President Robert L. Manuel > Notes from Rob > 2023-24 > Encampment removal

Encampment removal

​​​Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

I write to you early on this Thursday morning to inform you that despite our good faith efforts to come to a shared resolution with the DePaul Divestment Coalition, we were unsuccessful. 

I and the members of our engagement team have worked over the past 17 days to create a path forward that was guided by the desire to see DePaul come to a resolution with the coalition. Through those conversations, I became convinced representatives of the coalition could not speak for all members of the group supporting the encampment. The student leaders made this clear when they rejected a portion of the amnesty clause of the agreement, saying they could not represent the actions of all the student groups supporting the encampment.  

Since the encampment began on April 30, the situation has steadily escalated with physical altercations, credible threats of violence from people not associated with our community, an inability for the other members of our community to take part in the core academic experiences on our campus, and an ever-growing series of threats to the people involved in the encampment and our community members. From the beginning of the encampment, I have said that we would protect free speech and the ability to dissent until it either prevented us from carrying out the operations of our university or threatened the safety of the members of our community. I am deeply saddened to say the encampment has crossed that line. 

Our Office of Public Safety and Chicago Police are now disassembling the encampment. Every person currently in the encampment will be given the opportunity to leave peacefully and without being arrested. I urge all there to leave peacefully and return home. 

Since the encampment began, DePaul has taken great care to provide the greatest leeway possible for free expression. However, the expression of some has now led to the disruption of university operations, interference with student learning, and safety threats to individuals and the public. For example, we are aware of a death threat against a student and reports of individuals threatening to slit the throats of people they perceive to be Jewish or in support of the Israeli State. We are also aware that there was a bounty put out to identify certain members of the encampment. It is clear the encampment is now attracting outside threats to both those inside of it, and those around it

These threats have been accompanied by signs implicitly and explicitly advocating violence. We have had instances of fireworks being lobbed into the encampment from Fullerton Avenue. We received credible threats against the encampment from phone numbers that when traced appear to be connected to anarchists and hate groups. Individuals from the encampment have started to place locks on the buildings adjacent to the quad and barricaded key entrance and exit points. Occupants in the encampment have vandalized buildings and other structures in the quad with graffiti and made etchings on windows. The cost to repair the physical damage to the quad appears to be nearly $180,000.

We took steps to address these concerns as we became aware of them and made every effort to assist our faculty, staff, and students who received threats or who told us the encampment activities prevented them from working, studying or otherwise participating in their normal university pursuits. We can no longer maintain this balance.  We had no choice but to act, before we lost the ability to provide for the safety of the Jewish members of our community, to protect those in the encampment, to preserve the rights of all other students, and to maintain university operations.

As stated in previous messages, I do believe students with the Divestment Coalition initiated the encampment with sincere intentions to peacefully protest. While their teach-ins, library, and prayer services on the quad have in themselves been peaceful, these good intentions have been unable to outweigh the draw that the encampment has to others with nefarious and harmful intent.  

We must connect what is being portrayed as a peaceful protest with a dangerous reality that developed over time. In an effort for you to see this reality, you may view this website, which includes numerous examples of complaints of discrimination, harassment, and violence that the university received over the past 17 days. These examples are representative of the more than 1,000 registered complaints the university received since the encampment began. Certain content on the website contains explicit or violent material that may be harmful or traumatizing. Viewer discretion is advised.

Effective immediately, the quad and all other green spaces on the Lincoln Park Campus will be closed to everyone. These spaces will remain closed until further notice so that we can begin property repairs and return to normal operations. Anyone who tries to breach the fence around the quad or any of the green spaces on the Lincoln Park Campus will be trespassed, arrested, and suspended. DePaul will continue to investigate every reported complaint of harassment or discrimination that we receive resulting from the encampment or subsequent events.   

Our patron, St. Vincent de Paul, was known for creating opportunities to bring people to the table. Since April 30, I have worked diligently to uphold our Vincentian ideals. Following St. Vincent’s model, I brought the student leaders of the DePaul Divestment Coalition to the table multiple times. I also met with many in our community from the Jewish faith, and those leaders around Chicago who were involved and concerned about these activities.
The university responses to the DePaul Divestment Coalition’s demands can be found here, and the additional opportunities that the administration offered in order to continue to have the student voices heard can be found here. I was deeply saddened when, in our final round of talks, the student leaders expressed that they would not be able to speak for all the groups that represented the coalition and did not offer support or agreement for the items in the proposals that we made.

We remain committed to ensuring that our students have the opportunity to protest and express their dissent with both university and world positions. We remain committed to ensuring that their voices are heard. While we hold tight to the belief that free speech must continue, we are equally clear that the encampment cannot.  

I will share another update with the university community soon. 


Robert L. Manuel