The University of Michigan has apologized after setting up segregated online ‘cafes’ – one for white people and other for people of color – in a ‘bid to promote discussions about race and diversity,’ The Washington Free Beacon reports.
The University of Michigan satellite campus in Dearborn created two virtual online events that were held Tuesday one event was advertised as a “Non-POC Cafe”(People of Color) and the other as a “BIOPIC Cafe” (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). Both seminars, hosted by the Center for Social Justice and Inclusion were meant to promote discussions about race and diversity, the students experience as a given racial identity on campus. and help them ‘process current events.’ Both events took place at the same time.
Critics labeled the initiative as divisive and argued that safe spaces were typically created for marginalized groups.
The school now claims their initial descriptions were misleading and neither event was intended to exclude individuals of any race.
“UM-Dearborn sincerely regrets the terms used to describe the ‘cafe’ events held on September 8,” a UM-Dearborn spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon. “The terms used to describe these virtual events and descriptions themselves were not clear and not reflective of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
According to the university, “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.”
After a tweet noted the events’ segregated appearance the university took down the event page and published an apology letter. The use of “cafe” also caused much confusion as people online thought the university was building two separate,
The school’s Center for Social Justice and Inclusion did not respond to requests for comment.