About CHAS


W.E.B. Du Bois College House

3900 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6138
House Office: 215.898.3677  
•  Hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM
http://dubois.house.upenn.edu • dubois@collegehouses.upenn.edu


"Celebrates its rich mosaic of engaged students"

Established in response to student demands in August 1972 initially as a two-floor residential living and learning program, amid protests and accusations of self-segregation, Du Bois College House has persevered and thrived for more than fifty years. Previously known simply as Low Rise North, at the behest of students it officially became the W.E.B. Du Bois College House in February 1981. Its unique history and legacy has instilled a sense of pride in both its residents and alumni. This pride is evidenced in the physical environment of the House, in the spirit of the residents, and in the generosity of alumni who still consider Du Bois College House their “home away from home.”

Du BoisFrom top to bottom, the House is adorned with majestic reminders of our legacy: a colorful mural in the 4th floor lounge praises our diversity; the walls of the Multi-Purpose Room document the history of the Black presence at Penn; and a multitude of photo exhibits in the Sonia L. Elliott Recreation Room applauds the success of our staff and students throughout the years. And pride was clearly on display at a recent Homecoming Reception when up to 200 alumni from every decade since the 1970’s joined dozens of current residents to celebrate the House’s continued existence. Through the Black Alumni Association (BAS), our alumni have made generous donations to the House, including a multi-million dollar endowed scholarship that financially supports four students each year.

Du Bois strives to adhere to its original mission to support students of the African Diaspora by serving as a hub for activities that promote African and African American scholarship and culture. With the help of residential faculty and staff, a very active student-governing body, and a dedicated network of proud alumni, the House achieves this goal through: 

  • Ongoing programming such as discussions with prominent scholars, many of whom are alumni of the House; 
  • An annual series of theme-based events on issues pertinent to the Black community; 
  • Outreach to our West Philadelphia neighbors by hosting and supporting their events; 
  • Civic engagement initiatives such as the ASE program co-supported by the Makuu Black Cultural Center, which is an academic and cultural enrichment program started by Du Bois residents, and through which our undergraduates have mentored local K-12 students for over twenty years;
  • The Paul Robeson Research Center, a library with over 4,000 items of rich cultural and historical significance, many of them donations from faculty, staff, and alumni; 
  • The Amistad Art Gallery, under the direction of Faculty Director Dr. Amalia Daché, exhibits the works of undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, and local and global artists.

Du Bois College House offers all residents the opportunity to learn about cultures other than their own.  Historically, the House supports the Natives at Penn’s spirited, traditional Pow-Wow each spring, and Makuu’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration in December. In addition, College House Fellow Dr. Audrey Mbeje initiated her “Ubuntu” series whereby residents were introduced to the therapeutic and healing effects of dance. The first event in the series featured a Nigerian dancer whose style was infused with West African, Modern, and Hip-Hop techniques. In the second event of the series, Penn's Indian dance troupe, Penn Thillana, explained how hand movements and rhythmic storytelling are sometimes used to work with autistic children in Indian cultures. 

The smallest of the College Houses, Du Bois is also well-known as a “close-knit community.” This sense of intimacy is maintained through the many house-wide events put on by the House Council, the Resident Advisors, and the senior staff. Some are time honored programs that take place each year. These programs include the Annual Labor Day BBQ; Monthly Family Dinners; the Eastern State Penitentiary’s Halloween Scream Night; the Thanksgiving Dinner and Food Drive; Valentine's Day Brunch; the Super Bowl Watch Party; Du Bois Day; and our annual End of the Year Farewell and Celebration, which acknowledges the success of our seniors, as well as the contributions to the House of our undergraduate and graduate residents. 

One of the primary goals of the staff is to introduce residents to the wealth of cultural, historical, and entertaining experiences available to them in our newly recognized World Heritage City of Philadelphia. Therefore, in addition to the above, the Du Bois team place priority on offering our undergraduates off-campus activities that will enhance their knowledge of the City of Brotherly Love, such as movie and theater outings, trips to restaurants and museums, and tickets to concerts and sporting events.

The senior staff, which consists of the Faculty Director, the House Director, the House Coordinator, and two College House Fellows, all work hard to provide students with opportunities to come together in a more intimate, relaxed environment to both learn and have fun. College House Fellow Jack Drummond invited students to his apartment to meet a community activist making huge changes in our world. In 2022 – 2023, other notable guests included Greg Cohen, co-founder of Brainchild Inspiration Group LLC, a consulting and coaching firm that equips educators with culturally-relevant teaching tools to empower and uplift the next generation of change makers. We also welcomed Nikki Powerhouse, Philadelphia Native and Performance Artist who provides art-based performances and workshops through the nation and the world. 

Faculty Director, Dr. Amalia Dache leads “Cafecito”, a weekly program which gives students space to practice Spanish consistently with other learners. Dr. Dache also brings dynamic scholars to engage with Du Bois students. In December 2022, Dr. Dache held a Fireside Chat with Dr. David Amponsah, Presidential Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. And in February 2023, Dr. Ifeyinwa (Ife) Anugom stopped by Du Bois to discuss the model Black immigrant narrative that maintains anti-Black racism, in ways that promotes a color-blind agenda that creates a racial wedge between other racialized minority groups, namely African Americans.


Du Bois Students

Because of its mission and legacy, Du Bois has an extended family and network that reaches across campus and into Philadelphia and the global community. This, along with our spacious and well-kept facilities, fosters partnerships for programs and events with other departments and organizations. For example, classes as well as preceptories have been held in the Harold Haskins Multi-Purpose Room (MPR). In Seminar Room A, College House Fellow Dr. Audrey Mbeje hosts our Program Community, Zulu in Residence, weekly throughout the academic year. Our MPR Kitchen houses two large stoves, which enables residents and guests to “cook up a storm.” The kitchen and MPR came in handy when PREC 710.001, French Macaron 101, was offered in the House. The macaron making class was led by Chef Tang of the Sugar Philly food truck and enrolled students got to eat the products of their learning: crisp and tender macarons. 

Many of our programs and events are open to the Penn and Philadelphia communities. A recent example is the signature program Cultural Production and Political Power (CPPP) event entitled “How Does it Feel to be a Problem?: The Black Community and Law Enforcement.” Undergraduate and graduate students from throughout campus, as well as our UPPD liaison, Detective Paul Sawicki, attended this hugely successful event, moderated by Dr. Clemmie Harris of the Center for Africana Studies. Additionally, our CPPP leaders have also collaborated with the LGBT Center on a three-part series entitled, “Social Justice and Interlocking Oppressions,” with the kick-off event occurring as part of Penn’s MLK Symposium.

In addition to the above mentioned signature program, Cultural Production and Political Power, Du Bois also has a second signature program, Du Bois FIT, which supports Wellness at Penn by creating programs that focus on the eight domains of Wellness. The domains include physical, emotional, social, intellectual, environmental, financial, occupational, and spiritual wellness.