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Petitions begin circulating against new DePaul arena

Oliver Purnell



Much has been made of the proposed new DePaul basketball arena located in Chicago’s South Loop, but now the backlash is hitting closer to home for the university as faculty and students of DePaul have circulated petitions around Chicago that have reached the attention of school President Dennis Holtschneider.

Holtschneider will have to contend with a faculty petition that includes 24 signatures -- including the head of the math and English departments -- and a petition from a DePaul graduate that features over 1,000 signatures, including three-year starter and junior forward Cleveland Melvin, according to a report from DNAinfo Chicago.

A group of DePaul students and alumni protested outside the faculty council meeting, passing a petition stating that it is unjust for the city to fund part of the stadium while closing 50 public schools.

“It is completely against everything I learned here,” said Erika Wozniak, a DePaul graduate who now teaches at CPS’s Oriole Park Elementary on the Northwest Side. “The education that I got, this happening is completely contradictory.”

Wozniak started the petition, which has gained more than 1,000 signatures.

During Wednesday’s protest even one of the team’s basketball players, junior forward Cleveland Melvin, signed the petition, but refused comment.

DePaul is expected to contribute around $70 million -- or around half -- of the arena’s costs, with the McPier bond fund footing the other half of the bill according to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

But as’s Steve Newhouse notes in a fact vs. fiction column on the proposed South Loop arena, DePaul will recoup some of those losses thanks to arena naming rights and advertising within the new arena.

Obviously, there will continue to be backlash both publicly and within the university as the mess of public and private funds are sorted out as people will continue to ask why a new basketball arena is necessary in light of rising tuition costs at DePaul and 50 school closures for Chicago Public Schools.