Brown University has expanded eligibility for a teacher training class after initially restricting enrollment exclusively to racial and ethnic minorities.
The “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” teacher training course at the Rhode Island-based Ivy League school had initially been restricted to “BIPOC” students. BIPOC is an acronym for black, indigenous, and people of color.
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The course’s racial restriction had been the subject of a complaint by the Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism, which had sent a letter to Brown University President Christina Paxson earlier this month that accused the university of violating federal law by segregating the class.
“As an organization committed to pro-human anti-racism, FAIR supports efforts to achieve greater fairness and assist those in need of financial assistance in higher education,” the foundation wrote in the letter. “We believe, however, that establishing a teacher training program based on skin color or ancestry violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.”
In a statement provided to the Washington Examiner, Eric Loucks, the director of Brown University’s Mindfulness Center, said the class was now open to all students regardless of skin color.
“The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher training program will be open to individuals who live in the United States regardless of race, color, or national or ethnic origin,” the center’s director said. “Applications for the program will next open in August, and our promotional materials for this program will reflect its inclusive nature. 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.”
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“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,” Loucks continued. “This is regardless of the participant’s race. This MBSR Teacher Training Program is an effort to widen the population of teachers and participants who have access to mindfulness training and are involved in research programs.”