Multiculturalism at the New Williams – The Davis Center

The Davis Center at Williams? That was after our time. Until recently it was called the Multicultural Center? Still after our time.

Or was it? Though the Center was not founded until the late 1980’s, it grew out of the movements at the core of our tumultuous 1960’s.

The Davis Center was founded as the Multicultural Center after the 1988 occupation of the Dean’s Office (does that sound like the 60’s?) by the student Coalition Against Racist Education. The Dean’s office was then in Jenness House while Hopkins was being renovated, and Jenness House, Hardy House (once the home of The Record and Gargoyle, then The Women’s Resource Center), and Rice House (home of The Black Student Union) became the Davis Center. The three houses sit on their quiet circle behind the science quad.

From the beginning, the Center has continued to broaden and diversify the range of groups it supports. Its web site lists over twenty minority and activist student groups and says that the Davis Center focuses “on the unique problems that racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, women, those of LGBTQ identities, and international students face as members of the Williams community.” One project of the Davis Center, The Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), sees itself as even more diverse as “a space to learn about gender, sex, and sexuality. The center is not just for women and gay people; the GSRC is for everyone who has a gender or sexuality (that is everyone!).” Everyone.

On campus In the later 1960’s, some of us might have preferred the GSRC, which offers “the only place to get safer sex supplies (condoms, dental dams, and more) 24/7.” What a change from nervously hoping for a quiet word with the pharmacist on Spring Street.

Ann Charters organizes her anthology The Portable Sixties Reader by movement: Civil Rights, Anti-War, Free Speech, Counterculture, the Women’s Movement, Sexual Revolution, and Environmentalism. Look at the Davis Center and see how these have played out over fifty years.

“Come let us build a new world together… brother, if it isn’t together, no one is going to have enough power to even think they can make it alone, let alone try.” —The Williams Record, February 22, 1965

– Ken Jackson

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