Chanting “Black students matter,” more than 100 Northwestern University students rallied on campus Tuesday afternoon, calling for a series of changes at NU in financial support, admissions and university police policies.

The protesters, who gathered at the Rock, also demanded a meeting within seven days with Northwestern President Michael Schill to discuss the issues.

“This is a call to action so Black students can thrive in this predominantly white space,” said one of the speakers.

According to an organizer, NU sophomore Jackson Gordwin, this movement did not stem from an already existing group, but rather, “a bunch of Black students came together and saw a pattern” of unresolved questions.

Gordwin said more than 300 people, not all of them Black, have signed a petition being sent to the university.

Demands include an immediate and also ongoing increase in financial support for Black student organizations, a review of admissions policies in case the Supreme Court outlaws affirmative action and an “end to harmful policing” at the Black House social and cultural building.

Several speakers referred to the 1968 sit-in by Black students at the NU Bursar’s Office.

The “May 4th Agreement,” which came out of that occupation, led to a number of reforms in financial aid, increased Black enrollment and Black studies courses.

However, the protesters Tuesday said that there are still unmet demands from 1968, that need to be implemented now, including an official acknowledgement of institutional racism, increased scholarship support, specific residential housing for Black students and more Black counselors.

Michaiah Ligon, a sophomore from Detroit, said the fact that some of the issues from 55 years ago are still unmet “is telling of Northwestern’s relationship with its Black students.”

About 7% of Northwestern’s undergraduate students are Black.

University spokesperson Jon Yates told Evanston Now that while the student petition has not yet been received, it will be reviewed and NU will respond.

At the end of the rally, the demonstrators painted the Rock black.

They also promise more protests if what they’re asking for does not come to pass.

“We have the power not to ask for change, but to demand change,” Ligon told the crowd.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. Aren’t several of these demands in and of themselves racist?

    “specific residential housing for Black students”

    When was it ever acceptable to allow for specific residential housing for White students?

    Doesn’t this sound like segregation?

    Replaying the past wrongs against blacks gets us no where to work towards resolving our current problems.

  2. I love the fact that they are “demands.” What ever happened to making requests and then working together? Now I guess we just issue ultimatums.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *