Whose Campus is This?

Project 500 brought new, never-before-seen diversity to campus. The program was the first of its kind at Illinois. It had both shortcomings and triumphs. Looking at campus life from 1968-1974 lends perspective to this retrospective section. It was a tumultous time for the University. What did different groups on campus strive for and accomplish during the implementation of this program? A further question might be, "Whose campus is this anyway?"

Before the SEOP, black students played a game on campus to see how long one could go without spotting another person of color. Purportedly, you could go weeks without seeing another person of a minority race before project 500. This influx of black students on campus coincided with the rise of black power and arts in the United States. African American students on campus openly embraced this new movement. This section of the exhibit will show you the tensions, tribulations and triumphs involved in the period that radically changed the Urbana campus from 1968-1975.

At the time the campus was, in some cases literally, going up in smoke. (To find out more see the graph on campus protests). Vietnam protests and black student protests dominated the period. Campus administrators often tried to put on an optimistic and understanding face in the wake of student unrest. However, most black students saw the university as being unresponsive and unfair in the way it treated black students and their demands.

During this time, black students themselves carved out a new social identity. This section provides a look at what it meant to be black on campus in the late 60s and early 70s and how the University of Illinois responded to this new identity. This collection contains primary sources detailing the immediate results of Project 500 and how it impacted the face of the campus.