On Thursday, more than 700 students at Elizabeth City State University received an invitation to a private email group titled “Welcome to the Caucasian Student Group.”
The email, sent by Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Tiffany Hinton, stated the group’s purpose to be for Hinton to share important school-related and identity-based information with students – including student association, scholarship, and inclusion group meetings.
However, the school’s efforts did not go over well with students according to WAVY.
“I just think this was a poorly thought out idea and it was executed in a way that hit very deep with all of us,” ECSU junior Keegan Williams, who is Caucasian, told the news network.
Within the email, it noted that people who received the email were added to the identity group “based on your admission demographic information.” It said inclusion was an institutional value and that ECSU sought “to move diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts forward.”
“To see, you know, an important official of the school basically take the demographics off our application from when we were just freshman, and use that to group us together… it was a little degrading, to say the least,” Williams added.
“Honestly, it seems more exclusive than inclusive,” ECSU student Lauren Jackson told WAVY.
The school shut down the email group hours after it was created and sent out another email to students saying that while the groups were developed “to create space, build community and promote a sense of belonging within the ECSU student body,” it would suspend the use of identity-based affinity email groups in order to get more feedback.
“The Office Of Diversity and Inclusion created identity-based affinity email groups for students at their request,” said an email from Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Interim Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Dr. Gary Brown. “In response to our students, the University has suspended the use of identity-based affinity email groups so additional feedback can be collected to further support diverse communities.”
University officials said it is committed “to ensuring our environment is and remains an inclusive and welcoming campus for all students, faculty, staff and visitors.”
Williams hopes that the university will focus on more pressing issues in the future.
“I would like to see the University focus on things more pertinent to running a University,” Williams said, “and let the student body kind of handle themselves.”