Portland State University’s (PSU) diversity summit instructed participants to sit at tables which matched their self-ascribed racial identity, according to a presentation from the event.
The event, titled “The Future and Thriving of BIPOC Communities,” was held on Nov. 4 at the University Place Hotel to “advance the insights from the [Black, Indigenous People of Color] convenings and Inspire collective action,” according to a slide deck from the event. The university is dedicated to becoming a “majority-BIPOC student institution” and the November workshop built upon “previous affinity summits” and meetings, its website reads.
Participants sat at racially segregated tables, according to instructions on a slideshow from the event. Specified identities included white, black, Native/Indigenous, Latiné, “Middle East, North Africa, South Asia” (MENASA) and “Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Asian American” (PIAA).
Tables were also designated for participants who self-identified as “multicultural” or “intersectional,” according to the welcome slide.
“You are also welcome to self define multicultural and intersectional tables that extend beyond single definitions e.g. Women of color, QTPOC, folks with disabilities, Immigrant, refugee etc.,” the presentation said.
“The daylong gathering built on a series of affinity convenings that took place earlier in the year,” Katy Swordfisk, media relations manager for PSU, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Participants were invited to sit at a table that resonated with their identity … for the first part of the day, and shifted to tables by discussion topic later in the day.”
The event was part of the university’s Time to Act initiative, which promotes “equity and justice” at the Oregon campus, according to its website. Five task groups organized the virtual Equity Summit in 2020 and made “a learning and action agenda to make our vision for a racially just and equitable future a reality at Portland State University.”
The Oregon Association of Scholars (OAS), a nonprofit dedicated to merit in higher education, described the affinity groups as “a clear example of neo-segregation and discriminatory public sector behavior,” according to its January reportabout racial segregation at PSU. The group wrote the events were “a non-voluntary and non-escapable imposition of racial categories as the basis for university operations.”
OAS specifically alleged that the “white” tables were a “double assault on the principle of non-discrimination” because they were “intended to highlight the oppressive character of all white people, who are instructed to deconstruct their whiteness and share their white guilt.”
PSU President Stephen Percy and the OAS did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
This article has been updated with comment from Portland State University.
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