Protesting Students Meet with Northeastern President Over Site of African American Studies Institute
Protesting students and Northeastern University President Richard M. Freeland met recently about the fate of an African American studies center, where students had been involved in a sit-in.
Freeland said in a letter to the student newspaper last month that the land where the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute is located could hold a larger structure and that a study has identified possible alternative locations.
The students say the center should not be moved and had been taking turns in a vigil inside the building. About 50 protesters participated.
In the letter, Freeland said no decision has been made yet about the building, but that “the legacy of the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute will be honored.”
Students fear the university is already planning to raze the building but won’t announce it until after exams are finished and students have departed for the summer. The three-story building, once at the outskirts of campus but now practically in the middle, also houses the Reggie Lewis Technology Center, a 6,000-book library and other resources.
An advisory committee agreed to a revised timetable proposed by Freeland in response to students’ concerns regarding an initial timetable that had been distributed. The original decision date had been set for no later than June 1. However, in response to students’ concerns about the timing, Freeland committed to delivering a decision and recommendation to the Northeastern community and board of trustees by mid-May.
In the intervening weeks, discussions will continue on all the options being explored to keep the African American Institute at its current location with appropriate renovations, as well as other options that have been put on the table.
Two open campus forums to discuss the issues have been scheduled for this month.
“There is not really discouragement (among the students), but I think people are eager to see it come to an end,” says Ibiere Seck, president of the university’s Black Student Association. “We’re also getting a lot of encouragement, so the spirits are still really high.”
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