‘F—k John Evans’ painted on The Rock, denouncing University’s failure to remove founder’s name from campus buildings


Joshua Irvine/Daily Senior Staffer

Passersby view the Rock, which was painted Homecoming weekend and criticized Northwestern’s inaction following student demands to remove University founder John Evans’ name from campus buildings.

Amy Li, Campus Editor

Alumni and students found the phrases “F—k John Evans” and “THIS LAND IS COLONIZED” painted around The Rock on Saturday during Homecoming weekend, denouncing Northwestern’s reluctance to remove the University founder’s name from campus buildings despite his involvement in the Sand Creek Massacre.

Evans was the territorial governor of Colorado at the time of the Sand Creek Massacre. Under Evans’ watch, Colonel John Chivington ambushed the peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho camps at Sand Creek, killing over 150 people — mostly women and children.

In 2015, members of the Native American and Indigenous Student Alliance launched a petition demanding the removal of Evans’ name from University programming and campus buildings, including the John Evans Center. NAISA members were not responsible for painting The Rock this weekend.

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer
The Rock was painted over the weekend denouncing Northwestern’s failure to remove the founder’s name from University buildings.

A Northwestern task force concluded that Evans’ failure to protect the Native people in Colorado as the superintendent of Indian Affairs helped make the massacre possible.

“The University has ignored (Evans’) significant moral failures before and after Sand Creek,” a 2014 NU study of Evans’ involvement in the Sand Creek Massacre wrote. “This oversight goes against the fundamental purposes of a university and Northwestern’s own best traditions, and it should be corrected.”

The University of Denver also released a separate report finding Evans “deeply culpable” in the massacre.

Former NAISA executive board member Lorenzo Gudino (Medill ’17) told The Daily that when Native students visit and see these names around the University, it can bring back trauma that can be triggering.

“It’s not a really safe space for them,” Gudino said. “They still have that historical trauma ingrained with them.”

The Board of Trustees previously voted against student demands.

In an October interview with The Daily, University President Morton Schapiro said he intends on respecting the board’s decision and does not plan on bringing the issue up again in the near future.

Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer
The Rock was painted with the message “DON’T COME HERE” during Homecoming weekend.

“(The Board of Trustees) thought long and hard… at the end of the day, the name stays on,” Schapiro said. “I have my own strong views about this, but I respect the prerogatives of the board.”

Schapiro told The Daily in 2015 that he believed “sanitizing history is a mistake,” and that names like Evans’ should either be kept on buildings or other landmarks and have their history told, or taken off with acknowledgement that they used to be called something else.

The Rock and its surrounding area also read “EAT THE RICH” and “Y’ALL ARE RACIST.” Bob Rowley, a University spokesperson, wrote in a Sunday email to The Daily that the University does not condone “painting obscenities” on school property.

“Northwestern is committed to the principles of free inquiry and free expression, which are central to the mission of the University,” Rowley wrote. “However, painting obscenities on University property violates Northwestern’s policies.”

Email: [email protected]