Climbing the Ivory Tower: Views From the Top

By Marla-Fiona Anderson

The Entrance – Getting Accepted to the University of Chicago

For most of my life, I didn’t even know that the University of Chicago existed. This changed during my senior year of high school, when I received a letter in the mail from QuestBridge, a non-profit helping high-achieving, academically motivated students from low-income backgrounds gain access to some of the nation’s “top institutions.” At first, I thought it was a scam, but after taking a leap of faith and completing a lengthy application process, I got matched to UChicago, the school with a reputation for diversity, in a city with a reputation for violence. 

Why did UChicago accept me? Well, I was diverse and a high achiever. I graduated high school in the top five percent of my class of 250 students, the only Black student that year to do so. I was also involved as President of the Speech and Debate Team, President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Students, and member of the Marching and Concert Bands. I volunteered heavily with the American Red Cross, won several awards and earned multiple distinctions as the “first” person to do fill-in-the-blank-thing… in each organization. In fact, I’m the only person that has ever attended UChicago from my high school. 

My application essay was a letter to my mom titled Dear Mom: Jamaican Me Crazy. In the first line, I wrote “I’m 17 years old and I’ve never been to a birthday party.” I went on to talk about all the things I missed out on growing up due to being raised in an overprotected household and eventually came to the conclusion that my mom was “sending me into a tornado where I [would] be flung around by the underlying truths of life. And there’s nothing I can do but hope and pray that I fall into the right ring of debris, and land safely on the ground.” I was right, but I would later consider it weird that I had to put my traumas on the line to gain acceptance, and I often wonder what my peers wrote about. 

I was socially, emotionally and culturally unprepared for what I would face in the next four years. Though I grew up surrounded by mostly white Southern influences and, at the time, felt very comfortable in majority white spaces, it wasn’t the white community that welcomed me when I came to campus. In fact, my first ever party was in a Black student’s dorm room during UChicago’s 2018 Admitted Students Weekend, where I got crossed, lost, and thankfully redirected by a campus security guard. I didn’t know then that this would become the theme for the rest of my four years—trying new things, making mistakes, losing myself, and with guidance and support from others, coming out on the other side better for it. 

The Climb – Navigating the Institution

First Year

Turns out, there were no tornadoes involved, but there were lots of stairs. Thankfully, I didn’t have to climb the first few alone. I was one of 50 students accepted to the Chicago Academic Achievement Program (CAAP), a bridge program for students from low-income, and rural backgrounds. On the first night, June 24, 2018, we all sat on the stairs of Behar House lounge in Campus North and introduced ourselves. I introduced myself as the severely overprotected girl looking forward to independence and exploring Chicago. Because of CAAP, I felt safe, connected, and prepared for matriculation in the fall. While there, I also posted the first video to my new YouTube channel, where I would eventually become the first Black student to post videos about race matters at UChicago.

A few months later, I started getting to know the rest of my peers. According to a census on UChicago’s Inclusive Pedagogy site, in Fall 2018 the undergraduate student population was 39.3 percent White, 19.2 percentAsian, 14 percent International, 13.7 percent Latinx, 6.5 percent Multiracial, 5.2 percent Black, 2.1 percent not specified, 0.1 percent American Indian, and 0.01 percent Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. This site uses this information to encourage professors to “be proactive” and “consider including course materials written or created by people of different backgrounds and/or perspectives.” 

As an Anthropology major, most of my classes relied on knowledge surrounding different backgrounds and perspectives. After taking my first few social science classes, I was attracted to the concepts I was learning and would come to love discussions surrounding race and the African diaspora. Systemic racism started making more sense to me, and I started seeing it in even more places than before. 

I was friends with a faculty member from my high school who was posting anti-immigration propaganda to her news feed. As a first-generation Jamaican immigrant, who had a decent relationship with this person, I was hurt. The concept that all teachers love all their students quickly dissipated for me. I would later guard who I would trust pedagogically. I decided to share some of my perspectives on my own feed, with an audience that included many of my white peers from home. One person said that college was turning me into a “liberal snowflake” while another suggested that instead of using welfare benefits to get me a plane ticket, it might be easier to send me back on the boat I came on. Despite the fact that I didn’t know what either a liberal snowflake or Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) was and that I entered the country via airplane, these messages hurt. 

