ASG senators to file petition for student autonomy in the Black House


Daily file photo by Marcel Bollag

The Black House is scheduled for renovation during the upcoming school year.

Marissa Martinez, Print Managing Editor

ASG senators and community members will present a petition this Wednesday titled “Resolution In Support of Student Autonomy in the Black House,” which will be voted on next week.

The petition concerns the lack of a guaranteed space for the temporary Black House while the building undergoes renovation next school year. Options for future locations were discussed during Monday’s meeting in the Black House, which was attended by about 35 people, but no official vote was held.

The document details the role of the Black House in Northwestern’s black community and its current functions. It also includes demands from the 1968 Bursar’s Takeover for a space “to be used for social and recreational activities… and provide us with the necessary facilities to function as independently as the Student Senate office.” According to the document, this request has not yet been fully realized.

The petition describes the necessity of an independent, uniquely black space on campus, and asks for greater student autonomy in running the building, including 24-hour access, prioritizing the interests of the black community and moving the control of the building into the hands of students instead of remaining under Multicultural Student Affairs.

Even though the Takeover occurred 50 years ago, Meron Amariw, the For Members Only ASG senator and Christian Wade, a Weinberg senator, said the black community on campus still feels ignored and overlooked. Part of the petition’s purpose is to emphasize how important the Black House is to many black students on campus.

While the petition was co-authored by six students — including four members of ASG — both Wade and Amariw said it is meant to represent the opinions of the wider black community on campus.

“Yes, some of us are senators and some of us aren’t but it’s not even an ASG thing,” Amariw said. “It’s more of a black student thing.”

The petition includes requests for transparency from administrators, Amariw said, as well as making sure the renovated Black House is up to “not only University standards, but black student standards as well.”

Soteria Reid, the ASG vice president for accessibility and inclusion, said the committee modeled the petition around the idea that the Black House should be a “home” for all black students and their varying intersectionalities, and for those who “hold black people in their interests, thoughts and intentions.”

The SESP sophomore said the petition is personal for her. She said she didn’t visit the Black House regularly until spring quarter of her freshman year, when she started making more black friends and building a support system through the space.

“The Black House was a really key part of those critical interactions with other black folk,” Reid said. “It has a special place in my heart. It would have been significantly harder to feel comfortable being a student on this campus.

“I’m pushing for it because it was a space where I was able to be understood and start to understand what blackness was, what it wasn’t, and how it’s dealt with on this campus,” she continued.

Wade said seeing last quarter’s petition to have a first-generation/low-income space get a lot of support was encouraging. He said the Black House petition might be taken more seriously by administrators if they get signatures from the wider University community.

Wade and Amariw also said the petition is also a way to gauge student interest and field feedback. Ensuring everybody’s input is heard and valued is important to the creators of the petition, Amariw said.

Wade said he thinks the petition will pass.

“If ASG is supporting us and behind us, maybe it’ll put more emphasis on how important this is to our campus as a whole,” Wade said.

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Related stories:
– Black House to close for renovations during summer, replacement space undetermined
– ASG introduces resolution urging Northwestern establish first-generation, low-income student center
– In Focus: Fifty years after Bursar’s Office Takeover, Northwestern reconciles continued parallels in black student concerns