It was a Halloween costume. The student was apparently try to dress as reggae music legend Bob Marley. But many other students say covering his skin in black paint went too far.
"I don't necessarily want to point fingers but I do think we need to make people aware why somebody would see this as offensive and make them know it is okay if somebody finds it offensive and it's okay if somebody finds it funny, you just have to understand where it comes from," said Evelyn Carter, NU student.
"I kind of just felt sorry because I felt like the person just didn't know any better," said Alexis Isaac, NU student.
The issue has been a hot topic on campus and in the student newspaper. It prompted serious talks about race at Northwestern and got student leaders to organize a large on campus tonight.
University leaders invited reporters in to listen but kept cameras out.
Students say it was beneficial.
"I am not too happy the pictures are out there coming from Northwestern University…our name gets tacked onto that, something that I consider myself a part of," said David Henning.
University president Morton Shapiro said in a statement, "it was highly inappropriate. If we don't make this a catalyst for change then we're failing ourselves." One immediate result of the meeting is that the president promised the school's police would stop sending out emails using vague racial descriptions of suspects. As far as the students in black face, the school says they broke no rules and, at this point, are facing no discipline.