Around the same time I learned about the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) shooting Charles Soji Thomas, a Black student who was experiencing a mental health crisis in 2018. Due to a combination of my genetic history with mental illness, experiencing direct racism for the first time, and understanding more about systemic issues through my coursework, there was a period where I would walk around campus actively fearing for my life because my white peers or police officers might try to harm me. After sitting with these anxieties for some time, I decided to make an appointment with Student Counseling Services (SCS). By the time I got a chance to meet with SCS, I was paired with a non-Black, male therapist. Though my racial trauma needed the most psychological attention at the time, given the therapist’s identity, I didn’t know where to start or the best way to explain. I remember talking, crying, then leaving and feeling less hopeful than I did when I first walked in. After that, I went to one more session with SCS but after coming to the same result, I did not go back again.

While all this was happening, the love I had for my Black identity and community became stronger as I spent more time around Black students, professors, staff and culture. I fueled my needs for social interaction by joining the Organization of Black Students (OBS), the African and Caribbean Students Association (ACSA), Black Professional Society, and the Society of Scientists of Color. I even ran for first-year representative in OBS and ACSA, and even though I wasn’t elected, I continued to attend as many events as I could. I would eventually sit in several leadership positions in multiple organizations, on and off campus, where I was tasked with planning and executing the same types of events which I enjoyed attending and benefitted from.

Second Year

Towards the end of my first year, I learned that since I was an Odyssey scholar, if I moved off campus and found an apartment with rent that was low enough, I would get a refund every quarter that would be enough to cover my housing and living expenses with a little bit left over. The alternative to this was staying in the dorms and continuing to pay the school a few hundred dollars every quarter. For myself and many other low-income students, this was an easy choice, so about a week after the end of my first year, I moved into my first apartment with two of my friends as roommates. 

The best part about moving off-campus is that when the pandemic happened, I didn’t have to pack all my belongings up or leave Chicago. Aside from the fact that doing remote classes from my mom’s studio apartment in New York would be nearly impossible since we would be sharing a small space and she was also working from home, after the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, I didn’t need to ask her for permission to go out and protest. Instead I got to be right there in the middle of it. In fact, I attended one on May 30, 2020, the same day when Provost Ka Yee Lee made an announcement about our community and events in Minneapolis and Chicago. In this announcement, she stated that “The vitality of the South Side is fundamentally linked with that of the University, and we esteem the deep relationships and partnerships that the residents of the South Side and members of the University community have built together.” This phrasing was extremely inappropriate given that it portrayed the university’s relationship with the South Side as one built together in the spirit of collaboration, when historically, it has been one of oppression. 

We received another email a few days later from the Dean of Students office along the same lines as Lee’s announcement. My first reaction upon reading it was, “Why did they say people of color when the experience being talked about is exclusively Black?” It wasn’t until a later announcement on June 26, after students identified this gross lack of acknowledgement, that the university named anti-Black violence for what it is. In 2021, the university released this announcement: Opposing Racism and Acts of Violence Against People of Asian Descent. Aside from the direct acknowledgement of the issue and stance in its title, in the latter announcement, the Provost says “we must rededicate ourselves as a community to oppose violence, racism, and bias. We stand together on behalf of all people who are vulnerable to acts of violence and bias.” Though I’m glad to see the University learning from its mistakes, I would have felt a lot more supported if those sentiments and commitments were shared with the Black community in 2020 as well.

On the social side, I dedicated a significant portion of my time to attending events hosted by one of the Black sororities that are active on campus. I was attracted to the idea of a community of Black women dedicating time and energy to building and uplifting themselves, each other and their communities and having fun doing so. I wanted in. Some time later, after submitting my application, I received the call I’d been waiting for, but not the news I was expecting. I was informed that my application was not accepted, and while I was encouraged to reapply in the future, I was not invited to be a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. at that time. 

Disappointed with this news, I still wanted to engage in a community like this. I knew I needed more space to grow. My only options at the time were to either wait until their next rush cycle, or rush a graduate chapter. I chose to instead create my own space, by starting a new organization. On June 14, 2020, less than 4 months after receiving that rejection call, I was meeting with my friends, Gabby Mahabeer and Dayo Adeoye on our first Zoom call to discuss the establishment of what would become the Georgiana Rose Organization, a mental-health focused student organization for Black women on the UChicago campus. Our organization would be non-exclusive and open to all, and we would build the space to accommodate each person as they were, and prioritize the healing and support of each individual and their social, cultural and political growth.

