LINCOLN PARK — Last week, DePaul University students shut down a talk by conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, whose rhetoric about women and minority communities is considered wildly offensive by many.
After the incident, DePaul President Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider wrote a letter to students condemning the event's interruption, saying the DePaul College Republicans group "deserved an opportunity to hear their speaker uninterrupted, and were denied it."
After a week of tension on campus, DePaul University's Black Student Union held a "Campus Cool Down" Wednesday for students to safely talk about what's happening at the school, including the discovery of a noose on campus last week.
"This past Tuesday ... Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak at our school," the Black Student Union said in a statement. "In response, a speak-out and subsequent protest was organized. The speak-out was full of speakers from all background — spanning different cultures, sexualities, and experiences. The one thing all of these students had in common was the fact that they were all fed up with the continued trend of hate speech on this campus being deemed acceptable under the guise of the right to free speech."
On Wednesday, students said they've been mischaracterized by the university and the media as some sort of outside group. They wanted to make it clear Wednesday that they're part of DePaul — for now, at least.
One student suggested that she may transfer from the school. Another student said that the school needed to nip these incidents in the bud since final exams take place next week.
Many of the students assembled at the school's McGowan South building took turns laying into the school administration, fellow student organizations, campus security and the school newspaper.
Anais Donald, a freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, said that the conservative media, along with the student newspaper, The DePaulia has miscategorized them several times.
"We're not Black Lives Matter protesters. We're DePaul students" Donald said. "They published our names in the school newspaper without talking to us, but not the names of Nicole Bean and the DePaul College Republicans."
Iwuchukwu Oaafor, a junior, said the climate on campus doesn't bode well for the administration.
"It's been pretty strained. We've seen offensive words displayed on campus," Oaafor said. "They don't think of how seeing this stuff affects students. The noose could be a hoax, [but] it still affects us, the lack of resources on campus for people to talk to."
Three DePaul administrators spoke to the group. Gene Zdziarski, the school's vice president of student affairs, told the group that the school administration was taking their concerns seriously. But the group seemed unimpressed.
"The Black Student Union would like to make it clear to DePaul's administration and its students that we are well aware of the difference between expressing your opinion and purposely targeting marginalized groups with words meant to degrade and dehumanize," the student union's statement said.
Donald said she had no faith in the school administration to keep her and the other black students safe. She said that the noose that was found on campus showed as much.
"Institutional racism isn't born overnight. I think this is going to continue," Donald said. "I know what a noose is, and that was a noose."
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