Campus culture is on the move.
In August of 2020, I offered “NYU Student Group Petitions for Black-Only Housing So They ‘Can Feel Included.’”
For an idea of the societal distance we’ve since traveled, take a look at St. Louis’s Washington University.
As posted via an op-ed in independent school newspaper Student Life, a group of prominent attendees is ready to take housing equilibrium to the next level.
Ranen Miao — president of WU’s student body — lays out the feelings of nearly 50 co-signed enrolees.
Per the piece, nine houses on campus are occupied by “fraternity men, who are disproportionately wealthy and white.”
Meanwhile, “Marginalized communities have little to no space to build community.”
Therefore, the bunch is “calling on WashU to terminate their housing contracts with fraternities and designate current fraternity houses as affinity houses instead.”
The “affinity” concept has really caught on as of late.
At the University of Tennessee-Knoxville last year, students were schooled according to skin color.
Courtesy of my coverage at the time:
[T]raining will enlighten light-colored learners on “how to recognize whiteness and white privilege, identify and interrupt internalized dominance, and collectively develop strategies for liberation and change.” …
On the other side of the segregating aisle are “BIMPoC (Black, Indigenous, Multiracial People of Color) Affinity Groups.” …
While the white group will shoulder responsibility for being oppressive, BIMPoC folks will gather for support from those with any skin that isn’t [peach].
At Western Washington University, there’s “Black Affinity Housing,” described thusly on the official webpage:
Black Affinity Housing residents…pride themselves on fostering a sense of belonging for all residents by creating a safe environment for open, honest, and sometimes challenging dialogue. Regular programmatic events and interactions allow students to deepen knowledge and understanding of themselves, peers, and the world.
Can nonwhite identity groups at Missouri’s Washington University get their hands on some of that safety?
The op-ed argues they should — fraternities mean “alcoholism, hazing and sexual assault.”
By granting a small group of men exclusive access to a residential space for their members at a central location on campus, paired with little to no accountability for interpersonal violence or conduct violations, fraternity houses enable toxic masculinity, rape culture and violence to fester.
The essay insists those goons have “done nothing to earn the space they occupy.”
[W]hen fraternity houses were first built and given to fraternities, WashU had still not yet admitted Black students in all its programs, fraternities nationwide enforced rigid exclusion of racial minorities, and “Aryan clauses” in fraternity constitutions barred Jewish (and other non-Christian, nonwhite) students from joining. The University has failed to make an affirmative case for why fraternities are more deserving of this housing than any of the other over 400 groups on campus.
The continuation of such a scourge, the piece poses, “only sends the message that the university accepts and endorses unequal treatment of its students, giving special favor to disproportionately white, wealthy and straight men.”
Consider a contrast:
[A]ffinity housing has been shown to offer immense benefits to college campuses, especially for the most marginalized students. … Establishing these houses means that we can create spaces where LGBTQIA+ students won’t have to worry about homophobic or transphobic roommates; where students of color can connect with our cultural and historical backgrounds, at an institution that is predominantly white; and where religious students can explore their faith, pray and live together. These spaces help students feel more welcome on their campuses…and offer a strong residential support system to lean on and speak with when encountering racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism or discrimination on campus.
The four-dozen-plus crew is “calling for Washington University to terminate their housing contracts with IFC fraternities, and publicly commit to reallocating fraternity houses as affinity space for Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, MENA (Middle Eastern and North African), low-income, international, LGBTQIA+, female, Muslim, Jewish and differently-abled students.”
That’s certainly one way to look at it.
Another way might be that skin is arbitrary, and it would be asinine to group people by such.
Also a potential position: Having a hue in common doesn’t constitute “community.”
Another alternate view: Possession of a minority trait doesn’t automatically mean someone’s been “marginalized.” It may merely indicate that trait is marginal.
Still another postulation might be that to evict someone due to their race is racist.
But those are only statistically possible perspectives.
Back to the real world, consideration of a Caucasian kick-out isn’t limited to St. Louis:
College Op-Ed Asks if White People Should Be Kicked out of Parties https://t.co/q0ZUiGggBS
— RedState (@RedState) December 9, 2021
The following are a few of the signatories on board with WashU’s frat house ejection:
- President of WashU’s Women & Non-Binary Multi-Cultural Association
- President of the Association of Black Students
- President of the Association of Latin American Students
- Latinxpresión Directors
- President of the Black Men’s Coalition
- President of the Middle Eastern and North African Association
- President of the Jewish Students Association
- Facilitator with Transcending Gender
- President of MeToo WashU
No matter whether our American journey soon takes us to a fraternity-free Washington University, as we continue forward, there’s a signpost up ahead.
What does it definitely not say?
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