Third Year

Starting a new RSO while balancing other executive board commitments, quarantine requirements and social limitations, racial violence, internship hunting, and my first romantic relationship, my life commitments were once again taking a toll. I decided to reach out to SCS again, and this time I asked specifically for a Black woman therapist. On June 22, 2020 after successfully, getting through SCS’s external referral process, I had my first appointment with my first ever Black woman therapist. Finally, I had the space I needed to begin my healing journey.

Despite the widespread and demanding nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and related social issues, expectations for student academics and involvement were still high. However, the remote learning format offered some forms of escape. I remember a few times being in class and getting triggered by comments made by both professors and other students, and being thankful for the ability to turn my camera off and physically take a break. I could roll out of bed right before classes and meetings, listen to a lecture while taking a walk, and sometimes even be in two calls at once. I could be involved in more activities without getting physically overwhelmed. 

At the end of winter quarter, I started a new work study position as a Student Centers Building Manager. Part of my job was to remind students to wear their masks and ask them to leave the building when it was time to close. I cannot count the amount of times I was either disrespected or undermined by white and international students, alumni and visitors. While I enjoyed this position otherwise, it exposed me to how shamefully some people treat the staff members, most of whom are Black, and it makes me sad. They do so much to keep our lives comfortable and deserve the utmost respect and care. Without them, the university would not be able to run! 

Fourth Year

I’d learned enough about the finance world by my third year to receive a career track internship offer as an investment banking summer analyst at UBS Financial Services, Inc. After a summer on Wall Street, I found that I was more concerned with the mental health of the employees and the firm’s strenuous working environment than I was with investment banking. I decided to drop Economics, focus on my Anthropology major, and take as many Psychology-related classes as I could to begin pursuing a career in the Behavioral Sciences. 

Right before the quarter started, Parul Kumar, former President of Undergraduate Student Government (USG), reached out to me about an open spot on the Executive Slate. She thought I might be a good addition to the space due to my connectedness with campus communities and my willingness to voice “radical ideas.” After running on a platform of supporting mental health initiatives and marginalized student voices, the College Council elected me as the new College Council Chair. 

At this point, I was also preparing for grad school applications. After spending time with my family during the summer, I was inspired to write my B.A. Thesis about how mental health is talked about in Black Caribbean student communities, so I could include my research in my application. However, I needed more experience. After one of my professors invited us to a virtual Lab Night event, I was drawn to the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention (CCYVP) because of its focus on reducing youth violence and improving Black lives. After a conversation with the Program Manager, I was offered the role, and accepted it. Since I was financially unstable and both roles allowed me to do schoolwork in my downtime, I decided to continue being a Building Manager and aim for 15 hours of work each week between the two. 

At first, this all seemed doable, then it wasn’t. My mental health plummeted. On the night of May 11th, while sitting in Ex Libris Cafe, I sent an email to the head of my department explaining that “[u]nfortunately, due to overcommitting myself with my spring quarter schedule, I did not finish my thesis in time and will not be submitting a BA Thesis for Anthropology. Instead, I hope to finish it as an MA thesis or other scholarly work at a later date.”  I felt like I let down myself, my parents, my research participants, and my advisors. I felt like a failure. 

The next day, I received the results of my MAPSS application. I was accepted to the program, but not to the Psychology track, so I wouldn’t get a lab placement. According to every person I spoke with in the field, lab experience was a necessary requirement for acceptance into a PhD program. While I was exposed to Behavioral Science Research as a Research Assistant with the CCYVP, it wasn’t a lab. Still, even with a lab placement, I would not have been able to accept this offer since the scholarship I was offered would only cover $30,000 of expenses, and I would be responsible for the remaining $40,929. What more could I have done?

This was my breaking point. I decided that I would no longer be graduating that quarter anymore and even told my family that they could cancel their flights. I tried to explain to them how I was feeling in terms of a battery: I was no longer recharging fast enough to have the energy needed to produce any fruitful results, and I needed rest. I planned to take an incomplete on either one or two of my finals, and use the next year to complete my thesis, achieve the other goals I’d set for myself that remained unaccomplished, and revolt against credentialism and elitism in academia.

