DePaul students organize in response to budget gap


Amber Stoutenborough

Megan Galarza, a student organizer, speaks to the crowd of protestors.

On the same day expected to be marked with the first round of terminations at the hands of DePaul’s budget crisis, student organizers mobilized in support of DePaul faculty. 

Information gathered by The DePaulia brought DePaul’s $56.5 million budget gap to light, and with it, the looming threat that many term and adjunct faculty may not have jobs next academic year. Students organized a protest starting at the Lincoln Park Student Center. 

The organizers, consisting mainly of students from the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (LAS), the college expected to be hit the hardest, went into the protest with clear demands: What they described as “accountability” of the budget and an independent audit. 

Students who study in departments whose existence hinges on few, if not a singular full time faculty member, began to worry about their education and what it meant for DePaul as an institution. 

“DePaul really needs to protect those programs that don’t already get the most funding in general before this big change,” said Chase Campell Lyon, a DePaul student and protestor present on Monday. “Those are the programs that are really working their hardest to impact students’ lives with the stuff that they have…. I feel like that says a message of the values of DePaul.” 

Professors at DePaul echoed the same concerns regarding the future of the university. 

“I’m scared that the changes we’re trying to make right now are short-sighted,” said Joseph Mellow, associate political science professor. “They’re not going to help us in the long run. We need to restructure, and we’re talking about cutting the most vulnerable people instead. That’s ridiculous and it’s not Vincentian.”  

As the protest began, the group marched to the corner of Sheffield and Fullerton as the “core organizers” went inside the Public Safety office, to meet with top DePaul administrators. Those officials included President Robert Manuel, Provost Salma Ghanem, VP for student affairs Eugene Zdziarski and Chief of Staff Arbin Smith. The organizers spoke with these administrators regarding their demands. 

While the protest’s “core organizers” declined to comment to the DePaulia, during a speech an organizer stated they plan on meeting with administrators again Thursday and hope to involve SGA in their discussions. 

Shortly after the conclusion of the protest, Erika Sánchez, the Juana Inés de la Cruz Chair in the Latin American and Latino Studies Department in LAS and award-winning author, announced that her contract as a term faculty member had not been renewed. Taking to social media Sánchez expressed her frustration with DePaul. 

“DePaul does not care about its students and faculty of color,” Sánchez wrote in an Instagram post. 

Sánchez commented on DePaul’s position on becoming a HSI (Hispanic Serving Institution).

“Keep in mind that DePaul is trying to become a Hispanic Serving Institution and that I’ve been repeatedly asked to recruit Latinx students,” Sánchez said, “Also, I was asked to be the speaker at Latinx graduation this year, which is very LOL right now. Also keep in mind that Latinx make up only 6 percent of DePaul’s faculty. The student body is 23 percent Latinx. The city of Chicago is 28.8 percent Latinx. THE MATH IS BAD.” 

Students as well as student organizations took to social media to express their concerns. 

DePaul MESA, an organization centered in “Empowering Latines at DePaul through social, academic, and professional development events.” posted a statement in response to Sanchez’s announcement.

“We refuse to let our professor’s non-renewal contract slide without a fight,” said MESA in an instagram post. “DePaul needs to know that we are angry, hurt, and disappointed, and that we demand a better, more inclusive institution. Together, as a united front, we will fight for justice and equity in academia!”