New organization vows to preserve Black House student spaces

Julia Jacobs, Summer Editor

A new social justice organization launched Monday in opposition to a Northwestern plan to reorganize the Black House that would make room for administrators and limit student space.

The Sheridan Block Club debuted on social media sites as a coalition of students, alumni and organizations aiming to protect “the sacred and safe space that is The Black House and the protection of blackness, which it embodies,” the group said in a news release.

The organization, whose founders are anonymous, appeared one day after the University suspended the office space reorganization in response to an outcry from students and alumni. The changes, announced Friday morning, would have moved Campus Inclusion and Community staff into the Black House and the Multicultural Center this fall, forcing several student groups to consolidate space in the two buildings.

“As a space that students sacrificed so much for, it is nonsensical at the least to have turned The Black House into, in simple terms, an ‘everything house,’” the group said in the release.

The group said the lack of student input on the decision to reorganize space in the Black House is a violation of the University’s 1968 agreement with black students to create a community gathering space of their own. SBC said it intends to lead future campus negotiations on the decision and organize peaceful protests opposing the changes.

Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, announced an official avenue for that feedback Sunday, scheduling four open discussions during Fall Quarter where students and alumni can voice their concerns.

SBC said it also seeks to serve as a collective voice for the black student body on campus with the preservation of the Black House as its central purpose.

“The Black House has served as a physical and figurative place of unabashed blackness on Northwestern’s campus,” the group said in the release. “This decision is seen as an usurping of sacred and safe spaces for black students past, present and future.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @juliarebeccaj