In 1968, during a colloquium held in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., seventy members of the Black Student Union took the stage and microphone from Provost Richard Lyman. They issued ten demands of the administration to better serve and support African-American students, faculty, and the wider community. As a result, in 1969 the Black Student Volunteer Center (precursor of the Black Community Services Center) was established, with a focus on community service and outreach programs to East Palo Alto, a predominately Black community near the university.

Other student centers soon followed. The Gay People’s Union (precursor of the LGBT Community Resources Center, later Queer Student Resources) and Women’s Collective (precursor of the Women’s Community Center) were founded in 1971, the Asian American Resources Center (precursor of the Asian American Activities Center) opened in 1972, the Native American Cultural Center was established in 1974, and El Centro Chicano was founded in 1977. The most recent Stanford community center, the Markaz, opened in 2013.