University of Maryland Creates Whites-Only Support Group, ‘Safe Space’
The University of Maryland at College Park offers a racially segregated “diversity” support group designed for white students to have a “safe space” to discuss their feelings about “interactions with racial and ethnic minorities.”
The support group was originally called “White Awake,” but the university changed the name of the group to “Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group” after the conservative publication Campus Reform reported on the segregated initiative.
“White Awake,” the weekly meet-up for white students, will help whites who “may sometime feel uncomfortable and confused before, during, or after interactions with racial and ethnic minorities,” according to a flyer distributed around campus.
“This group offers a safe space for White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings,” the description explains. “Members will support and share feedback with each other as they learn more about themselves and how they can fit into a diverse world.”
A group at the Counseling Center is billing itself as a “safe space for White students” to discuss race. UMD students — do you have thoughts on this? If so, shoot me a DM! pic.twitter.com/ewpUmd3bea
— Jillian Atelsek (@jillian_atelsek) September 12, 2018
The university claims it changed the name of the group because the original term “White Awake” gave the perception that the race-based initiative is not inclusive.
“Our Counseling Center acknowledges that we did not choose the right words in raising awareness about this research-based initiative, and how this group has been perceived is counter to the values of inclusiveness and diversity that we embody. Therefore, we are renaming the group to better reflect our intention and values,” UMD explained in a statement to Campus Reform.
After receiving harsh criticism from students on social media, UMD’s Counseling Center announced they are discontinuing the flyer, but will continue the group.
“We agree with the feedback that the flyer was not clear enough in conveying the fact that the purpose of this group is to promote anti-racism and becoming a better ally. We didn’t choose the right words for the flyer, and we are going to incorporate the feedback we have received into a revision of it. Again, we will discontinue use of the current flyer,” the university wrote in response to the backlash.
“This is an incredibly difficult, nuanced issue, and that’s the reason we need to discuss it. The aim of this group is to help White students become more culturally competent, so they can better participate in creating a more inclusive environment at the University of Maryland. This group is based on research and best practices, and we believe in it.”
Response to anti-racism group flyer pic.twitter.com/KMwQenpgG0
— UM Counseling Center (@UMCounselingCTR) September 13, 2018
Noah Collins, of UMD’s Counseling Center, specializes in group therapy and is interested “especially in the areas of racial and cultural awareness,” Campus Reforms reports.