Because recent allegations at the College of Law have received significant interest from our community, I would like to share information regarding this situation, and, in general, how the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity operates when discrimination or harassment complaints have been filed.
Dean Jennifer Rosato of the College of Law heard from students who reported that a law professor used a racial slur during two class discussions - the first during a class discussion about criminal law and speech, and the second while discussing the incident in the previous class. Following the first alleged use of the language, DePaul's OIDE, which oversees discrimination and harassment complaints, was notified.
When a complaint of a possible violation of the Anti-Discrimination and Anti- Harassment Policy is received, OIDE staff completes an investigation in accordance with established policy procedures.
In general, once a complaint has been filed, OIDE staff interviews the complainants and once the allegations have been confirmed, the respondent is notified and witnesses are interviewed. The timeline for each case is different, depending upon the complexity of the investigation and the number of individuals contacted. All allegations of harassment or discrimination brought to OIDE's attention are handled thoroughly and equitably. After OIDE's work is completed, the college dean or unit manager follows up with appropriate action. This is an internal university procedure and all of the details of the investigation are kept confidential.
College of Law administrators, including Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea, continue to listen to students' concerns and ideas for creating a more inclusive environment. On Monday, March 5, College of Law faculty and students attended a town hall to share their thoughts with the dean. I was able to attend and heard the students' hurt and concern. We are concerned about the welfare of our students and working hard to resolve this situation with as little disruption to their education as possible.
DePaul University respects the God-given dignity of every individual. We value diversity and are committed to an inclusive campus environment. We also work to promote and safeguard the learning of our students in an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. We have university policies and procedures in place that assist us toward this goal. We will continue to work with the College of Law on this matter, and we are deeply sorry that law students have been affected by this situation.
Elizabeth Ortiz is vice president of DePaul's Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.