Segregated college housing: Racial segregation or a safe space for minorities?

Caroline Guthrie, Contributing Writer

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Recently at California State University, Los Angeles, a housing option named “Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community” became available. Despite being open to all students, the housing, which centers around a black community, prompted a controversial debate between those who feel this promotes segregation and those who feel it is an opportunity to live and learn among black students.

The President of the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, believes this is an act of social racial segregation, claiming that people died to prevent this type of segregation. On the other hand, some students feel this is a way of embracing the black community. Jonathon Thomas, a resident of the new dorm, says it is a place for him to feel safe and that anyone can visit the dorm.

Many colleges nationwide have similar programs for specific groups of students. In February 2016, Fox News reported that the University of Connecticut started a housing program in which black male students could live together. Colleges have implemented other group housing options, LGBTQ housing being one of them.

According to the University of California, Los Angeles website, students have the option of living on a residence hall called “Gender, Sexuality, and Society,” dedicated to creating a supportive space for those who identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, or another group within the LGBTQ community, as well as those who want to learn more about issues regarding gender, sexuality, and social justice.

The most important factor when determining the semantics of housing intended for minorities is that they are optional. The Black Student Union at California State University, Los Angeles wanted a place where black students could live and learn with one another. The new housing is certainly popular, as proven by the length of its waitlist. If these group-specific housing options enrich students’ college experiences, they should be embraced by colleges across the United States.

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