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Unformatted text preview: Christopher DeLetto and Matthew Rasinski
Rhetoric 105, Spring 2010
Segregation in Housing at the University of Illinois
The Dean of the Business School, Larry DeBrock, boasted in his speech during our
vocational introduction that the University of Illinois prides itself as being one of the most
diverse campuses in the Big Ten1. However, when walking around campus, resident halls
especially, we began to question why the University of Illinois’ housing mission to, “enrich the
academic development and enhance the integration of our diverse student body into the campus
community through our programs, personnel, services, and facilities2” seemed anything but
evident. This led us to our question: is University Housing intentionally segregated by race due
to policies and procedures which are currently in place here at the University of Illinois? As
students at the University of Illinois, we look to the University to be a beacon of knowledge
towards cultural diversity and campus unity.
Prior to the 1960s, segregated campus housing was not abnormal by any means. Students
applying for housing, campus wide, were not always judged according to their merit, but rather
by their race or religion. It was not until the Board of Trustees adopted a policy in 1962, which
stated: “From and after September 1, 1965, single undergraduate students will not be permitted
to reside in commercially operated rooming houses in which occupants are selected on
the basis of race, creed, or national origin3.”
1 Campus Resources Places that Make a Difference
Brady, Claire, Mark Goldman, and Herb Jones
Dean of Students
2 This excerpt was directly taken from the Board of Trustees meeting minutes and given to the
student body for consecutive years as a reminder of a newly enacted University policy. From
this, it is evident that the University identified racial segregation as a major issue on campus.
This was the first time the Board of Trustees took direct action to end racial segregation in
campus housing. As a matter of fact, beginning in 1946, the University began addressing a series
of policy changes to eliminate racial segregation in housing: 1. 1946 – The Board of Trustees reaffirmed its position “to continue a policy of long
standing which will favor and strengthen those attitudes and social philosophies
which are necessary to create a community atmosphere in which race, prejudices can
2. 1955 – The Director of housing writes a letter to the operators of rooming houses that
the University serves all students with regard to race, religion, or nationality and
urged operators to “follow the same policy in assigning your [their] facilities.” Also
the president of the University made the statement that the University “deplores any
discrimination on the part of operators and will encourage land lords and businesses
to follow University standards and practices.”
3. 1958 – The University issued a Code of Fair Educational Practice guaranteeing the
traditional freedom from discrimination in all areas of the University. This included
pledges going to rooming housing operators asking them to agree not to discriminate
as to “race, color, religious preference, or national origin.” 4. 1960 – A revision of the Code of Fair Educational Practices was made in which any
newly established commercial rooming housing would not receive University
approval unless the owners agreed not to discriminate.
5. 1962 – President recommended to the Board of Trustees that September 1, 1965, be
established as the date by which all owners or operators of commercially operated
rooming houses would be expected to indicate that their facilities are available to all
students without regard to race, creed, or national origin.
6. 1963 – February 12, the provost authorized the Director of Housing to exclude from
the list of non-approved housing units maintained by the Housing Division, those
units whose operators had not filed a pledge of non-discrimination in the selection of
tenants. This policy was put into effect March 15.4 In an attempt to further prevent racial segregation and to enforce these policy changes, the
University mandated landlords to sign contracts5 that prohibited the use of “race, color, religious
preferences, or national origin” to determine if a student was deemed fit to live in a given
residence. This policy was intended to help pave the road for generations to come so that future
students would live in a diverse and united community.
In search of a solution to our question, whether University Housing is racially segregated
due to University policies and procedures currently in place, we ventured to the University
Archives. Chris Prom, the assistant University Archivist6, helped pull numerous books, boxes,
and scrapbooks. In doing so, he brought to our attention that even if the University chose to
racially segregate housing, it would be very difficult to find any written proof in the archives,
4 Dean of Students
About the University of Illinois Archives | U. Illinois Archives
5 due to the fact that they maintain being a diversified student body, which provides equal
opportunities and freedoms for all students. After the 1965 housing resolution, the University did
everything it could to prevent racial segregation while at the same time not imposing on
individual freedoms of choice. Therefore, we realized that racial segregation in University
Housing was beyond the University’s control and now up to the student’s free will to comingle.
In turn, we recognized that our greatest asset in uncovering the possibility of racial segregation in
University Housing would be firsthand accounts by students.
Joshua Myers and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar wrote a research paper7 in 2006, which
culturally mapped the dormitories. They brought two overarching ideas to the table which
addressed the fact that the students, and University alike, are at fault in racially segregating
University Housing. The first argument was that too many students requested to live with their
friends of similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This posed a problem because this prevented
University Housing from being truly diversified. Then, Meyers and Herrera-Urizar attempted to
show that the University averted acting upon signs of an increase in segregation in University
Housing due to pre-determined roommates. Myers and Herrera-Urizar attempted to prove this by
getting hold of publicly funded statistics from University Housing, which reside in Clark Hall.
