CU Boulder creates living environment for social justice program in campus dormitory – Boulder Daily Camera


The University of Colorado creates a living environment of social justice with communities for students who identify as Black, LGBT, and passionate about diversity champions.

Hallett Hall in Boulder, a dorm known for supporting LGBTQ students, adds two new areas of focus in the fall, resulting in the creation of a new community that attracts praise from some and eyes raised from others.

Students and allies who identify as Black can enroll in the Lucile B. Buchanan Living and Learning Community, and students passionate about diversity can choose to live in the Multicultural Perspectives community.

The new program arose out of student concerns following a campus climate survey revealing that only a quarter of African American undergraduates and less than half of undergraduates, in general, felt welcome on campus.

“Many under-represented groups did not feel heard or totally welcome,” said Akirah Bradley, Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “Knowing that this feeling was there, we asked ourselves what an administration can do by working in tangent with the student to try to break this feeling of unwelcome and highlight the narrative of the students who are on campus who feel their voice is silent. “

After brainstorming with the students, Bradley said, the learning environment for social justice was born. In addition to the community living environment, students have access to lively peer mentors who can provide one-on-one support to students, and she plans for diversity-focused groups on campus to incorporate programming in the dorm.

“People who watch CU Boulder from the outside can see a very diverse institution, but as a woman and student of color I know we have a lot of work to do and I want to play a role in helping to promote these changes. within residences, ”said mentor Jaela Zellars, a junior double major in biochemistry and integrative physiology as well as a double minor in Spanish and women and gender studies, in a press release from CU.

The program made room for 300 multicultural perspective students, 48 ​​spaces for the Lucile B. Buchanan community and 36 for the already established Spectrum community for LGBTQ students.

Students interested in relocating to Hallett Hall can register for the programs when registering for on-campus accommodation. Each community still has availability.

The Right recently had a field day with news of Hallett’s evolving identity, speaking to conservative media who called the space a refuge for the Liberals and “special snowflakes,” an epithet used to suggest that some people are easily offended.

Ann Scarritt, director of the Leadership Residential Academic Program, said critics have a fundamental misconception about campus life at CU.

“There is a term used in higher education: predominantly white institutions, of which CU Boulder is a part,” she said. “The campus, itself, doesn’t recognize that we operate from a very, very specific cultural norm, which is this white dominant middle-class culture, and if you don’t fit that, you are not at home.

“We don’t deal with these issues very well, so at least we can have some kind of community where there is some kind of critical mass. At least there is a space where you don’t have to explain yourself. And these diverse students will be on a predominantly white campus 100% of the time, so it’s not like they’re out of touch with reality.

Scarritt was the director of the Ethnic Living and Learning Community, which was a multicultural living space that was abruptly abandoned by CU last year. While she was happy that there was space for students interested in finding a multicultural community, she was saddened that her former program’s mission of incorporating complementary multicultural college courses at the dorm was not transferred to Hallett Hall. .

“I’m worried, is that going to be enough to be something sturdy?” ” she said. “It’s difficult if it’s just about activities.”

Ryan Huff, campus spokesperson, said there are a variety of different vibrant communities on campus to appeal to the interests of students. About 25 special interest accommodations exist among the 26 dormitories on campus, ranging from dining halls to engineering students, those interested in sustainability, open-minded people, and business students.

“Ultimately, regardless of race or academic interests, our students choose the lifestyle that works best for them,” Huff said in an email. “Many, many other universities have vibrant communities geared towards multicultural perspectives or particular backgrounds. So we’re not doing something that is radically out of the norm. We happen to have recently received media coverage about this. “

Bradley said she didn’t know what a “snowflake” is because she’s new to CU from California, but she knows that any negative connotations he describes are dead wrong.

“It is simply incorrect,” she said. “We try to create an open dialogue, to highlight and encourage this dialogue to continue throughout the campus. We don’t act as if our different cultures don’t exist. I think this will lead to many outcomes and opportunities for us to come together as an UC community. “

Elizabeth Hernandez: 303-473-1106, [email protected],


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