SF State is working on bringing an Afro floor to student housing as soon as fall 2017, confirmed University spokesperson Jonathan Morales in an email.
The floor would not solely be dedicated to Black students, but would also be open to anyone interested in learning about a community different than their own.
The University’s push for Black student housing will be part of a growing trend of universities to create housing for Black students. Following a list of demands from their Black Student Union, California State University, Los Angeles began offering Black student housing, joining two other universities in California.
The list of demands included housing accommodations for Black students and a full-time residential aide to address the needs of the students.
The demands that were sent to CSULA President William A. Covino were sparked from “racially insensitive remarks, and micro-aggressions by professors and students (producing) learning environment that is not conducive to the overall learning atmosphere.”
These conditions hinder the success of Black students and increase as the population of Black students at CSULA decreases, the letter states.
At CSULA Black students currently make up only 4 percent of the undergraduate population compared to asian and pacific islanders at 33.5 percent and white students at 27.1 percent, according to California College Portraits.
Students may see an Afro floor in the themed resident halls coming soon, thanks to SF State’s Black Student Union. Currently, there are floors dedicated to Health and Wellness, Emerging Leaders as well as a women’s floor.
There are mixed feelings about universities offering Black student housing. Some worry it may be a step backward towards segregation, while others revel in the idea of Black youth being able to have a sense of community and well being.
Political Science graduate Izabelle Doublin said she believes black student housing will not contribute to a divided student body.
“I think that what happens, especially in college, you’re living and learning more about yourself and about these systems and institutions that are designed to keep you and people like you down and not able to thrive in our society,” Doublin said. “It’s really important to be around people like you, who look like you. They may or may not think like you but at least you’re being represented.”
As a mixed woman of color, Doublin commented on the potential difficulty she could face living in the Afro halls.
“It would definitely be a learning experience for all of us,” Doublin said. “I have friends who have darker skin than me that deal with racism and sexism in extremes far more than I do because I have lighter skin and I have that privilege but we’re able to learn from each other and I’m able to learn to check myself.”
As more universities take the step toward Black student housing, more and more people are sharing their opinions on the impact it may have on other students on campus.
Dean of Ethnic Studies Kenneth Monteiro attempted to address those concerns by stating no one is forcing anyone into this housing community and it is there as an option for anyone.
Others have said it would isolate black students and create a larger divide between the black community and the rest of campus, to which Monteiro stated where a person sleeps does not isolate them from the world.
Some students are worried that although the learning community would be available to anyone it would build tensions between Black and non-Black students living within the community. Monteiro said that this will only inspire discussions and motivate students to speak on the matter.
Monteiro said when he was a student his campus also offered Black dorms.
“I benefitted from their existence because they produced a center of gravity for me,” Monteiro said. “So I was someone who benefited from those dormitories even though I didn’t live in them.”