Michigan college apologizes for segregating virtual 'cafe' events

Michigan college apologizes for segregating virtual 'cafe' events

The University of Michigan-Dearborn on Wednesday issued an apology for creating segregated online student “cafes” that the school intended to use to promote discussions on race and diversity. 

The two virtual discussions were held by the university on Tuesday, with one labeled as a “non-POC Cafe” intended for students who are not people of color to “gather and discuss their experience as students on campus and as non-POC in the world,” according to the event description, CBS News reported.

The second group was intended specifically for "marginalized racial/ethnic/cultural communities to gather and to relate with one another to discuss their experience as students on campus.” 

The university responded to criticism in an official online statement, saying that the names and descriptions used to advertise the events “were not clear” and did not reflect “the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

“University of Michigan-Dearborn is committed to fostering and maintaining an inclusive campus environment and encourages ongoing dialogue amongst our students, faculty and staff on challenging issues,” the university statement read. “The ‘cafes’ were virtual open conversations developed to allow students the opportunity to connect to process current events, share their experiences related to race, share knowledge and resources and brainstorm solutions.”

“The original intent was to provide students from marginalized communities a space that allowed for them to exist freely without having to normalize their lives and experiences, while also providing students that do not identify as persons of color the opportunity to deepen their understanding of race and racism without harming or relying on students of color to educate them,” the university added. “The events were never intended to be exclusive or exclusionary for individuals of a certain race.” 

These events come one month after Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerFeehery: A surprising Republican wave election could be looming 400K sign on to ballot drive to repeal Michigan governor's emergency powers States need prepared, predictable policies before the next pandemic MORE (D) signed an executive order declaring racism a public health crisis in the state.

The order also mandated the creation of a state advisory council on Black leadership, as well as instructions for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to have all state employees complete implicit bias training in an effort to "make health equity a major goal."