The University Of Maryland is facing backlash over a new campus support group called “White Awake.” The school’s counseling center said that it created the group to help white students discuss their feelings about racial interactions.
The description on the flyers distributed around campus says the group offers a “safe space for White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings.”
But many students are calling the group ridiculous and unnecessary.
“If they want to talk about diversity, there are other ways to do it,” one student told Fox 5 News
. “They need to understand where other ethnic groups are coming from. It would work better if everyone was talking collectively about the issues and concerns that they have instead of this group feeling like they need to do this. If you get a bunch of white people in a room, then I don’t see how you are really going to understand how racial dynamics work.”
The flyer for ‘White Awake’ asks students:
-Do you want to improve your ability to relate to and connect with people different from yourself?
-Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable and confused before, during, or after interactions with racial and ethnic minorities?
-Do you want to become a better ally?
In a statement, the university said that the goal was not to cause harm, but to create a space to build allyship, according to CBS 3
“Although it is our intent to promote anti-racism, we acknowledge that there are members of our community that may have felt harmed by the naming of this group,” it said.
“The purpose of this effort is to promote anti-racism and becoming a better and more informed ally. 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.”
Since the backlash, the university has changed the group’s name to “Anti-Racism and Ally Building Group.”