Response to Divestment Coalition

​President Robert L. Manuel sent an email message to the university community on Monday, May 6, 2024 inviting them to read the university's responses to the Divestment Coalition demands. The responses are guided by a focus on creating a collective future, a devotion to freedom of speech and academic freedom, and empathy for all involved. The full and complete response to the coalition follows.

Responses from DePaul Administration to the Ten Stated Demands of the DePaul Divestment Coalition

May 6, 2024


Over these last few days, the engagement team has appreciated the opportunity to engage in conversation with you. These discussions enabled direct feedback about your reasons for this encampment and to better understand your desired outcomes. 

We would like to take this opportunity to share a full and complete response to the demands you put forward. While we realize the response outlined below is lengthy, we hope that you will see the deliberation, thought, and care we invested into every word - and to answer every demand that you brought forward.
Since October 7, our world has been rocked by difficult times. The pain that people feel is often not understood in the same way by others who do not identify to the region, the history, or even the religion. At this moment, there is immense disagreement about how to proceed from just about every major type of institution in our country, we see the role of higher education as the place of reason - a place that models true dialogue – even when the conditions are difficult. 

At DePaul, we uphold a steadfast devotion to freedom of speech and academic freedom. Engagement, dialogue, and inclusion are core principles in our community. We are now seeing these principles get tested, and we must find a path towards peace and understanding.

We are convinced that higher education is at a tipping point. Some of our most sacred traditions are in jeopardy of irreparable harm from the current assaults that they are facing. The responses to your demands are meant to try to offer reasoned engagement for the moment that we find ourselves in - and to spark an opportunity to create our collective future where our dialogue can continue. 

It is in this spirt that we offer our response to your ten stated demands and propose certain university-wide enhancements to ensure that all of our students (including you) are able to project their ideas, thoughts, and concerns to our community and that our commitment to true dialogue is durable. 

DePaul is, and will always be, a place where we will seek to find reasonable solutions to the problems that affect all the members of our community. Our rationale for our responses and ideas below is based on old and new understandings of how you and others on campus are deeply affected. About how you and others may feel unheard and devalued. About how you and others are searching for a way to have one of the most important institutions in your life understand your concerns. We hope you receive these responses and ideas in the spirit in which they were developed. 

This document addresses each demand received. However, please note that we have changed the order as submitted to us for organizational and communication purposes.  

#1 Acknowledge the ongoing genocide and scholasticide in Gaza.

#4 Join the City of Chicago in calling for a ceasefire. 

It is rare that any university can really speak for the diversity of its members. 

At the same time, the institution is responsible for living into its values – in our case our Catholic, Vincentian charisms. Our hope for everyone as they read is that they realize our commitment to expression will continue to support the students in their attempts to be expressed. We will continue to connect our leadership actions and interventions to the faith tradition that animates our mission. 

It has been our practice to find ways for each community on our campus to express themselves. We know there are concerns about whether the university will continue to support the expression of speech on campus. We are confident that our leadership actions to date have proven we are willing to uphold this tenet, even as tensions rise and our community becomes more fractured. 

Since October 7, DePaul has made comments and engaged in actions that seek to help our community understand the atrocities and devastation caused by this war.  Through prayer services, public comment, two town-hall meetings, and more than 50 individual meetings with those individuals who are affected, we have sought to lead with our mission and help others express themselves.
We have also been unwavering in our alignment with Catholic, Vincentian values. In this case, our sponsoring order and the Catholic church have recently provided clear direction in this area. 

As a direct response to the first and fourth of your demands – here is our statement, which has also been approved by the Western Province of the Congregation of the Mission:

“DePaul University joins the Congregation of the Mission, DePaul’s sponsoring religious community, in calling for immediate delivery of urgent, lifesaving humanitarian aid to affected areas of war-torn Gaza. We also call for the release of all hostages and an immediate mutually agreed upon ceasefire to establish non-violent solutions on behalf of peace. We resolutely seek to avoid what Pope Francis has called “the spiral of violence.”

