a drop in enrollment.

When questioned about this decision by The DePaulia, Manuel replied, “I never talked about enrollment [in this presentation].” 

When questioned again Manuel responded, “So that’s the answer, right? The more we can get to the place where we provide the distinctive education that connects to what students want and what faculty know we need, the more people want to come here. That’s the desirability of an institution. And that’s where that connects to the ability to put money back into the things that are part of our mission and their core to what we are.”

Many students came to this event not knowing what to expect. It is a first for many students to have a president who is willing to meet with them.

“I think this was a great way to begin, especially kind of like I said, a little more like the previous president,” senior and SGA Community Engagement Coordinator, Jaslynn Hodges said. “I don’t think Esteban would have ever made such an effort to interact with students and connect with them.”

The main area of concern addressed by attendees of the vision session was DePaul’s diversity, equity, and inclusion. Manuel noted the university’s strides in representation but acknowledged that it still falls short.

“We have representation – but we do work next to each other, not with each other,” said Manuel. 

Manuel remarked on students’ desire to get involved and attend social events in the aftermath of Covid-19 and the success of Blue Demon Welcome. 

“There were like 4000 students,” Manuel said. “As the first major event, it was clear everybody was hungry [to get involved].” 

Via DeHub, 2,147 students registered to attend Blue Demon Welcome, with hundreds more registering by early check-in. 

After convocation, student Isabella Ali came out to the vision session to hear from Manuel.  

“I was hearing so much about President Manuel’s investiture,” sophomore and SGA senator for intercultural awareness Isabella Ali said. “I would really like to hear his goals for DePaul.”

Students have ideas of what they would like Manuel to prioritize when making a plan for the future of DePaul. 

“I’ve heard a lot from students that the lack of shared governance model at DePaul is really important to them, like they would like to see that structure kind of changed,” Hodges said. “I noticed that in his 125 Day approach, he listed that was something that he wanted to focus on.” 

A common theme of the vision session is improvement of the university’s diversity and inclusion. 

“I wanted to show them that these are issues that I feel have witnessed for three years now that I think should be addressed, especially if a president is allowing us to speak, then I will be here to speak, and I will be here to advocate for as many groups as I can,” junior Emmaeilin Salgado-Diaz said.

Manuel’s plans seem to be leading up to his inauguration on Nov. 11.  

“The goal before inauguration on Nov. 11, is to come up with ideas for the future of the university,” Manuel said. “To do that, I need to listen a little bit about what is important to the people who are at the university now, and then take that information into a vision that I can really see what you’re talking about at that point.”

Future vision sessions will alternate between the Loop and Lincoln Park campus and will be announced ahead of time via DePaul Newsline.