Third World Center, The,

Third World Center, The, was created in 1971 when the trustees approved the designation of the old Osborn Field House as a University facility to be used primarily, but not exclusively, by minority students.

Because the University's cultural and social organizations have largely been shaped by students from families nurtured in the Anglo-American and European traditions, it has not always been easy for students from different backgrounds to enter the mainstream of campus life. As trustee John M. Doar pointed out to the Board of Trustees, students from minority groups may miss something in their educational experience -- not owing to a failure on the part of the University, but rather because the situation in which they find themselves is often different from the circumstances to which they have been accustomed. Minority students thus felt uneasiness and in many instances a sense of insecurity.

In 1971 the University began to recruit actively students who, while qualified, had not been a substantial part of the community. It was then believed and has since been established that increased participation of students from various backgrounds would stimulate and enrich the intellectual and cultural life of the University. With the increased enrollment of minority students in the early 1970s, Princeton had to give particular attention to ways in which these students could come together on an intellectual and cultural basis, to help them appreciate better their own backgrounds and to enhance their self-confidence. The University also recognized the need to have a means whereby the rest of the University community could better understand and appreciate the backgrounds and views of minority students.

During the academic year 1970-71, leaders of various minority groups expressed a strong interest in a facility for activities of their own that would include seminars, colloquia, exhibits, cultural shows, and social events. After a proposal had been carefully worked out and subjected to the most searching review, such a center was opened in the fall of 1971. As with other University-sponsored collegiate facilities, the Third World Center is open to all students. Its academic and cultural program is shaped by the students, the Master, and a Program Director. The Center is not residential and does not normally serve meals. Its aim is to provide through intellectual and social activities a setting and a program that will help students to reinforce each other and also to create a forum for greater awareness and understanding among people of differing cultural backgrounds. In doing so, the Third World Center has become a vital part of the University's cultural life and a resource for the whole University community.

Conrad D. Snowden

From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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