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December 11, 1974

After nearly a year of negotiations with the New York State Board of Regents and even though a wide campus majority favored a battle in the courts, the board of trustees voted to discontinue Kendrick House as an Afro-American Cultural Center and residence for black students. Facing more stringent regulations imposed by the Regents in August and with assurance from its lawyers that litigation on the point would most likely be futile and most certainly be very expensive, the college abandoned the contention that, because residence in Kendrick was voluntary, because only 32 of the college’s 169 black students and because residence in the building was open to white students, there was no policy of “segregation” at Vassar.

The board’s decision was supported by a report from its committee on minority students which, according to The New York Times, “acknowledged that Vassar had in fact promoted a separate living arrangement for black students who felt they needed sanctuary from the college’s whites, and concluded that Vassar would ‘almost inevitably lose’ a challenge in court because ‘the college’s endorsement of separate housing is so explicit and the Regents’ rules just as explicitly prohibit such practices.’”

Deborah Waite ’75, a member of the Student Afro-American Society’s steering committee, said that the college’s commitment to a non-residential cultural center for black students, while it must be honored, was a “token” and a “half step.” A residence for black students, she said, was “essential…. It provides a sense of security. It’s a place at night, to get away, even if you don’t live there formally. The black students on this campus are one big family, and Kendrick was known as ‘the house.’ It was not referred to as the cultural center or Kendrick, but ‘the house.’”

The New York Times

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