University of Michigan – Dearborn responds to controversy over 'white cafe' for non-persons of color

Posted at 4:33 AM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 04:33:40-04

There's growing controversy at the University of Michigan-Dearborn over a so called “white cafe.”

It’s a virtual cafe created only for white people to discuss their experiences on campus and non-people of color on the world. This all-virtual white cafe is causing quiet the stir. It encourages students to discuss their experiences as non-persons of color, and is being facilitated by a white faculty member.

“I think they could have went with it like a better approach,” said sophomore Jason Barba.

From the outside looking in, it appears segregation is alive and well at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

“I think they went with it on a bad approach, which made it seem like they were segregating,” Barba said.

A so-called virtual white cafe is inviting white students to RSVP to enter the cafe which encourages the white students to talk about experiences and brainstorm solutions to common issues within the non-people of color community.

“This is kind of like a really bad thing to go on. I’m against discrimination," said graduate student Frederick Phillip. "This is a university of great diversity and so people from various spots of the world are here. So I think that’s a bad thing they went for."

But, its not the only virtual cafe. The university also created a cafe for Black, indigenous and people of color. These two cafes are hosted by the center for social justice and inclusion.

We reached out to the university about these virtual cafes. They sent us a statement that reads in part: “The events were never intended to be exclusive or exclusionary for individuals of a certain race. Both events were open to all members of the UM-Dearborn campus community. The terms used to describe these virtual events and the descriptions themselves were not clear and not reflective of the universities commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Sophomore Jason Barba added, “Maybe they were trying to gather research to see how people were distinguished and then improve things on campus."

These events were supposed to be held bi-monthly, but the university has since taken down the page.