Changes to Black House still postponed, listening sessions announced


Daily file photo by Jerry Lee

Plans to move Campus Inclusion and Community offices to the Black House and the Multicultural Center remain postponed following the negative response these changes received this summer. CIC will hold listening sessions for students, alumni and faculty to discuss the proposed changes.

Mariana Alfaro, Development and Recruitment Editor

All plans to move Campus Inclusion and Community offices to the Black House and the Multicultural Center are still postponed following the negative response the proposed changes received during the summer.

No changes have been made since administrators suggested the relocation during the summer, said Multicultural Student Affairs director Charles Kellom.

In August, administrators announced the University would move some administrative offices into the Black House and the Multicultural Center through a message to the MSA email list, prompting negative feedback from Northwestern students and alumni. The changes would have affected meeting spaces for multiple student groups, including For Members Only, Alianza, Asian Pacific American Coalition and Muslim-cultural Students Association.

Two days after the email was sent, administrators postponed all plans to move CIC offices. The Black House and the Multicultural Center have functioned normally during the first weeks of Fall Quarter.

However, the issue regarding the future of these spaces remains. Different campus offices, including CIC and MSA, announced dates Monday through their social media accounts for a series of listening sessions, where students, alumni and faculty will be able to discuss and ask questions about the proposed changes.

The first two of four these sessions will be held Oct. 14 at Parkes Hall, with the following two to be held Nov. 16 and Nov. 20 in Norris University Center and Scott Hall, respectively. They will all be moderated by Jamie Washington, president and founder of The Washington Consulting Group. Washington annually works with NU freshmen and transfer students during Wildcat Welcome during the diversity and inclusion Essential NU.

Kellom said he hopes these sessions will give those with concerns a better opportunity to voice their opinions.

“For the first session, at least, we will give some overall context,” he said. “The purpose is for us and for the Black House Facilities Review Committee that has been created to listen to people’s concerns and feedback and ideas.”

The recently created Black House Facilities Review Committee, which comprises students, alumni and faculty, will be present at all four listening sessions, Kellom said.

Kellom emphasized the power of students’ voices in preventing the relocation of CIC offices — he said multiple student groups and individuals have reached out to him with concerns about the future of the Black House.

Students have spoken up, Kellom said, voicing their opinions through the Sheridan Block Club, a group created this summer to oppose the changes, student groups, emails, Facebook posts, meetings with Kellom and other mediums.

Communication senior Theanne Liu, APAC’s external president, said she was surprised by the announcement during the summer.

“I thought this would be something the students would be consulted about,” she said.

Even though it wouldn’t have been a problem for APAC to find another place to meet, the changes would make it harder for students of different organizations to access resources, said SESP senior Jeanne Hou, APAC’s internal president. As an example, she mentioned a collection of Asian American studies books and materials donated by students and alumni that are kept in APAC offices inside Multicultural Center and said it would have been hard for APAC to find a new place to keep the collection if the changes had occurred.

“I know there’s a lot of space on campus,” Hou said. “I didn’t see why they had to go to MCC or the Black House, that’s as if filing diversity and inclusion initiatives into one geographical area on campus and I didn’t think that made sense.”

Kellom has stopped by APAC’s executive meetings, Liu said, and though nothing has changed yet, he discussed the situation with the executive board. Liu added she expects APAC to participate in the listening sessions.

Weinberg junior Rimsha Ganatra, Muslim-cultural Student Association’s vice president for public relations, said she felt groups were getting mushed together when she heard news about the planned changes.

She said McSA encourages its members to attend the listening sessions.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen next,” she said. “We’re not looking to fight the administration. … We’re looking for the best interests for our constituents.”

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