Degrees and Diversity

Universities are wonderful places. Anyone fortunate enough to attend a quality academic institution can learn new skills, make new friends and be segregated by gender[1] or race.

Increasingly, colleges all over the United States are setting aside campus living quarters for one gender exclusively, or are grouping students according to narrow mindsets they may share during their first year of study.

The most recent offender was California State University Los Angeles. The school has taken heat recently for creating a dormitory that is specifically focused on “black scholars.” Though anyone can live in the Halisi Scholars Black Living – Learning Community, news reports say the building was the result of an agreement between the Black Student Union and the university president.[2] The BSU president has described the building in as a place where black students can “feel safe and learn from each other. [3]

This sort of themed housing is wrong, sets back personal growth and limits opportunities for people to develop a circle of friends more diverse than the one that they had before coming to a university.

When I was a first-year undergraduate, I was lived in a dormitory that consisted mainly of international students. Most of them were from China and preferred to spend time with each other. Though I eventually got out of that area and made some delightful friends, those people did not. Year after year I watched as they kept to themselves and never made any effort to speak to anyone who wasn’t from home. By starting off with people exactly like them, the university engineered an artificial segregation. This is wrong.

Now, to be fair to those who advocate for these spaces, there have been incidents in the past that can justify these types of themed and segregated university housing.

This year at San Jose State University, the harassment of a black male got so severe that it made the news. Freshman Donald Williams Jr. was nicknamed 3/5ths by his peers and physically assaulted. Protests later occurred following the cruelty and Williams ended up suing his former roommates for $5 million.[4]

As tragic as that incident was, things like it are few and far between. Ultimately, higher learning should be a place where you’re introduced to diverse and unique people from the start, not permitted to be in your own segregated living space. If we continue to let policies like this be in place, more students will go through college like my Chinese peers. Only associating with what they know and continuing the racial distance between all Americans as a result. [5]




[1] “Regents” Visited September 15, 2016.

[2] “Segregation or Sanctuary Black-Only University Housing Draws Criticism” Visited September 15, 2016.

[3] “‘Segregated’ Housing at California State University LA sparks National Debate” Visited September 15, 2016.

[4] “No hate crime convictions for white San Jose State Students who clamped black roommate in bike lock” Visited September 15, 2016.

[5] “Three quarters of whites don’t have any non-white friends” Visited September 15, 2016.

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