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Spaces for Students of Color

Although the Mwangi Center is recognized by members of the Smith College community as a space for students of color and multicultural organizations to socialize and organize, its location in the basement of Lilly Hall was not adequate for the spacial and material needs of Smith students of color. In the 1990s, Smith multicultural groups organized to petition the Smith administration to allocate the entirety of Lilly Hall to the use of such student groups moving forward.

Letter from Smith multicultural student organizations to the wider Smith College community announcing a rally in support of their mission. Sophia Smith Collection, 1990.

Following assertions by the Smith administration that there simply was not enough excess space on campus to be able to assign all of Lilly Hall as a location for multicultural organizations and students of color, these groups organized a sit-in in College Hall to protest the decision made by Mary Maples Dunn and her board of advisors. After a multi-day occupation of the building, the administration agreed to repurpose a building already being used for social purposes and make it a dedicated site for students and organizations of color. Now known as UNITY House, the building functions as a partner site to the Mwangi Center in beginning to ensure there are enough safe and dedicated spaces for students of color on Smith’s campus.