by Ben Zeisloft
Western Washington University has introduced a designated housing area meant specifically for Black students.
The university’s housing webpage announced that “Black Affinity Housing” will be available on the fourth floor of Alma Clark Glass Hall, which was named for the first Black student to attend the school.
“The program will explore and celebrate the diversity of Black and African American people and culture, with historical and contemporary context,” reads the site. “All Western students residing in the program help foster a warm and vibrant community supporting social, personal and academic success.”
“Black Affinity Housing residents, representing all diverse identities, pride themselves on fostering a sense of belonging for all residents by creating a safe environment for open, honest, and sometimes challenging dialogue,” the website explains. “Regular programmatic events and interactions allow students to deepen knowledge and understanding of themselves, peers, and the world.”
A webinar hosted by the university in April explained that Black Affinity Housing gives students “the opportunity to live in a shared space… with others who have a shared identity, specifically a marginalized identity.” The webinar hosts explained that black applicants to the university and black student organizations had called for the housing program.
The university emphasized that it is not “breaking ground on something new” with the program. Schools such as Stanford University, Pacific Lutheran University, Oregon State University, and Cornell University have introduced Black Affinity Housing.
Indeed, Western Washington University “consulted multiple universities around the nation during the discovery phase of this program to learn more about their affinity-based housing, challenges, and how to grow and support the program.”
Campus Reform has frequently reported on the accelerating trend of providing minority students — especially African-Americans — with the chance to live only with members of their own racial group. For instance, responding to the conviction of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd, American University announced in May that it would begin offering Black Affinity Housing.
Other programs extend similar practices beyond dormitory spaces. At the University of Pennsylvania, the athletics department opened a “permanent shared space for Black student-athletes.”
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Ben Zeisloft is a Campus Reform Student Editor and Pennsylvania Senior Campus Correspondent.
Photo “Alma Clark Glass Hall” by Western Washington University.