The History of Diversity at
Sarah Lawrence College


College Archivist

E-mail Abby


The following timeline was originally developed by the Sarah Lawrence College Archives and the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement in 2011. These offices recognize this timeline is not comprehensive. Updates will be added as information becomes available and research to confirm dates is complete. Every attempt has been made to be accurate. If you feel something is missing or inaccurate, please contact the Sarah Lawrence College Archives or the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement. For additional information on any of the events listed, contact


Vespers held every Sunday1


Religious Committee established 2


Sarah Lawrence College Chapter of the League for Industrial Democracy organized. Later became the Liberal Club. 3


Student Club, El Circulo Hispanico, formed 4


First student of color (international student from Japan) at Sarah Lawrence College (attended 1936-37)


A group of students present a petition to President Constance Warren requesting admission of "Negro" students

Fall 1942

First black students, two sisters from New York City, enter Sarah Lawrence College. One sister received the 2-year diploma in 1944 while the other received the B.A. in 1946


Sarah Lawrence College Chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) established 5


Students participate locally at the Bronxville Woolworth's during national picket to integrate the Woolworth's lunch counter 6


First faculty member of color hired (Biology)


Sarah Lawrence College Civil Rights Committee formed 7

Summer 1966

Upward Bound Program at Sarah Lawrence College begins with 53 students 8

January 1969

Cooperative College Center for “economically and educationally disadvantaged students who live in Westchester County and who might not otherwise be able to attend college” opens in Mount Vernon with approximately 80 students 9

Spring 1969

Black Students Association petitions for a Black Studies Social Change Curriculum

March 1969

Westlands Sit-In; students sit-in for 10 days in protest of a tuition raise felt to "increase the elitism" of the institution 10

December 1969

Black Studies Coordinator position begins 11


Black Students Association formed 12

Fall 1973

Gay Women's and Gay Men's Student Groups formed

1974 (circa)

Asian American Student Group created

Fall 1975

The Feminist Association (student group) formed 13


Jewish Student Union formed

1987 (circa)

Harambe (student group) formed 14


Sarah Lawrence College participates in the Project on Diversity 15


Asican Student Union formed. In 1996/97, the ASU changed its name to APICAD (Asian Pacific Islander Coalition for Action and Diversity)

1989 (circa)

Concerned Students of Color (CSOC) formed 16

April 1989 UNIDAD formed

March 1989

Westlands Sit-In; students sit-in for five days in response to bias incidents on campus. Goals include increased diversity in faculty, staff, student body, and curriculum 17

Spring 1989

Committee on Racial Diversity formed 18

Spring 1989

First black admissions officer hired

May 1989

In response to Westlands Sit-In, Sarah Lawrence College invites Dr. Jean Wu for a Diversity Workshop 19


First issue of Dark Phrases published 20


Office of Multicultural Affairs created (dissolved in 2008) - Daphne Dumas, Associate Dean of Studies and Multicultural Affairs


New program for all security personnel to receive diversity training

October 1993

Committee on Racial Diversity releases “Diversity at Sarah Lawrence College, 1988-1993: A Report on the Committee on Racial Diversity” The Report “compares the situation in the fall of 1988, with the situation as of the fall of 1993.”

December 1994

The College's health insurance plans begin to include same sex domestic partner coverage

Spring 1995

First Students of Color Space opens as a resolution to one of the demands of the 1989 Westlands Sit-In; later referred to as Common Ground, the Students of Color Space was first located in the basement of Westlands 21

December 1997

The Office of Community Partnerships and Service Learning is established

Fall 1997 First Fall Collective held as an open house for students of color


The OAR Report: The Issue of Racial Diversity at Sarah Lawrence College is released 22


International Admissions and Advising position created - Shirley Be


LGBTQ Faculty and Ally Group created 23


ACCESS (Advocacy to Create Choices Empower and Support Survivors) Program 24

April 2004

Teach-In on Racism, Bias, and Exclusion held in response to various incidents of bias on campus 25

Fall 2004

The Committee on Student Life creates the Diversity Subcommittee. In 2010, the Subcommittee is renamed the Diversity and Activism Programming Subcommittee 26

2005 (circa)

