Segregated college housing

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Segregated college housing involves colleges and universities creating dorms that are segregated by race,[1] religion or national origin. It does not involve single-sex living units, because colleges have traditionally separated residents based on gender. The historic rationale for such units was to establish "safe spaces" for a particular set of students so that they can bond outside of the presence of non-group members. Although segregated housing is generally prohibited by the federal Fair Housing Act and local civil rights acts, some colleges have tried to claim that these units are actually special-interest living units for students of any background that happen to share an interest in Black Studies, Latino culture, Native American studies, or some other academic pursuit.


In the 1960s following the successes of the civil rights movement, activists sought increased minority enrollment in historically white colleges and universities breaking down the historic practice of having a very low minority enrollment at the top tier universities with most minority students being steered toward the historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Upon arriving on campus, minority students came into conflict in their dorms because typically they would be randomly assigned a white roommate and have disagreements over music preferences and other cultural issues. Some students demanded that the universities offer all-black dorms. In response, the New York State Board of Regents in January 1970 issued its "Minority Access to and Participation in Post Secondary Education" that prohibited segregated dorm. This impacted both Cornell's Ujamaa House and Vassar's Kendrick House as an Afro American Cultural Center.[2] The Regents later amended its policy to allow special interest dorms that were not exclusively residents of any one minority group.


Stanford University offers theme and program houses,[3] including Chicanx/Latinx Focus, Native American Focus, Asian American Focus and Black Culture Focus.[4] Stanford's Ujamaa (Black Culture Focus) house official description includes:

People from all backgrounds, experiences, and interests make Ujamaa their home. While a great deal of the educational programming that occurs in the dorm centers around issues impacting Black Culture and Black communities, the dorm is in no way centered exclusively on the experience of black students.[5]

According to a Stanford press release, "Ujamaa residents view their house as a place that fosters discomfort as a tool of learning."[6]

To be eligible to live in Stanford's Asian American Focus, a student must "Demonstrate knowledge or experience related to the theme that they can share with residents."[7] So a non-Asian-American student has to demonstrate knowledge of Asian American culture that is equal to or superior to that of the actual experience of an Asian-American student if they wish to be selected to live there.

The University of Connecticut in the fall of 2016 opened "Scholastic House Of Leaders in support of African American Researchers & Scholars" (ScHOLA²RS House) "is a Learning Community designed to support the scholastic efforts of male students who identify as African American/Black through academic and social/emotional support, access to research opportunities, and professional development."[8] The University is spending funds from a $300,000 grant to launch this initiative for black male undergraduates.[9]

The California State University Los Angeles proposed establishing "Halisi Scholars Black Living Learning Community" all-black dorms, which has led to controversy.[10]

At the University of Sheffield in 2018, separate housing was provided for "LGBTQ+" people, where heterosexuals were banned from living at.[11]

Related examples

In December 2018, both students and faculty at American University demanded "minority only" spaces.[12]

See also


Further reading