California State University Los Angeles has introduced new housing for its black students in an effort to protect them from insensitive remarks and “microaggressions” from their white classmates.
The co-ed housing was requested last year by the Black Student Union at the school in a letter written to the university’s president. In addition to other demands, the letter asked for the creation and financial support of a new housing area specifically meant for Black students, as well as a full-time Resident Director who can focus on the needs of this group of students.
“Many Black CSLA students cannot afford to live in Alhambra or the surrounding area with the high prices of rent. A CSLA housing space delegated for Black students would provide a cheaper alternative housing solution for Black students. This space would also serve as a safe space for Black CSLA students to congregate, connect, and learn from each other,” the letter stated.
University spokesman Robert Lopez noted that the demand made by students for black student housing had been met by the university. Lopez added that the new Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community offers an inclusive and non-discriminatory area that focuses on academic and learning experiences, writes Kate Scanlon for The Blaze. The new housing is named for the activist and former professor of Pan African Studies at the school, Dr. C.R.D. Halisi.
Lopez went on to say that the new housing resides within the current residential complex already on campus, and joins other living-learning communities already located there. It will be made up of 20 apartments within the 192 furnished apartments located on the campus, writes Wills Robinson for The Daily Mail.
Supporters say that the move will allow students to support each other through common experiences. However, many are taking to social media to speak out against the housing, referring to it as self-segregation.
Communications major Aaron Rodgers, who lives in the new housing, says that everyone is welcome.
“We don’t want to come off as we are separating ourselves,” Rodgers said. “If you want to live in the black dorms, you shouldn’t have that fixed mindset … “Oh, I just want to live the black dorms because I’m black.’ In this whole building, there are other races,” Rodgers explained.
Participant Jonathan Thomas felt the same, saying that students from all ethnicities were integrated. He added that those who are speaking out against the housing should come to the school and take a look for themselves.
While a number of students shared concerns of race separation when speaking with Tom Wait for CBS2/KCAL9 off-camera, the majority seemed to feel the new housing did not pose a threat to current campus life.
Similar housing arrangements are available at other schools across the country, including the University of California, Davis; the University of California, Berkeley; and University of Connecticut. The main campus at UConn also has plans to launch a program this fall that will allow 40 black male undergraduates to live together in on-campus housing.