13 October 2016

‘White Identity Retreat’ Are Being Adopted in Most Universities

White Students
After last year's protests across the country over racial inequality, more universities have welcomed warmly the idea that students should be segregated by race in clubs, diversity initiatives, housing, and conversations about race.

Come November, the University of Vermont will host a three-day "Examining White Identity Retreat" for students who self-identify as white and any students feel it is about time.

The retreat aims to educate students about white privilege, start a dialogue to combat alleged and imaginary racism at the university, and "conceptualize and articulate whiteness from a personal and systemic lens," according to the university’s website. The University of Oregon is planning similar retreats for January 2017, one for white students and one for white faculty members.

On one hand, this is nothing new. Columbia University has held its annual “Students of Color Leadership Retreat” for more than 15 years, according to a school spokesperson.

Student groups have long formed around identities like race, sexual orientation, and religion. Self-segregation of marginalized students in mostly upper middle class, higher education environments has allowed them to have dialogues they feel they cannot have with non-marginalized students.

Universities who rightly advocate and promote diversity are increasingly supporting them with new initiatives and programs to build stronger communities.

More new are the efforts to educate white students about white privilege, and the criticism from both minority students and white students of racially segregated programs.