The 2021–22 academic year is one that constantly made headlines, as the graduating class’s time at UChicago have always been. From April 2021 to April 2022, in the span of 12 months, The Maroon collected nine stories that shaped our collective memories of the year. From The Maroon’s exclusive interview with President Paul Alivisatos before he started his presidency to the appointment of a new University of Chicago Police Chief, this collection covers the campus, Hyde Park, the country, and the world.
The Maroon conducted a historic interview with Paul Alivisatos (A.B. ’81) in April 2021, which marked the paper’s first interview with a University president in recent years. Speaking of his goals as president, Alivisatos emphasized his commitment to listening to students, faculty, and South Side voices as he began his new position. The Board of Trustees elected Alivisatos as the 14th University President on February 25, 2021, prior to which he served as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Berkeley. A renowned chemist, his accolades include the National Medal of Science and the American Chemical Society’s Priestley Medal. He was inaugurated at Rockefeller Chapel in autumn 2021.
The Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) of UChicago Student Action relaunched a fossil fuel divestment campaign in fall 2021. Undeterred by UChicago President Paul Alivisatos’s statement that the University has no plans to divest, EJTF has circulated a petition and held teach-ins on environmental issues.
The University of Chicago was one of 16 major universities named in a lawsuit for antitrust violations with regards to determining the amount of financial aid awarded to students. Five former undergraduate students of Duke University, Vanderbilt University, and Northwestern University are the plaintiffs, and they seek to represent all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who attended one of the 16 universities sued and received need-based financial aid since 2003. The class action complaint alleges that schools like UChicago “may or may not have followed a need-blind admissions policy throughout the Class Periods, but during at least some portion of the Class Periods, they conspired with the other Defendants to reduce financial aid and increase the net price of attendance for their students.”
After its founding in spring 2018, the student group #CareNotCops has continued fighting for the abolition of the UChicago Police Department (UCPD), increased community engagement, and better access to mental health resources. Since then, its work has included holding a weeklong occupation in front of Provost Ka Yee Lee’s house in September 2020 and a public safety forum at the same time as that of the Office of the Provost in March 2021. In winter 2022, they organized a protest in response to the UCPD shooting of Rhysheen Wilson. They gathered on the main quad in favor of increased investment in South Side communities and mental health resources, with organizations like Students of Disability Justice joining the protest.
The UChicago chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized events raising awareness about the occupation of Palestinian people, including an installation on the main quad in February 2022. The RSO placed Palestinian flags and signs documenting the state of Israel’s and the Israel Defense Forces’s displacement of Palestinians.
Approximately two dozen UChicago students gathered on Harper Quad to lead a “Stop the War” protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They sought to raise awareness of the war and provide students a forum for discussion on Ukrainian-Russian relations. Organizers distributed homemade signs with slogans like “Stop Putin” and “I Stand with Ukraine” in addition to answering attendees’ questions about the issue.
In a UChicago Forward update sent Friday, March 18, the University announced that most classroom settings would be mask-optional beginning April 4. The decision followed the University’s lifting of mask requirements in most non-classroom indoor spaces on March 4 as well as the CDC relaxation of indoor masking guidelines and Governor J.B. Pritzker’s removal of the Illinois indoor mask mandate at the end of February.
The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, in collaboration with The Atlantic, hosted Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy. The conference featured politicians, journalists, and researchers such as Barack Obama, Maria Ressa, Amy Klobuchar, Frances Haugen, Brian Stelter, Adam Kinzinger, and Anne Applebaum.
On February 25, Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Eric Heath announced via email the appointment of Lieutenant Colonel Kyle Bowman of the Michigan State Police as the Chief of Police for the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD). Bowman succeeded Mike Kwiatkowsi on April 4.