Authored by Jack Capizzi via Campus Reform,

University of Chicago Faculty associated with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC) accused the University of Chicago of reinforcing systemic and institutional racism. The letter titled “More than Diversity – A Call to Action from University of Chicago Faculty” initiated a diversity strike to cease faculty collaboration on diversity initiatives and discourage academics from participating in University of Chicago hosted events.

The statement demands an increased budget for the CSRPC, the defunding of the University of Chicago Police Department, and the establishment of a Critical Race Studies Department and a committee on reparations.

In a letter titled “More than Diversity – A Call to Action from University of Chicago Faculty,” the authors cite the failure to hire a Faculty Director for the CSRPC, a $50,000 budget cut, the University’s alliance with campus police, and the University’s connection to Stephen Douglas, as instigating factors that spurred the creation of the letter. The faculty seek to hold the University of Chicago accountable for its “long history of willingly enabling and directly contributing to structural racism.”

Demands included a $2 million budget for the CSRPC as well as complete “autonomy” in all decision making. This sum would “secure the staff and operating budget; sponsor community and activists fellows’ programs; provide financial support for the pursuing of the Mellon projects; provide resources to build a race core for undergraduates; support students faculty and staff in research, mentorship and teaching endeavors.”

The coalition requires that the University of Chicago establish a Department of Critical Race Studies. Fulfillment of this request would provide a “Department through which scholars working centrally on race may be hired and students systematically trained.” They note the absence of this department as “egregious,” noting that the University of Chicago “stands alone” and that previous University of Chicago Provosts have “actively discouraged the formation of such a Department.”

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Faculty also demand “the incorporation of ‘equity’ as an explicitly stated objective” of the University of Chicago. The drafters say this “will require that each body committed to diversity at the university employ an equity analysis that shapes their agenda and informs their goals.”

The document calls for the defunding of the University of Chicago Police Department. The letter says, “for students of color and black residents on the South Side, the expansive jurisdiction and policing powers of the UCPD do not enhance their safety.” The coalition has allied with the #CareNotCops campaign and UChicago United to advocate for “the safety and livelihoods of students, staff, faculty, and community members.”

On Oct. 1, UChicago United, a “Coalition of UChicago’s POC students + orgs,” displayed a banner that read “UChicago, Kill the Cop in Your Head, #ETHNICSTUDIESNOW.”

The coalition partners with the Reparations at UChicago Working Group to demand “the establishment of a truth and justice committee to further investigate and determine appropriate reparations for the University’s connections to slavery, Jim Crow, and other ongoing forms of racial exploitation, exclusion, and discrimination.”

The letter’s demand for reparations links the founding of the University of Chicago to “the fortune of slaveholder Stephen A. Douglas.” On July 7, University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer emailed University’s community to noting that “Stephen A. Douglas died in 1861 and had no connection to the University of Chicago that was founded in 1890 as a new institution with a distinct mission.”

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The University of Chicago recently removed a bronze plaque of Stephen A. Douglas that was a gift from the University of Chicago class of 1901 to recognize an earlier university. The school also removed a stone from the “Old University of Chicago” that was donated to the University of Chicago in 1927.

The faculty coalition with the CSRPC will refuse to participate in faculty searches, participate in “Departmental, Divisional, or University committee whose nominal mission is related to Diversity and Inclusion,” or cooperate with the University of Chicago’s Press office or website to promote accomplishments.

#MoreThanDiversity did not respond to Campus Reform in time for comment.


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