After sharing my plans with my therapist, she suggested that I meet with my trusted mentors to hear their recommendations and that I follow them. My mentors reminded me of the violence I’d experienced in my time at the university, and that it might be easier for me to speak up about them as a non-student of the institution since I would be protected from direct retaliation. I left those meetings more focused on the idea of finally being free from UChicago, and recharged with the energy and support I needed to get there. I ended the quarter with my first ever 4.0.

Top – Conversations with Administration

Following the death of Shaoxiong ‘Dennis’ Zheng on November 9th, 2021, conversations on safety increased around campus. As a high-ranking member of USG, I was involved in many of these. On November 16, 2021, a week later, the university announced a permanent increase in policing and surveillance and an expansion of the shuttle program and Lyft Ride Smart Program. These came before Zheng’s memorial service on Thursday, November 18, at Rockefeller Chapel.

I met President Paul Alivisatos in person for the first time at the Campus Discussion on Safety and Security on November 17th, 2021, where they discussed with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) the steps they’d taken and would continue to take to enhance safety and security on campus. In fact, those are my locs in the cover photo—I was one of the few student leaders invited to attend in person. Alivisatos shared that the university “invite[s] all parents and current students to be part of the conversation about what will help them feel like they can be safe and do their best work here” (stated at 32:30). However, we were immediately excluded from this since both recent history and this discussion promote further violence in our communities.

Among many other macroaggressions, I was most offended when David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, made multiple jokes in response to the question on racial bias in their policing of Black and Brown communities (35:15 – 37min). What’s funny? After this, I started experiencing symptoms of a panic attack. As the only non-police Black person present in the room, I felt it was my duty to say something, to fight. At the end of the discussion, I raised my hand. After no recognition, I stood, and I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I began to speak. Audience members started rushing to leave and one person even told me that this wasn’t the time or place. I asked why since this was the current topic of discussion, and insisted that my voice be heard. Physically shaking and extremely emotional, I did my best to explain our systemic crisis, demanded that more voices (including those of Black students) be included in further decision making, cursed at the president and the university for their continuation of the violence, and stormed out in a fit of frustration. This wasn’t my proudest speech, but I believed it was necessary to speak up about the flaws and injustices of what had been said. If I could’ve done things differently, I would’ve still said “this is absolute bullshit,” but then I would’ve went on to calmly ask the unanswered question I wrote on the provided Q&A sheet an hour before: How does the university plan to prioritize the voices and experiences of students, faculty, staff and community members from marginalized groups in its decision making? 

On March 4th, 2020, in USG’s first private meeting with Alivisatos and my second interaction with him, Tyler Okeke, who was Vice President of Advocacy at the time, asked the president if he would support measures to improve the transparency of UCPD, ranging from adopting the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to releasing the budget. The president’s response was that they use UCPD how they want to use UCPD, and would not be adopting FOIA because the university is a private entity. However, in the November discussion, Eric M. Heath, Associate Vice President for Safety & Security and Superintendent Brown made it clear that the two departments agreed to collaborate on “long term strategic plans to address crime in the neighborhoods surrounding campus” (7:20). Shouldn’t a private entity (UCPD) that shares camera footage, license plate readers and other data while engaging in joint patrols and traffic missions with a public entity (CPD) be held to the same standards as that public entity (7:05)? I mentioned in this meeting that USG, elected representatives for the entire undergraduate student body, had a firm stance against increasing police and questioned why that, along with stances from other student groups about the negative effects of policing and anti-Black rhetoric like OBS and #CareNotCops were not being taken into account in their decision making. The president responded by saying that while our personal opinions on this matter differed, what he was interested in was creating wealth in the community. It’s always about the money. 