Beyond Compliance, a student group "dedicated to raising disability consciousness on our campus," is formed 27


Spiritual Space opens in Bates


Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement created - Natalie Gross, Director, Office of Student Affairs


Students and faculty launch the Ethnic Studies Campaign 28


Office of Disability Services created—Polly Waldman, Assistant Dean of Studies and Disability Services


TransAction, a student group focused on transgender issues, is formed


The Standing Committee on Diversity is created by vote of the faculty and approval of the Board of Trustees


Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator Appointed in Compliance with Obama Title IX Guidance—Allen Green, Dean of Studies and Student Life, Chief Diversity Officer, and Title IX Coordinator


Student Life Committee approved the creation of the LGBTQIA Space. Two students created the proposal for the space.

August 2015

First LGBTQIA Space opened on campus.

November 2015

#BLACKOUTSLC—Domestic and international students of color organized an all-campus walk-out and presented a list of demands on the South Lawn. This list included increased scholarships for students of color, more resources for CDO and Office of Diversity, a CDO and Office of Diversity for graduate studies, increased retention rates, anti-racism course offerings for all students, multicultural housing, workshops to aid in first-year transition, training for faculty to aid in teaching a more diverse student population, and addressing issues of bias.


In response to #BLACKOUTSLC, the Office of Residence Life creates a two-year pilot program for cooperative housing, including the Social Justice Co-Op in Andrews Court.


In response to #BLACKOUTSLC, Vanessa Gonzalez-Siegel, Assistant Director of Diversity and Campus Engagement, was hired.


1 According to the 1929/30 College Handbook (page 5), “Vespers are held every Sunday during term-time at 5:30 pm. This is the religious service of the community. It is in charge of Mrs. Cavert and a religious committee. Churches of Bronxville cordially invite all students and faculty to their services.” The last time Vespers is mentioned is in the 1937/38 College Handbook.

2 The Religious Committee was established in 1929, according to the 1932/33 Student Handbook (page 62). It “was designed to take complete charge of Vespers. Its duties involve the planning of the service, the procuring of the speaker, and the musicians for hymns and playing and special music. One meeting is planned for each week. Each girl in turn is asked to lead Vespers and to carry part of the responsibility in the arrangement of the Assembly Hall for the service.”

3 The 1932/33 Student Handbook (page 72) describes the League for Industrial Democracy as “a membership society engaged in education towards a social order based on production for use and not for profit. Its principal work is among college students, but all those aware of the times and concerned with intelligent social change are welcomed to membership…On campus we meet once a week to discuss current problems such as, ‘How America Lives,’ ‘Trends in the Labor Movement,’ ‘Social Insurance,’ ‘The Need for a New Political Alignment.’ We are trying to view intelligently the aspects of these issues whether conservative, liberal, or radical. As a result we hope to gain more tolerance in viewpoints which are our own, and more knowledge with which to conduct sane arguments.”

4 “The purpose of El Circulo Hispanico is twofold: to give its members a fluency in the use of the Spanish language and to enlarge their acquaintance with Hispanic culture. Membership is by invitation and is based upon the student’s ability to speak Spanish, as well as her interest in the activities of the group. These include attendance at New York lectures, concerts, and exhibits of Hispanic import.” [1933/34 Student Handbook]

5 1949/50 College Handbook (page 46): “The Sarah Lawrence chapter of the NAACP was organized last year to stimulate student interest and appreciation of Negro and other minority groups…The club organizes study groups to discuss current issues, traveling forums, sponsors speakers, and sends delegates to the national conferences…”

6 For more information, see the article “On the March” from the Winter 2004 Sarah Lawrence Magazine.

7 “The Sarah Lawrence Civil Rights Committee was formed (in 1962) to plan campus civil rights activities and to coordinate activities with other civil rights groups outside the campus such as CORE, NAACP, SNCC and the Northern Student Movement. The Committee is a center for information, discussion, and action concerning problems in civil rights. All students are invited to join.” [1962/63 Student Handbook]

8 Upward Bound at SLC was a pre-college summer program for high school sophomores from local Westchester communities such as Mount Vernon and Yonkers. Funded by the United States Office of Economic Opportunity, Upward Bound “helps high school students from low-income families develop the skills and motivation necessary for success in college.” [Statement from Upward Bound brochure, ca. 1969] The College’s association with the program concluded in June 1972.

