Northwestern students hold follow-up to race caucus

Jessica Floum

At a meeting following last week’s Caucus Against Racial Prejudice on Campus, organizers of the caucus introduced The Collective, an all-inclusive group focused on social awareness, desegregation and appreciation of diversity on campus.

Weinberg freshman Rachel Gladney said that although Northwestern rhetoric highlighted ideas of community and unification when welcoming students to campus, the University has not necessarily delivered.

“When I was here for Wildcat Welcome Week, they stressed that we are a community, we are Northwestern,” Gladney said. “That’s a bunch of bull.”

About 70 NU students gathered at the Black House, 1914 Sheridan Road, to discuss how to make the alleged sense of community a reality by spearheading The Collective, a group focused on appreciating diversity, which members emphasized would not be limited to students.

“The purpose of calling it ‘The Collective’ is that it’s not just a group of students running this, it’s not just five of us running this,” Weinberg senior Tonantzin Carmona said. “It’s everyone working together.”

Carmona was the target of racial harassment that inspired last week’s caucus. Although racial harassment began the dialogue about community, racism was not the focus of last night’s meeting.

“We’re not here to fight racism. We’re here for diversity,” Weinberg senior Kellyn Lewis said. “We want to create a movement, a campaign for diversity.”

Lewis was among the five group organizers and led the night’s discussion. The talk focused on creating “tangible action items” and asked participants to provide insight into what they felt the group’s goals, plans and values should be moving forward. The group focused on two approaches: incorporating awareness at the administrative level and at the community level.

“The core of the conversation was to push people – not in a confrontational way – to get them thinking about things that they didn’t before,” Medill senior Dallas Wright said.

Ideas for action items included creating a blog to share stories of discrimination along with instances of positive engagement, wearing T-shirts to promote conversation, developing a cultural hub, supporting cultural groups already in existence and having such groups collaborate with “mainstream groups” such as ASG and Greek organizations.

Beyond creating specific plans, meeting attendees discussed what values they want The Collective to promote.

“We want to attract students to want to come to Northwestern because the school reflects the values that we believe it should,” Wright said. “The ideas of dignity, understanding and a willingness to have frank and honest conversations.”

Wright explained that many students feel like they’re not a part of a holistic community and question whether such a community exists.

“It’s not about reading the same book or wearing the same color,” he said. “It’s about supporting each other.”

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