We are aligned with the call for a mutually agreed upon cease fire – one where the needs of both entities involved are met and is what both groups and other world leaders are currently working toward. We call for this in direct response to the suffering that the hostages continue to experience and the deaths of more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza.  We call for this because war anywhere creates intolerable conditions that need intervention by the elected and responsible leaders of this world. 

In responding to the specific demand to call this war a genocide, our thoughts are as follows.  

We are clearly against the death and killing of all innocent people - Palestinians, Israelis, and others - that have occurred since October 7. We are also steadfastly against genocide. With that in mind – the question of whether a genocide is occurring is a question of international law and fact. The international community is debating this very issue in a variety of forums.  

The fact that the international community continues to monitor the acts of war, does not take away from our recognition of the humanitarian suffering in the region. We can tend to both the immediate humanitarian crisis and work with the international community to inform their deliberations. 

In summary, we respond to this demand as follows: 

DePaul University, in alignment with our founding religious order calls for a mutually agreed upon cease fire to protect innocent lives, a return of the hostages, and efforts to allocate humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and others in Gaza. It does not support genocide of any kind in the world. 

#5 Eliminate discriminatory study abroad trips to Israel that propagandize and normalize the occupation.

The conversation between the Divestment Coalition and the DePaul engagement committee revealed two primary concerns related to this demand. 

Regarding the DePaul sponsored First Year Abroad: Jerusalem program, we are pleased that the older Israeli government restrictions for students with Palestinian IDs have been changed. The government lifted these restrictions in December 2023, and the DePaul Study Abroad office is ready to assist any DePaul student who would like to attend this program. 

The Divestment Coalition also raised concerns with student trips to Israel that are not part of the DePaul Study Abroad portfolio. Concerns regarding these trips being branded as DePaul University sanctioned and supported will be investigated. DePaul does not engage in recruiting students for non-officially approved study abroad programs.

#7 Remove individuals with ties to Israel from Board of Trustees and prevent Zionists from determining where our tuition money is going.

We reject this demand. It is antithetical to our Vincentian values. 

#8. Amnesty for student protestors, organizers, and supporting faculty.

At this point, we will not offer blanket amnesty for everyone involved in the encampment, counter protesting, or other support of the events on our quad.  
Depending on the engagement towards a resolution for all parties - protesters and counter protesters alike - in the ultimate resolution of the encampment, we may consider how amnesty could be delivered for certain violations that have occurred. 
It is important to note that we cannot provide amnesty for charges originating from places other than the university (e.g. violations of civic ordinances or criminal offenses). 

We do stand ready to talk with the DePaul student protesters about specifics as they relate to ending the encampment on the Lincoln Park quad. 

#2 Disclose the Investments, budget, and holdings of the university to the greater DePaul community.

#3 Divest from companies that advance Palestinian suffering and profit off the occupation.

#6 Establish an ethical advisory team on investment responsibility that includes Palestinian students for accurate advising and representation.

We are grateful for the partnership of faculty and staff in the shared governance processes that animate our university work.

There has been an intense focus on investments by university endowments in recent weeks. Unfortunately, the focus at DePaul has brought misleading accusations that the stewardship of our endowment is not connected to our Vincentian values. 

DePaul does not invest in any securities (stocks or bonds) directly. In fact, given the size of our endowment (and not unlike similarly situated peers), our endowment is invested in co-mingled investment funds managed by independent third-party fund managers.

We ask our independent third-party fund managers to be signatories to the Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI) promulgated by the United Nations. By signing, fund managers pledge to follow the six principles of responsible investment  (What are the Principles for Responsible Investment? | PRI Web Page | PRI (  

As such, there is a comprehensive commitment to reviewing their investment practices and related portfolios across a variety of factors including environmental, social, and corporate governance issues, among others.

While we are not engaged in direct investments, we believe that there is an opportunity to connect our university community in a dialogue to provide advisory input to our Board of Trustees around concerns of the community. 

