Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Brown Center for Students of Color?
BCSC provides a place and space for students of color at Brown University to explore their identity, develop their leadership skills, and build a sense of community in a welcoming and supportive environment.

What is the mission of Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC)?
The Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC) serves as a gathering place for communities of color. Students are encouraged to build meaningful relationships across difference, develop racial and ethnic consciousness, and enact change at Brown and beyond. The Center advances the University's mission of educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation by empowering students of color, cultivating leadership, facilitating critical reflection, fostering informed action, and promoting social justice.

Why did the name change from Third World Center (TWC) to Brown Center for Students of Color (BCSC)?
Throughout the three-year strategic planning process, students of color expressed their concerns regarding the Center's name. Students revealed that confusion and misunderstanding of the historical and political roots of "Third World" terminology prevented some students in need of such a center from participating in its programs and accessing its resources.

Brown Center for Students of Color reflects the revised mission statement and is in alignment with other campus centers (i.e., LGBTQ Center, Sarah Doyle Women's Center). BCSC also signals a clear focus on students of color and thereby reduces confusion about who the Center primarily serves.

Will the new name diminish or erase the TWC's history of student activism?
The BCSC makes concerted efforts to engage the Center's legacy of activism. Programs such as the Resistance Tour (re-enactments of key events in the Center's history when students of color challenged the status quo), Activism Series (workshops highlighting various community organizing principles, tactics, and strategies), Legacy Project (student-led initiatives to preserve and highlight the Center's history), and the archive digitalization project (providing electronic copies of primary sources from BCSC's archives) reflect this commitment to honoring the Center's history.

How will the BCSC continue to embody Third World consciousness?
The Center's original name, Third World Center, was one that galvanized communities of color and transformed the campus. Although the term "Third World" may have negative socioeconomic connotations, alumni of color at Brown used the term in the context originating from the Civil Rights Movement. Frantz Fanon, author of The Wretched of the Earth (1961), urged readers to band together against oppression and colonialism, by pioneering a "Third Way" or an alternative to the ways of the first world (U.S. & Europe) and also the second world (USSR & Eastern Europe). When students at Brown first adopted the term "Third World," they used it in the sense of a cultural model of empowerment and liberation. It was also a term that showed solidarity with global communities of color.

Third World consciousness is still meaningful today. The BCSC will continue to honor the Center's philosophical roots through the Resistance Tour, social justice peer educators program, and expansion of the Third World Transition Program.

What was the process in changing the name?
The name change was part of the BCSC's overall strategic planning process. After an extensive self-study and comprehensive external review, a strategic planning committee made up of students, staff, faculty, and alumni was formed to develop a new mission, create a five-year plan, and recommend a new name for the Center to President Paxson. To achieve these objectives, the committee engaged in conversations broadly with the Center's supporters and stakeholders through campus presentations, open space dialogues, a Directors Summit, and Advisory Group.

After developing a new mission statement, the committee completed a benchmark study of peer institutions to gain an understanding of the variety of center names across the country. Then, the committee hosted a community forum and distributed a campus survey to solicit suggestions of new names. After reviewing all this information and garnering widespread support from key constituents, the committee submitted Brown Center for Students of Color to the Corporation Committee on Campus Life for feedback and advice, and to President Paxson for final approval.

Can white students get involved in the BCSC?
White students already participate in the BCSC's signature programs, including the Third World Transition Program (TWTP), Minority Peer Counselor (MPC) workshops, heritage series events, and staff positions. The new social justice peer education program will also provide an opportunity for all students to receive social justice, facilitation, and leadership training to present workshops to the campus community.

Will the Third World Transition Program (TWTP) name change?
Third World Transition Program is aligned with the past name of the Center. The strategic planning committee felt that it was appropriate to keep the name TWTP as a way to honor alumni who played a vital role in the birth and development of the BCSC under its former name.