Segregated ‘blacks only’ housing at California university reignites old debate

Students walk on the University of California Los Angeles © Lucy Nicholson
Administrators at California State University in Los Angeles (CSULA) have defended their newly-opened “Black Living-Learning Community” after it was described as being “segregated” and “black-only” housing.

The campus, which caters to around 28,000 students, opened the “Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community” for the new term, describing it as being for students "interested in issues of concern to the black community.”

There are 20 rooms designated as such out of the 192 in the complex.

The dorms come after the Black Student Union at CSULA demanded a “housing space delegated for Black students,” due to the number of racist attacks and “micro-aggressions” that left people fearful of their safety.

A number of news outlets picked up on the story, both locally and nationally, with much debate sparked on social media.

Those opposed to such housing arrangements argued it promoted racial discrimination while those who supported it said it helped provide minority students with a sense of belonging.

College officials were left to defend the housing, with a CSULA spokesman explaining the situation had been blown out of proportion as the housing is open to “all students,” not just black students.

“This community is open to all students,” said Robert Lopez. “This living-learning community focuses on academic excellence and learning experiences that are inclusive and non-discriminatory.”

Lopez told the Los Angeles Times that the university offered four “themed living communities,” which includes for first-year, honors and gender-neutral housing.

A number of campuses around the country offer such “themed” housing, including the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford University and the University of Iowa.