9 The Cooperative College Center was a joint program between Sarah Lawrence College, SUNY Purchase and Manhattanville College with funding from the New York State SEEK legislation. As stated in a Center brochure, the purpose of the program was as follows, “The Cooperative College Center is conceived, not as a terminal curriculum, but as a lower-division program leading directly into the upper-division liberal arts program at Purchase or other institutions of similar academic purpose and quality, including Manhattanville and Sarah Lawrence. Students who are accepted into the Center’s college program will be registered as degree-seeking students in the State University of New York College at Purchase, and will engage in a curriculum that while unconventional and innovative is specifically designed to give students the breadth and capacity of learning required for effective work in a demanding upper-division liberal arts program.” The program ran through at least 1971. The date Sarah Lawrence ceased participation is unclear.

10 For more information, see the SLC Archives as well as a page in the online exhibit, The Struggle Continues: Student Activism at Sarah Lawrence College, 1958-1997.

11 Originally titled the Black Studies Coordinator, at some point, the position was also called the Assistant Dean for Black Student Affairs. According to the job description from December 16, 1969, the “major broad responsibilities of this position are: A. To assist students in attaining maximum benefit from, and participation in, the academic, cultural and social life of the College, and to help them realize to the maximum their individual potential; B. To assist faculty and students in curriculum planning—to the end that the integration of black experience becomes a vital part of the curriculum; C. To assist students in special projects which might actively lead to their involvement in service to the community and educational field work; D. To provide liaison between students and the administrative officers of the College, and to guarantee open and free communication both ways.” When the second Coordinator or Assistant Dean resigned in May 1973, the position remain unfilled indefinitely. [SLC Archives, Curriculum, Black Studies]

12 The first mention of the BSA appears in the 1970/71 Student Handbook: “There is a Black Students’ Association on campus. Contact Mr. Sam Anderson, Black Co-ordinator, for details and information.” The 1972/73 Student Handbook contains a more detailed description of the Association. “The Black Students Association was organized to enhance the intellectual, cultural, and social life of the minority student at Sarah Lawrence. The Association offers a variety of special programs such as lectures, concerts, dance and theater performances, that extend a more direct regard for the minority student. The B.S.A. elects its own officers and staff. However it seeks active consent and support from the office of the Assistant Dean for Black Student Affairs.”

13 According to the 1975/76 Student Handbook, “The Feminist Association unites women students at Sarah Lawrence interested in promoting academic and extracurricular feminist activities.”

14 Harambe is seen as early as Spring 1987 in Student Senate meeting minutes, but the exact date of formation is unclear.

15 SLC is invited to participate in the Project on Racial Diversity by the College of New Rochelle. The Project was created in reaction to the “emergent and subversive character of racism in our society.” [SLC Archives, Office of Dean of Studies Records, Concerned Students of Color]

16 The exact date of formation of the Concerned Students of Color is unclear.

17 It was reported that nearly 100 students occupied Westlands during this sit-in.

18 According to a letter from President Alice Ilchman in January 1989, the Committee’s “mandate is to promote interracial understanding on our campus and to serve as a crisis resolution team if breakdowns in that understanding should occur.”

19 According to correspondence, the workshop was modeled after the Building Pluralism workshop at Bryn Mawr. Goals of the Bryn Mawr workshop included:
- To deepen awareness of some issues of difference in your own experiences and at Bryn Mawr
- To increase your ability to learn about diversity and its meaning in our lives to engage with the differences represented at Bryn Mawr, and to contribute to creating a pluralistic community here at Bryn Mawr and in larger world” [SLC Archives, Office of Dean of Studies Records, Diversity Workshop folder]

20 Following is text from a letter to alumni regarding the purpose of creating Dark Phrases: “Harambe, Sarah Lawrence’s Black political and cultural organization, is publishing a literary journal out of a growing need to promote and collect the diverse voices of Black women in the community, past and present. We would also like to hear the voices of Black men. We welcome your submissions. As an alum, we are asking for your support in this endeavor. We are calling for submissions of fiction, poetry, drama, essays and artwork…We would appreciate your support in any way possible so that we can make this journal widely available and of the highest quality. Individual contributions are crucial to the success of this endeavor.” [November 15, 1988 to Alumni, SLC Archives]

