Life in Shabazz!
Dartmouth has many spaces available for African-American students, with Shabazz being the center. The house is a residential community as well as a cultural one. Read on for my interview with Rawan. She's living in Shabazz this year and is really involved with black culture on campus.
Rawan: I'm Rawan, a '26. I'm from Northern Virginia, which is 10-15 minutes outside of DC. I'm also Sudanese, which is a big part of why I joined Shabazz. I plan on majoring in Government with a minor in Public Policy and AAAS (African and African American Studies). On campus, I'm involved with OPAL Ed (Office of Pluralism and Leadership), a way to train students on how to facilitate conversations and workshops for organizations that need training around the inclusivity of others' identities. With BSA, Black Student Advising, I help as a co-chair to plan events on campus to keep the black community close. I'm also a part of Black Praxis, a digital literary magazine.
How did you hear about Shabazz?
Rawan: A big thing when I was applying to Dartmouth was knowing which spaces are available to me. Because when you're at a PWI, every space is for white students. LLCs are spaces where you're around people who you're comfortable with.
When I was applying, I was like, hmm, I wonder if there's a Black LLC, because I know other bigger schools have one. So I was wondering if a small school like Dartmouth would. But we do!
What about Shabazz attracted you?
Rawan: I come from a pretty diverse high school. Not only were all my friends black, but they were also East African. I had a lot of other Sudanese and Ethiopian friends, so that's what I was really familiar with. And the closest space I had to that was Shabazz here.
Then I heard about the Sunday dinners on Admitted Students Day. Our tour guide lived in Shabazz, and he mentioned Sunday dinners and that a majority of the events happen there. All the Black culture club meetings are just downstairs, so I don't even have to leave Shabazz.
What is your favorite thing about Shabazz?
Rawan: I think my favorite part is the people in my hall. One time, I went to take my makeup off in the bathroom and then next thing you know, the whole floor is just talking in the hallway. And people on the third floor heard us and then came down to join.
I also like how there are not only freshmen on one floor. Living in Shabazz exposed me to upperclassmen. I don't think I would've had these same encounters if I had been somewhere else. They've taught and guided me through a lot.
Would you say that living in Shabazz has been a good decision in terms of being more comfortable with your blackness at Dartmouth?
Rawan: I think living in Shabazz was definitely a good decision. It's definitely made me more comfortable being black at Dartmouth, which is why I can't imagine myself anywhere else. Had I lived somewhere else, I wouldn't have had the same experience that I had with the black students here. I don't think I would've met the same people or been as close to them. A lot of '26s have met through being in Shabazz. It's the hub on the weekends for many friend groups.
At Shabazz, I never have to question if anyone would even look at me sideways for wearing cultural attire to sleep, like a bonnet. When you're around other people that look like you, you don't think about your identity as much. That's how I feel like in Shabazz; I don't really have to switch my personality or switch the way I talk. I know that would've been different had I been in a different dorm.
What should prospective students know about Shabazz?
Rawan: Don't think that you won't fit in because there's not a specific definition of blackness. Some people don't feel comfortable enough to come into Shabazz because there's a certain perception they have of blackness that they don't think they could fit into. But that's just not the case because everyone likes seeing new people in Shabazz when they discover it.
If you're a black student, and you want to live in Shabazz, apply! I think there are four or five other freshmen. But it's not a competitive process at all. Some people are hesitant because they either haven't been around black people enough or they've been around black people too much and they want something new. Whatever background you come from, Shabazz is really welcoming.
Fun Fact: Rawan is one of the first friends I made at Dartmouth, during Admitted Students Day :)