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December 9, 2018

5/15/2018 6:20:00 PM
Room for a View: Still
By Peggy Tarr

On May 3 and 4 I attended several events at Northwestern University in Evanston that marked the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Northwestern University Bursar’s Office Takeover Commemoration. 

For those not familiar with this takeover, here is a brief recap: Black students organized a sit-in at the Bursar’s office for 38 hours on May 3, 1968 “that changed the course of the University’s relationship with black students.” (Daily Northwestern 3/3/2018)  Many students who participated in the takeover attended the Commemoration as well as other Northwestern University students/graduates from around the country. 

I did not graduate from Northwestern, but I did work there years ago on two occasions: the first time in lab research and the second time as an administrative assistant. 

Although I have not followed closely the challenges and efforts of Black Northwestern students to acquire fair/just treatment, I have been aware of concerns about racism at Northwestern for years. 

I know from my own experience as an administrative assistant that Northwestern very much needs to constantly assess and improve its policies toward “minorities,” particularly Black students and staff. 

During my Northwestern employment, I – a Black person, was excluded from a thank-you luncheon for the people who worked on a project, even though I also worked on that project.  Can you guess the color of the people who were invited to (or should I say not excluded from) the luncheon?

Northwestern is not the only not-for-profit in Evanston that needs to improve its attitude toward and treatment of “minorities.” I (and others) have had to file complaints internally and/or externally against several Evanston not-for-profits and been aware of other folks who were too pessimistic/afraid to do so. 


From what I gather in talking with students and employees in the Evanston area, things have improved a lot at Northwestern  and beyond, but racism raises its ugly head still. 


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