ScHOLA2RS House is not a success. This self-imposed segregation of black male students may give them sense of belonging for now, but will make them feel like outsiders within the UConn community as a whole.
ScHOLA2Rs and cultural centers are a recipe for heightening racial tensions on campus, because these institutions discourage contact with the majority populations. People will subconsciously ask themselves “Why go outside of my comfort zone when I can be with people who look like, act like, and feel like I do?” The ScHOLA2RS learning community does not encourage people to make friends with those who are different from them. And is this not where much of our society’s racial prejudices derive from in the first place?
Contact theory is the idea that interpersonal contact has ability to reduce conflict between majority and minority groups. More contact will lead to more understanding. ScHOLA2RS here seems to be doing the opposite.
Additionally, creating learning communities and cultural centers based on the socially constructed idea of race increases feeling of marginalization. In practice they are insidious ways of making students more oppressed than they are in reality. They serve as constant reminders that they are different and their culture is not worthy of being shared with the whole community- instead it will be pushed into a room on the fourth floor of the Student Union or in NextGEN Hall, away from the majority population so they do not have to deal with it. Meanwhile, feelings of anger and frustration boil as these communities discuss their oppression amongst themselves, radicalizing their thoughts, and not working towards any effective solution.
Being constantly reminded that one is oppressed is a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is why the most harmful form of oppression in this world is that which exists in our minds. And this oppression does exist mostly in the mind. Honestly, ScHOLA2RS offers nothing more than what was already available to these students through FYE courses, clubs, classes, Community Outreach, and other resources.
This is not diversity. This is not equality. If black guys have to segregate themselves to feel empowered in their college experience, something is wrong, and it is up to all of us to fix it as a community. If we cannot achieve a true, thriving multicultural society with the creative, open, intelligent citizens of Storrs, CT what hope is there for the rest of the world?
Class of 2019