University cancels race and equity listening sessions after being accused of segregation

Anderson University attempted to hold listening sessions during which participants would be separated by race.
Every desk is taken in professor Jeanne (cq) Neil's Accounting 101 classroom at Orange Coast Community College in Costa Mesa, CA, on Sept 10, 2011.

Anderson University, a small Christian school in Indiana, has postponed a schedule listening session on the subjects of race and equity – follow backlash for planning to separate the sessions according to the races of the attending students.

"It has become apparent that our plans for listening sessions have caused concern," college President John S. Pistole said. "As such, we have postponed all sessions to ensure we move forward positively with our students and to ensure that all stakeholders, both inside and outside of AU, fully comprehend our institutional mission."

Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Commission on Civil rights, informed the Pistole in a letter that segregated listening sessions are a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"Please note that there is no 'unless you have good intentions' exception to Title VI and Title VII," Kirsanow wrote. "Students and employees may not be excluded from participation in a program due to their race or segregated by race. Racial segregation is still unlawful, even if it advantages the 'right' racial categories for the 'right' reasons. Regardless of any ideological posturing, the law on this matter is clear."

The original message that circulated among the Anderson community read, "In an effort to ensure a safe space where students can voice their opinions freely, we have created separate sessions for students of color and for white students." 

Two days after the sessions for "students of color" were scheduled to take place, Pistole reportedly postponed the second set of sessions, scheduled for white students. 

Pistole then emailed the student body a survey to address the anger and confusion on campus surrounding the sessions. According to documents obtained by the Chalkboard Review, Anderson students voted overwhelming (91.7%) to alter or cancel the racially segregated sessions.