Multicultural Space

Harambee House and Acorns

Multicultural Spaces on Campus

To: The Wellesley College Community
From: Kim Bottomly, President; Andy Shennan, Provost; Adele Wolfson, Interim Dean of Students

We are pleased to announce plans to enhance and add to existing spaces for multicultural programming and to create a network of multicultural spaces on campus.

Wellesley students have long raised concerns about the shortage of multicultural space on campus, concerns echoed by the Commission on Ethnicity, Race, and Equity (CERE)—a committee of faculty, staff, and students that was created last January. The plans being announced today have been informed by the work of previous committees, including the Initiative for Diversity and Inclusion for Students, a committee also composed of students, faculty and staff. They reflect the following principles:

  1. Diversity is essential to Wellesley’s educational mission and to our excellence as an institution; it is equally essential that every individual member feels included in and valued by the Wellesley community.
  1. The College should offer students, faculty, and staff as many opportunities as possible to find commonality through an exploration of their differences—of their diverse and multiple identities—and through cross-group interactions and collaborations.
  1. The College should also ensure that members of historically marginalized groups have welcoming and functional spaces in which to gather. Being able to move between spaces that promote interaction with others who share one’s culture or identity and inclusive community spaces is important to learning and to intellectual and social development.
  1. To be successful in the world beyond our campus, all Wellesley students must develop the knowledge, experiences, and skills necessary to lead and make a difference in a world that is increasingly interconnected and multidimensional. Valuing and learning how to bring together people with different histories, varying social and cultural backgrounds, and conflicting perspectives is an essential skill today. Learning to effectively navigate a diverse world is a necessary component of a Wellesley education.

As part of this initiative, we will convert Acorns (the former residence of the Dean of Students; located on Tupelo Lane) into a center that will provide: substantial space for events and meetings; study space; a large kitchen; offices for the advisors to students of Asian descent, Latina students, and LBGTQ students; and storage areas. Harambee House, which will remain focused on students of African descent, will receive repairs and upgrades to the lower level. This work will begin immediately after the holidays and is scheduled to be completed in 2016. We will hold an open house in Acorns on Friday, December 4, from 12-2 p.m., and students are invited to visit the space.

The proposed network of multicultural spaces will include Slater and CE House as well as Acorns and Harambee. We expect that these enhanced spaces will inspire innovative programming and produce a synergy beneficial to the entire community.

Wellesley is committed to building a living and learning environment in which each student can thrive intellectually, socially, and emotionally. Creating a network of multicultural spaces on campus will allow our students to collaborate with and draw strength from those with whom they share a common identity while, at the same time, promoting intercultural dialogue and connection among all members of the Wellesley community. We expect and hope that this initiative will contribute to the affirmation and support of all of our students. We are grateful to the cultural and other advisors who have partnered with us on this plan and provided guidance, enthusiasm, and support for the project. Their efforts have and will continue to model collaboration and openness to new possibilities that benefit us all.