Activist community

A Community Approach to Reparations in UChicago

Last April, the Bordeaux The editorial board wrote a series called How the University Can Better Serve the South Side. One op-ed in particular, “To repair historic damage, the university must provide the South Siders with capital and control“, suggests that the University appoint a community council of South Side leaders to spearhead Office of Civic Engagement initiatives and establish a Center for Restorative Justice that would donate funds from UChicago to a coalition of South Side organizers to serve their communities as they see fit.

At UChicago Against Displacement (UCAD), we also believe the South Side needs repairs. The University exists as a legacy of slavery furniture. In addition, he actively participated in segregation, redliningand proof developments that isolate the University from its neighbors and put southerners at risk of being displaced from their homes.

University President Paul Alivisatos began his first day in office with a declaration of its intentions towards the University community, one of which is to strengthen ties with South Side communities and to understand how the University can be a better partner in community initiatives. On December 17, he and Provost Ka Yee Lee announced the formation of a Community Councilwhich is made up of a number of faculty, staff, students, and community members tasked with doing just that.

While many collectives weigh in on the actions they would like to see the University take in the name of restorative justice, UCAD offers a list of demands that we have compiled under the advice of the leaders of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Coalition, a grassroots organization that seeks to protect South Siders from displacement.

1. Provide an annual fund of $20 million for housing assistance and local schools

2. Reaffirm agreements not to expand to Woodlawn and Washington Park

3. Expand employer-subsidized housing for low-income and working-class employees

4. Provide $1 billion over 20 years ($50 million per year) in grants for real long-term affordable housing

5. Pursue accountability around UChicago-owned lands in black communities and around the Obama Presidential Library and Center

6. Engage with local schools to support STEM programs

UCAD’s relationship with the CBA Coalition began with the five-year campaign to establish the UChicago Medicine Trauma Center, during which activists from various South Side community organizations such as Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization and Southside Together Organizing for Power have worked tirelessly to advocate for a trauma center. after the South Side’s only Level 1 Trauma Center closed in 1991. Several of those involved in the campaign have since participated in the CBA Coalition to lobby for protection for tenants and landlords , job opportunities and truly affordable housing. developments. Currently, the city at only approved a few protections and lots for affordable housing developments for residents at Woodlawn. South Shore, despite the highest eviction rate in Chicago, is still fighting to have his demands met by the city. Meanwhile, construction of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) is already in progress.

Obviously, the University has enormous power of influence on the South Side. Our school led efforts to bring OPC to the South Side, winning the bidding over the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University, and the University of Hawaii. The ABC Coalition exists thanks to this candidacy. If the University of Chicago is serious about strengthening its ties with the South Side, it would be well advised to support the CBA Coalition and the demands it has made.

UCAD and ABC Coalition leaders are partnering with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture to host a virtual roundtable with community members and South Side organizers on 9 February at 6 p.m. to discuss the university’s history of displacement in the area and the South Side’s right to reparations from the university. We encourage readers to attend the event and learn more about the CBA coalition, housing and reparations.

Register for the event here and follow our Instagram @uchicago_against_displacement. If you would like to get involved in the campaign, email [email protected]

UChicago Against Displacement is an on-campus student organization that works with community members and organizations to stop the active displacement of South Side residents by the University, as well as to demand specific reparations from the University.