Binghamton University officials are defending a student-led educational program titled #StopWhitePeople2K16, and insisting that it's not anti-white after the program's name sparked a backlash.
The training program for resident advisers was designed to "help others take the next step in understanding diversity, privilege, and the society we function in," according to the RA's training schedule, cited by the student-run Binghamton Review, which called the title shocking.
"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 the rest of the student population, however, the title may come as a bit of a shock, or at the very least spark interest in understanding the hashtag," Howard Hecht wrote for the student publication.
Hecht went on to say the program name is "divisive, politically motivated, and does nothing to actually prevent racism."
But Brian Rose, vice president for student affairs, wrote a message on the university's website explaining that "the hashtag is commonly used ironically," adding that a review of the program "verified that the actual program content was not 'anti-white.'"
"The optional program was developed by the students themselves, supported by a young professional staff person. Its purpose, as conceived, was to facilitate a discussion among the RAs that would improve their ability to handle conflicts among residents around issues of diversity," Rose wrote, noting that 40 to 50 RAs opted to attend the voluntary session.
He wrote that he supports student efforts to facilitate conversations about challenging topics.
"We can’t control those conversations and are not trying to do so," Rose wrote.
The name sparked mixed reactions among students, WICZ-TV reported.
"I'm sure they had a reason for the name, I'm just not sure what it is. But I'm sure they had a reason for it. It's just interesting. Maybe it catches attention or something like that," student Jacob Dickoff told the station.
The program also sparked mixed reactions on Twitter.
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