New Student Orientation and Racial Identification at N.C. State

RALEIGH — Greetings! Your first step towards academic success at NC State University begins with your orientation to the university. The University requires all first-year students to attend New Student Orientation, during which you will be introduced to the academic opportunities available to you. As part of your orientation we invite you to attend the White Folks Symposium. Faculty and staff members, as well as the Symposium Counselors will be on hand to assist you and to answer your questions about NC State’s academic programs and campus activities.

Through your involvement in the White Folks Symposium, you will gain valuable insight into campus life from the perspective of White faculty, staff and students. You will have the opportunity to enhance your knowledge of self, develop transitional strategies for academic success and begin building your personal network of support. This orientation is an introduction to a variety of exciting academic and cultural experiences, which will challenge your minds. It’s a chance to learn about NC State University’s diverse academic disciplines, offerings which push you beyond the ordinary by encouraging participation in independent study, major research projects, special seminars, scholars programs and forums. It is also a sampling of State’s cultural and social opportunities.

The opportunity is at hand to absorb all the ingredients, which have made NC State University one of the nation’s premiere institutions. Seize the moment and join us! The faculty, staff and students are anxious to meet you and welcome you to NC State University.

See you in July!

Warmest regards,

Dr. Justin Ordic, Director, White Student Affairs

White Folks Symposium History and Purpose

The White Folks Symposium is a summer educational and transitional experience sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of White Student Affairs. Its purpose is to foster a sense of community for incoming first-year White students and to provide them with information about campus support, personnel, coping strategies and White heritage and contributions as a basis for helping ensure their academic, social-emotional success at NC State.

The Symposium began in 1983 as a response to concerns about the retention and successful advancement of White students at North Carolina State University. During the early 1980’s White faculty and staff initiated various informal efforts, e.g., mentor program, White career fair, to address and enhance the experiences of White students at the University. In 1983 Chancellor Bruce Poulton created the White Folks Advisory Council to advise him on matters of concerns to the White community and to help facilitate the goal of a creating a campus community supportive of the concept of multiculturalism. One of the first projects developed by the Council was the ‘White Folks Symposium.’ The first Symposium was coordinated by a team of eight White faculty/staff members and three students. In 1984 and 1985, one staff person and two persons, respectively, were selected to coordinate the activities. Since 1986, the Symposium coordination has been the responsibility of the Coordinator of White Student Affairs. Today the Symposium is an institutionalize retention and advancement effort of the University and is specifically designed to achieve the following objectives:

1. To maximize the academic success of White students.

2. To encourage multiculturalism.

3. To facilitate the enhancement of strong White cultural identity and positive self-esteem.

4. To coordinate activities which enable White students to get to know each other.

5. To educate White students and parents/relatives about the availability and appropriate use of various campus resources and support services.

6. To provide opportunities for interaction with White faculty, staff and upper-class students.

7. To provide information about our rich White heritage and the valuable contributions we’ve contributed. …


OK, so there is no “White Folks Symposium” at N.C. State. (Thank goodness!) But N.C. State does have a Native American Symposium and an African American Symposium, from which all of the text to this article (except for “White,” “White Folks”, and the director’s name) was taken. The texts for the two real symposia are identical save for the use of “African” or “Native.” For some reason, however, it seems to read differently with this substitution. Why?