UR students constantly brag about how proud they are of the diversity on campus, and it’s mostly warranted. We are fortunate to be a part of such a culturally diverse student body. Even so, it appears segregation is again rearing its ugly head.
Choosing to live with someone based on race can quickly relegate students into segregated groups. If UR is only looking for statistical diversity, then this trend poses no threat. But our school cares more about how students integrate and contribute to the community rather than just the numbers they can spout in admissions packets.
The newest interest housing on campus is the Douglass Leadership House (DLH). Its mission, according to Campus Club Connection, is to “celebrate and raise awareness of the many facets of the black experience, including its culture, politics, history, and Diasporic roots.”
DLH is the only special interest housing group that explicitly speaks of race. It is great that we have groups on campus that promote people’s different heritages. but when the school allows race-based organizations to control houses, the real threat of segregation rises.
No organization that sets out to truly enrich the black experience should seek to segregate its active populace from the general campus community within a single house. Purporting that black students would have a bad time living anywhere else besides DLH, as in their South Park memes advertising their organization, is insulting and threatens to further segregate campus. Although DLH is open to all races, does this school really believe that someone of another race will live with a group that is based on black culture and history? While any respectable student greatly appreciates black culture and history, that does not mean they would want to live in a house that is focused on this single race.
I fully support DLH as an organization. It adds considerable value to this campus, and it addresses sensitive issues that need to be addressed, especially in light of recent events. Still, DLH only acts to further segregates students.
One aspect of student life that drew me to this school was its culturally rich student body. Yet when students encourage other students to only live with those of a similar background, they do not contribute to said diversity. I love that my neighbor is Iranian and that his neighbor is Korean. Living with these students who ware so different from me allows me to grow as a person.
The University should push students to live with people of all races and cultures. Students should join and live with groups where people are free to express their differences instead of being pinned into one already specified. Students should live with groups that are not based on race, but groups whose founding principles encourage one to become the best version of oneself.
After all, how can we be ever better if we put ourselves in situations with no new room for real diversity?
Bordwell is a member of
the class of 2016.