In fact, Georgetown University, one of the most prestigious Catholic universities in America, utilizes a University Ethics Committee to perform this function.  Their bylaws are clear: it is meant to provide advisory information to the Board of Trustees as they perform their fiduciary and legal responsibilities; not to politicize the endowment in any way.  This engagement provides an opportunity for important concerns to be addressed for all constituencies in the university community. 

There is a growing number of schools, including Duke University, Loyola Marymount, Yale University and others, that are starting to use similar university-based ethic advisement committees. Our Board of Trustees is amenable to establishing such an advisory committee at DePaul as well.    

It is important to note that we are establishing this advisory committee because we believe it is a thoughtful measure, consistent with shared governance. Further, though our endowment investment practices do not drive direct investments currently, the intent of this advisory committee is not to divest from Israel. 

We thank Faculty Council leadership for their willingness to work with us to establish the membership of this committee.  Consistent with our practice on all major shared governance groups on campus, we expect to have representatives from each of faculty, staff, and students.  We intend to define how this advisory committee will operate by December 2024. 

#9 Protect Palestinian students and their allies from doxing, threats, targeting and surveillance through insurance of security and through the creation of a SWANA Center

DePaul University does not support doxing as it is antithetical to free speech. Further, we realize that the effects of doxing are dramatic and can affect the lives of individuals.  

State of Illinois law offers some help and guidance in a civil remedy to someone who is doxed. While we cannot offer legal advice, the university will aid all students in understanding that law and what options they may have to combat an instance of doxing.

We cannot prevent outside groups from performing these acts, but we will be a resource to DePaul students who are victims of doxing and need assistance. 

We are amenable to the formation of a SWANA center on campus. This is consistent with our initiative announced in January of this year to design both space and programming for all our resource centers on campus. We suggest that we add this center to the design work that is currently being done through the Designing DePaul initiatives. 

#10 End any research collaborative relationships with Israel universities, which develop weapons and systems that oppress, control, imprison, and murder Palestinians.

One core principle of higher education is the concept of academic freedom.

As defined by the American Association of University Professors, Academic Freedom is “the freedom of a teacher or researcher in higher education to investigate and discuss the issues in his or her academic field, and to teach or publish findings without interference from political figures, boards of trustees, donors, or other entities. Academic freedom also protects the right of a faculty member to speak freely when participating in institutional governance, as well as to speak freely as a citizen.” 

More detailed principles of academic freedom can be found online.

Every faculty member has the right – protected by academic freedom – to explore those research relationships. Agreeing to this demand would have a chilling effect on the values of academic freedom. Further, in accordance with our shared governance principles, the faculty have an integral role in crafting the boundaries and supports for academic freedom therein. 


We invite you and the larger DePaul community to consider additional actions that were not part of the stated demands, but we think can connect the experts around the University and are important for the future of DePaul: 
  1. Lastly, we believe that the powerful messages being sent and received at this moment need to connect with everyone at our university. It is our fervent hope that DePaul will be able to perform the role that all universities should have – which is to enable empirical, civil dialogue – ensuring that we aren’t trying to find a winner or a loser, but rather attempting to educate, inform, and enlighten our students, faculty, and staff.  Consistent with that approach, we are committing to establish a university-wide working group led by experts from our faculty and other program and center leaders across the university, dedicated to fostering dialogue and understanding with a charge of educating and engaging students, faculty, and staff. We see this institute producing research, creating academic programs, connecting thought leadership to elected officials, while also pursuing engagement opportunities that will further DePaul’s mission and your voices. 
  2. The university can assist in connecting your voices to the people and organizations with policy and legislative decision authority in our country.  We would be pleased to provide information and resources to connect your voices to the elected officials who are charged with finding resolutions to issues like these.
We hope you will carefully consider our response in this light: we want to work with you to identify ways to continue to express your views and be heard, while also delivering on the core academic mission of the university.    

Accordingly, we await your thoughtful reply.


Robert L. Manuel

Salma Ghanem

Sherri Sidler
Executive Vice President and CFO