Emory looking to establish regular POC-only social events

Emory University’s Campus Life Department will soon host what it hopes will become a regular social hour, but invitations will only be extended to students and staff “of color.”

DeLa Sweeney, Emory’s interim director for Multicultural Programs, sent an email to staff at the school’s Campus Life Department, inviting them to attend an upcoming social “for students, alumni, faculty, and Emory Campus Life staff of color” only.

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“This event is intended to serve as an opportunity for people of color at Emory to connect with one another and strengthen relationships within and across various communities, identities, and positions in the university,” the email explains, noting that the event is the first of “what will hopefully manifest into a series of annual gatherings that create and add to the tradition of acknowledging, honoring, and celebrating the experiences, contributions, and lives of people of color at Emory.”

Later in the email, a copy of which was obtained by Campus Reform, Sweeney reiterates that the social event will be open exclusively to people of color, saying “ECL staff of color are invited to attend this event,” but neglecting to extend the same invitation to others in the department.

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Sweeney defended that nature of the event in an exchange with Campus Reform, arguing that the participants will benefit from the opportunity to explore their “shared interests” in the absence of white peers.

“Hosting programs for specific communities and affinity groups—in this case community members of color—is a practice that has been shown to be beneficial for employees and institutions in many fields including higher education,” he explained, adding that the upcoming event reserved for people of color will help in “creating mechanisms for individuals with shared interests and common goals.”

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