Last semester students were called to walk from their commitments and meet on the South Lawn to listen to students of color discuss their experiences with race on campus. The students also read a list of demands from the student body that could help ease racial issues on campus.
This Blackout SLC event, sparked by the events at Mizzou last November, was part of a nationwide movement amongst schools across the country to look inwardly at the racial issues on their own campuses.
Members of the SLC administration attended the event, and are now working with the students to meet the demands stated. There were a total of 11 demands. Some of these demands include that the College create a strategic 5-year plan that will increase retention rates for people of color, and that the college establishes a new housing arrangement which would be designed specifically to act as a source of healing for students of color on campus.
A housing program based off of this demand was established and is called the Social Justice Co-Op, or social justice themed cooperative housing. It’s part a 2-year pilot program that establishes a residential community with a particular topic, interest, and so on. Students involved in this specific co-op housing must agree to fully participate in this learning environment. Some requirements include participation with the surrounding campus community throughout the semester such as writing newspaper articles, presenting lectures, and so on. The housing locations selected are Andrews Court 6 and 7.
Once applicants are selected by a panel consisting of students, faculty, and/or staff, a lottery mirroring the process of the general housing lottery will take place. Two to four spaces will be reserved for first year applicants. Each Co-Op will have 1-2 student coordinators who develop an outreach and management plan.
On this new housing program, Wendy Eklund, Assistant Director of Residence Life, said, “I think it’s phenomenal. Having communities on campus where students can come together for a particular purpose really helps strengthen the bond between students on campus and it also helps with our retention. One of the things that we’ve found is when students have a space that they really connect with they’re happier, they’re more connected with the college and they stay here, so we’re looking to incorporate that a lot more into housing and this is one of the ways we’re hoping to do so.”
Applications are due on February 26th to Student Affairs and interviews will be conducted from February 29th to March 8th. More information regarding the Co-Op housing can be found on MySLC.
Joseph McFarland '16