Students demand segregated 'Black House' so they can 'feel included'

Students at Rice University are demanding the school open a segregated "Black House."

The students want the space to be "made for black students and black organizations."

Students at Rice University are demanding the school open a segregated “Black House,” that is “specifically made for Black students...”

The demand is just one of several made from both current students and alumni amid international protests and riots centered around the racial history of countless institutions, names, and landmarks.

Recent Rice graduate Gabrielle Falcon started a petition Sunday to remove a statue of the school’s founder, William Marsh Rice, on campus. The petition cited Rice’s history of racism, slave-owning, and requesting that his school only be open to “the white inhabitants of the City of Houston, and State of Texas.”

If the statue were to be removed, it would be the latest victim of the “cancel culture,” ofbuildings, statues, etc. being changed or removed because of a connection with racism. A rise in this type of cancel culture has been sparked by international outrage after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was murdered while in Minneapolis police custody.

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The petition has amassed more than 2,200 signatures. In it, Falcon laments the lack of racial diversity at Rice, saying “even to this day, only 9 percent of Rice’s undergraduate population is Black. The racist wishes of Rice underlie the values and foundation of the university we attend, and persist to this day in its very name.”

Despite her frustration with Rice having a statue, Falcon did not suggest there should be a change in the name of her alma mater. 

This sentiment was also evident in a separate letter, written by a group of black students at Rice. Released on Juneteenth in a tweet, the letter has made headlines for its list of demands for the university administration concerning black students. 

The identity of all but two students who helped compose the letter was intentionally withheld “to protect the anonymity of Black students who may not feel comfortable with their name attached to a stated demand.” The letter states the list of demands “has been in the works for almost a year...”

The letter demands that a non-residential house be built solely for the use of black students and black organizations, functioning as an area for social gatherings. This house, segregated from Rice’s white students, was demanded so that black students can “feel included on campus.”

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The letter also demands that Rice University create a larger black presence on campus among students and counselors. For black students who want to go off-campus for a psychiatrist, the letter requests better financial support for those students. Rice has a counseling center on campus, but offers some financial support for students who need to go off-campus for mental health issues.

The letter further expresses a desire for a campus free of police: “We demand that Rice cut ties with HPD (Houston Police Department) and decrease RUPD (Rice University Police Department) presence on campus with the goal of complete abolition.”

The group justifies its calls for police abolition by citing alleged instances of racism by police. 

“RUPD needs to publicly acknowledge, describe, and sincerely apologize for the numerous racist encounters/incidents they’ve created that are usually only known by the BIPOC students on campus.”

Falcon did not respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Dean_Barker