Critics Cry Segregation After UConn Announces Plan to Build ‘Black-Only’ Living Space to Promote Scholarship

ScHOLA²RS House at the University of Connecticut was created to provide a learning community for African American students. (uconn.edu)
ScHOLA²RS House at the University of Connecticut was created to provide a learning community for African American students. (uconn.edu)

Faced with alarmingly low graduation rates for black males, the University of Connecticut is trying something it calls bold — and critics call segregation.

The school’s main campus in Storrs has launched a program slated for fall in which 40 black male undergraduates live together in on-campus housing. Proponents believe the students can draw on their common experiences and help each other make it to commencement. But others cringe at the idea of black-only housing, saying it turns decades of hard-fought racial progress on its head.

“Forget about this nonsense and just treat students without regard to skin color,” President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity Roger Clegg told Insidehighered.com. “If there are students of color who are at risk or who could use some access to special programs, that’s fine, but schools shouldn’t be using race as a proxy for who’s at risk and who’s going to have a hard time as a student. There are lots of African-American students who come from advantaged backgrounds. And lots of non-African-American students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

ScHOLA²RS House – which stands for “Scholastic House of Leaders who are African American Researchers and Scholars” – was designed so UConn could more effectively marshal resources for black males, similar to other learning communities at the school that live as a group. When ScHOLA²RS House launches, it will be located in a new facility, Next Generation Connecticut Hall, along with seven other learning communities.

Niger Innis, the national spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality, said UConn may be unintentionally creating an atmosphere where black students are “the other.”

“If they wanted to go to an all-black institution, there are plenty of historically black colleges that still exist,” he 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.”