MSA Program Review
External & Internal Review Team Joint Report
Northwestern University’s history of dealing with issues of student racial diversity and inclusion is perceived by many as primarily reactive in the face of robust campus activism. The most seminal incident creating this perception occurred in 1968 when African-American students took over the Bursar’s Office. The administration ended the standoff by entering into an agreement with the students that, among other things, resulted in the University’s establishment of the Department of African American Student Affairs.
In the late 1990s, as activism rose within the Hispanic/Latino student community, Hispanic/Latino Student Outreach, which became Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs in 2000, was founded. One year later, stemming from student protests in the 1990s, Asian/Asian American Student Affairs opened its doors.
Most recently, through the collaboration of the Safe Space Ally Workshop and the LGBT Support Network, the LGBT Resource Center was created in 2004. In the same year, Northwestern created the Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) Office to bring African American Student Affairs, Hispanic/Latino Student Affairs, and Asian/Asian American Student Affairs under one organizational umbrella. In 2012, the LGBT Resource Center was re-aligned to become part of Multicultural Student Affairs.
Over the last five years, the undergraduate student population at Northwestern has become increasingly diverse. The incoming class of 2018 will be the most diverse in the school’s history with approximately:
- 9 % African American
- 14 % Hispanic/Latino
- 18.5 % Asian American
- and 9 % from outside the United States.
But, beyond numbers of under-represented students or compositional diversity is the critical element of leadership commitment to creating a campus climate for diversity and inclusion. President Morton Schapiro has affirmed that commitment to diversity and inclusion is a top priority, as did the University’s 2011 Strategic Plan.
This review of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) was conducted as a part of the fourth cycle program review 2013-2014 for Northwestern University. MSA was last reviewed in 2008-2009.
According to the Multicultural Student Affairs’ self-study, the mission of MSA is to:
Provide quality services and programs that support and enhance the collegiate experience, particularly for under-served students. MSA seeks to foster a learning environment that enriches the cultural, educational, professional, and social lives of students, providing opportunities for holistic development. Through advising, advocacy, and outreach, MSA is dedicated to an inclusive and diverse community and helps students excel individually and collectively.
To achieve the mission and best serve students, MSA focuses on three primary areas of student development. Students who participate in the programs, activities and services offered by MSA will:
- Celebrate the intersectionality of their individual identities and how they contribute to personal success.
- Utilize university and community resources to help navigate the Northwestern experience.
- Develop empathy, understanding, and acceptance of cultural differences to create a more socially just campus community.
In order to assess the degree to which the efforts of MSA are reflecting its stated mission, the review team interviewed close to 40 stakeholders, including MSA staff, students, administrators, faculty, and alumni. The review team also received written input via e-mail.
Director of Intercultural Programs, Duke University
Executive Director, Emeritus, NASPA
Associate Vice President for Research, Office for Research, Northwestern University
Director of Media Relations, University Relations, Northwestern University