Brown University is now offering a new class, but only for its minority students, and it has sparked quite the outrage.
Back in May, the Providence, Rhode Island-based Ivy League school started to offer a teacher training course about mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), but the student body was only allowed to take part if they identified officially as black, indigenous, or Latino.
One Brown student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, tried to enroll in the class but was rebuked because they did not identify as BIPOC. The student sounded the alarm and issued pushback, officially filing a complaint with the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR).
“Brown is offering a RACE-BASED teacher training program that is ONLY open to certain demographics (black, Latino, indigenous),” the student listed in the complaint filed on May 13th.
“This is a return to educational segregation based on skin color,” highlighted the student.
The student also stated that the teachers of this class in particular were also under the same restrictions and must be BIPOC.
The certificate program also chooses to offer forms of financial aid to the BIPOC students but notably does not offer any such assistance to white and Asian students who otherwise would not be able to afford to partake in the program either, reported the student.
“This results in certain demographics being favored over others and is discriminatory,” stated the student.
“As a student of the program, I find myself being unable to continue my training with this institution as I refuse to support educational segregation based solely on skin color as it violates my core principles, values, and the Buddhist teachings that which this program is based on,” continued the student.
Earlier this past month, FAIR issued a letter to Brown ordering the university to open up the class in question to all of its students.
“We urge the university to open the program to any deserving student without regard to their immutable traits,” stated Leigh Ann O’Neill, an attorney for FAIR. “We also believe that such a gesture would demonstrate Brown’s commitment to non-discrimination and equal access.”
Brown issued its response on the 21st of June, stating that it acknowledges the letter from FAIR and claimed that the university intends to give another response directly to the letter as soon as possible.
In the wake of the complaint, Brown chose to remove its previous mandate to only allow students of color to take the class. The school will now allow any student to enroll in the course if they desire once the class picked back up in August.
“Upon further review of our early promotional materials for the program, we realigned them to reflect the program’s inclusive nature, while still meeting the goal of addressing the needs, life experiences, and priorities of marginalized communities,” stated the director of Brown University’s Mindfulness Center where the class is held, Dr. Eric Loucks, to the New York Post.
Loucks first attempted to defend the choice to ban anyone other than BIPOC persons from enrollment in the class.
“The intent is to reach future teachers who have a special interest in or history of personal engagement with the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and/or Latino/Latina/Latinx peoples and others who have been underrepresented in the mindfulness field,” claimed Loucks.