Minority Orientation Program at Brown University Is Now Open to Whites

Soon after the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in the Grutter case, right-wing litigating groups sent letters to scores of colleges and universities notifying them that they would be subject to legal challenge if they continued to operate fellowships, orientation programs, and other activities that were restricted to blacks or other minority groups.

In response, many universities either abandoned programs that were restricted to blacks or opened the activities to students of all races.

Since its inception in 1969 Brown University restricted participation in its four-day Third World Transition Program (TWTP) for incoming students to blacks and other students of color. The program seeks to help students adjust to life on campus and holds seminars on racism, oppression, sexism, and other issues

After the Grutter ruling, Brown opened the program to all students. This year 229 first-year students participated. Three of these students are white. The inclusion of a handful of white students has not altered the content of the program to any degree.

All incoming students received a letter inviting them to attend the four-day program. Students of color received a second letter and some incoming black students received telephone calls encouraging them to attend.

In sum, opening up the TWTP program to all students alleviated the university’s legal counsel of fears of litigation but did nothing to alter a program that is viewed by the Brown administration as being extremely beneficial to incoming minority students.