University administrators commit to racial and social justice policies in the wake of Black Lives Matter


Daily file photo by Catherine Buchaniec

Rebecca Crown Center. Northwestern announced commitments to develop strategies addressing racism and bias on its campuses.

Isabelle Sarraf, Copy Chief

University President Morton Schapiro and other administrators sent an email to the Northwestern community Sunday outlining new strategies toward racial and social justice on campus.

The email came two weeks after administrators released a statement about the recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, which did not include the word “police,” nor mention that it was the police who killed Floyd and Taylor.

Administrators highlighted that NU’s commitment to racial and social justice is “unrelenting,” and that they “vehemently” opposed anti-blackness and police brutality occurring nationwide.

“It should not be a controversial or a political statement to declare that Black Lives Matter,” administrators wrote. “We need to identify and address all forms of implicit and explicit racism and bias on our campuses. We must, and we will, do more.”

In the email, administrators are asking leaders across the University to develop strategies for increasing diversity within the community. The University plans to be proactive in recruiting black and underrepresented students, and commit to “hiring, advancing and supporting” staff from marginalized communities.

Before FY 2020-2021 begins on Sept. 1, the University has committed to establishing an institutional policy requirement for diverse candidate slates for every staff position. $1.5 million — about 0.06 percent of the University’s operating revenue budget — will also be allocated toward “advancing social justice and racial equity” in Evanston and Chicago.

“Words are nothing without actions, and we pledge to act decisively to uphold the standards of this university and to ensure that each of its members is treated with the dignity and respect that we all deserve,” the email read.

The University has also committed to reviewing the operations of the Northwestern University Police Department, ncluding the use of force policy. Administrators wrote that they plan to supplement and reinforce annual training on de-escalation and responses to individuals in crisis.

On June 3, black undergraduate and graduate students jointly released a petition calling on the University to sever ties with all affiliated policing and militarized entities — including NUPD, the Evanston Police Department and the Chicago Police Department — and to redirect those funds to “life-giving institutions” and structures of support for black students. As of Sunday evening, the petition has over 7,700 signatures from community members.

“As a self-defined elite institution, Northwestern has a responsibility to put pressure wherever necessary to demand justice in the cities of Evanston and Chicago, and to lead other institutions in the divestment of law enforcement agencies,” the petition read.

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