University News

Third World Center likely to receive new name

According to a fall 2012 UCS poll, 46 percent of students approved of a name change

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, September 13, 2013

A planning committee will be formed by October to chart out the Third World Center’s future.

The Third World Center will likely have a new name as early as September 2014, said Mary Almandrez, director of the Third World Center and assistant dean of the College.

The name change was recommended in a program review, which combined results of both a March self-study by the center’s staff members and a report from external consultants specializing in racial diversity and social justice.

Almandrez cited both the program review and results from a fall 2012 poll conducted by the Undergraduate Council of Students as the driving motivators for potentially changing the name. About 46 percent of the student body said the name should be changed, 38 percent expressed no opinion and 16 percent said it should stay the same, according to the poll.

“The majority of people both internal and external favor a name change,” Almandrez said. “Our goals in this process are to preserve the center’s history, honor its legacy, be forward thinking and address the needs of the students today.”

Currently, Brown is the only Ivy League university to have a Third World Center. In 2002, Princeton renamed its Third World Center to the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, according to the university website.

Almandrez said no potential names have been determined so far, but any name including the word “multicultural” has been ruled out, noting that students have approached her opposing the use of the term in the center’s name.

“No matter what we choose for the name — it could be the most radical, it could be the most edgy, the most black, whatever — we’re not going to get 100 percent of people happy,” Almandrez said. “What I can guarantee, though, is not your happiness (with the name) but that your voice is valued, and that we want it as part of the discussion.”

The TWC has had the same name since its founding in 1976. According to the center’s website, the term “Third World” “is not to be confused with the economic definition of the term used commonly in our society today, but understood as a term that celebrates diverse cultures.”

Today, the TWC is arguably among the most influential institutions on campus. It coordinates the Third World Transition Program, the University’s largest pre-orientation program, with about 200 participants each year. The center also coordinates the Minority Peer Counseling program, which is in its 40th year. In the UCS poll data, about 94 percent of students stated they had heard of the MPC program, making it the most known TWC program surveyed.

“The naming process is about more than just one person,” said Shane Lloyd MPH’11, who helps coordinate TWTP and serves as assistant director for first-year and sophomore programs at the TWC. “Whatever the community thinks the name should be, I think that should be what it is.”

Almandrez said the TWC will consider the recent name change at Princeton and look to emulate other “great centers” from the Ivy League and New England as it moves forward.

Though a plurality of students support the name change, the idea has met some controversy. The March review stated the UCS polling “elicited emotional responses from (TWC) staffers.”

“There are people saying, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing trying to change the name,’ and there are people saying, ‘Why haven’t we changed the name sooner?’ Almandrez said. “The name change is likely going to happen because that was recommended by the consultants, and the community said that.”

Many students said they are ambivalent or oppose a potential name change.

“I don’t care if they change the name or not,” said Isaac Lima ’16. “I’m from Brazil, which you might consider a Third World country, but I don’t mind the name.”

“They shouldn’t change the name,” said Jessica Kenny ’17. “I can see how people might be offended given the term’s Cold War origins, but the name isn’t meant to be offensive. Once people know what it means, it’s all right.”

The TWC  is meant to “serve as a source of support for American minorities and international students,” and to “build a sense of community and University ownership among incoming students,” according to its website.

Almandrez said a strategic planning committee to chart out the center’s future, will be formed by October.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘What would we like the center to look like in 37 years?’” Lloyd said.

Almandrez said she hopes the center will become more involved with institutional diversity, while Lloyd said he looks forward to “strengthening our community partnerships with the larger Providence community.”

The center’s name was just one of six recommendations to come out of the self-study. Others included “rebranding the center to highlight scholarly experiences,” “developing reciprocal partnerships” with other groups on campus and preserving and honoring the TWC’s history, according to the report.

  • Simeon R

    These people don’t have enough to do.

  • FED UP

    The name should have changed years ago. It is simply offensive to put the programs for underrepresented students in a place called the Third World of Brown. Why we always need input to something so obvious is beyond comprehension.

  • Curious

    Does anyone here actively think the name should stay the same? Why?

    • Addendum

      I also want to add on to Chahney’s post. The term “Third World” as well as the Third World Center arose out of student support for the global Third World Movement (an actual historical event), where colonized countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America came together to oppose joining the First World (America and its capitalistic exploitative practices) and the Second World (U.S.S.R and its communist government with limited freedoms). They wanted to declare their independence and self-sovereignty from the U.S-USSR binary they were being forced into. In that sense, the TWC is also about self-determination of people of color within the internal colony that is the United States.

  • Confused

    What’s wrong with the word ‘multicultural’?

    • History

      The Third World Center had radical activist beginnings. It’s not about diversity or multicultural kumbaya. It’s about identifying social issues like racism, sexism, and homophobia and organizing students around to fight it. Some students believe that “multicultural” is a overused, institutionalized term like diversity that does not really grant power to people of color, but merely uses them as quotas for the purposes of the University.

      • ctmany

        YAAAAAAAAASSS!!!

        “Multicultural” fits right in with white liberal colorblindness ideology.

  • Chahney Hinds ’12

    In answer to the idea the name being ‘offensive’ and ‘outdated’:

    The name “Third World” is a reference to Frantz Fanon’s idea of the Third Way – that people who have experienced colonization and imperialism who were then being referred to as ‘third world’ due to their ‘underdeveloped societies’ should make their own way, because the First and Second Ways were not and would never be able to fully do them justice as human beings with cultures, histories, and societies. The Third World Center was named this by the coalition of students who worked tirelessly to make a space for students of different races, religions, nationalities, sexualities, genders, and abilities because the greater culture of Brown reflected the society of the day – one that made these students second class members of the community. Third World is a reclamation of a history that was made to be less than in a way that honored people’s power to demand and claim respect, space, and consideration in the world.

