The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

BREAKING: DePaul President responds to divestment demands

Grace Logan
A protestor, who wishes to remain anonymous for safety reasons, hangs a sign on the gates of DePaul University’s quad on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. Throughout the demonstration, this protestor and many others hung banners that completely covered DePaul’s fence.

The office of DePaul’s president, Robert L. Manuel, emailed the university community at 2:14 p.m. today in direct response to the DePaul Divestment Coalition’s various demands.

President Manuel emphasized the “need for a timely resolution” and that he requested a meeting with the Divestment Coalition tomorrow, May 7, through the engagement team formed in response to the encampment.

In the introduction, Manuel said that the administration hopes the DePaul community recognizes the “deliberation, thought, and care invested” in responding to the Divestment Coalition’s demands.

Manuel said that the university remains steadfast in its commitment to its Vincentian values and notes that the Catholic Church has offered clear guidance regarding calls for a cease-fire, similar to those made by the city of Chicago.

“We are aligned with the call for a mutually agreed upon cease-fire – one where the needs of both entities involved are met and is what both groups and other world leaders are currently working toward. We call for this in direct response to the suffering that the hostages continue to experience and the deaths of more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza.  We call for this because war anywhere creates intolerable conditions that need intervention by the elected and responsible leaders of this world,” the email said.

Furthermore, he called for an “immediate delivery of urgent, lifesaving humanitarian aid” to Gaza while also calling for the release of all hostages that remain in Gaza.

The Divestment Coalition has also called upon the administration to acknowledge the ongoing violence in Gaza as a genocide.

However, Manuel says this is still a debate among the international community. 

“…the question of whether a genocide is occurring is a question of international law and fact,” the email reads. He also emphasized that the university is “steadfastly against genocide.”

President Manuel says this stance aligns with the university’s founding religious values. 

However, he outwardly rejected the coalition’s demands that the university “remove individuals with ties to Israel from the Board of Trustees,” stating that this demand was against DePaul’s Vincentian values.

As the coalition calls for a pardon for student protestors, organizers and supporting faculty, President Manuel says the university will not offer “blanket amnesty” for all encampment participants. 

He argues that recent protests have led to misleading accusations about DePaul’s endowment regarding demands for divestment from companies profiting from Palestinian suffering and the occupation, as well as disclosure of investments.

Although the university does not make direct investments in stocks and bonds, instead putting money into funds managed by outside experts, Manuel said DePaul ensures that these managers follow responsible investing guidelines set by the United Nations. 

“As such, there is a comprehensive commitment to reviewing their investment practices and related portfolios across a variety of factors including environmental, social and corporate governance issues, among others,” the email said.

Despite not being responsible for the university’s investments, Manuel said he wants to involve the DePaul community in the conversation about where funds are directed and to provide “input to our Board of Trustees around concerns of the community.”

He also mentions that the university is considering adopting an advisory committee to provide “an opportunity for important concerns to be addressed for all constituencies in the university community.” 

“It is important to note that we are establishing this advisory committee because we believe it is a thoughtful measure, consistent with shared governance. Further, though our endowment investment practices do not drive direct investments currently, the intent of this advisory committee is not to divest from Israel,” the email said.

In response to demand number nine of the coalition, calling for the protection of Palestinian students and their supporters from threats, the university says it “does not support doxing as it is antithetical to free speech.”

Manuel dismissed the demand to end research collaborations with Israeli universities, as outlined by the Coalition, which alleged that these universities contribute to the “development of weapons and systems used to oppress, control, imprison and harm Palestinians.”

“One core principle of higher education is the concept of academic freedom,” the email said.

Manuel said that faculty members have the right, because of academic freedom, to “explore those relationships” that the coalition is calling for an end to.

He concluded that the university “can assist” with connecting the various voices and organizations throughout the university with official government officials for further resolutions.

Manuel also hopes to establish a university-wide group led by DePaul experts and other program leaders nationwide to continue engaging students and fostering dialogue between groups. 

“It is our fervent hope that DePaul will be able to perform the role that all universities should have – which is to enable empirical, civil dialogue – ensuring that we aren’t trying to find a winner or a loser, but rather attempting to educate, inform, and enlighten our students, faculty, and staff,” the email said.


Related Stories:

— ‘We plan to stay here’: Pro-Palestinian demonstrators firm in demands for divestment from Israel; encampment continues on DePaul Quad

— Live Updates: Encampment for divestment continues on DePaul Quad

— From the Editors: Reporting with care during protest

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