Constitutional Law, Education

CU Boulder pursuing diversity through segregation

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU) is known for being an ardent leftist institution, with a great level of the enthusiasm for buzzwords such as “diversity” and “equality”.  But CU’s actual practice seems to be that diversity is best achieved through segregation.

This Fall CU transformed Hallett Hall from a traditional dormitory to a “Social Justice Living Environment”.  It includes what the University calls “Living Learning Communities” (LLC’s) complete with peer mentorship programs.  Two new LLC’s will be joining an established LLC known as SPECTRUM which supports “LGBTQIA identified students”.  The two new additional LLC’s are called the Lucille B. Buchanan, for students who identify as black, and the “Multiculturalism LLC”, which supports students interested in “social justice, diversity, and identity development”.

Each LLC has a list of program details that a participating student gets to experience during their time.  Each LLC has its own separate wing of the building that only students of that particular LLC may live in.  The separate wing that houses SPECTRUM students has special resident advisor, peer mentors, and is furnished with gender neutral bathrooms.  The Lucille B. Buchanan LLC also has its own wing and special resident advisor.

In other words, CU is encouraging segregation based on race, sexual orientation and other elements of identity politics.

This is a flagrant violation of the Colorado Constitution.  According to the Constitution’s Article IX, section 8, which governs all public schools in the state: “nor shall any distinction or classification of pupils be made on account of race or color.”  Student housing that is available only to students of a certain race is plainly illegal in Colorado.

CU is following the doctrine of “separate but equal,” which flows from the infamous Supreme Court Case Plessey v. Ferguson.  Supposedly, segregation is the best way to achieve its goal of “[striving] to build supportive, educational spaces that provide students with an enriched living and learning experience”. The Dean of Students, Akirah Bardley, said, “we hope to foster a community of diversity and communication not only in Hallett but all across campus.”

It will be interesting to see how diversity and communication is fostered though willful and self imposed segregation.

According to the Boulder Daily Camera, Hallett Hall’s new learning programs has “made space for 300 multicultural perspective students, 48 spots for the Lucile B. Buchanan community and 36 for the already-established Spectrum community for LGBTQ students.” These 384 students take up a large portion of the roughly 450 students who can live in Hallett Hall. The other 66 spots are reserved for what Hallet Hall calls “traditional students.”  As if non-white or non-heterosexual students were some novelty at CU, when in fact they have been part of CU ever since the university was founded in 1876.  The Hallett Hall website does not provide any info on what a “traditional student” is nor does it provide an LLC or peer mentorship program for them.

There is no reason to believe that CU is going to stop its segregation program.  Expect that more and more of CU’s very limited dormitory space will be reserved only for students of certain colors, orientations, or ideologies.

The racial segregation at CU has its roots in Jim Crow.  The ideological segregation owes a debt to the communal apartments of the former Soviet Union.  There, the government took away any sense of privacy in order to prevent any private meetings that could lead to political dissension and critiques.  CU is apparently willing to sacrifice the students’ opportunities to have their thinking challenged and perspectives expanded in order to preserve and teach certain political doctrines.

By cloistering students in LLCs, the university reduces the possibility that students might be exposed to contrary ideas through normal interactions with students of different worldviews.  CU appears to be trying to impose certain ideologies in the dormitories as well as the classroom.

The University is preaching doublespeak when it talks about “equality” and “diversity.”  To the contrary, the University is cultivating ideological uniformity—the opposite of a genuine institution of higher education.

Peter Appenzeller is a recent graduate of CU boulder, and a researcher in the Future Leaders Program at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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