Criticism, including mine, greeted the University of Connecticut’s plan to build a new dorm to house its 40 black student males. That pressure caused the “black dorm” to be revised: it would be “open” to non-blacks who identify with the “African-American male experience”. Stubbornly college officials held fast to the idea that blacks would be assigned to separate spaces in the dorm in order to create a “living community” for black male students, to “help” one another and create a “living community” that would elevate a low black graduation rate.
But why is it acceptable for a public–government-funded–university to start classifying, stereotyping and differently treating its undergraduates on the sole basis of their skin color? Didn’t the nation as far back as the unanimous 1954 US Supreme Court Brown decision ban as odious and unconstitutional practices, as suspect and baseless, classifications based on a student’s race?
Today, however, when it comes to black students, governmental bodies still fall back reflexively to the impulse for racial separatism. That’s bad enough when militant black students, full of rage, demand separate facilities and “safe spaces” on campus. It’s worse news when the colleges, like the University of Connecticut, surrender to such demands to buy campus peace. Worse, when public college officials on their own initiate separate dormitory spaces based on skin color–as a supposed benefit for their black students–that’s Orwellian double talk, reprehensible racial paternalism and outright condescension.
Such separatism is, also, on its face ostensibly illegal and unconstitutional.
Shockingly, the UConn trustees and Governor of Connecticut have been silent accessories to racial tripe. They have obliged college officials who want to set up on its Storrs campus separate spaces–corridors or floors–for black males in a dorm. Not unexpectedly, UConn is witholding its records that will expose its racial steering and demarcations for the dormitory housing. They have clammed up, and hid from public inspection the identity of the “private” educational foundation that is funding the dorm, and they’ve scrubbed, through redactions, the identities of college officials who have signed off on it.
This is what happens when officials evade the law and banter in double talk. They actually intend to cluster in sections or on floors the black men. And to justify their race-based actions they seek to bamboozle black men and others on campus into seeing this separatist scheming as an “educational” benefit for the black males–arguing that because black men’s graduation rates are lower as a group than their peers of other “races”, black males at UConn are “at risk.”
And there’s the rub.
Seeing black male students not as individuals but as racial entities, as stereotypes, as “different” from their peers of all other colors, is a 21st century repeal of civil rights laws that firmly declared an end to all that. So, where are the strong voices on civil rights to oppose this obfuscation of higher education’s once inviolable principles of equal opportunity, access, and equality of treatment? UConn isn’t alone but it’s unique in its pretensions that it’s doing blacks a favor by backtracking and ignoring state and federal laws that prohibit differential treatment solely because of a person’s skin color. That’s so wrong. It’s time for the sane voices to speak up in disgust.