California university debuts black-focused learning community dorm

California State University has opened a new themed dorm space and it has created controversy among critics.

The Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community, which opened this year, is a living and learning community in that the Los Angeles Times reported aims to bring together students who are interested in issues that concern the black community.

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Critics were quick to say the move sets back the civil rights movement and enforces "black only" segregation.

Conservative outlets were quick to say the learning community was to shield black students from microaggressions, a term that credited to Harvard professor Chester M. Pierce since the 1970s.

The term has since been used somewhat mockingly by conservative outlets on social media, but Columbia University professor Dr. Derald Wing Sue defines microgarressions as "everyday insults, indignities and demeaning messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned white people who are unaware of the hidden messages being sent to them."

But the school said the learning community, not unlike other learning communities in campuses across the country, is open to everyone.

"This is not segregated housing," CSULA spokesman Jonathan Thomas told KNBC. "This housing is open to all students. It focuses on programs that are inclusive and non-discriminatory."

CSULA's housing services website said the housing is "designed to enhance the residential experience for students who are a part of or interested in issues of concern to the black community living on campus by offering the opportunity to connect with faculty and peers, and engage in programs that focus on academic success, cultural awareness, and civic engagement."

The learning community will be within a larger dorm building.

Other colleges and universities also have learning communities.

The University of California, Los Angeles's living and learning community themes on the Afrikan Diaspora, Chican@/Latin@ and Gender, Sexuality, and Society.

The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, has Spanish and French-speaking communities.

And critics' claims may not count for very much: According to Cal State, there is a wait list to get into the dorm community, as well as the school's Gender Neutral Inclusive Housing, which provides a "voluntary environment where students can live in the same room with any other student regardless of sex, biological gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation," according to the housing services website.