Three weeks ago, the University of Michigan discovered racist fliers posted around campus. One listed reasons “why white women shouldn’t date black men,” while another extolled the virtues of whiteness.
But the university’s response wasn’t to bring the various parties together to talk it through. Instead, in a move that would seem oxymoronic, they held separate meeting by race.
The University of Michigan is far from alone. As racial tensions plague campuses, more administrators are turning to second-wave segregationsim in the name of creating a “safe space” for students of color to address legitimately disturbing occurrences.
The University of Michigan held a series of “diversity town halls” on Oct. 11 to discuss the racist posters, Black Lives Matter, and police violence in the United States. White students were excluded from the first meeting, and organizers also reportedly asked a Michigan Daily reporter to leave.
The point was to allow minority students “be as open and honest with other people of color as they possibly could be,” said Jonathan Wells, director of UM’s Residential College. Wells did not respond to Heat Street’s request for comment, but he told the Michigan Daily, “Sometimes our initial reaction is to say that’s a group separating themselves out. That’s unhealthy, but this is why we’re coming together at the end of the evening as one group.”
A student quoted by the Michigan Daily put it differently: “I think for white students who feel somehow [upset] by us having a first town hall for students and staff of color, I’d say look at yourself, think about your place and your people’s histories. You can seek out white spaces, and those can be productive, as long as you think about how you can leverage your privilege that you’ve been raised with.”
Several other universities, community colleges and even high schools have hosted embraced second-wave segregrationism.
In July, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Multicultural Student Center drew criticism for racially segregated meetings held to discuss the shooting deaths of black men and police officers. Oregon State University spent thousands on racially segregated retreats last semester. And in the past year, Concordia College, an Illinois community college and a Houston high school both came under fire for hosting minority-only meetings or courses on school resources.
Other universities have gone even further, with the University of California-Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, and the University of Connecticut all either planning or currently offering racially segregating student housing.
Call me crazy, but isn’t “inclusion” a boilerplate part of the mission statement of most schools?
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.