End Honors Housing 


On March 23, the Honors Council Executive Board sent out an email to the honors mailing list calling for students to complete a survey about the impact of H2O honors housing on their lives. The email noted that honors housing is being reduced, ostensibly to make room for other kinds of learning communities which the executive board believes are being given precedent over H2O. The survey results would be shared with Learning Communities, Residential Life, Student Affairs and even President Maric to show the importance of honors housing to the program.  

The email stated that the reduction in honors housing “is unacceptable, but it is only the most recent slight directed at students in the Honors Program. We cannot stand by anymore as various campus programs eliminate support for Honors students. We must advocate for our student experience–our Honors student experience. We will be heard by the campus organizations that have silenced and ignored us for so long.”  

Everyone should understand that housing is fundamental to student health and wellbeing and changes in such availability need to be promptly and openly communicated with the impacted students. It is worthy of condemnation if any students’ access to housing in general have been threatened by this change, as was implied by the Honors Council president to The Daily Campus. We should hold the university accountable to ensuring every student has access to reliable housing.  

However, this specific honors housing cut happened to make room for a new learning community, namely Sisters Orienting Unconditional Love, which is a dorm specifically for Black women students at the University of Connecticut. Although there should be no competition between different learning communities for housing, it is clearly more important that this new learning community have housing than honors.  

The Daily Campus Editorial Board holds that honors should not be a residential community. Honors is a discriminatory categorization that restricts resources, prestige, and professional and academic networking to the students with the highest grades — most of whom achieved the honors designation upon applying with their high school GPAs. It is obvious how structures such as this prevent those with lower academic performance, which correlates directly with socioeconomic status, mental health and being a racial minority, from attending and participating fully in UConn. Creating housing specifically for these honors students only strengthens such unjust distinctions, ensuring that social and academic networks are kept within the honors program rather than dispersed equally throughout the community. In short, the way UConn recognizes academic achievement — the honors program — in itself creates barriers to higher performance by non-honors students.  

Honors housing provides quicker access to some of the higher quality dorms on campus. In doing so however, it necessarily delays or bans entirely the access of other non-honors students to the same higher-quality housing. Further, the dorms in the Buckley/Shippee area are among the largest first-year dorms on-campus, granting honors students with upwards of 30 additional square feet in comparison to their non-honors first-year counterparts, begging the question of how incoming high school accolades correlate to a right to a higher quality of living. In academic settings the question remains: if there are resources at the school that benefit enterprising, talented or ambitious students, why are these unavailable to students who the university will not permit the “honors” title? Is their high school or early college performance — or in fact their grades in general — truly important enough to warrant this restriction? 

Although honors suffers from the discrimination we discuss here, the concept of an honors program with much less discriminatory selection policies has promises in providing additional academic resources to any students who are interested in them. However, it remains to be seen how exactly an isolating housing component fits with such an ambition. Honors housing should be ended and honors students should live and make friends with everyone else in the UConn community. The benefits of such a change will mostly fall to the honors students themselves.   


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