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Public University Promotes Inclusion with $16K Black Student-Only Retreat

California State University in Fresno held a black student-only retreat this week that was ironically designed to promote a more welcoming and inclusive campus community.

According to Fresno State’s website, the retreat, which is called “Harambee,” “is a three-day experience designed to facilitate a successful transition of incoming African American/Black students to Fresno State. Students will be housed in the University Courtyard (dorms) during the retreat.”

Some are concerned that this extra experience for African-American students goes beyond the scope of the duties of public universities. The retreat’s website notes that attendees will be provided with housing, meals, and other retreat materials for free, despite no similar experience being offered to non-black students. “Housing, meals, workshops, special sessions, activities, and events will be provided at no cost to students.”

Commenting on the retreat, Fresno State President Joseph Castro noted that “the call to better support African American students in connecting with their peers and the university was heard and put into action.” Castro claimed that the event’s success could mean that the university was making strides towards the facilitation of a more welcoming campus enviroment.

“A first ever retreat, appropriately titled Harambee, which means ‘Let’s pull together,’ was held this week where new and continuing African-American students, along with African-American faculty, staff, and alumni, could exchange ideas of how to create a greater sense of belonging on campus,” he continued.

Fresno State’s website provided a description of the retreat’s program: “The retreat was a three-day residential orientation experience that allowed the students to make connections with alumni, faculty, staff and community members. It also provided an opportunity to introduce students to African-American clubs/organizations and encourage engagement,” Armbruster told

Shirley Melikian Armbruster, associate vice president of university communications, claimed that although the event cost approximately $16,000, the university viewed it as a success.“The retreat was a student success event to assist African-American students in their transition to university life and instill a sense of belonging at the institution, which has an approximately 4 percent African-American student population, and help boost retention and graduation rates of African-American students, which are slightly below other groups at Fresno State,” Armbruster added. “With this proactive approach, the goal was to provide experiences and activities to facilitate a smooth social and academic integration of African-American students into the campus community.”

Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about Free Speech and Intellectual Diversity for Breitbart. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at

Tom Ciccotta