The taxpayer-funded State University of New York at Binghamton offered a training course to student resident assistants titled #StopWhitePeople2K16 — and the backlash has been fierce.
A school newspaper, the Binghamton Review, reported on the issue.
"The premise of this session is to help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within," the description of the training reads. "Learning about these topics is a good first step, but when encountered with 'good' arguments from uneducated people, how do you respond? This open discussion will give attendees the tools to do so, and hopefully expand upon what they already may know."
The #StopWhitePeople2K16 training was facilitated by three student resident assistants. RAs typically live on residence hall floors with students and help them adjust to college life.
Since word spread about the course, reactions have been strong — decidedly in opposition to it, along with plenty of accusations of racism. Here are some from the Binghamton Review's Facebook page:
- "Just waiting for the Kill white people quickly and easily classes to be advertised."
- "Typical liberal hypocrite BS ... Hopefully there will be some people with b***s to call this out for what it is. Racism at its lowest."
- "This is racist and disgusting. I'm ashamed that this is happening in the city I live in. Who wants to protest?!"
- "Looks like it's time to defund SUNY."
- "Can't believe this racist liberal cesspool is somehow running. All organizers should apologize and immediately be fired. Ridiculous racism."
- "This is actually appalling."
It isn't clear exactly when the training took place, but SUNY Binghamton Vice President for Student Affairs Brian Rose released the following statement to WICZ-TV:
A program facilitated by three student resident advisors (RA’s) as part of an educational program for RA staff training has prompted public and internal comment and inquiry. The program title “#StopWhitePeople2K16” was drawn from a familiar hashtag in use on Twitter, and was not invented by the program facilitators. It is my understanding that the hashtag is commonly used ironically.
The optional program was developed by the students themselves, supported by a young professional staff person. Its purpose, as conceived, was to facilitate a discussion among the RA’s that would improve their ability to handle conflicts among residents around issues of diversity.
Upon learning of the concerns expressed over the session’s title by some off-campus groups and individuals, the university’s student-affairs office reviewed the session and the program content more closely to obtain an accurate understanding.
We verified that the actual program content was not “anti-white”. The inclusion of the program in the educational session was not driven by any university administration initiative to advocate any specific viewpoint on diversity. About 40-50 RA’s chose to attend the session which ran concurrently with some other sessions. Topically the discussion in the program was far-ranging, student driven and explored reverse racism, the relationship of communities of color with police, whiteness, crime and segregation in an open conversation format. Post session feedback predominantly described the session as a respectful and productive conversation. Professional staff followed up directly with a few participants who had a mixed reaction to the program in support of those participants.
What we strive to do from an administrative level is cultivate an environment where our students listen to one another, learn from one another and do so in a manner that doesn’t cause unnecessary harm. I have no indication that this particular program was inconsistent with the respectful environment we hope to support and sustain.
UPDATE Friday 9:57 a.m.: Rose said Thursday that the training's #StopWhitePeople2K16 title was a mistake.
“For those who were familiar with the hashtag used in the title, it was understood not to be literal,” Rose wrote, according to the Review. “Nonetheless, the program should not have been so titled. Out of context, it is offensive and alarming. That was not the intent.”
This story has been updated.