‘People of color only will be considered.’
via Flickr user (cc) Pitzer College
Last week, a heated debate erupted at Claremont University’s Pitzer College outside of Los Angeles after three African-American students posted to Facebook looking for roommates, but only if they weren’t white. Karé Ureña said students in need of housing arrangements should reach out to either her or two other students that she plans on living with in an off-campus house, but added that “POC [people of color] only” will be considered. “I don’t want to live with any white folks,” she added.
Conservative news outlets jumped on the story as an example of reverse racism and the Claremont Independent published the story with a large photo of a black man drinking out of a water fountain labeled “FOR COLORED ONLY.” But Ureña doesn’t believe her post to be racist, but a means to create an environment conducive to her academic success. “The conversation that the public is having is focused on white people and their exclusion in this housing ad,” Ureña, told The Guardian. “We want to reframe it so that it becomes a matter of students of color simply prioritizing their need for survival in the face of historical oppression in higher education.” After living with white roommates last year, Ureña’s roommate, Isaac Tucker-Rasbury would like to share his college experience with people of color. “I thought that it’d be important to cultivate a space where we feel comfortable coming home and taking care of ourselves,” he told The Guardian.
This racical controversy isn’t the first the Claremont Colleges have experienced. Last year, Claremont McKenna College’s dean of students resigned after she told a Latina student she would work to help students that “don’t fit our CMC mold.” This lead to the creation of safe spaces on campus where people of color could congregate “decompress, discuss, grieve, plan, support each other, etc. in solidarity.” This was followed by a “Hurting and Healing” event, a “for POC, by POC art show.” According to the event’s website, its intent was to “Create a space that is pro-POC, pro-black, and anti-white supremacist.”