Students at the University of Vermont are coming to the defense of a professor who is facing calls for his termination after sounding the alarm about a growing anti-white sentiment at the school.
What's the background?
Aaron Kindsvatter, a professor of counseling at UVM's College of Education and Social Services, came under fire from some students and faculty last week after he posted a video on YouTube titled, "Racism and the Secular Religion at the University of Vermont."
In the video — which has now been viewed nearly 30,000 times — Kindsvatter lamented the growth of what he considers a dangerous and discriminatory ideology on campus that pins society's problems on "whiteness."
He recalled that he "first heard of whiteness when a colleague offered to help [him] with it, like it was some kind of disease," adding that the conversation "was a dehumanizing experience."
Kindsvatter added that while he didn't expect the ideology to endure on campus, to his dismay, it began to flourish. He specifically cited a July teach-in on confronting whiteness held on campus as an instance "in which a number of vague social ills were associated in a causal way with people of a particular race."
The school has now allegedly gone on to consider for adoption a policy initiative that embraces controversial author Ibram X. Kendi's definitions of "racist" and "anti-racist" in its teaching philosophy, a move that Kindsvatter argued would make expressing dissent against the radical ideas impossible.
He warned, "If this policy is passed, in speaking up against what many would consider to be an anti-racist teaching, but one that makes a causal connection between people of that particular race and vaguely defined societal ills, I would be considered, in a way that is consistent with program policy, a racist."
In response to the video, a group of students affiliated with UVM's "Sisters of Color" launched a petition demanding Kindsvatter's termination, calling his views "harmful" and "wholly dismissive of the experiences that students of color face on campus."
"We ask that the university sticks to its promise of promoting equitable justice and holds its faculty members accountable for harm they cause," the petition's authors wrote.
According to the local blog Seven Days, though the school has so far rejected calls for Kindsvatter's firing, multiple faculty members have put out statements condemning his views.
In a joint statement issued on Monday, UVM provost Patricia Prelock and College of Education and Social Services Dean Scott Thomas disavowed Kindsvatter's remarks, saying they "do not reflect" the university's "foundational values of racial and social justice."
What's happening now?
But Kindsvatter is not without his supporters. A separate petition was launched several days later urging the school to put Kindsvatter in charge of the school's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts. Despite having a later start, that petition has accumulated more signatures than the previous one.
Coming to Kindsvatter's aid, the student authors of the second petition heralded the professor for blowing the whistle on the school's efforts "to indoctrinate students and staff members into the secular religion of critical social justice."
They also derided university administrators for continuing in their indoctrination efforts despite Kindsvatter sounding the alarm, essentially "admitting in the open that they are teaching students WHAT to think instead of HOW to think."
"In order to maintain an environment at a publicly funded university that is open to all points of view and perspectives, we are demanding that Aaron Kindsvatter be put in charge of UVM's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts," the petitioners argued.