The UC Berkeley People of Color co-op house, which bans white people from common areas, has a troubled history of discrimination and neglect, according to students.
Although the house was “founded on the pillars of cross-cultural exchange, academic and professional support, and anti-oppression/alliance,” student Manduhai Baatar said it acted contrary to those ideals in a sordid past.
In a 2020 Medium article, which appears to be an attempt to rebrand the house while also addressing its issues, Baatar said the house has been plagued by “white supremacy” and neglectful students, leaving the house “uninhabitable.” and gained a reputation for “name culture” and drug use.
“The House has also failed to uphold its pillar of anti-oppression and allies,” Baatar wrote, “as it has become notorious for its anti-black reputation by maintaining white supremacy through the various forms of oppression.” ignored, maintained by former house members.’
The POC house recently came under fire after a list of its house rules – which specifically forbade white guests from staying in common areas – was posted on Reddit.
UC Berkeley has said the problematic house and its rules are not the school’s business because the house is a private off-campus residence.
The POC house recently came under fire after a list of its house rules, which specifically forbid white guests from being in common areas, was posted on Reddit
A photo posted to Reddit shows the inflammatory rules, including “No white guests allowed in common areas.”
House rules state that white guests are not allowed in common areas
Another rule states that guests must be announced if they are in common areas and if they are white
Baatar described a house designed to promote racial harmony and serve as a safe place for people of color, but instead descended into a jumble of accusations of racially charged aggression.
“Several members have been criticized for being white/white, associating with whites, or allowing white violence in the home,” wrote Baatar , Queer/Transphobia, Anti-Blackness, Classism, and Colorism in Space.’
“Other instances of conflict in the home are the unrecognized privileges accorded to those who benefit from or are closer to whiteness, most exemplified by those with class privilege and white passport privilege.”
UC Berkeley student Manduhai Baatar said the People of Color theme house has a long history of internal discrimination and neglect by its students
Inside UC Berkeley’s POC house, where white guests are not allowed in common areas
Baatar said that instead of the house being a haven for his lofty ideals, many students moved there simply because of the cheap rent. The result was property neglect and conflicts between people who believed in the home’s goals and residents who never cared about them in the first place.
“POC House is known for its call-out culture, where members are often criticized for their actions without pursuing restorative justice or holding people accountable for the harm they cause,” Baatar wrote.
Rather than strengthening the house through its diversity, crossed wires from crossed cultures led to conflict, Baatar claims.
“Conflicts also often arise from the different identities and perspectives that are brought into the house, causing the third and final pillar of the house’s intercultural exchange to fail.
For many reasons there seemed to be no personal or emotional investment in the home or what it represents, with little to no trust in the property manager.’
While the student house aims to create an “inclusive” environment, according to the list posted on Reddit, the rules specifically state that “white guests are not allowed in common areas.”
The lodging, located near the Berkeley campus, is a 5-story, 30-room building that can accommodate up to 56 students. The house belongs to a private landlord.
But the “rules” that have been leaked on social media have sparked outrage – many people have called the restrictions “racist”, while others have come forward and revealed their experiences of life in the co-op.
A mixed-race Reddit user who claimed to have lived in the house said that his “presence as a fair-skinned person was not well received.”
They said household members called them insults and they even couldn’t let their father in the house “because he’s white.”
The home was established as part of the Berkeley Student Cooperative, a program aimed at providing affordable housing for students in California’s expensive Bay Area, and ‘aimed at providing housing for low-income, immigrant and marginalized first-generation students of color.’
According to the “rules,” people living there should “avoid bringing parents/family members who 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 that the House is “not run by the campus” meaning it “is not the role of the campus to comment”.
Gilmore also said the university has its own themed programs, but they have “no such policies as those claimed in the Reddit image,” stating, “Cal Housing themed programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, consistent with UC and campus policies.”
“Because this is an off-campus unaffiliated landlord, under the student code of conduct, the campus has no ability to discipline the landlord.”