University announces Black House reopening, racial justice updates

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Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

A Black Lives Matter flag flying over Norris University Center in January 2018. Northwestern administrators updated on the University’s ongoing racial justice initiatives on Wednesday.

Maia Pandey, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern administrators shared updates on racial justice efforts in a Wednesday email, outlining plans for inclusive hiring practices, anti-racism training and campus-safety reform.

The most immediate of these commitments is to reopen the Black House — which has been closed for renovation since June 2019 — by mid-Spring Quarter. Administrators said in the email they hope to begin hosting events in the house by early June and will give attendance priority to Black graduating seniors before opening the house for community-wide events.

“As we look ahead to the spring — and as we approach the one-year mark of student, staff and faculty calls for change — we reaffirm our University-wide commitments to social justice,” the email said.

The Office of Human Resources will begin training in May in an attempt to promote more diverse hiring practices after administrators invited community members to submit feedback on a proposed hiring policy in January. The newly introduced Diverse Candidates Slate Policy will require the University to seek a diverse applicant pool for each position and form diverse search committees.

Administrators said the University is also developing anti-racism programming for approximately 250 managers. Managers will complete this training by August 31, the email said, and the University hopes to launch a digital anti-racism training program for all students, faculty and staff by September.

The announcement also referenced the external review of the Department of Safety and Security, which was first announced last week. Drawing from the most immediately actionable items on the review, the University plans to reexamine the DSS’s role in student mental health response, decide which DSS services should be reimagined or eliminated altogether, reroute safety services complaints to outside DSS and evaluate whether campus crime alerts should use racial identifiers by June.

To advance racial justice in Evanston, the email said the University will also award Racial Equity and Community Partnership grants to local organizations in May, which will include funding to participate in a 12-week racial equity training program. These grants are in addition to the $1 million Good Neighbor Racial Equity fund, the recipients of which were announced earlier this month.

“We will prioritize fully integrating these efforts for change into the fabric of our University, so that this important work is ongoing, sustained and supported by leaders across campus,” the email said.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @maiapandey

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