Posted on August 20, 2022

Berkeley Co-Op Bans White People From Common Areas

Joseph Michalitsianos, Daily Mail, August 19, 2022

An off-campus co-op for students at the University of California, Berkeley named the ‘Person of Color Theme House’ has banned white guests from entering common areas of the house.

A list of house rules revealed that occupants were told ‘many POC moved here to be able to avoid white violence and presence, so respect their decision of avoidance if you bring white guests.’

While the student house aims to have an ‘inclusive’ environment, the rules specifically state ‘white guests are not allowed in common spaces,’ according to the list, which was posted on Reddit.

The accommodation, which is located close to Berkeley’s campus, is a five-story, 30-room home that can house up to 56 students. The house is owned by a private landlord.

But the ‘rules’ which were leaked on social media have caused outrage – with many people slamming the restrictions as ‘racist’ as others came forward and revealed their experience living in the co-op.

One mixed-race Reddit user, who claimed to have lived at the house, said that their ‘presence as a light skinned person was not received well.’

They said house members called them slurs and they were even ‘not allowed to let my dad enter the house because he’s white.’

The house was set up as part of the Berkeley Student Cooperative, a program designed to bring affordable housing to students in California’s Bay-area, and ‘aims to provide housing to low-income, first generation, immigrant and marginalized students of color.’

According to the ‘rules,’ people that live there should ‘avoid bringing parents/family members that express bigotry,’ because ‘Queer, Black, and Indigenous members should not have to avoid common spaces because of homophobic or racist parents/family members.’

Janet Gilmore, Senior Director of Strategic Communications at the University told the house is ‘not campus operated,’ meaning ‘it is not the role of the campus to comment.’

Gilmore also said the University does have it’s own Theme Programs, but they have ‘no such policies like the one alleged in the Reddit image,’ and stated ‘Cal Housing Theme Programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, consistent with UC and campus policy.’

‘As this involves an off-campus non-affiliated landlord, the campus has no ability under the Code of Student Conduct to discipline the landlord.’

Under BSC’s antidiscrimination policy, ‘acts are prohibited if they discriminate against any BSC community members’ on the basis of qualities such as age, gender and sexual orientation.

Stephen Ross, cooperative experience manager for the Berkeley Student Cooperative, told The Fix that the house’s rules are not ‘official policy.’

‘White people can and do live in POC house, but the focus for POC house is providing a safe and supportive living environment for people of color,’ said Ross.

But Ross also said the Person of Color Theme House has it’s ‘own culture and practices,’ and the focus of the house is to provide ‘a safe and supportive living environment for people of color.’

He said house members purposefully work towards ‘not making Whiteness central to the experience for members living in the house,’ because some members have been traumatized by the ‘white violence’ mentioned in the rules.

Ross defines this as being negatively impacted by things such as ‘racist and discriminatory remarks made by former President Trump’ and ‘daily experiences of covert and overt racism.’

He added he hopes the house can provide members with a ‘safe space’ where they can ‘process their experiences and feel supported.’

Houses in the Berkeley Student Cooperative are run by private landlords, meaning the University often feels they don’t need to comment on what they do.

This comes just weeks after public schools and a teachers union in Minnesota agreed that white teachers in the education system would be laid off before those of color.

The deal was struck between Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers union after a two week strike spearheaded by union president Greta Callahan last spring.

It states that instead of teacher layoffs or relocations being decided based on seniority – as is typical – schools can ignore that protocol and dismiss senior staff members if otherwise a teacher of color would be laid off.

Former Republican candidate Kendall Qualls called the deal ‘repugnant’ and characterizing it as ‘unamerican.’

‘It’s just repugnant,’ Qualls, who is black, said.

‘You it you think about the discrimination that we faced in this country back in the 50’s and 60’s, it was wrong then. It’s wrong now regardless of who is the victim it’s wrong. And we shouldn’t stand for it as a country.’

Many have called the deal unconstitutional, and accused it of addressing past racism with more racism.