Kent State offers minorities-only orientation, mentorship

Kent State University will kick off the school year with a four-day orientation program held exclusively for minority students.

According to an online description of the Kupita/Transiciones (K/T) program, any “African American, Latino American, and Native American” students are invited to participate in order to “feel more connected to Kent State University” while gaining “an appreciation for different cultures.”

The program, hosted by the school’s Student Multicultural Center (SMC), will be followed by a year-long mentorship, both of which are available exclusively to minority students, according to individuals involved with the programs.

As part of the K/T orientation's goal of “affirming the Student’s Cultural Identity,” participants are assigned a mentor to periodically check in on them throughout the school year, an offering that the school touts as a “uniquely structured support system that is rooted in trust, care, cultural understanding, and transparency.”

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SMC Program Director Michael Daniels confirmed with Campus Reform that white students will not be allowed to participate in either program, including the year-long mentorship, which will provide minority students “continued assistance, guidance, and support throughout their entire freshman year.”  

Daniels also noted that the program has been in place for two decades, and that funding is provided from the university’s allocated budget.

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Leandra Westbrook, a student at Kent State University, asked a mentor of the program whether a white student could be involved in the orientation and mentor program. Independently confirming Daniels, the mentor explained that “white students may not be involved in the program because it is for African American, Latino, and Native American students.”

The same mentor subsequently affirmed that assessment in response to an inquiry from Campus Reform.

“It seems that the K/T program doesn't feel like students of differing cultural and racial background can make it [through undergraduate school and the real world] without a 4-day orientation and year-long mentoring program,” remarked one Kent State student who spoke with Campus Reform on condition of anonymity.

Another student echoed that concern, but also questioned whether the K/T programs violate university policy forbidding discrimination based on race, national origin, or ancestry, among other protected categories.

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