Smith to be honored for his outstanding contributions to the College community through extracurricular activities
Editor in Chief
Senior Chadwick Smith has been awarded the Dorothy Reid Dalzell Award, which he will receive at the upcoming DeWald Recognition Banquet.
The award is given to an outstanding sophomore, junior or senior who “has contributed the most to the life of The College of Wooster community in the area of extracurricular activities.”
Smith has certainly fulfilled that criterion in his four years at Wooster. A vocal and active part of today’s campus life, he is the outgoing president of the Black Students Association (BSA), a brother of the Men of Harambee (MOH), works in admissions, is helping to plan and will speak at the Senior Baccalaureate Service and currently serves on President Sarah Bolton’s sexual assault task force.
He is also something of a political figure at Wooster, a phenomenon he says started in the spring of his freshman year. In an interview with CNN in 2014, which he was skyping into from his room in Bissman, Smith said that as a black man he sometimes felt unsafe walking along Beall Avenue on Wooster’s campus.
Though Smith was merely saying what he felt to be true, his comments sparked unintended controversy; an angry and racially charged email from a townsperson which went viral.
The incident eventually served as the catalyst for the Board of Trustees to install cameras on Beall Avenue in an attempt to address the harassment.
Since then, Smith has leaned into his role as an activist, organizing several protests on campus, attending many more and generally trying to serve in his own words as “a voice for black people” at the College.
“In every area I’ve tried to sort of voice what black students have been going through and how they feel,” said Smith. Those attempts have ranged from a black men’s breakfast Smith organized in Lowry last semester, to protests of racialized police brutality, to a list of demands presented to Interim President Georgia Nugent last year which included requests that Wooster divest from prisons.
Smith says he has always had a strong sense of justice, which he credits largely to his mother and grandmother. “I just remember my mother always being concerned with making sure that other people are taken care of, and also the same with my grandmother,” he said. “I’ve had people sort of instill in me a sense of justice and what is right and what is moral and what is ethical.”
Though on the whole he believes that Wooster is a better place now than when he started school four years ago, Smith says that he does not believe that by and large people are treated justly on campus. He pointed to sexual assault and sex education, the treatment of students of color, international students and queer students and the need for cultural competency training as areas of injustice that the College has yet to fully address.
“I do think Wooster has gotten a little better, but with a lot of room to grow,” said Smith.
As graduation looms, Smith says he will miss small things like the convenience of Lowry, as well as more meaningful things like the family he has built through organizations like BSA and MOH. The physical space he’ll miss the most is the BSA Lounge, a place he associates with everything from all-nighters writing I.S. to personal moments with close friends.
After getting his degree in May, Smith will work with Teach for America (TFA) as a high school social studies teacher in Dallas, Texas. TFA is a two-year commitment, but Smith says he has always had the teaching bug and hopes to teach for four years before ultimately going to seminary and returning to a college campus as a chaplain.
“I really think that a lot of the problems students have, especially in college, are spiritual problems,” he said.
Smith will speak at the Senior Baccalaureate Service in May, and gave the following teaser. For the full message, he says you’ll have to attend the service.
“One, really speak your truth. When you dive into yourself and your experiences the truth will come out, and that’s where change comes from,” he said. “And two, in all of this that you really have to love yourself and love other people. Speak your truth, love yourself and love other people.”