A California university is the latest public school of higher education to establish African-American-priority housing in response to demands from black students seeking refuge from what they consider insensitive remarks and “microaggressions” from their white classmates.
California State University Los Angeles established the specialized housing in time for the current school year, according to The College Fix. The school complied with demands issued nine months ago by the university’s Black Student Union.
“[It] would provide a cheaper alternative housing solution for Black students,” read one of the union’s demands. “This space would also serve as a safe space for [black students] to congregate, connect, and learn from each other.”
The newly debuted Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community “focuses on academic excellence and learning experiences that are inclusive and non-discriminatory,” Cal State LA spokesman Robert Lopez told The College Fix.
University of Connecticut and UC Davis and Berkeley also offer similar housing. In February, FoxNews.com reported that UConn’s main campus in Storrs launched a program slated for fall in which 40 male undergraduates, all but one of whom are black, live together in on-campus housing.
Proponents believe the students can draw on their common experiences to support one another. They also point out that non-black students are not explicitly barred from applying for the housing.
Niger Innis, the national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, said UConn may be unintentionally creating an atmosphere where black students are “the other.”
“If they wanted to go to an all-black institution, there are plenty of historically black colleges that still exist,” he told FoxNews.com. “But if they want to go to an institution that is racially diverse and integrated, then racial diversity and integration is part of it. To have a university-sanctioned segregation or separation is, to me, a bit troubling.”
The Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community will be within the 192 furnished apartments on campus. Other communities tied by specific themes have their own housing, though none are designated by race.
CSULA’s Housing Services page calls it an effort to “enhance the residential experience for students who are a part of or interested in issues of concern to the black community living on campus by offering the opportunity to connect with faculty and peers, and engage in programs that focus on academic success, cultural awareness, and civic engagement.”
On its Instagram page, the Halisi community called it a “long overdue, but well deserved” achievement, Young America’s Foundation reported.
Students who seek to live in Halisi must agree to “respect the differences of others that live in my community and look for positive thing to learn from them,” “be an advocate for change if the tools and resources available are deemed inadequate,” and “accept that I am still learning and need to be open to new ideas and experiences.”
On its housing page, the school said, "We currently have a long wait list and are no longer accepting applications for Housing for the fall 2016 semester."
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story has been changed to clarify the application and admission standards for housing at both Cal State LA and University of Connecticut. As noted in the story, students who identify as African-American will be prioritized in selection. But interested students of other races may also apply.