Ujamaa House was created as a concept in 1970 with a concentration of Black first-year and upperclassmen students living on East campus, and moved to its current location in 1976. Over the years, this African-American themed dorm has expanded its intellectual focus to include the entire African Diaspora. Their legacy of excellence is fluid and active with frequent speakers and visits by alumni such as college dean and physician, Hilda Hutcherson, actor Sterling K. Brown, writer Brit Bennett, philanthropist and Stanford Board of Trustee Chair, Jeff Raikes, and politician Michael Tubbs.
Ujamaa focuses on the histories, issues, and cultures of the Black Diaspora. The name comes from the Swahili word for “extended family.” This house prides itself on fostering a sense of belonging for all residents by creating a safe environment for open, honest, and sometimes challenging dialogue. Weekly presentations by upperclassmen allow residents to deepen their knowledge and understanding of themselves, their peers, and the world. The breadth and depth of topics ensures that Ujamaa is a true living and learning community. This house encourages intellectual vitality and emotion to collide, which leads to robust conversations filled with uncertainty, realness, and laughter. We hope you will join our family some time during your Stanford career.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are all the residents in Ujamaa Black? No, they are not. Fifty percent of the residents are from the Black Diaspora and the other fifty percent come from other parts of the world.
- Is Ujamaa an all Frosh dorm? No, we are not. We are a four class house. (frosh, soph, junior, senior).
- Do upperclass students engage with the frosh? Yes, they definitely do! Ujamaa has a legacy of upperclass students wanting to live in the house to serve as academic and personal mentors to the frosh.
Jan Barker Alexander is the Assistant Vice Provost of Student Affairs for the Centers for Equity, Community, and Leadership (ECL). In this role, she oversees each of the seven community centers at Stanford – Asian American Activities Center; Black Community Services Center; El Centro Chicano y Latino; The Markaz: Resource Center; Native American Cultural Center; Queer Student Resources; and the Women’s Community Center.
Barker Alexander began her career in the Office of Admissions at Louisiana State University (LSU) reaching out to populations including rural, urban, first-generation and low-income students. She joined Stanford’s Admissions team in 1995 with a similar focus and worked to bring awareness and sensitivity to issues facing students from underrepresented groups.
In 1998, Barker Alexander joined Student Affairs, where she spearheaded many efforts that have made the University's Black Community Services Center (BCSC) a national model of excellence. Later, she led, along with an Alumni Leadership Team, the first-ever fundraising campaign focused on affinity giving at the institution and raised close to $1.3 million dollars.
In 2006, Barker Alexander became the Resident Fellow at Ujamaa House. She views her role as creating opportunities for greater intellectual discovery outside of the classroom. In March, she led an Immersive Learning Experience in New Orleans for 22 students. They examined Mardi Gras through a Black Lens.
In 2011, Barker Alexander received the Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for Distinctive Contributions to Undergraduate Education at Stanford. In 2012, The College Board recognized her innovative leadership and multi-faceted approach to molding and shaping the nation’s top scholar activists, with the Asa Hilliard Model of Excellence Award.
Barker Alexander is from a small, rural town in Louisiana. She received a B.A. in Journalism from LSU and a Master's in Education from Southern University, a Historically Black College and University. She is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Southern California. She is married to her high school sweetheart Fred Alexander and they have two sons, Hudson (a frosh at Morehouse College) and Armstead (a 7th grader).
What’s the coolest thing about your house and community?
Ujamaa is the African American themed dorm on campus in which 50% of our residents are of the Black Diaspora and the remaining residents belong to a plethora of other racial and ethnic backgrounds. Here at Ujamaa we pride ourselves in our ability to foster a family environment for our residents and C-wingers, who are people that do not live in Ujamaa yet come to hang out with us.
What qualities make a successful Ujamaa staff team member?
Ujamaa staff should have commitment to excellence and furthering the traditions and legacy of the Black community. Staff should be vocal about their own views and value systems, and represent them through their actions, while still recognizing and valuing the views of others. Empathy is key for connecting to our residents, many of whom may go through great strife on campus, racial or otherwise. Lastly, staff members should make it a point to be knowledgeable about an array of social issues, mostly pertaining to the Black community but also in relation to intersectionality.
What’s your favorite event or tradition in your house?
Every Thursday at 6pm we host a presentation that centers around topics and issues related to the Black Diaspora. These “Theme Programs” serve as an opportunity for residents and members of the broader Stanford Community to engage intellectually with real world issues. Our Ethnic Theme Associates assist each upperclassmen pre-assignee, also known as Ujamaa Scholars, in choosing these unique topics that pertain to the Black community, both in the United States and abroad. Recent theme programs have included: Black in Silicon Valley, African American Vernacular English and Race in the Media.
Requirements to Qualify for Pre-Assignment
Letter from the Ujamaa Resident Fellow
I am so excited that you are applying to be a part of our vibrant community in Ujamaa. As an Ujamaa Scholar, you are the foundation of our program that not only educates but creates a safe space for residents to explore topics that are not a part of their academic journey.
We are proud of this long tradition of intellectual engagement around the Black Diaspora and look forward to you being a part of what makes Ujamaa special!
Resident Fellow, Ujamaa House
Pre-assignment to Ujamaa will REQUIRE the use of a TIER THREE housing choice.
We invite you to be part of the legacy...
The Ujamaa Scholars Program is designed to continue a long history of intellectual discourse focused on the Black Diaspora. This foundational component to the Ujamaa community allows residents to discuss and reflect on issues that affect us all. All topics must focus on or intersect with the Black Diaspora. We strive to create an environment where conversations stretch everyone’s thinking and learning. Due to COVID-19, we have made adjustments to our process.
- Please do not include your name anywhere on the proposal. We have a long standing process of anonymity.
Requirements if Assigned
Due to our need to be flexible in our programming, each Ujamaa Scholar applicant will submit three different learning opportunities for the dorm. We will choose one of the three based on the needs of the Ujamaa Community. Ujamaa student staff will work directly with successful candidates to refine their project. While the delivery method for each learning opportunity may be different, all require research, planning, organization, and commitment.
Ujamaa Learning Opportunities
All of these are one hour sessions. They include some sort of presentation which can include, but are not limited to, content, question and answer, breakout conversations, exercises, and wrap up.
Theme Program Presentation
- Name of Presentation:
- Description: (no MORE than 500 words)
- Why is this topic important to you? (300 words max)
Virtual Tour Experience
- Name of Experience & Location:
- Description of Focus Topic(s): (no MORE than 500 words)
- Why is this experience important to you? (300 words max)
- (i.e. museums, schools, non-profits, cities/towns, countries, movie set, music studio, etc.) This learning opportunity will stretch you to step out on creativity. Take us places we have never been or places that are common but challenge us to experience and think of them in nuanced ways.
Person of Interest
- Name of Person to interview:
- Description of why you chose this person and what three subject areas are you interested in covering with them and the benefit to the Ujamaa Community. (no more than 800 words - same as above totals)