Skip to content Skip to navigation
Skip to global navigation Menu

May 11, 1974

Responding to a January 18 determination by the New York State Board of Regents that the predominately black mixed housing in Kendrick House, site of the Afro American Cultural Center and the campus residence of 30 of Vassar’s 169 black students, constituted racial discrimination, the board of trustees voted unanimously against compliance with the Regents’ desegregation order. The board “after full discussion,” a statement issued by the board said, “approved the following resolution: that Vassar College make no change in its present housing policy and that effort be made to persuade the Board of Regents of the State of New York of the wisdom of that policy.” After the meeting, one trustee commented that the board could not comply with the Regents’ decision without violating the civil rights of black students, which allow them to live where they want and with whom. At the very least, Vice President for Student Affairs John Duggan told The Miscellany News, “the Regents must show us a way that we can desegregate the dorm without violating the rights of black students.”

After a year and a half of negotiation and facing mounting legal costs and threats of both loss of state financial aid and possible rescission of Vassar’s charter, the trustees voted at their meeting in May 1975 to return Kendrick House to its original purpose—faculty housing—to relocate the cultural center to a site on campus and to house all black students in campus residence halls. Vassar and Cornell University were the last institutions of higher education in New York State to relinquish the position that mixed campus housing where African American students were in the majority did not constitute segregation.

The Years