College cancels classes for a whole day for diversity conference
Diversity is taken seriously in the higher education sector. Source: Shutterstock

A private Massachusetts college on Tuesday cancelled all of its classes for the entire day for students to attend a conference addressing racism and the need for social justice.

According to Campus Reform, Hampshire College cancelled classes in order for students to attend the “Engage!” conference, which touts a day-long learning opportunity for all members of the college’s community to promote a deeper understanding of “anti-racism, social justice, and the cultivation of an inclusive campus climate.”

The schedule of the conference included sessions that involved a “Conversation on Whiteness and Anti-Racist Organizing,” “Building an Inclusive Workplace,” and “Race and Gender in the STEM.”

A workshop entitled “Racism 101: Defining Key Terms”, touched on “racial prejudice, racism, institutionalized racism, systemic racism, internalized racism, the ‘new racism,’ and intersectionality.”

The workshop is aimed at increasing the understanding of the terms, to allow participants to “identify concrete manifestations of these phenomena in society generally and in their own lives specifically, and have language tools for engaging in future discussions.”

The conference held in wake of unrest in the spring of 2016, following the school’s alleged mishandling of sexual assault.

This led to the Presidential Advisory Council’s move to increase “opportunities for campus community-building and education on anti-racism, social justice, diversity, and inclusion.”

Later that same year, the college became courted controversy when students burned an American flag on the eve of Veterans Day.

In another session called “Unpacking Outdoor Adventure: A Social Justice Inquiry,” participants were shown “discriminatory and exclusionary” beliefs and messages within the outdoor adventure field, Campus Reform reported.

The description states:

“Using a critical inquiry approach, this workshop will examine commonly accepted ideas and practices in outdoor adventure through a social justice lens.”

The conference also hosted a session limited to “white-identified community members” on “Creating a more connected and skillful community of white anti-racists”

“This session is designed for white people in order to further educate ourselves and help each other on the path toward becoming more skillful, committed, and consistent in showing up for racial justice,” the description on the workshop states.

Other topics in the session covered “implicit bias, racial microaggressions, white privilege, and white supremacy culture.”

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