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A coalition of minority student groups at Smith College called off a week long "sleep-in" yesterday, after administrators promised them a temporary meeting-place, and began making plans for the construction of a permanent multi-cultural center by next fall.
Representatives of seven minority organizations occupied the Smith's main administration building last Friday to protest lack of space allocated to them on campus. The group, which reached more than 100 at one point, slept in hallways for six nights, until the administration agreed to hear their demands on Thursday.
The group left the building after reaching a compromise late Thursday night, but are waiting until next week to formally agree to the deal, according to Vivian Chiang, the chair of the Asian Students Association.
Chiang said that both minority and non-minority students at Smith strongly supported the protest. "The best part of the whole movement was that we all got together," she said.
This week's sit-in was the third in 25 years organized to protest limited space for minority groups at the Northampton, Mass. school.
After a 1968 sit-in, the college's Black Students Association won its present location in Lilly Hall, a campus building which also houses Smith's graduate school and school of social work. In the meeting Thursday, the administration denied the demonstrators' first request that all of Lilly Hall be turned over to minority groups.
Instead the president and dean of the college signed a contract with provisions for a temporary minority center in Hampshire House, the center for commuting students at Smith.
The contract also calls for minority students to work with an architect in the design of a new center for next fall.
A college official called final agreement on the contract "very likely," but Chiang said yesterday that students were cautious about embracing the deal until they can be sure that the school will deliver the Hampshire House location as promised.
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