Cal State Housing Option Focused on Black Students Causes Controversy

By Sameer Rao Sep 07, 2016

Although housing options emphasizing community and safe spaces for students of color (and their White allies) exist at universities across the country, a new Black student-focused option at California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State L.A.) drew heat for supposedly promoting segregation. 

As the Los Angeles Times reported today (September 7), Cal State L.A. created the Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community for students "interested in issues concerning the Black community." The Atlanta Black Star said the housing option came nine months after the school’s Black Student Union included a "safe space" housing choice for Black students in a larger list of demands. 

Cal State spokesman Robert Lopez told the Times that "this community is open to all students," countering accusations of segregation leveled by right-leaning outlets like The College Fix, Fox News and Breitbart, as well as publiations like the International Business Times (which, along with The College Fix, acknowledged that the housing wasn’t exclusively open to Black students).

The new housing option arrives amid a bigger debate about safe spaces on university campuses, particularly for students of color attending institutions wrestling with endemic racism.