University of Vermont

Mix of photos and art work spanning the years

Our History of Diversity

This diversity timeline is an attempt to highlight some of the major diversity movements, obstacles and victories in UVM's long history. It is not an all-inclusive timeline.

George Washington Henderson

George Washington Henderson

Lida A. Mason

Lida A. Mason

Ellen Eliza Hamilton

Ellen Eliza Hamilton

1875
First university to admit women into Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
1877
George Washington Henderson, a man born into slavery in Virginia, delivers the commencement speech at UVM. Henderson is also the first African-American initiated into Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
1894
"Walkin' fo' de Kake" was initiated at the University of Vermont. This old Southern harvest dance featured a pair of plantation workers (white fraternity men in blackface) competing for a cake. This "tradition" continued until 1964 when pressure from the student newspaper, The Cynic, publicly condemned the practice. Blackface was replaced with a black-green face. Students eventually abandoned the tradition, though it remained a campus controversy for many years.
1970
Beginning of monthly campus meetings including gay, lesbian, bi-sexual campus and community members.
1983
Burlington hosts Vermont's first gay pride celebration.
1984
The Gay, Lesbian Student Alliance reintroduced on campus. Also in 1984, a Latino grad student presents first doctoral dissertation on gay issues.
1987
UVM becomes 28th school in nation to add sexual orientation to non-discrimination policy.
1988
Waterman building takeover: Students occupy UVM administration building demanding commitment to a larger minority presence on campus. A week later, the Waterman agreement was signed with President Lattie Coor's agreeing to a timeline for hiring minority faculty and recruiting more minority students.
1989
"Race and Culture" class developed, implemented on a limited basis
1991
Increased incidents of racial tensions on campus.
Committee of volunteers host first annual National Coming Out Week celebration. Also in 1991, a campus climate survey reveals that negative attitudes regarding sexual minorities are still pervasive at UVM.
Second Waterman takeover: Twenty-two students take over the president's office in the University of Vermont's Waterman Building and issue demands for greater racial awareness and presence on campus. Student supporters begin construction of Diversity University— a collection of shanties the group says will be the site of alternative education courses.
With tensions on campus still running high over the issue of cultural diversity, a Board of Trustees resolution has established a new program that combines both an executive committee and forums open to the entire UVM community. This committee will explore options that promote diversity on campus.

Last modified August 23 2008 05:00 PM

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