Jim Crow Returns to College Campuses

Segregation-In, Free Speech-Out

Black college students all over the United States have called for segregation and “safe spaces” from white students. In a recent push by black student organizations, campuses are being issued hundreds of demands, some of which, ironically, are reminiscent of the Jim Crow Era.

According to a news publication, The College Fix, last week, on Tuesday, approximately 150 students at the University of California, Santa Cruz, occupied a school administration building. The students belong to an organization know as the Afrikan/Black Student Alliance group (ABSA).  

To promote their list of demands they staged the sit-in protest that began around 1:00 p.m., chaining the front door and barring other entrances.  After three days of occupation, the University of California, Santa Cruz administrators agreed to meet the initial demands which include 4-year guaranteed housing in “Blacks- only” Rosa Parks building.

But Santa Cruz is only the most recent example of this type of requirement of segregate.  A larger organization, know as the “Black Liberation Collective”, has compiled a list of black student demands from colleges and universities across the U.S.  Many of the colleges on this list have been a focus of the media over the last two years, and some of their demands are also Jim Crow-like.

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Another demand reported by The College Fix shows segregation at UCLA, where the Afrikan Student Union is requiring and “Afrikan Diaspora floor” and an “Afro-House”.  The demands claim, “Black students lack spaces where they feel safe and comfortable.”  It also claims, “The floor should be branded as a safe space for all Black students.”

Other colleges and Universities that require separate “safe spaces” for “people of color” include, but are not limited to, UC Berkeley, NYU,  University of Michigan, and, Oberlin University.  

While many of the lists of demands require segregated areas for black students, many of these “educational institutes” have already, and/or are currently, hosting “black only” events.  California State University at Fresno hosted a three-day “social justice and inclusion” retreat for blacks only at the first of the fall semester of 2016.

Scripps and Pomona colleges in California have already hosted several events of this nature and Harvard University will be holding a “blacks only” graduation ceremony on May 23, 2017.

While college and university administrators usually tout their institutions as “forward-thinking” in their promotion of diversity, it would seem that certain elements of college life are actually moving backward in time.  

This outright contradiction was actually documented by the Michigan Review, an independent student newspaper at the University of Michigan. The Michigan Review reported on the sit-in that took place at the university in early February this year, with one of the demands requiring the university create a space “solely dedicated to community organizing and social justice work specifically for people of color”.

The student newspaper, in its story noted that the protesting organization, Students 4 Justice, “…criticizes the University for failing to create ‘an environment engaged in diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ is calling upon the University to undermine these ideals by facilitating a sort of de facto segregation?

Professor James Huffman, dean emeritus at Lewis and Clarke Law School in Oregon is a critic of the segregations. He wrote an article for the Hoover Institution in December of 2015 shortly after a series of racially charged protests at the University of Missouri.  In it he blames the institutions for dividing the students in order to promote “inclusion” and “multiculturalism”.

He also pointed out, using the University of Missouri as an example, that black students are often invited to begin a week earlier than the white students in order to supposedly bond with other black students and help them begin the college life.  They are offered a wide array of benefits, groups and initiatives that are specific to black students.

“Whatever privilege students may have before they arrive at college, the reality of American higher education today is that students of color have been privileged by their institutions in ways that invite segregation and different treatment…”Huffman wrote.  

Huffman also stated in his article that regardless of the reasons the schools use to justify the separate treatment, there should be no surprise that students of color often self-segregate and are seen as different by their fellow students.

Active and forced segregation necessarily must violate freedom as was obvious during the Jim Crow era.  In particular the Jim Crow laws violated the First Amendment as free speech was hampered during this time.

More campuses subscribe to the ever-ambiguous “institutional racism” or “micro-aggression” ideologies, and as a result, more restrictions are placed on free speech since virtually any verbiage, action, or activity can be presumed as racism.  Many of these academic institutions have required speech codes already in place.

But demands by some of the aforementioned “people of color” organizations are focusing on getting even tougher even to the point of eradicating free speech and expression completely.  

On February 17, 2016, a report by Foundation for Individual Rights in Education(FIRE) stated, “Nearly half of America’s top colleges maintain speech codes that blatantly violate First Amendment Standards.”

Students on some campuses have gone as far as to demand outright abolishment of free speech altogether.  Last month, according to The Claremont Independent, a student newspaper for Pomona College, three self-identified Black students wrote a letter to the president of that college castigating him for supporting free speech.

The letter went so far as to link free speech to white supremacy and the oppression of blacks.  To show further disdain for the First Amendment, the letter also demanded that the student president “take action” against conservative journalists at the Claremont Independent.

On November 6, 2015, FIRE reported on another example where free-speech was hampered in the name of “inclusion” at Yale University’s Silliman College. The associate master, Erika Christakis, responded to an October 30th email by the college’s Intercultural Affairs Council, requesting that students be thoughtful in regards to their costumes during the school’s Halloween events.  

Her thorough response argued that it was not her or anyone else’s place to decide what students should wear for Halloween.  She defended her position by saying, “Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.”

Students responded to her and her husband, Nicholas Christakis, master of Silliman College, by accusing them of failing to create a “safe-space” for the students on campus. Some students went as far as demanding that the two resign.

In video footage of a confrontation between Nicholas Christakis and some disgruntled students on November 5th of that year, he attempted to explain and defend his position on free speech, but the students were unwilling to listen with some screaming obscenities at him and telling him to “shut up”.

Even though the Christakis had the support of the president of Yale University, both the husband and wife administrators announced their resignations via Twitter post on May 25, 2016.

Even with so much perceived racial tension being sensationalized by the media, there is still little in mainstream society that suggests or encourages racial segregation.  However, the old idea of Jim Crow seems to have returned in what ironically should have been the least likely places.

College and University campuses, for many years, were known for fostering an environment for which all students could express themselves free and openly.  But, as these institutions have made focusing on race a priority, they have also sacrificed the desire for many to excel academically. Thus, the quest for the “inclusion” has created a student body that is segregated now more than ever.  

“People of color” as they are referred to, receive many options not available to white students.  Yet white students see their own disadvantage while facing a narrative that holds that they are “privileged” with advantages over everyone else. The language is controlled and therefore allows for nothing to be said about it.  And the divide grows wider.


The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com

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