In its second year, AU's Black affinity housing continues to foster and affirm Black student experiences
The living-learning community is AU's first affinity housing option
This spring concludes American University’s second full year of Black Affinity Housing, a safe space and community for Black students living on campus.
Located in Roper Hall, Black Affinity Housing aims to cultivate a stronger sense of community identity as well as foster dialogue that is mindful of the social, cultural and academic needs of Black students, according to the Department of Housing and Residence Life’s website.
“This academic year, we seek to do everything with intentionality,” said Kendall Tate, the dialogue and diversity programs community director for Housing and Residence Life. “That’s with regard to programming, community building and community engagement.”
According to Tate, Black Affinity Housing residents and their families were invited to an exclusive move-in day, during which all Black Affinity Housing residents could move in on the same day regardless of classification. Students were assisted by Black faculty and staff and afterward invited to a welcome dinner.
Over the course of the academic year, Black Affinity Housing has partnered with the Center for Well-Being and Psychological Services to host events such as a Black self-care workshop and a Black love tabling event, where students discussed healthy love and its portrayal in popular media. They also work with the Well-Being Center to provide affinity-based group therapy sessions for students, according to the Center’s website.
Quin Merriweather, the associate director for student equity, access and retention for the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, said there are a host of benefits that come with living in Black Affinity Housing, especially for Black students at a predominantly white institution.
“[Black Affinity Housing allows] the ability to be authentically yourself,” said Merriweather. “The ability to have a home that you cultivate … and to kind of create a network of care around you.”
Information about Black Affinity Housing, including photos and virtual tours of room amenities, can be found on the Housing and Residence Life website. Students can expect website modifications soon to reflect a new partnership with University College, a one-year living-learning community for first-year students who live on campus and are not involved in another LLC. The partnership will allow students to reside in Black Affinity Housing while also participating in University College, said Tate.
Robin Adams, the director of CDI, said that although there is a possibility of creating housing options for other affinity groups on campus, the organization’s current focus is ensuring the success of its first affinity housing option.
“We’re just almost still very much in the incubator phase when it comes to this initiative,” said Adams. “Our hope in the future is that we will have other affinity housing, but we [want to] make sure that we have the right model.”
This article was edited by Zoe Bell, Jordan Young and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis, Leta Lattin, Luna Jinks and Sarah Clayton.