Cultural Organizations & Spaces
Unity House is the headquarters of the alliance of 11 cultural organizations known as Unity. Unity was formed in 1991 when leaders of several Smith student-run organizations joined to create an umbrella organization. Unity House serves as the home for the Asian Students' Association, the Black Students' Alliance, EKTA (students of South Asian heritage), Indigenous Smith Students and Allies, the International Students' Organization, Korean American Smith Students, Multiethnic Interracial Smith (MISC), Nosotras, and the Smith African and Caribbean Students' Association. Unity House continues to be the organizing hub of multicultural affairs at Smith, enriching the social and intellectual life of the college.
Mwangi Cultural Center
The Mwangi Cultural Center opened as the Afro-American Cultural Center on the lower level of Lilly Hall in 1968 and was used by a variety of student cultural organizations. In 1973 the center was renamed to honor Dr. Ng'endo Mwangi, a member of the class of 1961 and the first female physician in Kenya, whose dedication and service to her community were well known. At the time of Ng'endo's death in 1989, Smith students wrote "We, the Smith students of today, owe Mwangi a great debt for being one of the vanguard of women who broke down racial and gender barriers, thereby making our progress a little easier."
An important cornerstone on campus, the Mwangi Cultural Center is used by the 11 Unity organizations to host meetings, gatherings, dinners, programs, events, and study sessions.
The cultural organizations that make up the Unity umbrella serve as a network of support for their members. Unity organizations share meeting and workroom space in Unity House and the Mwangi Cultural Center. Throughout the academic year, Unity organizations sponsor fine arts forums, conferences, cultural celebrations, workshops and other activities, just to name a few, such as Mehndi Night, Rhythm Nations, Asian Tea House, Five College Pa’lante, Pan-African Conference, Kwanzaa Celebration, Chinese Moon Festival, Taste of Latin America and Unity Fall Festival.
ASA provides a support network for Asian and Asian Pacific American students and serves as a link to other Asian Pacific American organizations at the Five Colleges. ASA hosts a variety of collaborative events each year, highlighted by an Asian Teahouse and a fall conference.
The BSA is the oldest of the Unity organizations, and its membership comprises students from many different backgrounds. BSA promotes cultural, social and political awareness throughout the Smith community and has developed strong intercollegiate bonds between all the black student organizations in the Five College area.
CISCO holds cultural events that spread the spirit of Chinese culture through language, food, art and entertainment. CISCO celebrates and increases awareness of Chinese holiday, traditions, and culture at Smith and the Five Colleges.
EKTA—"unity" in several languages spoken in South Asia—is a support network for South Asian students. Its members seek to create an awareness and understanding of the identity and culture of South Asia within the community at large through educational, cultural and social programs.
ISSA is committed to educating the Smith community about social, economic and cultural issues affecting the Native American populations of the United States.
ISO is a haven for international students at Smith and those interested in exploring international affairs from a cultural, political and a social perspective. ISO is a support system for international students at Smith but also seeks to educate and engage the community in appreciating the diversity and unique experiences international students bring to the Smith community.
KSA is a support network for all Korean and Korean American students at Smith, strengthening ties among Asian and Asian American students while addressing specific needs and concerns that support all women of color and the Smith community at large.
MISC promotes awareness, discussion, acknowledgement, acceptance and celebration of multiethnic persons, interracial families and relationships, and cross-cultural experiences.
Nosotras provides a support network for Latinas. Nosotras encourages an active cultural exchange between women of different Latina origins and an openness to any Smith student. It promotes an awareness of social justice issues facing Latinas on campus as well as in the rest of the world.
SACSA welcomes students of African and/or Caribbean descent and anyone else who is interested in these regions and their unique cultures. It promotes discussions of regional and global issues that are important to the campus community.
VSA provides a supportive network for VSA members and to raise awareness of Vietnamese culture and heritage. We strive to bridge the gap between Vietnamese culture and traditions from Vietnam and America.
Many students also participate in other organizations that support the Smith community of students of color such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Smith Association of Class Activists, PRISM (queer students of color), Weaving Voices and Southeast Asian Alliance (SEAA).
Unity Presidents’ Council
The Unity Presidents’ Council (UPC) comprises the chairs and co-chairs of all 11 Unity organizations. The council meets every week to hear and address concerns.
Presented on Ivy Day in May, the Unity Award goes to the student(s) who has made the most outstanding contribution toward promoting diversity and multiculturalism in the Smith community.