At its upcoming May 4-7 “Spring Conference on Teaching, Learning, and Student Success,” Michigan State University originally promoted “Affinity Groups for conversation within identity groups” as one of its “New This Year” items, see this archived website (via Ashe Schow). Here’s the now-removed description of the segregated group conversations from the original program’s main website:
We invite attendees to participate in an affinity group during the Student Success Spring Conference. Affinity groups provide spaces for people to work within their own identity groups. To advance racial equity, there is work for white people and people of color to do separately and together. For white people, an affinity group provides time and space to work explicitly and intentionally on understanding white culture and white privilege and to increase one’s critical analysis around these concepts. For people of color, a caucus is a place to work with peers to address the impact of racism, to interrupt experiences of internalized racism, and to create a space for healing and working for individual and collective liberation.
There will be an affinity group for white folx [sic] and an affinity group for people of color. The focus of the affinity groups will align with the theme of our featured keynote speakers listed below. Each group will be led by trained facilitators to engage in dialogue utilizing a set of prompts.
* Wednesday, May 5th at 9 am: Lisa Laughman, LMSW & ACSW
* Thursday, May 6th at 11 am: Dr. Marita Gilbert
If you are interested in participating in an affinity group, please complete the interest form below. You will receive Zoom information and additional details in the immediate future. When you receive the Zoom information, we are asking participants to opt into the affinity group that aligns with their racial identity. This is not the opportunity for white folx [sic] to engage in the POC affinity space and vice versa.
After media and Twitter exposure of the segregated, “Jim Crow” Affinity Groups, Michigan State concealed the Affinity Groups events by removing all references to them from the main conference webpage, although the event details still appear here and see below.
After additional media reports about the racially segregated events in Michigan Capitol Confidential and The College Fix that included coverage of the federal civil rights complaint that I filed against MSU with the Office for Civil Rights, the university is apparently backtracking with the following explanation from MSU spokesman Dan Olsen (via The College Fix):
This optional activity established for the Academic Advancement Network’s Spring Conference was not intended to be discriminatory. Nonetheless, we regret the impact the invitation had on some.
We are examining and updating the format of the two optional facilitated discussions to be more inclusive. All conference participants are welcome to attend either discussion and we are no longer inviting individuals to join based on identity. Additional information will be shared with atendees soon.
Our institution values diversity and inclusiveness and continues to steadfastly work to create a more welcoming campus for all.
MP: It’s a typical scenario that plays out in higher education all the time. A university either intentionally or unintentionally violates federal civil rights laws by introducing and hosting illegal single-sex or single-race programs or events under the assumption that nobody will notice or care. Then the illegal sex or race discrimination gets exposed publicly and the university quickly backtracks and scrambles to correct its civil rights violations.
Exhibit A: Michigan State University’s discriminatory, segregated, “Jim Crow” Affinity Groups.
Exhibit C: University of Florida hit with racial discrimination complaint for promoting no-whites event A university spokesman responded as follows:
The University and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences administrations recently learned of an event in the Department of Anthropology that may not have been open to students of all races and colors. Such an event is inconsistent with the University’s policies and values that foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. The University is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the event and will take appropriate action.
Exhibit D (Title VI complaint filed): Minnesota college forces faculty to attend racially segregated anti-racism trainings
Question: All of these universities and colleges have large and growing numbers of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DIE) staff members including Title IX officers, directors, and investigators. Don’t any of these illegal segregated discriminatory programs ever get reviewed and evaluated by university “diversicrats”? Apparently not, it’s up to the media and watchdogs like myself to hold universities accountable for their frequent violations of their Title VI and Title IX legal obligations (I’ve identified more than 1,000 Title VI and IX violations and have reported those to the Office for Civil Rights in federal civil rights complaints against more than 300 colleges and universities).