There's a "fine line between safe space[s] and segregation," writes the Atlantic's Emily Deruy.
And she's right, as demonstrated by recent backlash aimed at universities that have suggested or instituted policies that would separate minority students from white students. But Deruy's article points out just how nuanced this issue is, and how difficult it is to create a college experience that is inclusive and supportive yet still requires students to interact with those who are different in order to make them more well-rounded.
There's also the question of whether a college should be focusing on any of this rather than devoting time and resources to, you know, education.
Still, Deruy's article mentions the difficulties colleges are facing. When Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois suggested introducing courses designed specifically for black students, they had to walk it back after a backlash. The problem was, in part, that even though the school had also offered courses specifically for women, veterans and Hispanics in the past, it wasn't inclusive enough. Where were the courses for Native Americans? Where were the LGBT courses? The Asian courses? The courses geared to every individual snowflake's unique upbringing?
The other problem with the courses was that they were seen as suggesting all black students require the same thing in order to succeed, or that all black students came from the same backgrounds and had the same experiences.
On the other side, the school believed the courses would help these specific groups succeed.
"We find that these particular courses with these particular groups with our mentoring and peer support help them to be more successful than they would be if they did not have this particular experience," Margaret Lehner, the school's vice president for institutional advancement, said at the time to Inside Higher Ed.
This really illustrates the problem with these kinds of offerings. Some students may benefit from a lot of the advice and direction offered in the courses, but would at the same time be hurt in other ways — by not also learning with people from different backgrounds and experiences.
It's a tricky situation, because not every student learns the same or needs the same advice. But colleges also can't close students off from one another, like when the University of Connecticut announced a dorm just for black men. There would be some benefits to those students, but again, they'd be harmed by further being "othered" from their peers. And why couldn't those students find each other and create their own friend group? Why would the college need to facilitate that?
I guess that's the question I have in all this — why are colleges getting more and more involved in the personal lives of students? Beyond all these questions, Deruy's article is an interesting read.
Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.