UConn to establish separate housing for struggling students

8:16 AM College Lawyer Blog 0 Comments

Thursday, 2/4/16

The University of Connecticut has controversial plans to build a learning community for African American students.  Set to open in Fall of 2016, the, ScHOLA²RS House is being created to address the low African American graduating rate at the university. 

ABC News reports that the graduation rate of African American males at UConn is approximately 55 percent, compared to the 81 percent of all male students and 83 percent of undergraduates at the university. 

ScHOLA²RS stands for "Scholastic House of Leaders who are African American Researchers and Scholars."  In their mission statement, UConn writes that the learning community is "designed to support the scholastic efforts of male students who identify as African America/Black through academic and social/emotional support, access to research opportunities, and professional development."  

Learning communities are made up of groups of individuals who share common academic interests. They are a common feature at many universities.  These communities are usually set up by majors, which is why basing a learning community on racial background is causing a commotion.

Many are calling this segregation and recessive, but is it?  To be clear, ScHOLA²RS House is open to any male who is interested in the African American experience.  Furthermore, this program is not occurring in an excluded dorm as many seem think. The House will be amidst other learning communities on UConn's campus. 

Erik Hines, who will be serving as faculty adviser to the House explains, "In predominantly white institutions, some of the experiences that African American males face on campus is a little different than some of the other populations... In some of your courses you can be the only African American male in your class. It could be stressful and that's a huge burden to shoulder."     

What Hines is referring to is the concept of "onlyness."  In regards to this specific situation, it is where African American males on campus find themselves to be the only one of their race involved in their social or academic pursuits.  It is easy to see why this can be discouraging.  

With that being said, UConn is developing the ScHOLA²RS House with its best intentions.  It is not a recessive jab at minority students.  Rather, it is an attempt to boost the graduation rates of African American male students on campus by providing them with the resources they need to succeed.  

Seth Canner
Assistant Editor-In-Chief
Levitt Law Firm, Law Clerk  


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