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Feb 01, 2015 11:58 PM EST

DePauw Cancels Classes, Operations For The First Time In A Century To Discuss Racial Issues


DePauw University in Indiana suspended classes and operations for the first time in more than 100 years on Wednesday in order to hold a social justice workshop.

Instead of going to class, nearly 2,000 students at the private school participated in "DePauw Dialogue" to discuss microaggressions against students of color that occur on campus.

According to The DePauw, the school's student newspaper, the last time the Greencastle-based institution suspended operations, "a student had just been recognized nationally for athletics. This was in 1884, and he was welcomed back with a 21-gun salute."

"We have to understand that we are in the midst of a national movement," DePauw President Brian Casey said, according to The DePauw.

DePauw Dialogue seemed like a great start for many marginalized students on campus.

"It opened up a lot of communication," third-year student Iesha Brooks told The DePauw. "I'm really happy this happened.

The event also generated several ideas for individual changes to prevent microaggressions.

Second-year student Erika Kischuk said student should be able to talk about these issues.

 "We need to make sure that students feel safe talking about these issues," Kischuk said. "Especially when microaggressions happen."

Similar efforts and conversations have been occurring at other institutions of higher education.

At the University of Notre Dame, Casey's alma mater, The event, which was initially presented to the students as a six-week prerequisite course for registering for fall classes or walking at commencement, "became optional after faculty voiced concerns that it had become a graduation requirement without a faculty vote," Campus Reform reported.

Denison University suspended classes to have a similar afternoon to discuss racist events on their campus.

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