NYU: Implement Black Student Housing

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The Ask:

We, members of the Black student body, demand that NYU implement Black student housing on campus in the vein of themed engagement floors across first-year and upperclassmen residence halls. These floors would serve to celebrate Black culture and build community among Black-identifying students. The conditions to support this proposal include:

  • Floors completely comprised of Black-identifying students with Black Resident Assistants
  • Black Programming and In-Hall Events, curated by the RA and the floor community
  • Required Bias and Diversity Training for ALL residents before entering NYU housing
  • Disciplinary Action for Discriminatory/Racist Behavior within residence halls
  • Creation of a Board of Student Leaders in Residential Life Focused on Tackling Issues of Diversity and Racism within Res Halls

The Why:

The creators of this petition were fortunate enough to be paired together freshman year. Through our personal experience, we recognize the value of living with another Black student and having a safe space where we felt free to express ourselves to the highest degree. Too often in the classroom and in residential life, black students bear the brunt of educating their uninformed peers about racism. This assumed responsibility is exhausting and undoubtedly unfair to NYU’s black community. Black students should not be forced to do the labor of explaining cultural touchstones (like hair rituals) and advocating for their humanity within their own homes. There is not one space on campus entirely dedicated to Black student life. Black Lives Matter cannot be reduced to a slogan sent in university-wide emails. Now is the time for NYU to create tangible change to support its Black students. We are hoping that Black Living communities can spark a new effort towards comprehensive Black inclusion across NYU.

The How:

Like any themed engagement floor, residents would be selected through application. In the tradition of others, these themed engagement floors could partner with the Africana studies department or NYU's Institute of African American Affairs.

Due to gentrification across New York, especially in Manhattan, black students rarely see themselves reflected on spaces close to campus. With the help of Black RAs and a situated budget, these residents would have the opportunity to host cultural events and venture outside our campus center to explore Black museums, Black-owned restaurants, and historic monuments. 

Racial Education and Bias Response Across Res Life:

As one of the smallest racial populations on campus, we demand the option to choose a living community that represents and celebrates US. This is not an exclusionary demand, but rather a necessary accommodation considering the specific challenges Black students face at this university. We demand that NYU embrace this proposal and make space for our voices within Residential Life by building a board of student leaders focused on tackling issues of diversity and racism within residence halls. 

In addition, we want NYU to accept full responsibility on educating all students about anti-black racism through required bias training. In addition, we ask for disciplinary action against discriminatory/racist behavior within residence halls, including residential probation, educational assignments, and restriction of extracurricular privileges.

Statements From Black Students:

"The concept of randomized, diverse room assignments for freshmen is sometimes only beneficial to those with the privilege to 'add POC to their life'. As a black student, it is very isolating to be thrown into a room as 'diversity'. [NYU Res Life] never felt like a space for me or people like me." - Anonymous

"I wanted more Black spaces at NYU but was dissuaded at every turn. Even worse, I felt largely disconnected from the Black community at NYU (one of the downsides of not having a real campus) and regret not having the time to forge those connections. A Black housing option would help remedy that problem for current and future students." - Natalie Holley

"My first year, one of my roommates made a comment to me about fried chicken. When I told my RA, she said that my roommate was from Georgia and probably didn’t know a lot about Black people. The housing staff brushed instances of anti-blackness off to normal roommate disagreements." - Anonymous

"I’ve lived in three different room assignments and was never matched with a Black person the entire time. Two of my assignments were with anti-Black roommates. My first year, I lived with four other Asian students who made comments about affirmative action, told me that my doing my hair in the room made them anxious, and who celebrated with a pie when I declared that I was moving out of the room. When going to RAs or other housing staff, they ignored the racial dynamics occurring." - Anonymous

A Last Word:

Be a university that matches your words with actions. The increase of the black student population is nothing to celebrate if they do not feel embraced once they arrive. Learn from these challenging times. Amplify the voices of the marginalized and show your Black student body that they have your full support moving forward.

Black students, fill out this form to share your experiences on this petition: click here