There is a new controversy at Claremont Colleges where a housing advertisement specifically barred white students from living in an off-campus house. Karé Ureña (PZ ’18) posted a housing offer for People of Color only and added “I don’t want to live with any white folks.” There has been a rising objection, particularly from conservative students, that there is a double standard on campuses and that, in this case, the school would never tolerate a student barred blacks or Hispanics from applying for housing. Indeed, off-campus housing at Tulane University was recently the scene of students tearing down a display viewed as racist without any sanction from the university. Some (even CNN commentators) insist that African-Americans or people of color cannot be racist by definition. For example, CNN Political commentator Marc Lamont Hill has maintained that black people lack the “institutional power” necessary to “deploy racism.”
The post at Claremont states that “POC [people of color] only” will be considered for this living opportunity. Various students supported the right to bar whites. For example, AJ León (PZ ’18), a member of the Pitzer Latino Student Union is quoted as saying that “This is directed to protect POC, not white people. Don’t see how this is racist at all…” So, if a white student says, he does not want to live with Hispanics, that would not be directed at Hispanics?
Sara Roschdi (PZ ’17), also Pitzer Latino Student Union member, insisted, “People of color are allowed to create safe POC only spaces. It is not reverse racism or discriminatory, it is self preservation.” Another Nina Lee, a Women’s Studies major, objected to those objecting: “We don’t want to have to tiptoe around fragile white feelings in a space where we just want to relax and be comfortable.”
Other comments in support of the exclusion are too profane to include in this column, but can be read here.
Claremont has not responded what it would do with white students who bar students of color from off-campus housing. However, the controversy should produce a response from the school on its policy on such racial discrimination in housing.
What do you think?