The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 20th

Minority Programs at Colleges Cause Segregation, Report Says

But college officials -- including representatives from UNC -- say such programs are essential to help students adjust to the college environment.

The NYCRC, an organization devoted to racial diversity, examined Web sites and brochures of more than 30 public and private U.S. institutions and concluded that they pursue segregationist agendas through programs targeting minorities.

"(University) policies and funding go to support a new form of ethnic and racial segregation in higher education," the report stated.

The report shows that special programs and orientation services for minorities foster stereotypes that the groups are educationally disadvantaged.

Theme housing that separates students on the basis of ethnicity or race also limits students' ability to interact with people different from them, the study states.

Such residential programs are in place at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where housing for black students is called Chocolate City after a song by musical group Parliament. The primary focus of the program is to promote black culture, according to MIT's Web site.

"In a not-so-subtle way, colleges tell students of color they as minority students need special help in a competitive environment," states the report.

Programs aimed at minorities send a paternalistic or even racist message, said NYCRC Executive Director Michael Meyers. "They suggest minorities are inferior and need special treatment."

The report also points to Boston College's Office of African-, Hispanic-, Asian- and Native-American Students as a program that alienates some students in an attempt to help minorities.

But AHANA Director Donald Brown said the office does not segregate, adding that there is a need for a support system for AHANA students.

"To be black or Latino, for example, students will feel alienated or isolated and might need someone to talk to," he said. "There are some students that need AHANA as an option in order to be successful. Some students are not prepared."

At UNC, minority students have a variety of options for assistance, such as the Office of Minority Affairs and the Black Student Movement.

Such organizations are important for the success of minority students, said BSM Secretary Erin Davis.

"In a university such as this one it is important for the minority students to assimilate themselves," she said. "I do not see (the BSM) as segregating because it is open to all people. It is a place where you can meet people of the same background."

Davis stressed that organizations such as the BSM help students find a place on campus. "The experience here will be different as a minority than the experience of a majority," she said. "Organizations let people know help is available to you if you need it."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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