Statement on Affinity Spaces

Vassar recognizes the importance of spaces of affirmation, fellowship, connection, and empowerment for historically underrepresented members of the community. These spaces of affinity, whether physical or virtual, permanent or temporary, provide important resources for individuals with common interests, experiences, and/or identities, and serve a wide range of functions, including association, empowerment, and retreat. The benefits of association are several: the unfettered exchange of ideas, opinions, and experiences; learning with and from one’s peers; personal companionship and belonging; and collective pursuit of pressing issues and common interests. Moreover, these cooperative spaces can encourage individuals to explore safely their shared interests and identities, with the larger civic goal of helping to transform Vassar into a thriving, inclusive community. Affinity spaces might also offer recess and relief from the challenges of studying, working, and living in a residential academic environment: a sanctuary from feeling dislocated or marginalized, a place to work through grievances and traumas, a site to decompress and refocus.

Affinity spaces are intended to center the experiences and concerns of particular groups, but cannot be exclusionary.* Members of the community present in affinity spaces are expected to:

  • Be accountable for their actions, opinions, and beliefs within affinity spaces so they do not infringe upon or violate others’ rights.
  • Listen and speak to others with the goal of understanding different perspectives.
  • Communicate concerns about issues that undermine community or individual rights, whether they be their own or those of others.

In the event that these expectations are not met, there are a number of resources to turn to for support and action that will address issues on a case-by-case basis. For immediate response, community members can contact the Administrator on Call (AOC). Additional resources include Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA), Office of Human Resources, Office of Residential Life and Wellness, and Office of Student Growth and Engagement. By adhering to these expectations and practices we are better able to foster spaces where all members of the community may engage in dialogue and participate in activities that complement their academic pursuits.

*Exclusionary spaces that are based on protected class are against Federal and State law. These laws, and Vassar policy, require that everyone have equal access to educational opportunities regardless of race, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity or transgender status), age (over 40), disability, genetic information, or having engaged in any protected activity.