A guide to community spaces and student groups for marginalized students


Daily file photo by Brian Meng

The Black House, located at 1914 Sheridan Rd., is currently under renovation.

Isabelle Sarraf, Copy Chief

Across the country, people have had ongoing national conversations about racial injustice and economic inequality, and those discussions have played an active role within the Northwestern bubble — and will likely continue throughout the academic year. For students that identify as a member of a marginalized community on campus, it can be tough navigating your first year without a community that keeps you grounded amid the chaos. Here are just a few student groups and resources to ease your transition into college:

Multicultural Student Affairs

Walk into 1936 Sheridan Rd. and you’ll find a hub dedicated to enriching the cultural experience of Northwestern students. Multicultural Student Affairs hosts some of the most enriching and educational events of the year, from Transgender Day of Remembrance to Indigenous Peoples’ Day to Día de los Muertos. MSA also oversees spaces like The Black House, now temporarily at 1856 Orrington Ave., a “home away from home” for black students on campus. The temporary Black House offers two floors of community spaces, including meeting rooms for black student organizations. The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center is also run by MSA. Located on the third floor of the Norris University Center, the resource center is a comfortable space for LGBTQ students to socialize, study and meet each other. It includes a small library.

For Members Only

Northwestern’s black student alliance For Members Only is the representative and political voice on campus of the black undergraduate student body. Committed to serving Northwestern’s black community, FMO hosts cultural and community-building events throughout the year, such as the Black Family Reunion, State of the Black Union and an annual Spring Concert. The organization also hosts a mentorship program for freshmen, designed to support black first-year students by matching them with a returning student. FMO is also a hub for on-campus activism and has most recently led the charge for Northwestern to invest in its black students and divest from law enforcement. Currently, FMO meets at Black House.

Rainbow Alliance

Originally established in the 1970s as the Northwestern Gay Liberation Front, Rainbow Alliance serves as the premier undergraduate LGBTQ student group at Northwestern. The group is dedicated to providing a safe space for students of all genders and sexualities by grounding itself in a supportive and social environment. Rainbow frequently hosts on-campus events, like Rainbow Week in the fall — an entire week of programming leading up to National Coming Out Day. LGBTQ students and their allies: Mark your calendars in advance for Rainbow’s Amateur Drag Show in the winter. Even during quarantine, Rainbow has shown its commitment to actively bringing the LGBTQ community on campus together by hosting community check-ins, queer movie nights and a Pride Month celebration.

Advancement for the Undocumented Community at Northwestern

Advancement for the Undocumented Community at Northwestern, though the newest student group on this list, has been integral in fostering dialogue on campus about supporting and showing up for undocumented students. The group frequently takes to social media to educate the wider Northwestern community about action items, such as how to contact local representatives and voice your concerns about legislation that threatens undocumented people. AUC has also provided resources for undocumented students in the face of ICE raids and police violence, and hosted a March for DACA last year to show support for and stand in solidarity with the undocumented community.

Student Enrichment Services

The Student Enrichment Services office primarily serves first-generation, low-income, undocumented or DACA students on Northwestern’s campus. Last year, 13 percent of incoming freshmen were the first in their families to attend college and about 20 percent were Pell Grant recipients. At a predominantly white and wealthy institution, SES seeks to help the FGLI community foster identity development, navigate campus resources and build a community. Some resources SES offers include their Books for Cats program, which loans STEM textbooks to low-income freshmen. During Wildcat Welcome, SES hosts a meet-up to review services that Northwestern provides and allows a space for FGLI students to socialize.

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Twitter: @isabellesarraf

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