Posted on April 24, 2008

Prof Backs Out of Diversity Seminar

Olivier Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal, April 23, 2008

A University of New Mexico professor who had planned to lead a workshop on “white privilege” at a conference Thursday has withdrawn from the event, organizers said.

The decision followed complaints from about a dozen Sandia National Laboratories employees who said they were upset by a description of the workshop circulated by e-mail to lab workers.

The description says that, “Recent studies suggest that whites’ lack of awareness of other cultures has to do with whites’ commitment to maintaining higher social status, or ‘white privilege.’ “

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The response to the workshop shows “we have more work to do,” said Dr. Charles Becknell, chairman of the Diversity Leadership Council.

“I thought we were further along than that,” he said Tuesday. “I thought we could have a dialogue about these things.”

The purpose of the forum is to promote diversity and tolerance in the workplace, he said.

“White privilege” workshops are a staple at diversity forums, said Rita Martinez-Purson, dean of UNM’s Continuing Education, which organized the forum.

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