Students and local activists are demanding reparations from the University of Chicago for contributing to the displacement of long-time Black residents in the South Side of the city.
The UChicago Against Displacement (UCAD) student organization published an op-ed last Wednesday stating that the institution should pay $1 billion in reparations for supporting developments that harmed Black families living in the area.
“We at UChicago Against Displacement, too, believe that the South Side is owed reparations,” the editorial reads.
“The University exists as a legacy of chattel slavery. Moreover, it has been an active participant in segregation, redlining, and supporting developments that work to isolate the University from its neighbors and put Southsiders at risk of displacement from their homes,” it added.
Activists highlighted the school’s support for an urban renewal plan that displaced thousands of Black residents from Hyde Park. According to the students, the university must fund initiatives to positively impact the community, such as preventing local school closures and creating youth programs.
Painting the South Side White?
The campus group also hosted a virtual event on Wednesday in which members, residents, and local activists gathered and put forth a list of demands for the UChicago administration.
The primary demands are: to provide $1 billion in grant funding for long-term affordable housing and $20 million annually for rental assistance. Additional items include expanding employer-assisted housing and supporting STEM programs at local schools.
“UChicago has a history of gentrifying the surrounding South Side area from Hyde Park to Woodlawn, all the way over to Washington Park and displacing long-term residents,” UCAD organizer David Zegeye said.
A university spokesperson responded, “The University has engaged with community concerns over many years and is taking many of the steps that community residents and elected officials have suggested.”