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University offers whites-only meetings to help staff, students ‘work toward white consciousness’


Events are meant to help white participants grow their ‘understanding of Whiteness’

A series of whites-only events happening this fall at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte looks to help white staff members and students at that university “work toward white consciousness” and develop “anti-racist practice.”

The program, called “White Consciousness Conversations,” is meant for both white staff members and students at the university “who are interested in engaging in conversations to assist in their understanding of Whiteness.”

“Understanding white privilege and engaging in anti-racist practice is crucial in creating racial equity,” the event listings declare. “Come join in conversation with IEE staff as we work toward white consciousness.” IEE refers to the school’s Office of Identity, Equity and Engagement.

There will be multiple sessions of both the staff and student events, according to the school’s website.

Rachael Forester, the assistant director of the school’s Multicultural Resource Center and the listed contact for both events, did not respond to requests for comment from The College Fix on Tuesday. Nor did the school’s Office of Identity, Equity, and Engagement, also a listed contact.

Those are not the only segregated events offered by the university’s Office of Identity, Equity, and Engagement. The “Women of Color Conversations” at the school are “an opportunity to create and strengthen connections for students who identify as women of color at UNC Charlotte.”

“The connections will converge around topics and events that are particularly relevant and interesting to women of color,” the listing reads. “Conversations will focus on the experiences of women of color. Graduate level and undergraduate students are welcome to attend.”

The office offers a multitude of other events for students, including “Friendly Peer Training,” which is “designed for undergraduate students and provides basic information about the queer community.”

“The goal is for students to walk away with a better understanding of the queer population, find resources on campus for queer students and, ultimately, to be a better, more friendly peer,” that listing reads.

Another public university was in the news recently for hosting a whites-only discussion group. The University of Maryland offered its students a program through its counseling center called “White Awake” that was meant as “a safe space for White students to explore their experiences, questions, reactions, and feelings.”

Following media attention, the university subsequently changed the name and the whites-only focus of the group, claiming that the counseling center “did not choose the right words in raising awareness about this research-based initiative.”

UPDATE: After this report was published the event listings for the “White Consciousness Conversations” were scrubbed from the university’s website. Read about it here. 

Following the removal of the events from the university’s website, The College Fix received a message from campus spokesman Stephen Ward, who said: “The discussion at UNC Charlotte regarding ‘white consciousness’ will be similar to those that are taking place on campuses across the country. It will not be exclusive to white individuals. We expect a diverse group of participants to converse about topics including the reality of racism and discrimination in the lives of individuals of color.”

In a phone interview, campus spokeswoman Buffie Stephens told The Fix: “We looked at the wording of how that event was described and we determined that we were not clear and precise in that language. What we have done is removed it so that we can clarify that it is not exclusive to white individuals.” Stephens said the events would soon be re-added to the university’s website with the clarified language. 

MORE: New Pomona College whites-only club aims to ‘own [white] racism,’ ‘deconstruct Whiteness’

MORE: Public university to host whites-only student retreat on ‘white privilege’

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