Facing Civil Rights Complaint, NYU Says Whites-Only Anti-Racism Seminar Was ‘Open To All'

New York University (Wikimedia Commons)
July 17, 2023

New York University now says the anti-racism seminar that advertised itself as a "white space" was in fact "open to all" and did not discriminate based on race.

The university told Fox News on Friday that "parents of all backgrounds" could attend the seminar,  "From Integration to Antiracism," even though it was "principally intended for white parents of public school children."

However, the university went on, "the program's materials and content were not clear enough about it being open to all."

The statement came the same day that NYU was hit with a federal civil rights complaint over the seminar, which a few days before its first meeting had sent participants an email explaining "why we are meeting as white folks." During the program, which took place from February to June, facilitators argued that the racially exclusive workshop would spare minorities the "harm" of "hear[ing] our racist thoughts."

"People of color are dealing with racism all the time," Barbara Gross, the associate director of NYU’s Education Justice Research and Organizing Collaborative, said in response to a question from one parent, who argued that a whites-only anti-racism training seemed "a little counterintuitive." "The purpose is to create space where we can talk about our racism with each other … without burdening the people of color in our lives."

Every seminar attendee appears to have been white. One parent even said she was "grateful that there weren’t people of color in this space," according to audio and video obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, since their presence would have made it uncomfortable for her to speak openly about racism.

"NYU is working with program leadership to ensure that the program conforms with University’s standards and applicable law," the university’s Friday statement said.

NYU general counsel Aisha Oliver-Staley did not respond to a request for comment.