FIRE brings the heat over college's segregated workshop

Tuesday, November 10, 2020
 | 
Bob Kellogg (OneNewsNow.com)

Thinker statueAn education watchdog says an Oregon college engaged in mandatory racial segregation for first-year students and alleges it was illegal to do so.

During a mandatory orientation program, Lewis & Clark College conducted racial segregation for students by separating students according to their race, a decision that got noticed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

FIRE says the August 29 orientation workshop required students to identify as “Black," “Indigenous, Person of Color, “or White.” The workshop was conducted by a Portland-based social justice group.

Zach Greenberg of FIRE says the private liberal arts school was notified ahead of the session it was breaking the law.

"The issue,” he tells OneNewsNow, “is that this is illegal under federal law, under Supreme Court precedence, and under its own policies."

It was frustrating that college leadership failed to take this problem seriously, the FIRE spokesman says, even after FIRE and one of the college's own professors brought the problem to their attention.

FIRE identified the concerned professor as Lyell Asher, an English professor who voiced his concerns to the college president and to the school’s general counsel, David Reese. 

Reese minimized the concern because attendance was not taken, even though it was a mandatory event, FIRE reported.

“Mandatory racial segregation isn’t wrong because FIRE or a professor finds it objectionable. It’s wrong because it means that your ethnicity alone determines the education you receive,” FIRE executive director Robert Shibley said. “That it was just a little segregation, that ‘mandatory’ actually means ‘optional,’ or that the college meant well is no defense.” 

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