University separates participants by race in BIPOC discussion series
Portland State University recently hosted the last in a series of events that separated participants by race and ‘centered around discussions of the future of thriving and joy of BIPOC communities.’
The discussions resulted in recommendations to provide ‘[d]emographic-focused scholarships' and create ‘a curriculum that is culturally inclusive, relevant, and responsive.’
Portland State University (PSU) recently hosted the last in a series of events that separated participants by race.
“The Future and Thriving of BIPOC Communities Macro Convening,” an initiative of PSU’s office of Global Diversity & Inclusion, “centered around discussions of the future of thriving and joy of BIPOC communities in and around Portland, and what role PSU has in bringing this future to bear.”
“Participants were invited to sit at a table that resonated with their identity (including Black, Latinx, White, Native American and Multicultural, as a few examples) for the first part of the day, and shifted to tables by discussion topic later in the day,” Katy Swordfisk, PSU’s Media Relations Manager, told Campus Reform.
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The “Macro Convening” took place after PSU hosted five other convenings based on race, or affinity group, including “Latiné Futures” and “Convening for a Thriving Future for Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Asian American Communities (PIAA).”
The final event “advance[d] the work that has emerged from previous affinity summits and convenings,” according to the Global Diversity & Inclusion website.
A presentation from the Macro Convening shows guest seating instructions. “You are also welcome to self define multicultural and intersectional tables that extend beyond single definitions,” the presentation reads, giving “Women of color,” “QTPOC,” “folks with disabilities,” and “refugee” as examples.
Leads from previous convenings presented their findings. Their groups had recommended, as a summary notes, to provide “[d]emographic-focused scholarships,” “combat and interrupt bias and oppressive behaviors” on campus, and create “a curriculum that is culturally inclusive, relevant, and responsive.”
In the afternoon, participants grouped themselves by topics such as “Economic justice and wealth creation” and “Climate Justice.” The Macro Convening concluded with participants discussing how to implement the affinity groups’ ideas.
One of the last slides of the presentation thanks President Stephen Percy, who made “Acting on Equity and Racial Justice” one of his strategic priorities.
“It is time for Portland State to center its effort to combat racism and advance social justice across our campus with dogged determination and long-term commitment,” the priority says. “We will build on the work of many to engage all of PSU in this effort, applying an antiracist lens to every signal we send, every model we create, and every policy we enact.”
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Swordfisk told Campus Reform that "racial justice is President Percy's top strategic priority," and "he participated in each convening and gathering held as part of the university's efforts to make institutional change."
PSU outlines its social justice efforts in its most recent strategic plan, which recommends that academic programs include a focus on social justice and equity.
“Consider differentiating PSU in the marketplace by re-branding our scholarly outputs to reflect specific values related to equity, collaboration, and reciprocity, that are community-based and partnership-focused,” the plan reads.
The plan also recommends assessing “diversity learning outcomes in academic units” and “acknowledging equity efforts in promotion and tenure guidelines, performance evaluations and similar assessments.”
Campus Reform contacted the office of Global Diversity & Inclusion and Percy for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.