The numbers at the bottom of this page reveal no great conspiracy. They tell us what so many have spoken of in whispers and hushed tones — that we are a campus divided, segregated by our prejudices and by the failure of the very administration that championed diversity to create true integration.

Jess Cox

The University is clearly in a difficult position. Until a critical mass of underrepresented minority students is achieved, equally distributing students of color throughout the residence halls would isolate the individual and create a situation in which he would constantly have to prove himself to his peers. But while the University should keep this in mind, creating clusters of safe places for minority students fails to address the underlying truth — It is not North Campus, or the learning communities, but the entire University that should be a safe place for minorities. There should be no residence hall, no fraternity or sorority house, no classroom that is not a safe place for a student of color at the University.

By focusing on ways to shield students of color from the white majority, the University has implicitly acknowledged the continued existence of racism on campus. By centering discussions of diversity around students of color, the University ignores the fact that race is not a minority issue, but a University issue.

If there is ever to be racial integration on this campus, the University must commit itself to attacking the ugly roots of segregation — racism and intolerance against students of color. The factors that drive minority students to the margins and create separate communities must be examined, understood and ultimately eradicated.

These numbers are important because they prove to us what can be so difficult to see — that racism affects whites just as much as it affects people of color. White students are largely being denied the opportunity to interact with people of different races and cultures. It is the University’s responsibility to help white students understand that racism is the problem of every single student on this campus. It must encourage white students to take an active role in creating a community that is a safe place for students of color.

None of this, however, suggests the student body is beyond reproach. Instead of blaming campus segregation on students of color who sit together in the dining hall, students would do well to question the role of the University in maintaining the walls society has erected. If they are not already, they should become aware of the circumstances that can cause students of color to retreat into racial comfort zones. Taking a trip to an all-black fraternity house, for example, might shed some light on what minority students experience on a daily basis at the University.

Racism has robbed us all blind. Until we acknowledge this fact, there can be no progress, and certainly no integration. As students at one of the best public schools in the country, we have an obligation to question the status quo. It is within our power to create a future where segregation is not equated with normalcy. We must demand from the University what is rightfully ours — the opportunity to live together, to grow together and to learn from each other in the school we all call home.

Gay is an RC freshman and a member of the Daily’s editorial board.

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