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U. Chicago activists seek $1 billion in reparations

Teamed up with activists critical of President Obama’s library

University of Chicago students activists have relaunched their reparations campaign aimed at their school.

The campaign seeks $1 billion in reparations from the university.

University of Chicago Against Displacement has not responded to multiple emails from The College Fix sent in the past few weeks that asked for more information about its demands.

However, it reportedly “demanded that the University spend $20 million annually on rental assistance and STEM programs” and “recommit to not expanding into Woodlawn or Washington Park,” according to The Chicago Maroon.

The university must also “expand its employer-assisted housing to low-income neighborhoods” and “provide $1 billion in grant funding for affordable housing, and increase transparency about University-owned land,” according to an email reviewed by the student newspaper.

The Fix contacted the university’s media relations team four times in the last two weeks for comment concerning the demands and whether the university has attempted to meet with the protestors, but no one has responded.

There have been few posts on UCAD’s social media pages since the February relaunch according to a Fix review, although a meeting was scheduled for Thursday to discuss the reparations campaign more.

The organization linked its activism work to broader efforts in Chicago’s South Side centered around the Obama Presidential Center.

The group describes itself as a “student-led organization committed to supporting marginalized communities within Hyde Park and surrounding neighborhoods as a member of the Obama CBA coalition.”

CBA stands for Community Benefits Agreement, which refers to providing specific guarantees to local residents who are concerned about gentrification and displacement due to President Barack Obama’s presidential library being built in the area. President Obama taught at the University of Chicago and represented the area as a state senator.

MORE: Black Marxist scholar who supports reparations descends from slave owner

“Reparations are an attempt to restore what resources have been stolen and kept from people for years and years so that they can live their lives with the same benefits and resources as those who pushed them out in the first place,” UCAD wrote.

“As affiliates of the university that is preying on the South Side and its residents, we have a responsibility to work to undo what harm has been done while mitigating future harm,” the group wrote on its Instagram. “No amount of money will ever equate to all that has been lost and stolen from Black South Side residents over generations, but it’s vital that we act now to protect the South Side’s future.”

The Fix reached out to STOP Chicago, a listed contact for the Obama CBA coalition, to ask for more information about the demands. The respondent to a phone call directed The Fix to someone else without answering any further questions. That person also did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls left in the past three weeks.

The Obama presidential library did not return a request for comment either.

The coalition wants support for black-owned businesses, as well as education, housing and job promises.

These demands are part of an earlier ordinance, the Woodlawn Ordinance, now called the Obama Ordinance, which was outlined in 2018 and presented in 2019.

The ordinance calls the lack of affordable housing a “critical problem, which threatens the economic and social quality of life around the city.”

The goal of the ordinance is to minimize the negative impact of the Obama Presidential Center on the local residents.

“Obama CBA Ordinance is intended to promote equitable neighborhood development,” the ordinance stated. It also aims to “increase housing choice for residents of all income levels, minimize displacement of long-term residents in the Obama CBA Residential Area, and address disparities in social and economic outcomes for the residents of Chicago.”

MORE: These California scholars want over $569 billion in reparations

IMAGE: UCAD/Instagram

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Aidan Mays is a student at Franciscan University of Steubenville studying English with a writing focus, while also studying Greek and tutoring at the Writing Center. He is enrolled in the Honors program and is an active member of Sigma Tau Delta and the Treasurer for his local chapter.  He is a Krav Maga and Muay Thai practitioner.