CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University will host a town hall Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. in Gilfillan Auditorium (2601 S.W. Orchard Ave.), to discuss the recent racially charged incident at the University of Oklahoma.

The town hall will focus on ways in which OSU can support students and staff of diverse backgrounds and make campus more inclusive. The event is open to the public and organizers say it will provide a safe space where students and others can speak frankly about issues of race, racism and discrimination.

"This racial incident (at Oklahoma) is not an issue simply related to one fraternity at a single university," said Jason Dorsette, associate director for diversity development with Intercultural Student Services at OSU. "This matter highlights the responsibility for all of us to be aware of discrimination, bias and exclusion of any kind, and when we see it to act appropriately and safely to interrupt - and if possible, stop - such discrimination."

Steve Clark, OSU vice president for University Relations, said that while Oregon State administrators, faculty and staff are committed to creating a safe, civil and inclusive community, the Oklahoma incident drives home the continuing problems facing marginalized populations across the country.

"We will take this opportunity to further our own efforts to bring together Oregon State students, who participate in our seven cultural and diversity centers and our many Greek fraternities and sororities," Clark said. "Our goal is to increase a sense of understanding, knowledge and an inclusive community between members of all groups and organizations."

There are already a number of ongoing efforts at OSU to further inclusivity and community, including:

  • Every student attending Oregon State is required to take a set of "Difference, Power and Discrimination" courses on issues such as systemic racism;
  • OSU offers a program for students of color to learn better ways to respond to and deflect racism or bias when they encounter it;
  • The university recently held a training workshop on the problems associated with white privilege;
  • OSU has developed a human justice and diversity curriculum for all of its students to take to help ensure that they are informed about the importance of inclusivity and learn respect for others and differences they might encounter;
  • The university formed a bias incident response team to immediately address reported racism or bias that may occur at Oregon State.

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Jason Dorsette, 541-737-6341;