Investigate the University of Chicago CSSA

Investigate the University of Chicago CSSA

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Clark Kovacs started this petition to The Center for Leadership and Involvement

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that administrators within the Center for Leadership and Involvement investigate the University of Chicago Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) to determine if they have official ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). For the following reasons, we believe that the Center for Leadership and Involvement has jurisdiction in this matter and that investigating the CSSA would uphold the University’s core values:

- Reporting from the US State Department indicates that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) created CSSAs across the US in the 1970s to “monitor Chinese students and mobilize them against views that dissent from the CCP’s stance.”  In the same report, it is written that “CSSAs are collectively overseen by the CCP’s United Front Work Department.” This suggests that it is not merely a coincidence that the UChicago CSSA is named as such and that they are currently led by the CCP. Reporting has also shown that Chinese international students are at the greatest risk to such censorship, as many CSSAs monitor these students closely, leaving some “in fear that their families back home will be interrogated if they openly discuss topics deemed controversial or sensitive by the CCP.” And in 2018, the US-China commission disclosed that “CSSAs ‘frequently attempt to conceal’ their ties to the CCP, and ‘are active in carrying out overseas Chinese work consistent with Beijing’s United Front strategy.”

- In May of this year, the University of Chicago CSSA sent an email to the deans of the Harris School requesting that Hong Kong activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Nathan Law be disinvited from his planned fellowship in the coming academic year. 

- There currently exists no definitive proof that the UChicago CSSA is controlled by the CCP. But if it did come to light that this connection exists, the presence of the CSSA would constitute an existential threat to free speech on campus. Therefore, given the values and responsibilities expressed in the Kalven report, the university has an obligation to formally and thoroughly investigate the CSSA to determine whether they have official ties to the CCP. 

- As the branch of the UChicago administration that oversees the activities of all RSOs, the Center for Leadership and Involvement is in the best position to take action regarding this potential threat to our community. 

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