The State University of New York At Binghamton is facing criticism for a resident advisor course created to promote diversity and dismantle white privilege. But did they take it too far?
Students at SUNY Binghamton, one of New York’s most prestigious state schools, are expressing discontent for a resident advisor (RA) course created as a tool to “help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function within.”
But it isn’t the training content that has the conservative bloc of students concerned – it’s the name. “StopWhitePeople2K16” was revealed in the university’s R.A. training schedule Tuesday and will be taught by three R.A’s, New York Upstate reports.
The three advisors have been identified as Ciaran Slattery, Nicholas Pulakos and Urenna Nwogwugwu.
Although the resident advisor guide, “encourages an environment where interaction between people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds” and the sharing of divergent opinions are welcome and respected, the university’s conservative publication – The Binghamton Review – condemned the training and criticized it for promoting “reverse racism.”
“The terrifying implication here is not that students on campus think it is appropriate to call an event by that name, but that the university seems to endorse it as a proper part of a RA training,” publication reporter Howard Hect wrote.
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“If you subscribe to the extremely leftist notion that to be racist against white people is ‘reverse racism,’ and therefore white people cannot experience racism because “reverse racism” does not exist, then the title of this conference will not bother you…For a university dedicated to providing an inclusive environment, calling an event ‘#StopWhitePeople2K16’ seems counterproductive at best. The name is divisive, politically motivated, and does nothing to actually prevent racism. If anything, it seems to imply that the ‘uneducated people’ mentioned in the event description must be white.”
The Vice President for Student Affairs on Wednesday released a statement verifying the program was not “anti-white.” But that didn’t stop students and Twitter users to speak out against what they deemed “reverse racism.”
Problem is, students at the university – whose white population exceeds 60 percent – are unclear about the inaccuracy of “reverse racism.” The course, which come at a time of high racial tensions in America (sparked by numerous police-involved shooting, voter disenfranchisement, and an election year that boasts a presidential candidate praised for disparaging comments against people of color), is not anti-white, racists or prejudice. In fact, racism refers to system where the racial majority (see Binghamton’s racial breakdown) benefits from power and privilege.
The training, meant to teach sensitivity around racialized subjects, fits none of those categories.