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Black, white dorm-mates form friendships

July 8, 2009 at 2:27 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 8 (UPI) -- Pairing blacks and whites as roommates at U.S. universities helps them form interracial friendships, studies have found

Some black students living with whites may also earn better grades, The New York Times reported. Mixing also cuts prejudice.

But researchers say interracial roommates are also more likely to split up than those of the same race.

Russell Fazio, a psychology professor at Ohio State University, said he found black students with high scores on entrance examinations tended to do better academically if they had white roommates. He said the race of a roommate had no effect on white students or on black students with low scores.

Sam Boakye, a native of Ghana who was the only black student on his floor at Ohio State as a freshman, said he felt he had to "challenge the stereotype that black people are not that smart."

Fazio said interracial roommates were twice as likely to ask for a change as white ones. At Indiana University, where housing is not as tight, break-ups are even more likely, he said.

But he said he found if the roommate relationship continues for 10 weeks or longer, racial attitudes start to improve.

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