Oregon State University’s College of Education hosts seminar on 'Confronting Systemic Whiteness'

Oregon State University’s College of Education hosted a seminar on “Confronting Systemic Whiteness.”

A recent event at Oregon State University event taught faculty of the dangers of “systemic Whiteness” in America.

The seminar, titled “Confronting Systemic Whiteness,” was held by the university’s College of Education and served the purpose of allowing faculty to, “engage in issues of whiteness and systemic racism in the institution as well as more broadly in the United States.”

The seminar’s stated learning objectives include understanding the various ways that “systemic Whiteness” plagues the country. It describes this “systemic Whiteness” as an all-encompassing force that impacts all individuals regardless of their intent. The objectives claim that “anti-Blackness permeates US society” and that it has a substantial impact on the lives and outcomes of Black Americans.

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The OSU college of education claims that the seminar was created in direct response to the Black Lives Matter Movement and their increased prominence in the eyes of the public.

According to the College of Education, the seminar builds on the 2020 tenets of a faculty pledge made to Black students. 

The seminar was co-facilitated by Assistant Professor Dr. Tenisha Tevis of the School of Education and Dr. Dwaine Plaza of the School of Public Policy. 

Both professors have been involved in the campus social justice movement for several years. In 2017, Plaza hosted an event called, “Wake Up Coffee” in which he moderated “conscious-raising discussions” with students and faculty on race and gender. In 2019 he hosted a discussion called “Institutional Racism, Bias, and Discrimination in STEM Disciplines.”

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Tenisha Tevis’s faculty page states that her research focuses on, “underserved students transition to college,” along with the, “sociology of education, school composition, college entrance exams, degree expectations, and first generation students.” She’s also a part of the University of Michigan’s Diversity Scholars Network, which claims that her current work includes,“e xploring the role Whiteness plays in higher education administration,” and that she, “co-conceptualized a anti-racist leadership framework for higher education.”

The 2021 seminar is a repeat of the same seminar Tevis and Plaza held in the summer of 2020. According to the syllabus, the 2020 event consisted of an, “active daily curriculum of mini-lectures, readings, documentary films, in class group activities and Canvas reflection posts focused on understanding how whiteness has come to shape our dominant American consciousness, values, beliefs, perspectives and imaginations.”

The syllabus claims the seminar was coordinated by the Faculty Senate Executive. It also built on resources available in OSU’s, “ADVANCE, Social Justice Education Initiative, Search Advocate, Difference Power and Discrimination Program, Black Minds Initiative, Unpacking Diversity, Office of Institutional Diversity.”

Attendees were given Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and watch Tim Wise’s White Like Me as homework assignments among many other works over the five-day period. At the end of the seminar, the faculty were expected to create and organize small communities where they worked on anti-racist efforts together. 

Campus Reform reached out to Tevis and Plaza for comment, but they did not respond.