Northwestern student activists release list of demands for racial inclusivity


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Students gather outside the Black House on Nov. 13 to protest institutional racism at Northwestern and other universities. Students released an official list of demands to the University on Friday to enhance the experiences of students of color at NU.

Mariana Alfaro, Development and Recruitment Editor

Several Northwestern student organizations are demanding the University improve resources and representation of students of color, including increasing the percentage of black students to 10 percent by 2020.

The Black Lives Matter NU Facebook page on Friday posted a list of 19 demands and asked people to email the list to University president Morton Schapiro. Various student organizations including For Members Only, Students for Justice in Palestine, MEChA de Northwestern and House on the Rock Christian Fellowship aligned to form the list, Communication junior Syedah Cabell told The Daily.

Cabell, a member of House on the Rock, said the groups decided to post the list on Black Friday in solidarity with black people around the nation boycotting the shopping day.

“It seemed to be appropriate to send the email on Black Friday because of the fact that the protest was focused on centering black voices,” she said.

The demands call for the University to increase the population of black students to 10 percent and Native American students to at least 5 percent by 2020, as well as triple the number of faculty and administrators of color by 2025. Black students last year made up roughly 6 percent of the student population, while American Indian/Alaskan Native students made up less than 0.1 percent, according to the University’s 2014-2015 enrollment data.

University administrators did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the list Friday.

Students demanded increased percentages of black and Native American students during a student protest at the lakeside athletic complex groundbreaking ceremony earlier this month. At the demonstration, students surrounded the audience, which included University officials, while reciting an initial list of demands. Cabell said the student groups spent the following two weeks finalizing the “Demands of a Concerned Student” list to make sure every demand was clear and well-organized.

One of the demands voiced by protesters during the groundbreaking ceremony has already come to fruition. Three days after the demonstration, the University called off plans to move administrative offices into the Black House, one of the protesters’ initial demands.

The revised list demands the University improve technology resources in the Black House and establish a new office focused on retaining and supporting students of color in math and science programs.

In addition, students are calling for the Multicultural Center’s remodeling, an Asian-American studies major, a U.S. centric diversity requirement for all majors and the removal of John Evans’ and Frances Willard’s names from buildings. The list adds that the University must increase the overall number of undocumented students and provide them financial aid and other resources.

The list also demands that University Police begin recording the ethnicity and gender for all student incidents by the end of this academic year.

Sarah Oberholtzer, co-founder of Black Lives Matter NU and co-president of Inspire Media, said the demands ask the University to “improve our education experience at a predominantly white institution.”

“For too long, black students and other students of color have felt and continue to feel unsafe and unheard on this campus,” the Communication junior wrote in a statement to The Daily.

Oberholtzer said students plan to meet with University administrators to follow through with each of their demands until they are met.

The Black Lives Matter NU Facebook page is coordinated by the Black People Making History Committee, a committee formed within the NU’s Center for African American History last February focused on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated undergraduate enrollment numbers of black and American Indian/Alaskan Native students at NU. Black students last year made up roughly 6 percent of undergraduates while American Indian/Alaskan Native students made up less than 0.1 percent. The Daily regrets the error.

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