Schapiro: ‘Real, visible success’ in push for more diversity

Patrick Svitek, Managing Editor

University President Morton Schapiro said Tuesday there has been “real, visible success” in creating a more diverse community at Northwestern, but the school still has work to do.

“Creating an inclusive campus is difficult,” Schapiro said during the first of two annual forums called “Conversations with the President.” “I don’t think anybody does a particularly better job than we do, but we don’t actually do the job that we pretend to.”

Speaking on the Chicago campus, Schapiro said NU makes itself look “like the UN,” or the United Nations, when trying to lure prospective students.

“That’s not the reality,” Schapiro said. “We’re not immune to all the problems of society. I’m glad we’re making some progress.”

Schapiro cited NU’s “long overdue” Bias Incident Response Team, as well as statistics showing more diversity across the board. The University admitted its most diverse undergraduate class ever last month.

Schapiro is likely to face more scrutiny on the issue when he addresses and takes questions from the undergraduate population Thursday at the McCormick Tribune Center Forum. His tenure at NU has seen several race-related controversies on the Evanston campus, including a Ski Team party that was widely criticized for its theme and a Latina student who reported she was harassed while walking home one night.

In December, maintenance worker Michael Collins said he found a black stuffed teddy bear hanging from his desk, sparking a University investigation. More than 100 students walked out of their classes to march in Collins’ name during Winter Quarter.

The University has responded over the past year by appointing three new administrators, assembling a University Diversity Council and setting up a bias-reporting portal.

“Not all of them are working, but you know what I always believe is monitoring them, trying to have quantitative metrics,” Schapiro said of the diversity initiatives. “If they’re not working, try something else. Don’t just keep throwing money at it, but try something else.”