LINCOLN PARK — In the wake of recent protests and racial tension at DePaul, university President Dennis H. Holtschneider apologized for his "deafening" silence and called for the school community to come together.
"Many of our students, staff and faculty felt insufficiently supported by the DePaul community last week, including by me," he wrote in a Thursday email to students and faculty. "For all of this, I deeply apologize."
Last week, student activists shut down controversial conservative blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, which led to more protests and escalating racial tension at the school. A noose was found on campus just days later.
After the initial protests, Holtschneider said the group was "wrong" to interrupt the event in an email to students and faculty. He also apologized to the group that put on the event, the DePaul College Republicans.
Many students took to social media to rip Holtschneider for sympathizing with Yiannopoulos supporters. Edward Ward, the student who led the protests, called Holtschneider's response "disrespectful" and "out of line."
In the Thursday email, Holtschneider apologized for the harm "unleashed by a speaker whose intent was to ignite racial tensions and demean those most marginalized, both in our society and at DePaul."
He also acknowledged that his first email didn't have the desired effect.
"They read my letter about free speech as they were still shaking from the frightening effects of the hate speech they experienced. They further felt exposed and blamed for the escalation of the crowd’s behavior," he wrote.
"And I’m concerned that my own silence in recent days, as we’ve begun a series of meetings to hear people’s feelings firsthand, has been deafening," Holtschneider said.
DePaul will host a town hall meeting Tuesday for faculty to discuss the increased racial tension.
Holtschneider has increased the office of public safety patrols and expanded the university's escort service to 24 hours a day.
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