The Racial Equity Taskforce at Anderson University recently announced that it “postponed” planned listening sessions on race and equity. 

This decision came after the university came under criticism for planning to separate the sessions according to attendees’ race. 

The plan for separate listening sessions for students of color and white students triggered criticism on campus, in the Anderson community and nationally, with critics saying that the division into groups of students by skin color smacked of illegal racial segregation,” The Herald Bulletin reported. 

Following the outrage of the students and the defense by the administration, Peter Kirsanow of the United States Commission on Civil Rights stated in a letter that the listening sessions are a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Anderson intended for these sessions to address campus life and “equity for students of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities.” 

“In an effort to ensure a safe space where students can voice their opinions freely, we have created separate sessions fr students of color and for white students,” an Anderson University email obtained by Chalkboard Review reads. 

To ensure students have a “safe space” to freely share their experiences, the administration announced separate listening sessions for “students of color” and for “white students.”

Anderson University President John S. Pistole reportedly made the postponement on Apr. 14, two days after the sessions for “students of color” were scheduled to run on Apr. 12 at 12 PM and 6 PM. 

The “white students” sessions were scheduled for Apr. 19 at 12 PM and 6 PM. 

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The Chalkboard Review published a story on its website about the segregated sessions. 

Maya Turner, a self-identified Anderson student, took to social media to express her outrage at the segregated sessions. 

Turner tweeted that “as a student that attends Anderson University this is extremely embarrassing and upsetting. It’s 2022. I can’t believe this kind of stuff still goes on.” 

Turner was not the only one to turn to social media to express their opinion about the listening sessions. 

Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Ranfeld appears to have posted a video on the social media platform TikTok defending Anderson’s decision to racially segregate students. 

In the video, Ranfeld states that opposition to the decision is because of “white people’s feelings.” 

Ranfeld said that “the reason why we [White people] shouldn’t be in those spaces in the first place because we turn it into our feelings of defensiveness.”

Anderson University’s Diversity Retention Coordinator and Office Manager Maria Acero reportedly defended the segregated sessions, stating that “people of color” need a caucus to work with peers to address the impact of racism and create a space for healing. 

University President John S. Pistole addressed the student body’s outrage by emailing students a survey in which students voted to alter or cancel the listening sessions, according to Chalkboard Review’s Tony Kinnett. 

91.7% voted to cancel or alter the listening sessions, according to documents obtained by Chalkboard Review.  

All individuals mentioned in the story were contacted for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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