A new housing enclave aimed at Black students on the campus of Cal State University Los Angeles has become a source of contention–some argue it’s an agent of racial segregation while others say it offers support amid discriminatory environments.


The Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community is a set-aside of about 20 spots in the university’s 192-room residential complex for students “interested in Pan-African history, culture and current affairs,” according to the school’s Housing Services website.

But, it’s “open to all students,” school spokesman Robert Lopez told The New York Times.

“This living-learning community focuses on academic excellence and learning experiences that are inclusive and nondiscriminatory,” Lopez said.

Some say the housing option undermines the aims and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement by promoting segregation.

“If they (Black students) wanted to go to an all-Black institution, there are plenty of historically black colleges that still exist,” Niger Innis, the national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, 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.”

Proponents of the Black-focused housing program at Cal State point out that it is but one of several “themed communities” housed in the dorm. And, they add, such housing arrangements are not new–similar programs exist at University of California Davis, University of Connecticut, Stanford and elsewhere.

The Cal State Black Student Union, which requested the housing as one of several demands they issued to the administration last November, praised the Halisi housing as an “achievement…long overdue, but well deserved” on its Instagram account.

In the letter addressed to university President William Covino, the union said the housing could be a source of support for beleaguered African-American students, who represent 4 percent of the student body.

“Black students at Cal State LA have been, and still are, consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty and administration,” the letter read in part.


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO