Students at Western Washington University recently moved back into their dorms to start a new school year. However, things are a bit different on campus this fall. The public university has opened up an affinity housing program that allows 40 Black students and faculty members to live together on the fourth floor of Alma Clark Glass Hall. Through this program, students and faculty members "will explore and celebrate the diversity of Black and African American people and culture, with historical and contemporary context."
"All Western students residing in the program help foster a warm and vibrant community supporting social, personal and academic success," the university's website states.
"Black Affinity Housing residents, representing all diverse identities, pride themselves on fostering a sense of belonging for all residents by creating a safe environment for open, honest, and sometimes challenging dialogue."
Despite criticism from a few online detractors, Western Washington University's affinity housing program launched with little pushback. In fact, the university's new housing program is fairly normal. Schools like Stanford University, Yale University, Georgetown University and several other prestigious institutions have built similar programs. Most recently, American University launched an affinity housing program for Black students in Washington, D.C.
"Black Affinity Housing provides an intentional residential community dedicated to celebrating, exploring, and affirming Black student experiences at American University and beyond. The live-in experience provides an educational foundation that encourages dialogue and community building that is mindful of the diverse social, cultural, and academic needs of Black students," American University stated.
"Black Affinity Housing will support a stronger sense of community identity and belonging for participating students."
Much like Western Washington University, American University opened up their affinity housing program this fall and continues to operate the program for years to come.