NC college cancels event for whites to 'process complicity' in racism

North Carolina university cancels event for ‘white-identifying’ students to ‘process their complicity’ in racial injustice because meeting ‘would exclude other races’

  • The existence of the upcoming ‘White Caucus’ event at Elon University was first revealed by the Young America’s Foundation on Tuesday
  • According to an email, the event was intended for white ‘allies’ to speak openly about systemic oppression without ‘re-traumatizing people of color’
  • The email further stated that the caucus would give white students a ‘space to learn about and process their awareness of and complicity in unjust systems’
  • However, the event, due to take place next week, was canceled amid complaints
  • In a statement, Elon said the event was organized by students and the school only learned of its existence on Tuesday 

North Carolina’s Elon University has cancelled an event for ‘white-identifying’ students to process their complicity in racial injustice following complaints the meeting excluded students of color.

The existence of the upcoming ‘White Caucus’ was first revealed by the Young America’s Foundation (YAF) on Tuesday.

The conservative organization published an email, said to have been sent by Elon’s Coordinator of Graduate Programs Jennifer Strange, that specified the aim of the event was to allow white ‘allies’ to speak openly about systemic oppression without ‘re-traumatizing people of color’.

‘We know that racism and systemic oppression are woven deeply into the roots of our society and our education system,’ the email read. ‘White caucusing is one part of a lifelong and multifaceted commitment to anti-racism for white-identifying people who are passionate about racial justice.’

The email further stated that the caucus would give white students a ‘space to learn about and process their awareness of and complicity in unjust systems without harming their friends of color.’

But the caucus, slated to take place on February 16, has since been canceled after the YAF called it a ‘segregated’ event and students of color complained, Fox News reported.

Elon University (above) has cancelled an event for ‘White-identifying’ students to process their complicity in racial injustice following complaints it excluded students of color

YAF published an email, said to have been sent by Elon’s Coordinator of Graduate Programs Jennifer Strange, that specified the event was intended for white ‘allies’ to speak openly about systemic oppression without ‘re-traumatizing people of color’

‘Racially segregating conversations meant to improve race relations and build community will only create more division,’ YAF’s Kara Zupkus wrote in an article on the group’s website.

According to the university’s news outlet, ENN, students looking to participate in the program were required to fill out a Google form in which they were asked to adhere to a confidentiality agreement. 

‘By signing up, participants agree to leave what is said in the caucus meetings within those meetings, and to not share anything outside of the group for any reason,’ the form reportedly read.

Elon freshman Jon Seaton, who is black, told the outlet he thought the White Caucus was a ‘horrible idea.’

‘There’s no way you can get anything done on the issue,’ Seaton said. ‘If you’re going to exclude the people who the issues are about out of the conversation, that’s counterintuitive. There’s just no positive outcome that comes from that.’

South Asian Elon senior Jaya Bhardwaj added: ‘The only way white people can actively change their opinions and learn something valuable is if they listen to the stories and very valid feelings of people of color.

‘If Elon wants to make strides to becoming an actively anti-racist institution, deliberately excluding their already limited people of color from the conversation is incredibly unproductive.’ 

The caucus was intended to give white students a ‘space to learn about and process their awareness of and complicity in unjust systems without harming their friends of color’ (file photo)

Amid the mounting scrutiny, Vice President of University Communications Daniel Anderson told Fox that the event has now been cancelled.

Anderson added that the caucus was organized by a group of students in the School of Education and that it had learned of the event on Tuesday.

YAF reported the email was sent by Coordinator of Graduate Programs Jennifer Strange (above). However the school claimed the email was sent by students using a program that Strange oversees

However, according to YAF, the email they published was sent to all School of Education students by Jennifer Strange, Elon’s coordinator of graduate programs in the school.

‘Elon University today learned of a program being organized by a group of students in the School of Education who wanted to hold candid, confidential discussions about racism without victimizing those of other races,’ Anderson said in his statement. 

‘Elon’s policies prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, color, creed, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran’s status. 

‘Because this student-led program would have excluded non-white individuals, it would be at odds with university policies and will not be held. Elon is reviewing the planning for this event to ensure that future programs are planned in compliance with university policies, are inclusive and align with the university’s mission.’

Discussing the discrepancy of who sent the email, Anderson said that Strange manages the department’s ‘Constant Contact’ account, which can be used to send messages to students.

‘This email was sent from students to other students and Jennifer assisted in that process,’ he said.

According to the University’s news outlet, ENN, students looking to participate in the program were required to fill out a Google form in which they were asked to adhere to a confidentiality agreement (file photo)

In their report, YAF blasted the private college for ‘creating more division’.

‘Racially segregating conversations meant to improve race relations and build community will only create more division,’ the foundation wrote.

‘Elon is essentially putting a gag order on students who partake in white caucusing by forcing them to sign a confidentiality agreement. What exactly are they hiding, and what are these students afraid of the wider public knowing about?

‘College is intended for students to face uncomfortable ideas–to live and learn in a community made up of people from different places and backgrounds. Separating students by the color of their skin is the antithesis of having a diverse and welcoming campus.’   

According to CollegeFactual.com, white students make up 79.5 percent of Elon’s undergraduates. Comparatively, Hispanic students make up for 6.5 percent; black students account for 5.6 percent; and 2.4 percent of undergrads are Asian, data shows. 

Other similar White Caucuses have recently been held in a number of other US colleges, including the University at Buffalo, UC Davis, University of Kentucky, and University of Florida, YAF reported.

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