The California State University of Los Angeles is being criticized for what some call “segregated housing for black students.” The program, called Halisi Scholars, sets aside 20 spots in a 192-unit dorm complex for a new living-learning community designed to be a safe space for black students, according to CBS Local.
CSLA’s spokesperson Robert Lopez told The Los Angeles Times that the community does not exclude students based on race. “This community is open to all students,” he said. “This living-learning community focuses on academic excellence and learning experiences that are inclusive and non-discriminatory.”
The Halisi community is getting tons of attention for alleged “segregation,” especially because it came after the Black Student Union delivered a list of demands to the University’s president, in which they requested special housing for black students that could be a “safe space”—a buzzword on college campuses that tends to get people upset.
“WE DEMAND the creation and financial support of a CSLA housing space delegated for Black students and a full time Resident Director who can cater to the needs of Black students,” they wrote in November 2015. “A CSLA housing space delegated for Black students would provide a cheaper alternative housing solution for Black students. This space would also serve as a safe space for Black CSLA students to congregate, connect, and learn from each other.”
But the community is similar to programs offered on other California campuses. UC Berkley, for example, offers housing communities for Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans and black students, while Stanford offers four ethnic-themed dorms, the LA Times points out. And besides, students living in the community at CSLA say they’re far from segregated from the rest of campus.
“Right outside the hall, there’s people of every ethnicities around,” CSLA student Jonathon Thomas told CBS Local. “We’re all integrated. We all hang out together.”