Northwestern administrators confirm announcement of temporary Black House location in two weeks


Owen Stidman/Daily Senior Staffer

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, right, speaks to ASG senate about the administration’s plans for finding a temporary space for black students during the Black House’s renovation.

Atul Jalan, Reporter

Northwestern administrators confirmed that they will announce the location of a temporary space for students who will be displaced by the renovation of the Black House — which is scheduled to occur from July 2019 through fall 2020 — in approximately two weeks.

“We will sit down and come up with ー of the alternatives that we’ve looked at together ー which one’s the best. We will make that recommendation, and we think, (in) give or take two weeks, we’ll have the answer,” said Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, the associate vice president and chief of staff for student affairs. “Once we identify the location, we will need to notify the internal stakeholders, notify the black community, then we will do a public announcement.”

The announcement occurred during a Q&A held by ASG during its Wednesday senate meeting. ASG invited Kirchmeier, Daviree Velázquez Phillip, the director of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Kelly Schaefer, the assistant vice president of student engagement. They spoke in response to a resolution it passed demanding further student autonomy in operating the Black House and a temporary location for students during the House’s renovation.

Renovating the Black House has been a process years in the making, involving surveys, focus groups, meetings and copious deliberation with relevant stakeholders, Kirchmeier said.

Over that period, administration members have reduced the number of possible temporary locations to a few spaces, which they, along with eight representatives from relevant groups, including Associated Student Government, For Members Only and Multicultural Student Affairs, will tour next Monday.

The group will consider four metrics for evaluation: the cost of using the space, whether it has certain amenities and features deemed necessary by relevant stakeholders, its community impact and its location on or around campus.

“I’m asking the MSA team, ‘What do you absolutely need?’” Philip said. “I’m going as a representative on behalf of MSA. My whole team isn’t going, so I’m coming in clear with what are the needs for our everyday functioning, for us to be able to do our work most effectively so that when we’re going through the walkthrough next Monday I can make informed decisions.”

An important demand of the resolution was to increase black students’ autonomy in operating the Black House, including 24-hour access to the space, prioritizing the interests of the black community and removing the requirement to submit proposals to hold after-hours events in the space.

Administrators did not offer a specific response when asked about those requests, citing a need to consult with relevant stakeholders after the opening of the renovated Black House in fall 2020.

“We’re targeting fall 2020 to look at that, so what we want to do is put some of that language together,” Schaefer said. “We’d like to involve students in the fall to understand what does it look like for that year as we look to open into the newly renovated Black House.”

In addition to the Q&A, SESP juniors Izzy Dobbel and Adam Davies were sworn in as ASG president and executive vice president, respectively, for the remainder of the quarter and the following academic year.

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