You know that phrase, “It’s lonely at the top”? My four years at UChicago taught me that getting to the top isn’t about gaining popularity or climbing the ladders of some imaginary hierarchical system. It’s about taking our backgrounds and experiences and gaining as much perspective as we can in the spaces and conversations that we find important. As a first generation, low-income student with a need for safe spaces to grow socially, emotionally, and culturally, things like mental health and supporting marginalized student voices are important not only for my platform, but also for me. I was able to sit across the table from the highest ranking members of university administration, the people with the power to make substantial changes, share my story and discuss recommendations for future improvements. In terms of this, I can’t imagine many other students, specifically Black students, getting the amount of exposure to the university, its administration, and its violence like I did. Still, I left campus with the sense that my voice, experiences and immediate communities were not administrative priorities.

At some point, I realized that the administration, members of USG, and other student leaders had very similar roles: sourcing information on university life to make it better. The caveat is that some of us are getting paid millions to do, care, and listen less. If the university administration was listening like they say they do, they would hear what students, faculty, and community members have been saying for decades: the only way to ensure a reality of safety, rather than simply a “sense” of it is to radically heal our communities and end systemic violence. The success of this relies on all of us, on campus and off, working together to investigate, understand, unlearn and rebuild each facet of our current system to change it for the better.


View – Processing this Information

Around the same time, I saw that some of my closest peers were celebrating the completion of their theses. Did I do college wrong? What could I have done differently? What could I have deprioritized?

If I didn’t commit to exploring social spaces, I wouldn’t have gained the social and emotional learning skills that I missed growing up. If I had quit any of my jobs, I’d be even more in debt than I am now, and lacking the experience necessary to move into my desired field. If I’d quit Student Government, I wouldn’t have the knowledge I have now about administration. And if I’d quit GRO, I would have done a disservice to myself and the people I believe will benefit from the organization in the future. The leadership experiences I had have molded me into the best leader I’ve ever been. And the external financial, familial, and other things that came up were out of my control. Every single one of my experiences was necessary for me to develop this detailed view of university matters. I can’t pinpoint what exactly I could’ve done differently, but there’s more the university could have done to support me, and by extension, other first generation, low-income, and Black students, in my identity and experiences. 

Firstly, the university needs to hold themselves accountable to their part in the violence instead of gaslighting Black and brown communities. The original University of Chicago was founded in 1856, but closed in 1886 due to financial issues. Among the Old University’s incorporators were:

Stephen A. Douglas – slave owner and Illinois senator who argued for the continuation of slavery in the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates. Douglas donated the initial land and financial endowment to fund the Old University. 

William B. Ogden – the first mayor of the City of Chicago. 

John H. Kinzie – the second president of the Town of Chicago and the son of John Kinzie. John Kinzie purchased (some believe forcefully) the house and lands of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable in 1800 through his frontman, Jean La Lime. Du Sable was the first permanent non-Indigenous settler of Chicago, and was of African descent. John Kinzie later murdered La Lime, who was also an interpreter between the Indigenous People and Fort Dearborn in Chicago. This is known as the first murder in Chicago. 

John C. Burroughs – the first President of the Old University who served as Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the Chicago Board of Education from 1884 until his death​​. In 1889, Burroughs also supported fundraising efforts for the erection of the current University of Chicago.

On July 7th, 2020, the university announced the Removal of Stephen A. Douglas Plaque and Stone which was mounted in the wall of the Classics building. According to the announcement, “As John Boyer, Dean of the College and author of The University of Chicago: A History, notes, Douglas died in 1861 and had no connection to the University of Chicago that was founded in 1890 as a new institution with a distinct mission.” How does a stone memorial of a man with no connection to a university find its way to that university’s campus? In fact, according to the same book by Boyer which is quoted here, more than half of the new university’s trustees and donors (including John D. Rockefeller) had a relationship to the University of Chicago prior to 1890. This is the UChicago legacy, built on murder, theft, and lies, and while it’s not a legacy to be proud of, it’s a legacy that belongs to the university and one that it should own up to. 

Secondly, they should provide students with the full extent of support they need to succeed. On June 3, 2022, I attended the Odyssey Senior Celebration at the Rubenstein Forum. There, President Alivisatos stood on stage and promised a room full of Odyssey graduates and their families, including me and mine, that the university would support us throughout the rest of our post-graduation journeys. I thought about my dreams of pursuing a career in the Behavioral Sciences, possibly returning to the university in the future to teach in its non-Black Psychology department, and bringing a missing perspective to the next generation of Black psychologists. I thought about how I received the results of my MAPSS application the day after our last meeting with the president in which I shared that I applied and he suggested that more could be done to prepare students for graduate school applications. I thought about how UChicago had the resources to make my dreams a reality and didn’t. This promise had already been broken to me.

