Since the pandemic began, President Morton Schapiro’s legacy has entirely transformed. This striking change in perception can be attributed, in large part, to a change in campus culture at Northwestern.
Unlike older classmates or alumni, I haven’t had the opportunity to meet President Schapiro. Many students revere President Schapiro as a legendary campus fixture and remember him as the devoted professor who skipped out on the White House to teach an economics class. Honestly, I don’t know President Schapiro well enough to have developed a personal attachment.
I joined the Wildcat community after a revolutionary summer of social unrest. The creation and growth of abolition organizations like Northwestern Community Not Cops, Abolish NU Greek Life and Fossil Free Northwestern brought social transformations to campus. Many students in such organizations, feeling as if the Northwestern administration diametrically opposed their values, sought to oust leadership figures like President Schapiro.
I admire members of our student body for working toward equity at Northwestern. It’s worth noting, however, that our campus no longer feels united nor cohesive. Often, I worry that the contentious last years of the Schapiro presidency resulted in a campus culture that leaves little room for nuance and dialogue. Truth be told, I won’t remember President Schapiro as a person. I’ll remember him as a symbol of a seemingly permanent shift toward a hyper-critical and obstinate student body. The Schapiro administration leaves behind a legacy of a polarized campus, one that I hope will soon feel whole again.