EL SERENO (CBSLA.com) — Cal State Los Angeles has come under scrutiny for offering segregated housing for black students.
Under the new program called Halisi Scholars, the campus set aside about 20 spots in its 192-unit dorm complex for black students and anyone who shares similar concerns.
Communications major Aaron Rodgers is a participant. He insisted that everyone is welcome.
"We don't want to come off as we are separating ourselves," Rodgers said. "If you want to live in the black dorms, you shouldn't have that fixed mindset ... "Oh, I just want to live the black dorms because I'm black.' In this whole building, there are other races," Rodgers explained.
Some people on social media are blasting the program and calling it self-segregation.
Halisi was created after the university's Black Student Union issued a list of demands in response to its claims of racial discrimination on campus.
In a letter addressed to university President William Covino, the union wrote: "Black students at Cal State LA have been, and still are, consistently made the targets of racist attacks by fellow students, faculty and administration."
A Cal State L.A. spokesperson, who declined to go on camera, insisted that the program is open to all students.
Jonathan Thomas is also a participant. "Right outside the hall, there's people of every ethnicities around. We're all integrated. We all hang out together," he said.
Asked if he was worried about the perception of segregation. Thomas said: "At the end of the day, they need to be here in order to see that it's really not."
Several students, who spoke to CBS2/KCAL9's Tom Wait off camera, shared concerns about separating by race. But most seem to agree Halisi Scholars poses no real threat to campus life.
"People here, they come from so many places. So, when you see someone from your own race, you can learn from them, too. So, I don't think that's a problem at all," Karina Orta said.
Cal State L.A. also pointed out that other universities across the state have similar programs.
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