21 In 2004/05, a new space opened for Common Ground in the remodeled Bates. The current mission of Common Ground is as follows: “Common Ground’s mission is to serve students of color and student of color identity groups, as well as to engage the Sarah Lawrence community in discussions about the perceptions, realities, and consequences of racial and ethnic identity in our society and in the world at large. The space serves as a meeting room, event space, lounge area, and resource center for students of color and members of APICAD, Harambee, Unidad, and any other student of color identity group. While Common Ground primarily works with student of color identity groups, it also hosts events with other student organizations, faculty, and administrative officers committed to campus dialogue surrounding issues of multiculturalism and racial and ethnic diversity. Common Ground programming includes speakers, performances, discussions, movie nights, conferences, workshops, and other activities.” [2010/11 Student Handbook]

22 OAR (Organized Against Racism) was founded in 1996. “We…have come together biased not on our individual identities but on our shared recognition of the injustice of racism and our commitment to ending it. We focus our work on our own community here at Sarah Lawrence not out of bitterness but out of love: the kind of love that refuses to let lies and injustice persist, that makes the invisible visible, that insists on transformation even when it is costly, that will not give up a vision of a world in which we are all free. Toward that end, we each put in an oar, to correct the course of the boat we share.” [OAR Report, page 120, SLC Archives]

23 Created by two faculty members.

24 The Sarah Lawrence College Advocacy to Create Choices Empower and Support Survivors (ACCESS) Program began in 2002 with support from a grant awarded by the Violence Against Women Office, Office of the Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. ACCESS provided support, assistance, and help for people who had experienced sexual assault, relationship violence and/or stalking. The program was led by Tracy McGarry and run in coordination with the Dean of Studies office, Health Services, and Student Affairs. ACCESS Alliance was a group formed to govern the distribution of the grant monies. After funding was not renewed in 2006, those three offices, in conjunction with the ACCESS Committee, continued to coordinate the services offered by the ACCESS Program.

25 For more information on the Teach-In, see the Fall 2004 issue of the Sarah Lawrence Magazine. One result of the Teach-In was an annual report of the Institutional Diversity Task Force.

26 The original charge of Diversity Subcommittee of Student Life was to “examine and respond to issues related to prejudice and exclusion, and to look at ways to enhance multicultural dialogue and understanding on our campus. [The Subcommittee] will deal with issues of difference related to personal identity including, but not limited to, race, economic status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, religion and disability.” The Subcommittee changed names and focus in the spring/summer of 2010 to be the Diversity and Activism Programming Subcommittee (DAPS) responsible for the programming and funding for the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement. The charge for DAPS as of 2011 is as follows “The subcommittee is the programming and funding arm of the Office of Diversity and Campus Engagement. DAPS ’ activism is two pronged-proactive and responsive. We will be proactive in the campus community by providing regular programming around social justice issues . We will respond to bias incidents and hate crimes via our Activism Response Team by creating awareness about the incident and sponsoring community forums to discuss the impact on our community, and how we can move forward. Our goal is to look at ways to enhance intercultural dialogue and understanding on our campus. DAPS also provides funding to campus-based programs focusing on issues of diversity, social justice and inclusion related to personal identities defined by, but not limited to, race, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and expression, ethnicity, religion, mental/physical ability. The DAPS Fund is $7,000 a year or $3,500 a semester.”

27 According to Volume 1, Issue 1 from Fall 2005 of the Beyond Compliance zine, “Beyond Compliance is an advocacy group of students and allies united for disability rights. Our organization’s agenda and goals are based on those of the original Beyond Compliance Coordinating Committee at Syracuse University. We are dedicated to raising disability consciousness on our campus, reshaping SLC’s conception of diversity to include disability, and working with the administration to promote and improve accommodations for students with disabilities.”

28 The Ad Hoc Committee on Ethnic Studies was created in fall of 2005. Students walked in on Board of Trustees Meeting demanding an Ethnic Studies Concentration.