Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



DePaul professor speaks out on school's racial issues
by Liz Baudler

This article shared 1587 times since Wed Jun 8, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

By Liz Baudler

As DePaul University comes under fire for hosting gay conservative speaker Milo Yiannopoulos on campus and how the administration subsequently handled furor surrounding the event, questions about the school's racial climate have surfaced. Sociology professor Shu-Ju Ada Cheng has found herself an unexpected sideshow.

Cheng, who is resigning from DePaul effective at the end of the quarter, had posted a statement to DePaul's president, Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, on her personal Facebook page. Holtschneider responded to calls for a statement about Yiannopoulos by condemning not only the speaker, but also Black Lives Matter protesters who shut down the event. He went on to apologize to the DePaul College Republicans, who invited Yiannopoulos to campus.

In part, Cheng's statement reads: "Universities, like all institutions, are not neutral platforms. … In time of political crisis, universities have the responsibility to take a moral stand. To believe that universities are simply neutral platforms for 'equal' exchanges of ideas, the so-called free speech rooted in the market ideology, is delusional. … It is a hypocrisy to believe that one can promote diversity without tackling the racism that underlines all educational institutions.

"The incidents that took place during these past two days are just symptoms of the historical institutional racism embedded in this institution. … Your handling of this case is shameful and embarrassing. It is a lack of moral courage in the disguise of intellectual objectivity and positional neutrality. The lack of position is a position, and your chosen position is to reinforce the existing inequalities. Shame on you."

Her letter was picked up by conservative news sites such as the Daily Caller, and others like soon followed. Cheng said reporters for those sites never talked to her to confirm any details of the story. ( The Daily Caller emailed her but she did not initially respond. ) Cheng said that they conflated the reasons for her resignation with her statement about Yiannopoulos.

"I actually did email back a few journalists, I said, no, I did not quit because of this. That was never the story. All the right-wing—no one talked to me," Cheng said.

However, Cheng said her resignation does have its roots in the same tension that the Yiannopoulos event seems to have exacerbated. "I wrote that letter from the position of an existing faculty of color. And I pointed out it's a symptom of a long pattern. There has been a history of faculty of color being denied tenure and leaving," Cheng said.

She described incidents of faculty members of color, including herself, being denied classes while white professors were assigned multiple sections of the same course area. "You could schedule four graduate courses in criminology in one quarter and you can't schedule one gender class?," she asked. "And guess what? Who are these people who are teaching? These are all white men and white women. Including adjunct faculty members and people who don't have Ph.Ds." She said she emailed the department to point out the issue., stating, "I have been in this program for 14 years. I say, 'You just look at the facts. Who is benefiting from this? Who are the privileged?'"

Cheng also noted both incidents of microaggression ( referring to the degradation of any socially marginalized group ) and a lack of desire to engage with current sociological discourse from other faculty members.

"We were supposed to put up decorations on the wall with sociological terms," Cheng recalled. "So the idea is to come up with sociological terms that are relevant. Somebody suggested 50 to begin with. It was in the summer, the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. I say, 'I'm sorry, this is 2015. Let the terms reflect what's going on. How about let's add three terms at least? One is privilege, the other one is inequality.' A senior white woman wrote me individually to say, 'I don't like the term privilege, because "privilege" is the same as "right"'. She told me she is writing an article arguing that using the term privilege is what she termed 'moralistic' and 'problematic.'"

Cheng said that she explained the meaning of privilege over email and offered to open the issue for public debate. At meetings geared toward rebuilding the department, the same woman refused to consider Cheng's perspectives.

"Our department is in chaos. Nobody wants to be the chair. People are leaving," Cheng said. "In that first meeting with the dean, the same senior faculty member said, 'I really don't want to talk about the past. Everything's good in our department.' I just finally let it all out with that senior white woman. I talked about the institutionalized racism in our department. I say, 'You know what hurts? That you can't even acknowledge when I'm telling you, pointing you to all these realities. That's what hurts.' By the end of that conversation, she simply said, 'Ada, I just don't agree with you.' I was sitting there with you for two hours talking about institutional racism. If you tell me, 'I disagree with you,' that means you reject my reality."

"This whole idea in academia, we're simply about agree and disagreement, that's very problematic," Cheng continued. "In that moment when you say, 'I disagree with you,' it's not just about disagreement—because when we disagree, the reality is still there."

The articles about Cheng's resignation have provoked widespread online harassment and hate mail, some of which she's quoted on Facebook and emailed to DePaul faculty. "I showed you less than 1% of what I received. I feared for my own safety and had to check in [on social media] every two hours," Cheng wrote to her colleagues.

She also wrote back to the Daily Caller's reporter. "I said 'I'm getting hate mail. It's on you if something happens to me. You misinterpreted and you misrepresented [my letter] in terms of I say that universities should not be neutral platforms, when in fact, that's not what I'm arguing.' He said, 'Well, I posted the letter.' I said, 'How many people actually read the letter?' He said, 'It's you, you have the problem if you don't represent it correctly.' I said, 'No, If you read that letter carefully, you know what my premise is.' And the thing is, if you can't get that… That's why I'm getting all of these hate mails."

As Cheng wrote her colleagues, "Of course I am for freedom of speech. I grew up in an authoritarian regime in Taiwan. … However, I am not going to stand for someone to spew hate speech in the name of education and learning."

Cheng is looking at the hate mail with both a critical and comedic eye. "You can go check Rate My Professor. I taught 15 years, I got 31 reviews. For the past few days, I got another 31 reviews," she said. "There are classes I've never taught. Just go look at some of the reviews. 'Fat dyke' is one of them. And it is so interesting to see … xenophobia and racism, homophobia—all kind of linked together. 'Fat dyke' … where does that even come from? I was, like, 'Wow, this just taught me about the America we live in today.' You tell me when you look at that all of these hateful emails, you tell me where do they belong? Are they free speech or are they just hate speech?"

