What is Black Affinity?
The Black Affinity Housing program, located in Alma Clark Glass Hall, is named after the first Black student to attend Western Washington University (WWU) in 1906. The program centers the identity of Black students through the celebration and affirmation of the Black student experience at WWU, providing a shared space for connection. Western students residing and participating in Black Affinity Housing help foster a warm and vibrant community supporting inclusive civic responsibility, personal wellness, and career preparedness.
Black Affinity Housing residents, representing all diverse identities, pride themselves on fostering a sense of belonging for all residents by creating a safe environment for open, honest, and sometimes challenging dialogue. Regular programmatic events and interactions allow students to deepen knowledge and understanding of themselves, peers, and the world. Any student interested in Black Affinity Housing and committed to the goals of the program is encouraged to mark their interest on the housing application.
Interested in Black Affinity Housing?
During the Housing application process please select Black Affinity under Interested Community. Any student committed to the purpose and goals of Black Affinity, regardless of identity, is welcome to submit an interest in Black Affinity.
What is Affinity Housing?
Affinity-based housing is an institutional structure designed to assist members of historically marginalized identities in supporting each other. It helps to create an added level of psychological comfort and safety, such as an added sense of belonging and proximity to others who share that desire. Studies show an increase in persistence from members in these communities.
Origin of WWU Black Affinity Housing
In response to student feedback and requests for more identity centered spaces to support and advocate for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students on Western’s campus, Black Affinity Housing was specifically created. The program began in the Fall of 2021.
Goals of Black Affinity Housing
- Build a caring and connected community among residents.
- Provide deeper opportunities for engaged learning about development of their own multidimensional personal and social identities.
- Connect residents with campus resources across promoting academic success and personal wellness centering the Western Washington University Black student experience.
- Foster an environment focused on wellness to support the emotional, physical, and mental health of students through culturally competent care services and structures.
What to Expect
Residents in Black Affinity Housing are encouraged to participate in periodic community programming and dialogues intended to build community, promote learning, and support wellness centering the Black experience. Staff will organize opportunities for residents to attend Black-centered events and general university programs as a group. Examples of programmatic opportunities include:
- Early Arrival Program: Students living in Black Affinity Housing have the opportunity to move-in early and attend programs and events to connect with other students, faculty, staff and members of the Bellingham community.
- Dialogue with members of the Bellingham community focused on the Black student experience on campus and in the city of Bellingham
- Trip to Lakewood
- Tour of the Multicultural Center at WWU
- The Associated Students Info Fair with the Black Affinity Housing floor
- Dialogues hosted by the Inclusion Assistants
- I am Poetry event and open mic night
- Connections with Black identified staff and faculty on campus through the Black Staff and Faculty Mixer and community meals
ESS Black Affinity Webinar - Friday, April 9, 2021
Housing staff present information on Black Affinity Housing
Frequently Asked Questions
No. WWU does not discriminate on the basis of race. No student is required to join the Black Affinity Housing community, and no student is excluded from joining it. The community welcomes all residents who are interested in exploring and celebrating the diversity of Black and African American people and culture, with historical and contemporary contexts.
Black Affinity Housing is located in Alma Clark Glass Hall. Alma Clark Glass Hall opened in Fall 2021 and is named after the first Black student to attend Western.
Glass Hall is named after Alma Clark Glass, the first Black student to attend Western. As the building was constructed, Housing had the rare opportunity to gather feedback on design, artwork, signage, and furniture derived from feedback of the Black Affinity Housing advisory board.
In the design of the building, Mahlum Architects of Seattle facilitated several student feedback sessions. Within multiple student group sessions, Housing and Mahlum hosted work groups facilitated by Kim Harris a Western alum, bias trainer and community consultant to gather student input around safety, fabrics, textures, and the structure of the new building, specifically considering equity and inclusion as core values of the project.
The building’s accessibility, proximity to dining and campus resources, make it one of the most desirable living communities on campus. With the ability to expand the program and lots of community development spaces it was decided that Glass hall would meet all the goals of Black Affinity housing.
University Residences consulted multiple universities around the nation during the discovery phase of this program to learn more about their affinity-based housing, challenges, and how to grow and support the program.
Housing administered presentations and feedback sessions to student leaders such as RHA and the Associated Students, rooted in the research conducted during the discovery phase. University Residences currently meets with a Black Affinity advisory group regularly which includes students from a variety of student leadership areas including but not limited to:
- Black Student organization
- Development specialists for the Black coalition
- Residence Hall Association
- Associated Students
There are approximately 30 students living in Black Affinity Housing. Housing determines assignments based on the number of applications of students requesting to live in Black Affinity Housing.
- Black Student Coalition
- Ethnic Student Center Clubs
- Black Student Union
- African Caribbean Club
- Mixed Identity Student Organization
- Queer Trans People of Color
- Black and Brown Male Success Collective
- Black LGBTQ+ Thriving Collective
- Black Revolutionary Womxn Group
- National Society of Black Engineers
University Residences works in partnership with the Disability Access Center (DAC). Students requesting accommodation must complete both a Housing application and a DAC Needs Assessment. For details and timeline visit Housing's Disability Accommodation.
We welcome your questions about Black Affinity Housing. Contact email@example.com for more information.