The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Op-Ed: On April 17, SJP was sanctioned: A message from your Student Body President

All thoughts shared are solely Parveen’s and do not represent any entities she may be associated with.

Student organization, staff, and faculty leaders: if there is one line you take away from this, let it be that right now is an incredibly dangerous time to be a visible figure on the margins in any institution of higher education, especially this one. To the best of my knowledge, I am the first Sikh and South Asian student body president of this University. I want you to know that my opinions are informed by being someone who often finds herself as the sole student and therefore sole dissenting vote in many issues of shared governance at this institution; someone who is more concerned with the livelihoods of the students, staff, and faculty who keep this institution alive than making pleasantries with trustees and donors; someone who believes that we all have a vested interest in making this institution great; and someone who is firmly convicted that only students, staff, and faculty can decide what greatness is.

I also say all this as one of the organizers behind the DePaul Divest campaign. We are all aware that institutions of higher education act as authorities on attention; informing national priorities and, in the process, shaping what and whose idea matters (or does not) as the whole world bears witness. Regardless of the exact politic you hold, the intense and continued retaliation that student organizers and advocates across the nation are experiencing should command all of our attention and solidarity.

University of Southern California valedictorian Asna Tabassum, Columbia University students at a solidarity encampment, and countless others are experiencing unprecedented abuse at the hands of institutions we pay for and support: if any of this can unfold in metropolitan, private, ‘liberal’ institutions of higher education, in ‘blue’ states, then it can and will impact all of us here at DePaul. And what happens to students like myself and academics who do not draw distinct lines between life as a marginalized person and scholarship? The ramifications are already here. 

This past academic year, we already knew of student protestors being pulled into disciplinary processes for breaking arbitrary guidelines: because despite being an institution of higher education, the premise of the protest doesn’t matter as much as whether or not the exchange happened on an authorized bulletin board. A town hall that cultural and allied organizations were asked to attend to express grievances becomes disappointingly pointless as any chance of open dialogue with the administration begins and ends in hiring a third-party facilitator. Dozens of students including myself can stand in line at designated microphones and be given almost nothing in response from senior leadership but silence or something to the tune of “I do not have a satisfactory answer for you”. 

Even in student government meetings, and on late evenings when I find myself fielding questions from a DePaulia reporter or my peers, virtually every other sentence of mine begins with the essential phrase “off the record” to mitigate any risk to myself or my peers. The reason I am writing to you all is because [on April 17], the Student Organizations Team with the Office of Student Involvement contacted the Co-Presidents of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) via email. This included the immediate sanction that “Students for Justice in Palestine is not eligible to request approval for or post any fliers, handbills, or other display materials for the remainder of the Spring 2024 quarter.” 

I highly question the timing of this decision knowing that this sanction will be in effect the entire time that SJP and I are actively campaigning on the issues of fiscal transparency and divestment. I strongly condemn the selective scrutiny SJP is facing knowing that at the time of this writing [April 18], unauthorized flyers leading with “Hamas, let my people go” are being actively distributed on the Lincoln Park campus. This cannot deter us. Recognize that at DePaul, the notion of a diverse, 30+ organization coalition advocating for financial transparency and divestment is not palatable to the institutions of shared governance.

From cooking to animation to law student organizations, our diverse interests and shared values make us so much stronger than we realize. So what materializes, instead, is a cruel, demeaning narrative of SJP as a sole actor— as a careless and irresponsible ringleader of a fringe cause. For this reason, I can only call in as many organizations as possible, especially those with a more privileged membership, and those already backing DePaul Divest, to help diffuse the University’s scrutiny of SJP by taking the initiative to flyer, organize actions, and support the referendum offline without doing so only under SJP’s banner. 

I leave you with this: as the spring quarter marches on, realize that free expression at DePaul is already dead, and those who choose to dissent, privately or publicly, will be shut out now more than ever before. 

The ongoing, abstract discourse around academic freedom and open expression cannot be accepted by us as student groups and organizations continue to be targeted. To organize around financial transparency and divestment demands a dismantling of inaccurate, simplistic understandings for a new method: returning to an approach that neither starts nor ends in politics, but with our voices. Passing a referendum is a process imagined in the hearts and hands of the student body, unafraid and undeterred, as we are the arbiter of how this institution claims and lives its values. And it is a liberation we must not only be bold enough to dream but also share in realizing together.

About the Author

Parveen Kaur Mundi is DePaul University’s 2023-2024 Student Body President. She is a third-year undergraduate pursuing a major in Political Science with minors in Chinese Language Studies and Global Asian Studies. Parveen’s academic interests lie in South, Central, and East Asian languages and civilizations, international human rights law, and the positioning of cultural minority communities in religious nationalist contexts. She is committed to scholarship that interrogates how power, lived religion, extrajudicial violence, and ethics operate in these contemporary political landscapes.

Submit an Op-Ed to [email protected]. The DePaulia editorial staff has the right to decline publishing of any Op-Ed or guest essay. 

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