Students' graduation boycott is a dud, unveiling “UChicago Kills” banner ahead of empty rally

UChicago United dropped a 'UChicago Kills' banner during the university’s June 13 diploma ceremony, after encouraging students to boycott convocation last week.

Despite organizing a rally on social media, the group went silent during its Sunday event.

After pushing students to boycott their own June 9 graduation because it celebrates a “racist and imperialist” university, a University of Chicago student organization was silent during the June 13th counter rally it announced on social media last week. 

Instead, UChicago United posted the banner off the side of a building stating “UChicago Kills.” The banner served as a reminder, and substitute for the protest, of who is really celebrated during graduation, which, according to the organization, is the “war criminal” trustees and administration. 

[RELATED: Students support segregated graduation ceremonies for ‘marginalized’ students]

“These are the facts: @uchicago funds the UCPD, and the UCPD kills Black people and non-Black POC indiscriminately,” the organization wrote in an Instagram post. “The University of Chicago is funded by war criminals, who manufacture weapons to kill people of color abroad. In insidious ways, UChicago also kills us—pushing impossible academic standards, destroying our mental health and sense of community, making us believe that we don’t have power.”

As Campus Reform reported last week, UChicago United initiated its #BoycottConvocation campaign because the university had not met its demands, which included defunding the campus police department and establishing a Critical Race and Ethnic Studies program. 

The University of Chicago is already considering a critical race studies department, as Campus Reform reported in February. Assistant Director for Public Affairs Gerald McSwiggan confirmed that efforts are continuing in a statement to Campus Reform.

[RELATED: UChicago considers entire academic department for ‘critical race’ studies] 

“Provost Lee has discussed with the relevant deans the effort by a number of faculty members to propose a new academic unit, and encouraged them to work with the group as appropriate,” he said. “Should any such proposal be approved through University processes, Provost Lee will work with the relevant division to ensure that resources are provided for its support. She recognizes the commitment of many faculty members at the University to ensuring that the study of race and ethnicity continues to thrive here.”

Despite her efforts, UChicago United criticized Provost Lee as a “neoliberal sellout.” University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer was faulted in the same post for an “obsession over free speech.”

Campus Reform reached out to UChicago United for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter @katesrichardson.