Creating a More Inclusive Northwestern Community

Campus Inclusion and Community (CIC) Executive Director Lesley-Ann Brown-Henderson sat down for a Q&A about upcoming changes for the office and a budding reorganization that will better serve the Northwestern community.

As of September 1, 2015, Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and the newly created Social Justice Education (SJE) and Student Enrichment Services (SES) offices will be centralized under CIC to acknowledge and respond to a rapidly diversifying population across campus.

Why was Campus Inclusion and Community (CIC) created?

Our narrative is that CIC “was started for students by students.” The spring of 2012 was very tumultuous. There were a number of racist incidents on campus, and immediately we had student organizations asking for more administrative support.

Vice President for the Division of Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin responded, and as a result, I was hired by September 2012 and CIC was created.

What were students asking for, and what did that result in?

Students were asking for some kind of dialogue, and pointed to a need for some kind of bias reporting system. We recognized we needed more educational and training resources in place, so SES, which serves low-income and first-generation students among others, and SJE were created.

What recognizable initiatives show how CIC is making a difference?

Programs like Sustained Dialogue, Dinner Dialogues, the Inclusion Task Force, Northwestern Posse, RespectNU, Mosaic.

From the point of view of a student, what will change?

It should feel very fluid to you, the experience of going between our offices, and those spaces (the Black House and Multicultural Center on Sheridan, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center in Norris, etc) aren’t going away—we are actually looking to make improvements.

Why does this change serve students better?

Lots of students feel like they didn’t have a place here. We want students who are biracial, Arab, all students that identify as students of color to feel included. We want a stronger focus on intersectionality, and low-income students of color and LGBTQIA students.

How did CIC prepare for this reorganization?

During Winter Quarter we had about 22 sessions with past alumni, faculty and staff, and students to introduce our plan and receive feedback from them.

Have there been any concerns voiced about this reorganization?

It’s been mostly positive feedback, but there is some concern with the balance of serving more students and continuing to serve those students that have historically been disenfranchised.

We’re still hiring people with a history of working with a certain population, but there is more emphasis that it’s everyone’s responsibility, everyone’s job to interact with all populations.

What is CIC’s main goal with this reorganization?

Our main goal—and it’s in our mission—is to make campus more inclusive. It’s not solely our responsibility to do all of that, but we want to be leaders on campus in servicing students.

What does the realization of that goal look like?

For me, a win would be a campus that is less racist, discriminatory, and oppressive. For students to be happy here, that historically have not been, and for them to feel like CIC is a place they can call home. For those students to feel comfortable, and that the work we do isn’t just siloed to our areas, but that it’s visible at Northwestern Career Advancement, Norris, in Greek life, etc, and has an impact across campus.

Look for more information from Campus Inclusion and Community this summer.