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Universities’ back-to-school events include ones specifically for ‘BIPOC’ students

Harvard University on Tuesday is scheduled to host a gathering focused specifically on bringing together students of color, one of many such events offered at campuses nationwide this fall as colleges and universities welcome students back.

They are touted as events for “BIPOC” students, which stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color.

The “Welcome Block Party” at Harvard, according to its website, is designed to allow the Ivy League institution’s “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” to come together and learn about the support and resources offered on campus.

Similarly, at the University of Nebraska Lincoln last week, the “3rd Annual Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) Welcome Reception” was hosted, where food and games were offered to attendees, its website stated.

Neither of these events explicitly state white students are not invited, but they are designed for and advertised to students of color. Many progressive scholars argue such students need special “safe spaces” on campus to feel welcome and accepted.

The term BIPOC, which gained popularity in higher education before it went mainstream, was used infrequently until 2020, when it exploded after the death of George Floyd, according to Google Trends.

A BIPOC Grad Student Community Welcome Lunch on Aug. 21 at UNC Charlotte allowed students “to meet and socialize over lunch and to get an introduction to the support structures and resources available,” its website stated.

Some universities include boilerplate language to ensure they are not accused of barring white students from such events.

Syracuse University on Aug. 24 hosted a “Welcome Fête,” and described it online as a Haitian-Creole-inspired “come-and-go event that includes meet and greets with members from registered student organizations that celebrate the BIPOC student experiences.”

“Although this program is meant to explore college experiences for students of color, it is open to anyone regardless of race, national origin, ethnicity or other demographic,” the university website added.

Some events, however, do openly invite white students — and really mean it. A BIPOC Unity Mixer hosted at Ithaca College last week was billed for those who “identify as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color (BIPOC), or if you’re an ally who supports the cause, this event is for you.”

“Come together with an open heart and an eagerness to connect and uplift each other. Let’s amplify BIPOC voices, celebrate diversity, and ignite positive change through music, karaoke, and meaningful conversations,” the invite stated.

However, Ithaca College also has scheduled BIPOC Unity Center Welcome Back BBQ on tap, part of a larger effort by the center to host monthly BIPOC events on campus “to build community and create culturally validating spaces for IC students.”

MORE: Professor argues term ‘BIPOC’ is not inclusive enough

IMAGE: UNL screenshot

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.