Incoming students required to pledge allegiance to anti-racism, social justice

An admissions essay prompts for undergraduate admissions asks students to 'share one idea for actions or policies that you think would begin to address an issue of racial or social injustice.'

The university also hosts a 'Multicultural Student Space' and an 'LGBTQ+ Lounge' to encourage students that fall into these specific categories to 'recharge' between classes.

The University of Richmond (UR) in Virginia is extending its implementation of anti-racist and social justice initiatives to admissions requirements. 

One of the essay prompts for undergraduate admissions for the fall 2022 semester, for example, asked students to “share one idea for actions or policies that you think would begin to address an issue of racial or social injustice.”  

UR’s Equity page has a section on “White Anti-Racism” that provides resources for students to “assist members of our campus community in learning about race, racism, and the practice of anti-racism.” It argues that White people have important roles to play in anti-racism work.” 

“Our focus on white anti-racism is an institutional effort to relieve pressure often placed on people of color to educate white people about race, as well as to support and be in solidarity with change efforts led by people of color,” the page reads.

[RELATED: UPDATE: University removes application’s race requirement following news report] 

One anti-racist initiative the university provides is a “Lunchtime Discussion Series” where white students are encouraged “to discuss and learn about whiteness, with an emphasis on how white people can be better practitioners of anti-racism.”

The university also has a “Multicultural Student Space” and an “LGBTQ+ Lounge” to encourage students that fall into these specific categories to “recharge” between classes.

The Multicultural Student Space was created “to primarily serve students of color,” but is “open to anyone in the campus community interested in connecting with students from backgrounds different than their own.”

The LGBTQ+ Lounge “serves as an affirming space for those within and that support the community,” and includes “three conversation areas and a comfy sofa to hangout or watch movies on.”

A rainbow-colored sock monkey can be seen relaxing on one of the Lounge chairs.

UR has also drawn the attention of the free-speech watchdog organization the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), which has flagged the university with a Yellow Light rating

[RELATED: MORABITO: Why are White college applicants lying about their race?]  

“Yellow light colleges and universities are those institutions with at least one ambiguous policy that too easily encourages administrative abuse and arbitrary application,” FIRE explains. 

 FIRE specifically finds UR’s “Bias Incident” policies problematic, which defines punishable bias incidents as those which “do not appear to constitute a crime or actionable discrimination, but which may intimidate, mock, degrade, or threaten, individuals or groups” on the basis of “gender, gender identity or expression” and “sexual orientation.”

 The UR states the reasoning for its focus on racial and social justice on its official website. 

“In order to fulfill our mission to ‘educate students for lives of purpose, thoughtful inquiry, and responsible leadership in a diverse world,’ we must work together to make Richmond a welcoming place for people from all backgrounds, identities, viewpoints, and experiences,” UR explains. 

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Richmond and FIRE for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.