The University of Connecticut announced plans to create separate housing and a learning program that address educational issues and provide educational resources and aid for Black male students.
According to the program’s website, “the UConn ScHOLA2RS House is a scholastic initiative that will groom, nurture, and train the next generation of leaders to address grand challenges in society through the promotion of academic success in undergraduate programs at the University of Connecticut and in competitive graduate programs.”
The announcement of the new initiative sparked controversy and some backlash for the proposed “segregated” housing units.
“I was not pleased. My immediate thought was ‘What?’” Haddiyyah Ali, a fourth-semester Africana studies and political science major said in the Daily Campus. “I know there had to be a lot of research that went into it…but just for me coming from a student perspective, my initial thought was what about black women and girls – what about us?”
According to ScHOLA2RS House, the dorms are “designed to support the scholastic efforts of male students who identify as African American/Black through academic and social/emotional support, access to research opportunities, and professional development.”
The person at the forefront of the new program is Dr. Erik M. Hines who acts as the Faculty Director and is Black.
“Let’s go back to the research literature. Most students are going to persist in college if they are in a space that is comfortable for them,” Hines said. “We look at the living space as a place where they can meet other people who look just like them, who have shared experiences. But, that’s a small component of the other academic and service opportunities we want them engaged in.”
The living area is just one part of the equation. The website further explains:
The intent of this Learning Community is to increase the retention and persistence of students using educational and social experiences to enhance their academic success at UConn and beyond in graduate and professional school placement. ScHOLA²RS House will encourage involvement with the larger university community to foster peer and mentor relationships and will actively engage students in inclusion efforts at UConn.
“That shows you how people are thinking on this campus,” Isaac Bloodworth, a sixth-semester puppetry major, said in the Daily Campus. “The white portion of the University of Connecticut is probably not ready for it. You have people who are going to go against it because they are just racist and they see this as a form of segregation or that we’re getting better things than they are.”
Here is video from the local coverage of the controversy: