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Posted: 3/14/2006 4:57:57 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/14/2006 4:59:16 AM EDT by 95thFoot]
Even in the most liberal state in America, blacks and whites don't seem to want to get together. And all the efforts of the Nanny State only seem to make it worse. Sad, but not surprising. People don't like social engineering, no matter what their color is.

Link
Out of the comfort zone
UMass-Amherst moves to limit self-segregated living

By Sarah Schweitzer, Globe Staff | March 12, 2006

(Correction: Because of a reporting error, a Page One story yesterday about moves to limit self-segregated living quarters at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst misidentified a retired chancellor. He is Randolph Bromery.)

AMHERST -- At the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, students have nicknames for their residence halls. The Northeast cluster is ''Chinatown," a reference to its large Asian population. Southwest is dubbed the ''Projects," a reference, offensive to some, to its concentration of African-American students.

This pronounced division by race and ethnicity is a function of student choice but also university policy, which designates some residence hall floors for minority students as a means of providing comfort and comradeship on an overwhelmingly white campus.

Now, in a major shift, administration officials are seeking to eliminate self-segregated living quarters, the latest and perhaps most delicate effort by UMass-Amherst to phase out separate programs for minorities.

''There's nothing healthy about segregation," said Michael Gargano, vice chancellor of student affairs and campus life. ''Students who come to the university need to be exposed to different opinions and ideas. When you have segregated pockets in our residence halls, we are allowing students to shut themselves off, and then they are missing out."

This fall, there will be no floors set aside for minority students when an 860-bed cluster of residence halls opens. The university also plans to discourage students from grounding their housing choices in a desire to live with students of like race or ethnicity. Instead, students may choose to live with others who share their academic interests. For example, students pursuing African-American studies could choose to live together.

Also, the university will require freshmen to live with other freshmen, meaning that for at least one year out of four, students will be required to live in racially integrated dorms.

Across the nation, universities and colleges are struggling with whether minority students should be allowed or encouraged to live together. Some schools continue to embrace self-segregated living quarters as an answer. For example, at the University of California, Berkeley, administrators in 1998 created minority floors when the number of students of color dropped in response to Proposition 209, which ended race-conscious admissions in California's public institutions.

Others are questioning the approach. At UMass, the move to desegregate housing follows the dismantling of some other race-based programs. In the past five years, the school has stopped holding separate orientations for minorities and assigning them to separate academic advising offices.

The housing shift is more complex, UMass administrators say, because it cannot be accomplished with a simple administrative order. What they can do is remove barriers and hope that students, of all backgrounds, opt to live with one another.

''We are dealing with separation caused by self-selection," Gargano said.

For some, living among students of like backgrounds has proved a source of strength as they seek to navigate a campus of 18,500 undergraduates where just 16 percent are minorities. Moreover, the university is in a town where some 80 percent of residents are white, which leads to feelings of isolation for some minority students.

''We are like family!" said Nisha Mungroo, 19, a sophomore, as she slung her arms around two roommates. Their dorm room is on the floor designated for African-American students called Harambee, a Swahili term meaning ''the point at which all things come together."

The three roommates, in fact, have divergent backgrounds. Mungroo -- whose parents are from Trinidad and Guyana -- grew up in mostly white West Hartford. Her roommates, who are black, grew up in Boston -- Bianca Wynn, 22, in Hyde Park, and Stephanie Jean-Jacques. 21, in Dorchester.

Still, they say, their similarities are greater than their differences, and the shared experience of being a minority on the Amherst campus makes for a compelling bond. They say they breathe a sigh of relief when at the end of the day they return to Harambee -- where a mural of black historical figures greets them on the 22d floor.

''You come here and find comfort in your community," Mungroo said. ''Then you find comfort at UMass."

Wynn said, ''I don't mean to sound racist, or anything, but I want to be around people who can relate to me and who have common interests."

For much of the school's history, minorities made up just a sliver of the student body: In 1967, the campus counted 36 AfricanAmerican students; in 1972, just 109 African-Americans had graduated since the school's opening in 1867, said Ralph Bromery, a retired UMass-Amherst chancellor.

The first significant number of minority students, a cluster of 138 African-Americans and Latinos, were recruited to the school in 1968. That year, administrators opted to house the minority students in one dormitory complex.

Bromery said that the clustering was intended to be temporary and that he and other architects had hoped students would quickly meld into the campus population and, as upperclassmen, live among white students.

''I am an integrationist," Bromery said in a telephone interview. ''I supported people mingling together, learning each others' mores and learning from each other's cultures."

UMass officials cannot pinpoint the year that the race- and ethnicity-based floors formed, but said it was clear that by the 1980s, the pendulum had swung toward greater separation at UMass, particularly as racial tensions spiraled after the beating in 1986 of Yancey Robinson, an African-American student from Springfield, after a World Series game.

The residential floors for minority students, administrators say, were at the initiation of students, who clustered in certain dorms and then agitated for formal recognition of the floors.

Today there are residential clusters dedicated to students of Asian, African-American, and Native American backgrounds, and one dedicated to students seeking a multicultural experience.

On the campus -- a sprawling place where residence hall clusters tend to be a drive away from one another -- there is no mistaking the distinct racial and ethnic identities of the clusters.

Anton Pires, a freshman studying political science, said he lived in Southwest for a semester, but transferred to another residence hall because he wanted to try living in place with fewer black students.

''It can be good to be with people who have had the same struggles as you, people you can be more open with," said Pires, a native of Cape Verde. ''But I didn't want to close myself off to people. I wanted to get a different feel."

Still others said the concept of separate living areas is artificial, a forced separation .

''Things would be better here if people were more mixed," Kerri-Ann Eldridge, a white freshman from Danvers, said as she ate lunch in the Southwest dining commons with two friends. ''Society is mixed, this school should be mixed."

Eldridge's friend, Josh Chak, an Asian-American from New York City, saw things differently.

''You're just saying that because you're white!" Chak said. ''The school doesn't tell anyone where to live -- it gives students the option. And some students need that. It's comforting."

Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at schweitzer@globe.com.


A group of University of Massachusetts students from the 22nd floor of Coolidge Hall gathered for a social event. The university administration is trying to eliminate the tradition of single-ethnicity floors, such as this one, when new housing being built opens to students this fall.

At UMass students have a choice to self-segregate. However university policy designates some residence hall floors for minority students as a means of providing comfort on a mainly white campus.
(Globe Staff Photo / Nancy Palmieri)


The university plans to discourage students from making their housing choices based on the desire to live with students of like race or ethnicity to encourage the student body to mix. Freshmen will be required to live with other freshmen in racially integrated dorms beginning this fall.

From left to right, Mario Moreira, Cory Byrd, Max Wyneken, and James Shetler watched a basketball game at Dickinson Hall in the Orchard Hill housing area, where mostly white students live.
(Globe Staff Photo / Nancy Palmieri)


The first significant number of minority students, 138 African-Americans and Latinos, were recruited to the school in 1968 and placed in one dormitory complex all together. The segregation was supposed to be temporary yet grew in popularity in the 1980s. Students asked for formal recognition of their segregated floors when racial tensions spiked after the beating of an African-American student following a World Series game in 1986.
(Globe Staff Photo / Nancy Palmieri)


Friends from the 22nd floor of Coolidge Hall socialized in one of the dorm rooms. The four are, left to right, Bianca Wynn, Loyda Martinez, Nisha Mungroo, and Stephanie Jean-Jacques. They enjoy living in segregation with others who can relate to their struggles and experiences.

On a campus of 18,500 undergraduates where just 16 percent are minorities, located in a town where 80 percent of residents are white, the women say they breathe a sigh of relief when they return at the end of the day to their floor and community.
(Globe Staff Photo / Nancy Palmieri)


Views on dorm segregation are mixed with some saying the separate living arrangements are forced and others saying it is a choice they appreciate.

