As the spring semester continues to unfold, there are a number of changes that we, as students, are confronted with. Under the backdrop of the new presidency and in response to the “Breaking down fences” piece published last semester, the Du Bois House Council, in partnership with the Du Bois College House, extends a warm welcome to all.
Our house was established in 1972 as a result of student activists who wanted a living and learning experience at Penn that provided a space for students interested in black culture. As with many things, the context of its inception versus its current goals has been subject to change. Though founded with black culture in mind, the Du Bois College House has evolved into a place of cultural learning and inclusion, available to anyone and everyone at Penn.
The house represents people from all walks of life who come in different sizes, colors and from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Though some have known about the house’s history and have chosen to live here because of it, a larger number claim to have been assigned to it randomly.
No matter how they ended up in Du Bois, there is one thing that is shared by all who spend even an hour within the house — the experience. Reverend Will Gipson, the faculty director of the house, has described it in his own words saying, “The Du Bois College House experience is as dynamic as jazz and hip hop, as penetrating as poetry and the pursuit of justice.”
The students, faculty and staff at the W.E.B. Du Bois College House are committed to a Penn experience that advances the legacy of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois in a college house setting. We invite everyone to share that experience with us through our practice of community fellowship, intellectual explorations, civic engagement or programs and events that range in important contemporary media such as art, theater, discussions and so much more.
Dr. Du Bois, who was a preeminent scholar, activist and one of the most significant intellectuals and social change agents of the 20th century, is the inspiration for the house. His hunger for understanding and an erudite mindset constitute the heartbeat of our home.
One of the unspoken benefits for many of the minority students within Du Bois involves the everyday sights — ranging from special events to the everyday comings and goings of residents. With so many skewed portrayals of minorities in popular media, it can be empowering to see others who look like you striving to achieve the same goals, something that many students may not be familiar with. This, coupled with the wonderful faculty staff of the house, makes it a place of learning outside of the classroom.
For those who see it as a place of segregation, we implore you to come spend some time in our home; study in our multipurpose room or come to our Oscar party. Get to know our residents and our GAs and you will find out what makes this place so special. We invite student groups to partner with our house for events that can be opened up to the entire campus.
Time and time again people have questioned the purpose of the Du Bois College House and at the end of the day, the answer to that question is this: Du Bois is a place to celebrate diversity, not cut oneself off from those who are different. It is a place to share ideas and to hear what others have to say.
Though its history is rooted in black culture, one resident said it best: “It is important to note, solidarity and segregation are two completely different things.” The Du Bois College House is now and forevermore a place for all to discover and embrace the different cultures of Penn.
JORDAN PALMER is a Wharton senior studying strategic management and marketing. His email address is email@example.com.
KAYLA BYRD is a Wharton junior studying operations information & decisions. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.