New York University officials signaled they are open to a student group's demands to create Black residence floors on campus next year, but the petition is already receiving backlash for proposing students segregate themselves.
"A story claiming that NYU is implementing 'racial segregation in its dorms' is false and misleading," a university spokesperson said in a statement. "The University strongly supports the goals of diversity, and of creating an environment that is welcoming, supportive, and inclusive for students of color and students from marginalized communities. However, NYU does not have and will not create student housing that excludes any student based on race."
The university spokesperson said its housing office is considering implementing the students' desire for an "Exploration Floor around the themes of Black history and culture."
The themed "Exploration Floor" for Black students is being pushed by a group called Black Violets NYU. "Marginalized groups" like queer students and international students already have access to such floors, Black Violets told Fox News in a statement.
"Like any other themed engagement floor at NYU, students will have to submit a written statement as to why they would like to live on the floor, which will then either be accepted or rejected on a factor no other than their statement," Black Violets said.
"NYU is a predominantly white institution, making it very difficult for Black students to connect or find community, especially when incidents involving racism occur," Black Violets told Fox News. "It is not about exclusion, but rather creating a space where Black students can feel included."
Critics of such plans say such living arrangements would be akin to racial segregation, as in the story the NYU spokesperson referred to.
"There is nothing progressive about the establishment of racially segregated housing at NYU," Karsten Schneider wrote in a column for the World Socialist Web Site. "It is irrelevant whether the segregation being implemented is voluntary or mandatory. Racial segregation, in all forms, is entirely reactionary."
Schneider pointed out that the petition started two months ago has roughly 1,100 signatures, compared to NYU's student body of more than 26,000.
Black Violets is pushing for other reforms, including that NYU hire Black professors in its politics department and create a Black student lounge on campus. The latter goal may be moot because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Black Violets told Fox News the pandemic will not delay their push for a Black themed engagement floor.
"With all that is going on this summer and NYU itself having their own instances of racism, they continue to send out these blanket statements about scholarships and Juneteenth and changing their banner black for Black Lives Matter," Black Violets founder Nia Robinson told Washington Square News in July. "But they still do not make the university equitable or make the structural changes we as Black students have been asking for.”
This story has been updated with response from NYU.