Upon learning that Anderson University planned to host ‘listening sessions’ for students of color and white students on separate days in an announcement made by the President’s Racial Equity Task Force, FAIR Legal sent a letter to the university highlighting the legal and ethical implications of such a decision. While the stated purpose of the separate sessions was “to ensure a safe space where students can voice their opinions freely”, FAIR noted that the practice of separating students by skin color or ancestry is not only in violation of the Civil Rights Act but that the message that it is “unsafe” to be around those who do not share the same skin color stigmatizes all. FAIR highlighted the many other non-discriminatory alternatives are readily available, such as encouraging students to speak openly and freely, allowing equal time for each student who wishes to speak, giving students an option to submit comments and questions anonymously in advance, and articulating rules and expectations of respectful conduct and dialogue. Upon receipt of FAIR’s letter, President Pistole responded by issuing an apology to students, faculty, and staff while also outlining his vision for who AU should be as a welcoming, hospitable school for all people.
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