Across the nation, universities and colleges are struggling with whether minority students should be allowed or encouraged to live together. For UMass, the delicate shift towards desegregation is the next step in an effort to phase out separate programs for minorities.
(Globe Staff Photo / Nancy Palmieri)




Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:02:56 AM EDT
The University and college locally have had program houses for years. I think they tried to drop them a few years ago and ran into a firestorm.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:10:00 AM EDT

''We are dealing with separation caused by self-selection," Gargano said.


And you think you can FORCE something different????

Tools, the lot of them.
Most of my friends are white, professional women. Someone gonna force me to start hanging with Latino or Black women now???
WTF
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:15:36 AM EDT
Instead, students may choose to live with others who share their academic interests. For example, students pursuing African-American studies could choose to live together.


nevermind....
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:24:03 AM EDT
Many kids, especially from small towns going to a large university, try to room with someone they know. Roomie roulette is a crap shoot no matter what the race. My eldest daughter roomed with her best friend as a freshman and in two months they weren't speaking. Go figure.

When I was in the Army, my first roomie was a Japanese American from Hawaii. Cool guy. Later I roomed with a nutcake Mormon from Utah (drove a Porsche and swilled beer) and a black guy in MI from NYC. I enjoyed these two guys- very different from me. I especially enjoyed taking it to the hoop at will in one on one with the black guy!

No one likes to be forced. It's a shame there isn't some way they could experience other cultures on their on volition.

Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:28:24 AM EDT
They should try "bussing".
That worked so well in Boston.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:32:47 AM EDT

''Students who come to the university need to be exposed to different opinions and ideas. When you have segregated pockets in our residence halls, we are allowing students to shut themselves off, and then they are missing out."

Has it ever occurred to this lady that maybe some students have already encountered other cultures and decided that they like their own culture better, and preferred to live with those of like mind?
She is assuming that voluntary segregation is due solely to ignorance,which is rather poor logic.
I'd wager that most of this segregation is cultural more than racial. Segregating because of color is silly,but segregating because of behavioral norms,language and matters of taste is human nature.


Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:34:34 AM EDT
The state owns your children.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 5:42:00 AM EDT
The state was forced to do this by the radical population on campus. I was working there then, (1980's)and there where protests for weeks about this. the black students demanded this at the time.
the only problem was that the administration at the time (Duffy) was a screaming communist and caved to the demands. and that is how the housing started. not by the administration.
(but the lord knows they have done enough boneheaded things. )
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 6:16:56 AM EDT
You can't legislate shit like that.

Sometimes it can be a racial thing but mostly I think it is just people wanting to hang and live with people that have similar interests, background, culture, taste in music, ideals, etc.

No big deal.
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 6:26:42 AM EDT

Originally Posted By MudFlapper:
Instead, students may choose to live with others who share their academic interests. For example, students pursuing African-American studies could choose to live together.


nevermind....



And the engineers with the engineers, CS with CS, premed with Premed..........did they ever take a look at their student populations?
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 6:28:33 AM EDT
Thems some ugly women. The campus is probably happy they keep em caged up.


- BG
Link Posted: 3/14/2006 6:33:22 AM EDT
I talked to the director of housing at Clemson in 1989 about this. He said they matched students based upon size of hometown, major, parent's income, estimated GPA (they actually do a great job on this, they were a tenth off for one of my great nephews and they hit it to the hundredth for my other great-nephew!), and several other factors. Talk about politically incorrect! I asked him about that after noticing that out of the 64 students on the floor with one of my great-nephews, every room had a the same race students. I think I saw a pair of Indians, a pair of Chinese, two pairs of blacks, and the rest whites. This was (by far) the worst dorm on campus so it was almost all freshmen that were matched by the college. He said he believed in the system since it drastically reduced the number of roommate change requests. I wonder if they still do this.z
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