16 alderpersons call on UChicago to reconsider withholding diplomas for 4 sanctioned students

Mark Rivera Image
Friday, May 31, 2024
16 alderpersons want UChicago to reconsider withholding diplomas
Some University of Chicago students say their diplomas are being withheld over their participation in a pro-Palestinian encampment.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than one dozen Chicago alderpersons, in a letter, called on the University of Chicago to reconsider withholding the diplomas for four students allegedly sanctioned over their involvement in an on-campus pro-Palestinian encampment.

As the accouterments of college commencement accumulate at UChicago ahead of graduation day this weekend, a small group of students and faculty stood in defiance.

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"My family, we're Palestinian. We've already been having a very difficult time, and to have their Palestinian son not get his degree because he talked about UChicago not killing his family is crushing us," said student Youssef Hasweh.

They say at least four students are being disproportionately penalized by having their degrees withheld for their participation in a pro-Palestinian encampment on the quad.

"We now stand here, facing repression at the hands of our university, where our degrees are not going to be conferred due to our political stances throughout this year," said student Rayna Acha.

Professors and pupils are angry and aggrieved, asking the university to reconsider. They say the disciplinary process is opaque and that future real-world opportunities are now in jeopardy.

"Students affected in this way might lose jobs, internships, admission to graduate or professional schools, so the bar for doing this should be very, very high indeed," said UChicago Linguistics Professor Chris Kennedy.

Now, 16 Chicago alderpersons have sent a letter to the University of Chicago provost, saying this level of punitive action is unjustified and urging her to reconsider.

"We strongly advise the University of Chicago to reconsider this ultimately untenable course of action, and to confer the degrees of the students concerned alongside the rest of their class," the letter said, in part.

"Withholding our degrees is just like a level. That's so deplorable from the university," Hasweh said.

For its part, the university says they have no additional comment and referred ABC7 to a statement they sent out Sunday that says degrees may be withheld until formal disciplinary cases are resolved, but that degrees can be "conferred expeditiously, depending upon the resolution."