The University of Chicago is reportedly organizing a ‘black graduation’ this summer for students of color to attend – though organizers are now saying the event is not exclusionary.
Billed as a ceremony ‘for all University of Chicago black graduate students’, the event will be held two days before the school’s traditional commencement in June, and is being hosted by a group at one of the university’s professional schools.
A professional school is another term for a grad school that prepares students who hold bachelor’s degrees for careers in particular fields – with this one prepping students for jobs involving housing, community development, and human rights.
Affiliated with its private-owned parent university, the graduate school is called the Harris School of Public Policy, which, according to the school website, has more than 30 organizations designed ‘specifically for students of color, women, and international students.’
Among this assortment of inclusion-geared groups is the Black Action in Public Policy Studies, which is reportedly organizing the June 1 event – and is advertising it as ‘an important capstone in the Black experience at the university.’
The Black Action in Public Policy Studies studies student group is organizing the June 1 event, billed in a leaked email as a ceremony ‘for all University of Chicago black graduate students’
The University of Chicago’s ‘black graduation’ this summer is reportedly for students of color to attend – though organizers are now saying the event is not exclusionary
A leaked email obtained by University of Chicago Law School student Benjamin Ogilvie unmasked the previously under-wraps event, with Ogilvie penning a piece for The College Fix to share the email’s contents.
‘Black Action in Public Policy Studies…is hosting a graduation ceremony for all University of Chicago Black graduate students’ on June 1, the email stated, according to Ogilvie.
Leaked on Tuesday, the email reportedly touted the event as the culmination of the ‘black student experience’ at the Illinois school, and is already sparking heated discourse as to whether or not the event serves as segregation.
When contacted by The Fix, two Harris students listed as contacts for the planned event, identified as Christian Johns and Semeredin Kundin, refused to comment on the ceremony and its potential implications.
The conservative news website focused on higher education reportedly asked the grad students who is funding the ceremony and how it will coincide in with other graduation events, Johns, a graduate assistant at the school’s Institute of Politics, said: ‘Unfortunately, we will not be able to comment on your inquiry at this time.’
Neither would respond to criticism that the graduation is exclusionary – though a school spokesperson, when contacted, insisted that is not the case, The Fix reported.
Organizers Christian Johns and Semeredin Kundin refused to comment on the ceremony, but a school spokesperson said it was not exclusionary
A leaked email obtained by University of Chicago Law School student Benjamin Ogilvie unmasked the previously under-wraps event, with Ogilvie penning a piece for The College Fix to share the email’s contents
After being asked by the Fix whether there were any other race- or identity-specific graduation ceremonies being held in addition to the ‘black-only graduation ceremony at UChicago,’ school spokesperson Gerald McSwiggan slammed the outlet’s phrasing of the question.
‘Your description of the event as ‘black-only’ is inaccurate and is not part of the event description,’ the University of Chicago public affairs official said via email.
‘The group’s online materials make it clear that its events and activities are open to all who are interested.’
A description on the university’s website advertises the Black Action in Public Policy Studies as a school-sponsored group that ‘dedicates itself to centering the experiences and needs of Black people through policy from a Black feminist lens.’
It is not immediately clear from other materials provided on the site what the ceremony will actually entail and consist of.
Jason Hill, a professor and commentator on racial issues at nearby DePaul University, slammed the event, saying the school is ‘painting white students as persons from whom blacks need to be separated’ with the planned event
Despite its existence only being unmasked Tuesday, the event is already drawing criticism from academics in the Windy City, with Jason Hill, a professor and commentator on racial issues at nearby DePaul University, saying the school is ‘painting white students as persons from whom blacks need to be separated.’
‘The universities are creating racists out of students because, in effect, it is painting white students as persons from whom blacks need to be separated; that whites are an intimidating presence,’ Hill told The Fix of the planned event.
The seasoned professor proceeded to decry the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) agenda being pushed by the school.
‘The whole all-black-graduation ceremony phenomenon is predicated on the DEI axis, with an emphasis on inclusion,’ Hill said, referencing similar campaigns that have become commonplace amongst American universities in recent years.
‘It is a variation on the idea that blacks need to be included in a specific way into an all black black space on campus because the USA and its institutions remain systemically racist,’ said Hill, who has an array published works involving racial justice and slavery.
The group – which ‘dedicates itself to centering the experiences and needs of Black people through policy from a Black feminist lens’ according to the school’s website – is being accused of pushing a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) agenda with the planned ceremony
‘These attitudes and policies are totally contrary to the goals of the Civil Rights Movements, and the moral meaning of the 1964 Civil Rights Act,’ the professor declared.
‘The role of the university is not to cultivate balkanized racial factions on campus, nor is it to foster any experience (other than a scholastic one) such as the ‘Black Experience.
‘Universities ought not be sites for social engineering nor yielding to demands for identity expression rooted in feelings, desires and wishes which are forged in the crucibles of identity politics.
‘The ultimate goal of the university,’ he continued, ‘is to equip each student to become a rational, autonomous and sovereign agent who can navigate the world as an independent entity.’
After being asked by the Fix whether there were any other race- or identity-specific graduation ceremonies being held in addition to the ‘black-only graduation ceremony at UChicago,’ the school insisted the event is not ‘black-only; and slammed the outlet’s phrasing of the question