However, after repeated strenuous requests, Administrator, Spencer D. Cole, who oversaw
assignments for the housing department, failed to provide vital information pertaining to the
demographic distribution of students in University Housing. With this lack of transparency,
Myers and Herrera-Urizar took alternative measures in determining if University Housing leaves
room for racial segregation.
Students attend the University of Illinois to specialize in a specific skill set, but also to
become well-rounded individuals: ones who partake as active members of society and whom
Meyers, Joshua, and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar
uphold the ideals taught to them at this University. Yet, fostering segregation would contradict
those ideals. Segregation condones the creation of a false social hierarchy that has no relevance
in this University, and definitely no place in society. The importance of this issue resides in the
fact that segregation without choice must be prevented. Then why, from a student’s perspective8,
is it that a majority of African American, Latino, and Asian students all live in PAR/FAR, but
Bromley Hall and Six Pack are jammed with mostly Caucasian students? Is it the University’s
doing? According to interviews conducted by Joshua Myers and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar,
10/10 students from FAR, 9/10 students from PAR, and 17/20 students from Six Pack agreed
with question #6, which stated, “Some say that FAR/PAR has the largest concentration of
minorities and international students, whereas the ‘Six Pack’ is predominantly white9.” The four
students who did not agree with this statement were those who had no previous exposure to the
opposing dormitories. Therefore, every student who had prior knowledge of the cultural make up
of each dormitory agreed with the apparent racial segregation. These student’s opinions directly
contradict the University’s Housing mission statement10. It is apparent that this seemingly simple
issue is actually much more complex in reality.
After reviewing and analyzing our data and comparing it to what the historical archives
claim, it is hard for us to believe that racial segregation is fabricated intentionally. Social
behaviors may be to blame for racial segregation to a certain extent, but we also believe
University Housing has influenced this issue. The lack of transparency in the demographic
distribution of University Housing raises further questions about the University and is something
we intend to look into in more detail. As of right now, one thing is for certain: diversity is a
limited commodity here at the University of Illinois. It can be argued that segregation is a natural
8 Interview by Joshua Meyers, and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar
Interview by Joshua Meyers, and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar
Brady, Claire, Mark Goldman, and Herb Jones
9 and recurring phenomenon11. Cultures, religions, and similar ways of life helps bring people
together and in the midst of finding individuals similar to oneself one may notice a division. The
University can enforce rules and regulations against racial segregation, but perhaps it can be
stated that racial segregation is a preference, a way of keeping the minority feeling a little less of
a minority. We, the students, are the biggest stakeholders in this fundamental issue because we
are the ones directly affected by the level of segregated housing here at the University of Illinois.
A limitation to our data is the extent to which housing is segregated, this information is strictly
off-limits to the public even though there have been countless requests to study and analyze the
information. One can also argue whether segregation is an unavoidable phenomenon and
whether there can be a policy that forces the student body to live in a multi-cultural environment
rather than a concentrated one. These are the questions that would need further research and
analysis in order to conclude precisely whether racially segregated housing is in fact an issue
which takes away from the University experience, or whether segregation is an unavoidable
phenomenon which makes the college experience feel a little bit more like home.
11 Jines, Chuck Works Cited
"About the University of Illinois Archives | U. Illinois Archives." University Library at
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
Brady, Claire, Mark Goldman, and Herb Jones. "UNIVERSITY HOUSING-RESIDENTIAL
LIFE." Google. N.p., 10 Dec. 2008. Web. 29 Mar. 2010.
"Campus Resources Places that Make a Difference." Inclusive Illinois Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 16
Contract: University of Illinois Housing Division (see attached form)
Dean of Students. "University Efforst to Eliminate Discrimination in Housing." University of
Illinois Student Letter 2.6 (1965): 1-4. Print.
Interview by Joshua Meyers, and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar. IDEAL. 15 Dec. 2006. Web. 15
Jines, Chuck. "A Look at Forced and Natural Segregation | StreetWisePundit." Chicago: Politics
Portal Blog - Conservative Renaissance. N.p., 27 Aug. 2009. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
Meyers, Joshua, and Juan Pablo Herrera-Urizar. Cultural Mapping of Dorms. IDEALS. 15 Dec.
2006. Web. 16 Mar. 2010.
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2011 for the course ECON 103 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '08 term at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign.
- Spring '08