*Students at Claremont Colleges (of which Pitzer is one) caused an uproar when they advertised an opening in their off-campus home that listed “POC” (or “person of color”) as the primary requirement to apply.
The ad appeared on Facebook, and the students are also resident advisors at the school. Although they received swift backlash over the ad — with many pointing out that it’s discriminatory — the RAs noted that segregated housing “protected” students of color by creating a “safe space” for members of their community.
Karé Ureña, a junior at Pitzer College, asked fellow students thinking about moving in with her for the upcoming school year to honor one request: No White roommates.
“POC only,” she wrote in her Facebook post, adding “I don’t want to live with any White folks.”
The campus is composed of 48% white undergraduates and only 5% Black, and administrators aren’t sure if it’s OK for students to advertise for non-white roommates.
One student of color defended the non-white policy to Claremont’s student newspaper, saying that it meant she “didn’t have to tiptoe around fragile white feelings in a space where we just want to relax and be comfortable.”
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Another told the Claremont Independent that “white people always mad when they don’t feel included but at the end of the day y’all are damaging asf [as f—] and if a POC feels they need to protect themselves from that toxic environment THEY CAN! Quick to try to jump on a POC but you won’t call your friends out when they’re being racist asf.”
Naturally, there are many who simply can’t comprehend why black folks don’t want whiteness to invade all aspects of their lives.
“POC only? Maybe I’m missing something or misunderstanding your post, but how is that not a racist thing to say?” Pitzer student Dalia Zada reportedly wrote.
The college’s first Black president, Melvin Oliver, said the non-white ad was “inconsistent with our mission and values.”
“This is but another example to us that social media is not an effective platform to engage in complex dialog on seemingly intractable critical issues that have varied histories and contested understandings,” Oliver wrote to the campus community. “They create more heat than light and invite extreme viewpoints that intentionally obfuscate the nuanced context that surrounds these issues.”
Ureña, who is Black, and her roommate, Pomona College student Sajo Jefferson, defended their request in a statement to The Washington Post, explaining how it feels to be a minority on the campus.
“When and if you understand this context, it becomes clear that students of color seeking a living space that is all-POC is not only reasonable, but can be necessary,” the statement said. “We live in a world where the living circumstances of POC are grounded in racist social structures that we cannot opt out of. These conditions threaten the minds, bodies and souls of people of color both within and without the realms of higher education. We are fighting to exist.”
According to Rolling Out, Ureña and her friends have found their roommate, and she has deleted the ad.