    Every year, people come up with the same tired argument about it being disrespectful without finding out why the Center is named this way. Almost every year, the BDH published an article where someone who hasn’t done their research criticizes the name with a half-assed argument, and every year, someone explains why we need a space where we can come together and learn how to advocate for ourselves.

    If people really gave a damn, they’d look into *why* a place like the TWC needs to exist at Brown, instead of hinging their dissent of some faux-concern for the Brown/Queer/Poor people using a ‘slur’ for themselves. Brown isn’t a liberal paradise for everyone, and the idea that it is can many times cause people to forget to examine their motivations, assumptions, and actions because they think they’re already doing good and being progressive.

    This is not to say that the TWC shouldn’t always be growing, and developing, and improving, but it does mean that people need to have respect for its history, what it means to generations of Brown students, and what it will mean for generations of students to come.

    • Reclaim or Repo

      To me this has always been a case of Internal vs. External expectations on the intrinsic association of phrase “Third World.” Though the historical foundations of Brown’s TWC indexes Fanon’s concepts, the stronger more pervasive association deals with poverty, development, low income, global stigmatization, etc.

      When people “[give] a damn”, it’s because the threshold for potential inclusion has been overcome: I could potentially see myself as having an association with this group/organization. Currently, most associate the phrase “Third World” with /the/ third world: as an adjective, not a noun. If that adjective doesn’t apply to them, or they are looking to dissociate from that label, this dissonance precludes participation.

      Though you may be “tired” of this argument Chahney, it resurfaces every year because the source of disconnect between intention and execution has not been resolved. I would encourage you to expand your view to incorporate the additional populations that did not/do not/have not yet participated with the TWC, for many reasons: (not going to Brown/parent/donor/community member/potential student/incoming student/ etc.). Even on Brown’s campus, the ethos: I’m white/wealthy/coming from a 1st world country, I don’t belong there/that is not a space for me, is all too prevalent. This is a true shame: critical conversations could be had to spark meaningful dialog and change a life trajectory.

      While I understand that Brown’s TWC aimed to “reclaim” the phrase of “Third World”, the socially driven association towards low income/underdeveloped countries has continued to be stronger. In this sense, this fight could be considered lost, though the proverbial war must continue- perhaps it’s time to move the efforts to a new front.

      The TWC at Brown University offers immeasurable support for many students.
      The unfortunate irony is that its name may be unintentionally perpetuating the “othering” that it fights so strongly to overcome.

      Aiming to be solution oriented, and practical in respect to acronyms: I have felt the name could be changed to TWC: The World Center with no need for major reprinting/re-branding.

      Chahney, this is not a personal commentary directed towards you. We have had creative and meaningful conversations and I respect your stance and reasons for defending it.

      In this regard I simply must express my support for a name change while continuing to offer support for the work that the TWC aims to do.

  • Tired

    First of all, her name is Dean Mary Grace Almandrez. It is disrespectful not to get it correct. Second, what this article fails to mention, and what is written clearly on the TWC website and repeated day-in and day-out by TWC student staffers is that the name is rooted in historical, philosophical, and political ideals. In the 60’s, author Frantz Fanon wrote The Wretched of the Earth, in which he encouraged people of color across the world to come together in solidarity against the imperialist practices of the first world (Capitalism) and the second world (Communism). This is where the term Third World came to be adopted as a new way of thought and a source of empowerment. You can read more about it at the link I include at the bottom which is open for public view but overlooked by people who are too busy getting upset by their first reaction to the name to ever do the scholarly thing and inquire about the REASON for the name.

    Now, all of this said, I am beyond tired of explaining this to people and I understand that people have negative reactions to the name, so I am not against a name change. But, I strongly believe that the name should become the Third Way Center (referencing the third way of life that Fanon mentions). Please be informed the next time you want to get up in arms about something you have never taken the time to understand. Dean Mary Grace Almandrez often says, “seek first to understand before seeking to be understood.”

    Here is the link I mentioned: http://www.brown.edu/campus-life/support/third-world-center/about

    • Third World Liberation

      Here is also a history of Michelle Obama’s involvement in the TWC at Princeton. It’s a good outline of what the Third World Center represented all across the nation. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/10/30/a-detailed-look-at-obamas-radical-college-past-and-were-not-talking-about-barack/

      “The term ‘Third World’ implies[,] for us, those nations who have fallen victim to the oppression and exploitation of the world economic order. This includes the peoples of color of the United States, as they too have been victims of a brutal and racist economic structure which exploited and still exploits the labor of such groups as Asians, Blacks, and Chicanos, and invaded and still occupies the homelands of such groups as the Puerto Ricans, American Indians, and native Hawaiian people. We therefore find it necessary to reeducate ourselves to the various forms of exploitation and oppression.”

    • More Fed Up

      Thing is, no one CARES about the REASON. That’s exactly the POINT. I think you should take the Dean’s advice yourself.

  • 1stworldgal

    God damn, i’m tired of being called a third world student. I’M NOT THIRD WORLD.

    CHANGE THE DAMN NAME.

  • Captain Obvi

    Wouldn’t a name like the Franz Fannon Center be more to the point in marketing its ideologies?

  • ctmany

    If the name is to be changed, here’s a suggestion: something with “global South.”

    Maybe The Global South Center or The Center for Global South Studies.

  • Annissa

    if this crazy world stopped being so focused on our differences, namely color, it would be so much better. Aren’t we all equal in God’s eyes, all created by Him? When we can all be one race, HUMAN race, it will be a great country again. Right now we are more divided than ever, thanks to our pres, “rev” jesse, holder, etc..