Northwestern updates community on fulfilling commitments to racial and social justice


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

A Black Lives Matter flag raised over Norris University Center in January 2018. Northwestern provided a progress update on its previously announced commitments to racial and social justice.

Isabelle Sarraf, Campus Editor

Northwestern administrators updated the community in a Thursday email on its ongoing efforts outlined in June to advance racial and social justice on campus.

The University’s commitments were released following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, among others, and remain relevant following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin last month.

“We acknowledge that we have only just begun and that some commitments will take much longer to fulfill,” administrators said. “However, our dedication to systemic cultural change remains resolute. We know that only through sustained, coordinated action can social justice and equity become woven into our institutional fabric.”

Over the summer, administrators said its three action leaders — Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson, Manuel Cuevas-Trisán and Sekile Nzinga — reviewed similar past commitments and recommendations by NU task forces to “integrate, prioritize and align” them with the June commitments.

After committing to reviewing the operations and policies of University Police, administrators said it has engaged two outside consultants to lead a review — one of UP’s community engagement and one of its operations and policies, including a budgetary review.

Upon receiving over 1,000 responses and 100 nominations for the next chief diversity officer, the University plans to include the next CDO as a senior staff member and be part of decision-making “at the highest level.” The University added that 50 key leaders at NU will undergo anti-racism and unconscious bias training with an emphasis on action planning.

The Black House, which has been undergoing renovations since July 2019, is slated to reopen in the spring as construction was paused due to the pandemic. The University plans to upload biweekly progress reports on the status of the building, a hub and safe space for black students on campus.

As part of its annual $1 million contribution to Evanston, the University plans to reimagine its gift this year as the Good Neighbor Racial Equity Fund to “dismantle systemic barriers faced by Evanston’s historically marginalized communities.” The University also established a $500,000 grant program to be awarded this winter to partnerships that connect researchers and students with community groups to “drive positive social transformation” in Evanston and Chicago.

“We thank you for sharing your thoughts, concerns and ideas with us over the summer,” administrators wrote. “You have inspired us with your passion and dedication in fighting for social justice. We encourage you to keep engaging and advocating for change. Together we will make Northwestern a better place for all.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @isabellesarraf

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