We write this from a university computer, the access to which we will expect to pay off for the rest of our lives. Today we still feel the aftermath of Milo’s event; women, students of color, and queer students seek refuge in small “safe” corners of campus. Today, like any other day, we stay on guard, constantly looking over our shoulders, everywhere we go. Friends and community members are still recovering from assaults and verbal attacks from adults who do not even attend DePaul University. Overall, rapists and abusers are still not being held accountable, we are still being harassed by other students, we still deal with racism, sexism, transphobia, and ableism enforced by university policy, and we still have no safety from a campus security force that profiles Black students.
We tell you this today because we do not get a day off from this turmoil. This is what it is like to try to receive an education from a hypocritical university while also trying support ourselves fiscally. During your free day at France, we are here in Chicago, finding nooses in front of dorms, trying to justify paying a tuition that supports your six figure salary and trips abroad.
We share absolutely no opinions with Milo Yiannopoulos. Even though you acknowledge that white men occupy the top positions in every industry, we share very few opinions with you, a white man occupying yet another top position.
The issues concerning this past weeks events and those done by organizers throughout your term as president, are about more than just free speech. The fact that DePaul College Republicans got to hold this event to justify violence against DePaul’s Black and Brown students is indicative of the unaddressed sexism and racism that your administration perpetuates on campus.
As this proceeds, we wish to make a few things crystal clear:
- It is clear that this University, by hosting disrespectful speakers who dictate their racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and ableist opinions is complicit in the violence. We are ashamed ofDePaul University administrators who were made aware of a (change.org) petition signed by more than four-hundred students and faculty members to disallow hate speech on campus. Your inaction has fueled our action. Although he was invited by one organization, Milo was not welcomed by most students on this campus. Milo and his supporters do not care about respectful, intellectual discourse. DePaul Republicans brought him to campus to justify violence against marginalized students, especially Black and Brown students of color. Ultimately, the right to assemble is free speech.
- We were alarmed at adults verbally abusing and assaulting students including Black and Brown women while Public Safety only chose to protect the white event goers. In doing so, they neglected to protect DePaul students and permitted countless violent acts. In a society that vilifies and criminalizes Black and Brown rage, we support the right to organize and defend our bodies and our rights. In an attempt to be peaceful, we were met with violence, and we sought to protect each other. We pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to attend this school, and so we will yell, holler, and occupy space for as long as it takes for our demands to be met.The experience could have been a chance for DePaul administration to take action on these issues, instead they choose to ignore the needs of students.
- We wish to applaud every Black and Brown body taking up space and making noise. We thank those who shut down the event and those who have supported each other since. We condemn DePaul Public Safety and the Chicago Police Department for their participation in the violence. As Black and Brown women had been physically assaulted and verbally abused, you protected the perpetrators and the assaulters. Father Holtschneider, shame on you for thanking those who harmed the students you serve. There are several departments and offices that disagree with what you are saying. They do not have the institutional responsibility or power to make change, and unfortunately you do. It is time for you to listen and act.
- On behalf of Feminist Front, we would like to thank every Black, Brown, Queer, Trans, Disabled, Undocumented, Working Class, International, Femme and allied student.
How dare you refer to D-Day to glorify war and conveniently ignore the fact that Black soldiers went to France to fight for freedom, only to return to their lynchings. We came to this university to follow the Vincentian mission and strive for social justice because you welcomed us. You told us we were leaders and you claimed to advocate for justice and dignity for all people. So we did, and so we are.
We, as two Queer Brown Women from Puerto Rico and México respectively, were never included in the Bill of Rights. We refute the fact that hate speech can be protected under the guise of free speech.
You have shown us that you do not support marginalized communities and that instead of eradicating institutional violence on our campus you continue to encourage it. We demand that you immediately resign, apologize to the marginalized students you neglect, and admit your wrongdoings and complicity in this systemic, institutional violence.
We reject your blessings.
Kara Lynn Rodriguez
Sarah María Acosta Ahmad