Thirdly, the university needs to better support students’ individual and communal needs. Inclusive pedagogy doesn’t stop at expanding course materials. It also requires substantial effort in building and maintaining quality resources and spaces to accommodate and nurture the different backgrounds and perspectives that students come in with. Since application essays notoriously include information on these, I wonder what would it look like if the university used that information not only as a basis of application-based decision making, but also as a tool to provide personalized resources and support to each incoming first year. While there are some students who come here only to learn, and don’t need much additional university support, some students, like me, will rely almost completely on university resources, and to make sure every student can truly thrive here, it’s important to fully meet each student where they are . Historically, students have recognized these needs and taken it into their own hands to meet them, but there is an entire department of Campus and Student Life that is tasked with doing this and needs to do more. 

Fourthly, they need to do all this while encouraging a more true culture of collaboration with the South Side community. For instance, in 2022, South Side residents ranked mental health as the area’s top concern for both children and adults in a study done by UChicago’s Medical Center. Given this, and the nationwide shortage of professionals trained to provide mental health support, there’s room for UChicago to strengthen its commitments to diversity and inclusion in SCS and its Behavioral Science departments, to ensure that interested students, like me, receive all the training and support they need to best prepare them for future positive change within these fields. What would it look like if the university supported faculty and student research and innovation initiatives that directly benefit the South Side community, radically? Or accepting more students from surrounding communities who are committed to their communities, in mass? UChicago has been here for over 166 years and refers to itself as an “anchor institution on the South Side.” If the scholarship produced was being transformed into community impact from day one, both the university and the surrounding communities would be much better off today. Instead, the community has faced decades of divestment and now carries the burdens of poverty, violence, and low educational and vocational opportunity. As the largest employer and most violent institution on the South Side, the university is responsible for making amends.

Exit – Life after UChicago

Transitioning from UChicago has been incredibly difficult for me. Many of the resources I was dependent on are now gone. I graduated job-free and debt-secured with no solidified plan for post-graduation. Most of my peers have gone on to work or study either at UChicago or other institutions, and are breaking new ground and doing amazing things. I am so proud of them.

After months of job searching, surviving on SNAP and Medicaid benefits, I once again found myself seeking a space that didn’t really exist and became motivated to create it. I am now walking in my divine purpose as founder of Mickle Muckle, a non-profit organization which aims to cultivate spaces of healing, learning, and mutual aid to enhance the lives of Black youth and prepare them to make positive and sustainable impacts in their communities and the world. With the knowledge, experiences, and relationships that I have built and sustained so far, both on campus, on the South Side, and in my other communities, I am excited and optimistic about what the future will hold. All things considered, I can truthfully say I feel blessed and honored to have attended the University of Chicago.

 I will end with this:

Black and Brown students, faculty and staff: Don’t be complicit, make your voices heard. Find your people and free yourself. Learn about this institution and its history and keep the administration accountable for their actions and policies. Stop trying to meet other people’s standards for you, especially when many of them are rooted in oppression. Make your mistakes and learn from them. If you knew better you wouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place. 

White and International students, faculty and staff: Remember every day that people have suffered and continue to suffer to keep your life comfortable. If you continue to be impartial to that, you are part of the problem. Seek guidance on what a microaggression is and stop committing them.

The University Administration: At the recent colloquium celebrating the the 25th anniversary of the Pozen Center for Human Rights, Ayça Çubukçu, associate professor in Human Rights stated: “We’re living in a moment when international organizations are unable or unwilling to hold the most powerful states accountable. As far as the future of human rights is concerned, we need to think beyond these institutions and critique them at their roots.” The university is not exempt from this. President Alivisatos, my question remains: Will you go down in university history as another white man that endorsed systemic racism? Or are you prepared to do something different? Is UChicago prepared to make radical change? Since its founding, the University has participated in and benefited from the commodification of the lives, labor, land, knowledge, education, health, culture and experiences of Black and brown people, on the South Side and beyond. There is a debt that is owed, and I can imagine that investing each university resource and every penny of the endowment for the next 25 years will only begin to make a dent.