The University of Connecticut is planning on opening ScHOLA²RS House, a dorm that houses only black male students in 2016. According to UConn’s website, the dorm’s purpose is 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.” UConn’s website also states that the House will encourage students to engage in the community and help the university create a greater sense of inclusion. While I consider it important to give all students on campuses new opportunities to learn in environments where people share similar experiences to their own, I do not understand why it needs to be in such an exclusive manner. Rather than facilitate the separation of students, there should be an open dialogue expressing why the university feels that they need this type of environment.
I do not believe that separating students based on their race will create a more unified student body on campus. Although we all have different backgrounds based on our cultures and the environments in which we grew up, there is no reason to emphasize that in a way that prevents people from understanding different cultures. I consider the separation to be less about opportunity and more about reinforcing the notion that if we cannot understand someone’s experiences, then that means that we should not try to learn more about them. Rather than reminding others that they cannot understand your culture or history, speak to them about it and educate them.
Education is first and foremost the most crucial aspect regarding this issue. According to TheBlaze, a multi-platform website for news, information and entertainment programming, UConn undergraduate Isaac Bloodworth said, “You have people who are going to go against it because they are just racist and they see this as a form of segregation or that we’re getting better things than they are.” I agree with Bloodworth — there will be some people who are racist and will only see the dorm as an “advantage” to some and those people must be educated to see beyond their own desire to constantly be a priority. However, Bloodworth misses the reality that while it is important to notice and celebrate our differences, it is not a reason or an excuse to isolate ourselves from others under the belief that “only we can understand.” It is not healthy and it is not productive, so rather than create a wider divide between groups of people, UConn should find alternative methods to help students who are possibly struggling to reach their academic achievements.