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Bursar's Office Takeover

This site for the 2018 commemoration of the Bursar's Office takeover is “frozen in time” as historical material. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

May 3, 1968

In 1968, more than 100 Northwestern students peacefully occupied the Bursar’s Office to protest the black student experience. The occupation lasted 38 hours, ending with a negotiated resolution in which the administration responded to a list of eight student demands. Charla Wilson, the Archivist of the Black Experience for Northwestern Libraries tells the story. 

The “May 4th Agreement,” as it is popularly known, had a lasting and major impact on the course of the University. Although work still remains to be done, the consequences of the students’ actions were striking and productive, from increasing black student enrollment and financial aid, to revised housing policies, to the expansion of “studies of black history and black culture,” among others.

Timeline text version

Explore the history

Learn more by reading about the takeover, viewing archival images and documents and watching the trailer for a documentary created by the Northwestern Black Alumni Association (NUBAA). To find out more about NUBAA 50th anniversary events, visit the NUBAA website.

NUBAA Documentary

NUBAA Documentary

Watch the trailer for a documentary created by NUBAA
View the Trailer

Commemoration and events

To honor this significant event, University faculty, staff, students and alumni are coordinating a series of commemorative events that will take place throughout the 2017-2018 academic year.


Group of Students occupying the Bursar’s Office
Northwestern commemorates 50th anniversary of Bursar’s Office Takeover
Students occupying the Bursar’s Office in May 1968. Photo from University Archives.


There are no upcoming events at this time. Events will take place throughout the 2017-2018 academic year.