Natalia H. J. Naish
Students at Northeastern University have taken over the John D. O'Bryant African American Institute after the school announced plans to tear down the building and replace it with residential and academic facilities.
In a press conference on April 12, students claimed the building's destruction was a result of racism, and not financial realities, as the university's administration claimed.
Although the administration plans to relocate the institute, the plan will condense the three-story building into one floor of an existing building.
Ibieri Seck, a junior at Northeastern and the president of Northeastern's Black Student Association, pointed out at the press conference that the Institute has not received an increase in its operating budget in 8 years, a decrease in black student enrollment at the university, and a low minority faculty-student ratio as evidence of discrimination.
In a statement, Northeastern University President Richard M. Freeland said that "whatever the final decision, the following is clear. The John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute will be a core entity within the Northeastern family of programs. All voices will be heard on the matter of the Institute's location and all decisions will be communicated openly and clearly."
The JDOAAI is devoted to helping African-Americans at both Northeastern and in Boston. It provides scholarships for black students, counseling services, a community outreach program, a library with over 6,000 books, videos, microfilms and periodicals devoted to African-American history and culture and a student lounge.
"This is a home for African-American students on a predominately white campus, where black students can feel safe and secure," said Brown.