Old Main

Student and Community Activism

Leading by example and being the change

Every cause and accomplishment for our College begins and ends with the people in our community. The call for diversity, equity and inclusion came directly from our students, and they answered that call with action. Find out what they have done and continue doing, along with our alumni and faculty, to remake North Central into the most welcoming place it can be.

Black Student Open Forum and Working Group

In April 2019, following several particularly egregious acts of racism directed toward Black students on and around the North Central College campus during the 2018-2019 academic year, the North Central College Black Student Association (BSA) hosted a forum aimed at expressing student concerns and making the broader campus community aware of the circumstances facing Black students on campus. The forum was well-attended by students, and several members of the faculty, staff, and administration were also present.

During the forum students presented a list of demands to the College. In the days following, Kimberly Sluis, vice president for Student Affairs and Strategic Initiatives; Dorothy Pleas, director of Multicultural Affairs (since promoted to assistant dean); and Jim Godo, AVP for External Affairs and special assistant to the President began meeting regularly with representatives from BSA to address the demands. The students representing BSA included Milia Harris ’20, Mynk Richardson-Clerk ’20, Joshua Simmons ’20, Keley Villanova ’22, and Izaiah Webb ’20. This work continued in the 2019-2020 academic year with input from several additional students including Alexis Reese ’20, who served as co-president of BSA in 2019-2020. These students worked alongside staff and administrators in what became informally known as the BSA Working Group to accomplish the following: 

  • Implement a required diversity, equity, and inclusion online training module for all new and continuing students.  
  • Implement a required implicit bias online training module for all faculty and staff.  
  • Include a diversity, equity, and inclusion workshop in the First Year Seminar/CARD 101 course.  
  • Develop a transparent process for sharing bias incident data with the campus community (Note: The Bias Incident Response Team and Bias Education Teams were founded in 2016, but a way of sharing the data on reports and follow up had not yet been established).  
  • Implement a new music policy for athletics and athletic facilities.  
  • Advocate for additional staff to support BIPOC students at North Central College, resulting in the change of scope of Dr. Rebecca Gordon’s role to include leadership for college-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; the promotion of Dorothy Pleas into an assistant dean role in Student Affairs; and the increase of the number of assistant directors in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Proposal from Everybody Comes In student organization

(The following is a memo sent to the North Central College Presidents Council from Stephen Maynard Caliendo and Dorothy Pleas on behalf of the President’s Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.)

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and the Student Governing Association received a “Welcoming Campus Proposal” from a group of students that are calling themselves Everybody Comes In (ECI), which proposes actions for College support for undocumented students … Upon receiving and reviewing this proposal, the Student Governing Association passed a resolution … and asked the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force to consider the expansion of initiatives and supports for undocumented students. 

The proposal submitted by ECI asks that the College designate itself a “Welcoming Campus.” According to ECI, a welcoming campus is “a movement made up of schools, school districts and higher education institutions that call for protections to be put into place that will ensure a safe environment for ALL students, reaffirm the constitutional right of access to education and protect the rights of undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable populations.”  

 As the Task Force has been charged to “identify the needs of underrepresented members of our community and make recommendations for initiatives that will be ongoing with a clear intention to affect permanent cultural change on matters of diversity, equity and inclusion” and “review existing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout campus, including strategies and tactics within the Strategic Plan, revisit all timelines, incorporate new ideas, and reprioritize all activities and timelines accordingly,” we have reviewed the proposal carefully, discussed its content at length, and are making the following recommendations to President’s Council. 

 It is important to note that there are a number of existing initiatives to support undocumented students already underway at North Central College. The following is a list of many of those initiatives. The DEI Task Force recommendations acknowledge and build on this existing work and infrastructure.  

  • Webpage for Admission and Financial Aid detailing College resources for undocumented applicants 
  • “Application for Additional Financial Aid Consideration” for students who cannot complete the FAFSA and do not possess an F-1, H-4, or J-1 visa 
  • Information provided by Financial Aid and Office of Multicultural Affairs about the Illinois RISE Act, that provides alternative financial aid measures for undocumented students and transgender students 
  • Webpage of Undocumented Student Resources that outlines local resources for community members 
  • Events featuring speakers from local community organizations that support undocumented students and undocumented student support staff from Northern Illinois University and the University of St. Francis 
  • Staff participation in Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC) annual “Sharing the Dream” conference that shares best practices and resources for supporting undocumented students 
  • Inclusion of North Central College in IACAC College Advising Guide for Undocumented students 

The Task Force recommends that the following tactics be added to “Pathway to a Brilliant Future: The North Central College Strategic Plan,” in order to further the College’s efforts to welcome and support undocumented students: 

 Strategy: Enhance the recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff. 

  • Tactic: Develop a landing page on the external Internet and internal intranet detailing College commitment and resources available to support undocumented community members. 

Responsible person: Dorothy Pleas 
Proposed start date: July 1, 2020 
Proposed due date: January 1, 2021 

 Strategy: Work toward a campus community that is welcoming and supportive of diversity and inclusion, is free from discrimination, and models civil dialogue on social issues. 

  • Tactic: Develop training on immigrant rights and undocumented allyship for faculty, staff and students to be administered at least once per semester.  

Responsible person: Dorothy Pleas 
Proposed start date: July 1, 2020 
Proposed due date: January 1, 2021 =

  • Tactic: Develop and disseminate response protocol and individual rights for interaction with enforcement agencies/immigration authorities on campus for faculty, staff and students. 

Responsible person: Kevin McCarthy 
Proposed start date: July 1, 2020 
Proposed due date: January 1, 2021 

  • Tactic: Develop, implement and assess professional development opportunities to expand inclusive teaching practices and enrich cultural competencies in support of historically underserved populations on campus. 

Responsible person: Jennifer Keys 
Proposed start date: August 1, 2020 
Proposed due date: August 1, 2021  

The Task Force recommends that the owner of the following existing Strategic Plan tactics consider the undocumented population as they work toward completion:  

  • Tactic: Conduct a thorough, college-wide audit of existing equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives. 

Responsible person: Rebecca Gordon 

Campus Marches

Marches to protest racial injustice have played a key role in the history of North Central College for decades. They have been a vital means of expression for our students to stand against prejudice and division. Research is currently being conducted into this important dimension of our College’s history, and a detailed record will be part of this page in the near future. To find out more information about our history of campus marches, contact Coordinator of Archives Dr. Rebecca Skirvin at rmskirvin@noctrl.edu.

Petition Demands

The College is thankful for the ongoing activism by students and College alumni that continues to bring to our attention the experiences of our Black students and to support our efforts to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive North Central College. In particular, a 2019 BSA campus forum and BSA Demands, a summer 2020 alumni petition, and feedback gathered from campus listening sessions have been integral in informing this roadmap for our most recent anti-racism work on our campus. 


Students walking on path towards Wentz Science Center

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at North Central

North Central College strives to grow in diversity, equity and inclusion through the work of our faculty and staff, the openness and honesty of our students, the support of our alumni, and the continuing commitment of the entire North Central community. Share our journey with us and discover how we are working to be the change and become a true college of destination.

Old Main