Cheng also said other faculty members of color are getting hate mail. "I feel sorry for the students. If I'm getting these emails, my Black colleagues, Black students, what are they getting?" she said. She expressed uncertainty about how to go forward, particularly with her experience with the media so far.

"I was struggling with, how do I reclaim the narrative?" she said. "I ask people, 'Should I let it die down?' Some of them say, 'Let it die down,' in the sense that, if I continue, how much energy do I have? Am I ready to do this? Do I have enough support to do this? Do I want to do this? The inability of journalists to even appreciate the complexity of the issue: All they want to see is, 'Did you quit because of this?' There are so many other issues. They don't want to deal with the story about … all of these emails. They want to deal with 'Did you actually quit for this?' That's my experience with everyone."

Note: At the time of the interview, Cheng had not heard from DePaul's administration: they reached out to her a few days later. Windy City Times' attempts to reach DePaul for comment were not returned.

This article shared 1587 times since Wed Jun 8, 2016
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

TELEVISION 'Drag Race,' 'Queer Eye,' 'Pose' among Creative Emmy winners 2021-09-13
- Three 2021 Creative Arts Emmy Awards ceremonies took place Sept. 11-12—and Netflix's The Queen's Gambit led the way with nine wins going into next weekend's Primetime Emmys, Deadline reported. LGBTQ+ individuals and shows also scored se ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzker signs legislation to prevent hair discrimination in schools 2021-08-13
--From a press release - CHICAGO - On Aug. 13, Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 817 into law, prohibiting schools from issuing policies on hairstyles historically associated with race or ethnicity. The legislation addresses injustices in dress code polices and ...

Gay News

WORLD Ghana's bill, Pride events, Gay Games, race-car driver 2021-08-08
- Ghanaian lawmakers are facing backlash over a bill before Ghana's parliament that aims to make LGBTQ-rights advocacy illegal, Voice of America reported. Eight lawmakers are sponsoring the bill, which would impose a maximum 10-year prison sentence ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Our America,' Randy Rainbow, Melissa Etheridge, 'Drag Race,' VINCINT 2021-06-13
- ABC Owned Television Stations announced that the first two-episodes of the Our America: Who I'm Meant to Be docuseries are now available on its 32 connected TV apps across streaming platforms Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Election news, AsylumConnect, Pride business items, 'Bears' 2021-06-06
- In Pennsylvania, in a race between contenders in the Democratic primary for Erie County executive, Tyler Titus—a trans person who currently serves as Erie School Board president—was declared the winner, according to The Washington Blade. Titus ...

Gay News

Chicago drag personality and store offer 'Bella Box by Denali' 2021-06-01
- Chicago drag queen/figure skater Denali Foxx (from season 13 of RuPaul's Drag Race) is partnering with the Chicago "highbrid" boutique Canna Bella Lux and the Chicago LGBTQ+ collective Peach Presents on the Bella Box by Denali—a ...

Gay News

VIEWPOINT Tulsa Race Massacre reparations would begin the healing 2021-05-31
- When HBO's 2019 Watchmen series opened with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and HBO's 2020 Lovecraft Country series closed with scenes from the riots, most Americans had never heard of the event—even Tulsans. On May 19, ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Red Hot' album, 'Drag Race,' 'L Word,' Qveen Herby, Lee Daniels 2021-05-30
- The Red Hot organization, which raises funds to fight HIV/AIDS, announced Red Hot + Free—a mixtape of dance beats, electro grooves and global anthems, a press release noted. Out July 2 and helmed by producer-provocateur Bill ...

Gay News

LETTER A matter of race 2021-05-20
- I applaud Mayor Lori Lightfoot's courageous statement on only giving one-on-one interviews to journalists of color. She obviously wants to see a public dialogue on this matter. White privilege is a topic we must look at ...

Gay News

POLITICS Morita to run for Cook County commissioner seat 2021-05-20
- Josina Morita, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), is entering the race for Cook County commissioner of the 13th District now held by Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who ...

Gay News

COMEDY Bianca Del Rio announces 'Unsanitized' comedy tour 2021-05-18
- Comedy queen and RuPaul's Drag Race champion Bianca Del Rio announced her "Unsanitized" comedy tour, which will hit 26 cities this fall. Among the stops will be the Chicago venue The Vic, on Oct. 10. Del ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Black trans candidate, travel case, trans death, CEO fired 2021-05-02
- RuPaul's Drag Race alum Honey Mahogany—who currently holds a vice-chair seat in her local County Central Committee—announced that she will be seeking the role of chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party when current Party Chair ...

Gay News

'Drag Race' finalists GottMik, Rose to perform in Chicago on May 28-30 2021-04-28
- Voss Events announced that RuPaul's Drag Race finalists GottMik and Rose are joining the cast of the springtime edition of outdoor-concert series Drive 'N Drag Saves 2021. The tour stops by Chicago's Soldier Field on May ...

Gay News

Illinoisans among latest Victory Fund-endorsed candidates 2021-03-25
- LGBTQ Victory Fund—the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office—endorsed 23 LGBTQ candidates, including New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson in his race for New ...

Gay News

Victor Reyes may become New Mexico's first out LGBTQ Congressmember in March 30 race 2021-03-23
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Today LGBTQ Victory Fund, the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, called on Democratic Party of New Mexico officials to choose out LGBTQ candidate Victor Reyes to be ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.